Cultures of Coffee and Tea

이다혜, 오수연l승인2016.03.31l수정2016.04.04 13:46l345호 3면

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 As spring approaches and our frozen bodies begin to warm from the winter cold, many people start to head out to meet their friends, go on dates, and basically enjoy their leisure time out of the house. People search for beautiful cafes to express their spring fever in Yeonnam-dong or Garosu-gil or even hunt out the latest cafes introduced on TV or through SNS (Social Networking Services).

▲ Coffee

 In response to this trend, The Dankook Herald (DKH) looked into the origin of world coffee and tea to learn more about it. First, the DKH would like to help people understand the origin of coffee, its history and effects and also get some recommendations on coffee to drink and enjoy.

 Before we start, we felt it was important to explore the question, just exactly what is coffee? Coffee is a brewed drink prepared from roasted coffee beans, which are the seeds of the berries from coffee plants. The first reference to coffee in the English language was with the word chaona.

 Coffee was first discovered in the 9th century in Ethiopia and was cultivated in the nation’s hilly sections. According to legend, Kaldi, a goat shepherd boy, found his goats eating some fruit and he brought some of it back to his village. It was then that people discovered the effects of coffee which was that it lessened people’s tiredness. Coffee then spread to Egypt and Yemen first and as time passed, it spread throughout the Islamic world. But coffee provided neural stimulation, which is prohibited by Islam, so its use was prohibited, but this didn’t stop the Islamic world from spreading its use to Europe.

 Modern studies on the effects of coffee by a University of South Florida research team suggested drinking coffee could help to prevent cancer, artery hardening and it also has a dietary effect. The Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee (ISIC) in Switzerland announced, if people drink 3~5 cups of coffee a week, it could decrease the risk of dementia by 20%.

 The DKH interviewed Lee Su-jin (junior, Dept. of Food and Beverage at the College of Incheon) to get some recommendations for good coffee. She recommended an Ethiopian coffee bean called Yirgacheffe, because it tastes light and fresh. Her small tip for drinking coffee is to make sure the temperature not very hot or cold. Making coffee excessively hot will prevent you from appreciating its taste, while making coffee excessively cold will make it too strong a taste for you to enjoy. She is confident that lukewarm coffee is the best.

 The last thing she wanted to say was “try any coffee you can, in order to find your favorite bean. But I don’t recommend you drink ‘Kopi Luwak’ because it is too expensive and it will impact your ability to taste and appreciate other coffee later. “

▲ Green tea in China

 Tea has its origins in China stemming from approximately 5,000 years ago. Instead of seeing it as a beverage, the Chinese saw tea as a method of physical training and hence, a part of social etiquette. The ancient drinkers brewed and drank tea as a method of calming their bodily expressions, overcoming worries and gaining a peaceful state of mind by drinking tea.

 Tea culture, in the three East Asian countries, has different characteristics. Scent is valued in China, while the Japanese value color, and Koreans prioritize taste and style. A comparison can be made through our appreciation of green tea. Green tea has its origins in China, however, its associated drinking culture has developed differently in each country.

 In China, there are different types of green teas based on how one dries it, and such differing types have different tastes. Hence, it is not an exaggeration to say that they have the largest variety of teas. Alternatively, Japan is known for Matcha, which is a tea produced after grinding dry green tea leaves. However Korea prioritizes the location of green tea growth, so they worked to develop it as a product based, for example, in the Bosung green tea fields.

 Tea is not only a beverage of choice in Asia, it also contains pharmaceutical effects. Tea leaves contain about 3% caffeine which provides an awakening, or "upper" effect. However, it is harmless to your health, as the caffeine of tea is not stored within the body, unlike the caffeine found in coffee, and it is released through your urine about 6 hours after consumption.

 Furthermore, burdock tea and yerba mate tea have diuretic effects and thus, may be able to benefit those who suffer from constipation. There is also a Chinese date tea that is alleged to protect eyesight and bodily energy and is recommended for students taking exams or those with weak physical strength.

 The DKH came across a woman in a tea shop who was enjoying a hot cup, so we asked for her opinion. She recommended “milk tea for those who are just being introduced to the beverage. It is the most common sort of black tea and as such, it is easily found in convenient stores. She commented that people will face little difficulties familiarizing themselves with tea, so milk tea is recommended, either cold or hot, according to one's taste.”

 What she drinks frequently is fruit flavored black tea, such as strawberry or raspberry black tea. She said by inhaling the scent before drinking it, she can enjoy the deep taste of the tea.

 The interest towards tea is nowadays is growing to the extent that people often drink mate tea or corn tea instead of mineral water. Furthermore, businesses such as cafes or tea rooms are growing in numbers.

 The effects and components of tea and tea types are diverse. Considering its pharmaceutical effects, we can argue there are twice the benefits to consuming tea as it protects our health, while at the same time indulges our taste buds. The DKH hopes people can now appreciate the historical backgrounds and cultures of tea and coffee the next time they drink it.


이다혜, 오수연  dankookherald@gmail.com
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