Twentysomething teetotalers? That's right. Drinking tea is getting hipper and appealing to a younger audience, according to the Tea Council of the USA. I'm primarily a tea drinker, so watching YouTube entries from the Tea Council's recent Calm-A-Sutra of Tea student video contest made me laugh and feel decidedly hip.
The annual competition invites students to submit two-minute videos that help educate others about the health benefits of black, green, oolong, and white tea—all of which come from the Camellia sinensis tea plant—for the chance to win a $20,000 scholarship.
This year, John Ford, a student at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles, won the competition with his short, "Interrogation," in which two tough-talking detectives interrogate a cup of tea, accusing it of being too healthy, putting doctors out of work, depriving people of sick days, increasing energy, aiding weight loss, giving its drinkers natural pearly whites, and, worst of all, increasing the amount of "happy juice" (i.e., mood-boosting dopamine) in the brain. Watch the video below.
Is tea really guilty of all the charges? Pretty much. Tea does reduce one's risk of heart disease, it has cancer-fighting compounds and can help us stay alert and awake, and it's been shown to help improve immune function and maybe even prevent Alzheimer's. When it comes to weight loss, the benefits of tea are modest at best—so don't expect it to magically melt off pounds.
All types of tea—green, black, oolong, and white—contain flavonoid antioxidants, which provide these health benefits. (This downloadable chart compares teas.) However, herbal teas—often called tisanes—are not produced from the same Camellia sinensis plant and may not provide the same benefits of traditional tea.
So check out this video, and the runners-up, and give yourself a laugh. And if you want to be "in" and do something good for your health, brew up a nice hot cup of tea and feel young again.
By Julie Upton, RD