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Why Do Jamaicans Drink Tea?

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jamaian_chocolate_tea_recipe.PNGWhy Do Jamaicans Drink Tea?

by Sheree-Anita Shearer | Associate Writer

Jamaicans' obsession with tea is passed down from generation to generation. No matter how defiant you are, especially in your teenage to young adult years, at some point, you will come back around to the familiar and comforting cup of warm beverage that, in Jamaica is the solution for all your problems.


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Why Do Jamaicans Drink Tea?

Well, ever since we were small, the first thing we had in the morning was a hot cup of tea. One of my fondest childhood memories is being late for school and my grandmother “cooling my tea” by transferring it from one cup to another quickly for a minute or two. No matter how late you were, a cup of tea was a necessary start to your day as it would ensure you didn't feel ill during the day.

If you were to feel ill at any point throughout the day with a headache or stomachache, the first question would be “did you drink tea this morning?”, if not, a cup of tea will be coming your way in short order.

Jamaica’s tea game is so strong that there are multiple different teas to combat various ailments you may have. Some of our favourites are not only delicious but have healing properties as well.

As much as we love tea and many may credit our tea drinking to the influence of Britain, we mainly have tea in the mornings, if we are ill in the daytime and rarely in the evenings. Afternoon tea is not a common practice here.

Also, contrary to popular belief, tea drinking in Jamaica did not begin with the Europeans but rather it was the Tainos (Awaraks) who first discovered the benefit of tea drinking on the island.

Being offered tea or coffee when you visit a Jamaican’s home during the day seldom happens, you will most likely be offered water, juice or (depending on the time of day), an alcoholic beverage. You will only be offered tea in the morning or if you feel unwell.

Tea or Blue Mountain Coffee?

jamaica_beach_house_little_bay_cabins_having_coffee

As much as Jamaicans brag about coffee, the majority of the population aren’t coffee drinkers. Younger persons have recently begun to frequent coffee shops and are the main consumers of coffee, particularly iced coffee, in Jamaica.

This is quite uncommon in Jamaica, but even then, it is from trendy coffee shops like Cafe Blue or Starbucks, and only a few are actually drinking coffee at home. The argument can be made that it is not necessarily the coffee itself but cafes are seen as just another spot to gather and hang out with friends.

What is Jamaican Bush Tea?

fever_grass_componentsFever Grass

When you think of tea, you probably think of hot water boiled in a kettle, poured over a tea bag, and then sweetened, however, you would like. And we do have that option in Jamaica just the same, however, bush tea is made from green or dried leaves of your tea plant of choice.

In recent times, almost all our favourite teas on the island are available in tea bag form, but many people still opt for the leaves in its organic state to make their teas.

If you didn’t grow up in Jamaica, or the Caribbean for that matter, you would believe that tea can be made from any leaf found in the backyard. But as someone who grew up here, I promise there is a method to the madness.

Some of our favourite and most beneficial teas are:

  1. Mint - nausea and vomiting
  2. Cerasee - cleanses the blood
  3. Lime or Lemon - lowers blood pressure
  4. Soursop Leaf - calms nerves and relieves anxiety
  5. Fever Grass - reducing fever and colds
  6. Ginger - nausea and vomiting
jamaican_bizzy_teaJamaican Bissy

While the general consensus is that tea is made by steeping leaves or tea bags in freshly boiled water, it is not so in Jamaica. Just as all cereals are cornflakes, if it is hot and not soup or porridge it is by default a tea. Sometimes even coffee gets thrown into the category.

Seasoned professionals have taken teas in Jamaica even a step further by making teas from grated bissy, peanut shells (peanut trash), Spanish needle, bird pepper, sweet cassava leaf and guinea hen.

jamaican_photos_aunt_v_with_cup

Why do Jamaicans drink tea? Well, for one it is the easiest way to cure minor ailments. Other than that it simply tastes good!

Here are 44 of our teas for you to try too. I'm sure your new favourite is on the list.

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References & Sources For Why Do Jamaicans Drink Tea?

  1. Green, S. (2021) History of tea within the Caribbean, The Caribbean Views. The Caribbean Views. Available at: https://www.cariviews.com/blog/history-of-tea-within-the-caribbean (Accessed: November 17, 2022).
  2. Jamaica Villa Vacation Rental and travel guide (2020) Make It Jamaica. Available at: https://blog.makeitjamaica.com/jamaican-teas/ (Accessed: November 17, 2022).
  3. Jamaican dandelion plant (Cassia occidentalis) powdered roots /leaves (2021) Island Herbs & Spices. Available at: https://www.islandherbsandspices.com/product/jamaican-dandelion-plant-cassia-occidentalis-leaves-and-roots/ (Accessed: November 17, 2022).

Why Do Jamaicans Drink Tea? | Written: November 18, 2022

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