Tea and Gender

tea_club_for_menThere have been no polls or studies in the United States that I’ve seen that reveal the demographics of tea drinkers in the country. But evidence is suggesting that the bulk of tea-drinkers fall in the 18-35 year old male category. A growing group of men drawn by the history and culture behind the drink. “‘The vast majority of Asian tea masters are men, and in fact, the tea industry itself is known as a “gentleman’s” business. Women might drink much of the tea in the western world, but men are usually the ones buying and selling it in the wholesale market,” Winnie Yu, co-owner and chief tea buyer for Teance in Berkeley, CA, said “there are few women in the tea trade, it’s predominantly a male business, and although I get on just fine with them, that’s because the farmers generally regard me as a niece [who] has less to prove. So it’s worked for me OK. Otherwise yes, I do get snickers from time to time.”‘ [from Jennifer Sauer @ bonteavant.com]

Tea has also been featured both in Men’s Health and Men’s Fitness magazines; and men are beginning to realize that there are many ways to enjoy tea — that the idea we have of older women having tea parties and quaint “tea times” is not only happening less and less but is only a small faction of tea culture. As the loose-leaf tea culture spreads through education, men are becoming more and more interested in the origins of tea and in producing “authentic” experiences using elements of ancient tea ceremonies to enjoy tea as men in Asia do on a daily basis.

As more and more people learn about specialty tea, the idea that tea drinking is unisex will spread. Robert K. Henderson wrote in 2001 in his article “Real Men Drink Tea:”

“For a nation whose birthing cry was an act of vandalism protesting the high price of tea, Americans are strangely ambivalent on the subject today. While working-class guys in India, Japan and the UK belt down tea by the thermos-capful with nary a qualm, American men write it off as wimp juice. It’s a historical riddle, really.”

Web sites and articles are trending more and more to the fact that tea is for men and women:

Bon Teavant’s Jennifer Leigh Sauer’s article: Teaware and Tea Culture for Men

Tea Club for Men: http://www.teaclubformen.com

Kevin Rose’s GoodTea Twitter: http://twitter.com/goodtea


About the Author:

Tony has been studying tea for over ten years and has traveled to many tea producing regions throughout Asia. His book, "Tea: A User's Guide" is available now.

One Comment

  1. Miaogi August 8, 2009 at 4:11 pm - Reply

    That’s interesting; I suppose the demographic for tea differs around the world. The coffee industry here in NZ seems to be dominated by men, but then again, there are many women working for them and consuming the product as well. Tea is still relatively unknown here outside the Asian communities ( I hope to change that!) but from my research I’ve found it supports the study: Young men 25-35 are most interested for the same reasons you stated, followed by women 30-40 looking for something percived as decadent yet healthy

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