Before it was one of the world’s most popular beverages, tea was considered a herbal remedy that helped digestion, cleared the skin and reduced a fever. How much of this folklore has proven to be true?
Tea was medicine before it became a beverage. In ancient China people would add herbs, and even onions, to tea to enhance its natural healthful properties before purist Lu Yu made it popular to savour tea without enhancement.
Asian societies believed tea increased wakefulness and aided digestion, which is why they would have it with or after food. It also contributed to a person’s vitality, hence the Japanese proverb, “If man has no tea in him, he is incapable of understanding truth and beauty.”
When tea first appeared in the West, buyers would visit an apothecary rather than a tea shop to purchase tealeaves as it was considered a herbal tonic. Apothecarists sold tea to address skin ailments, stomach complaints, sleepiness and memory loss, among other things.
While tea isn’t some magical remedy, it actually does possess a number of health-giving properties. Here we sort the myths from the truth.