Embracing the tea lifestyle
Words by Sam Lauron Photos by Thamica McCook
As the second most consumed beverage in the world behind water, tea boasts benefits that affect not only physical health but also mental and spiritual health as well.
Jeffrey Lorien, founder and owner of Zhi Tea, understands these benefits well. His journey with tea began fifteen years ago when he started to develop health issues that stemmed from alcohol and coffee consumption. After being introduced to tea, Lorien began to notice changes in his day-to-day life. He slept better, lost weight, and no longer experienced energy crashes in the middle of the day. “It took about a year and a half to wean myself off coffee,” Lorien recalls.
With a newfound passion for tea and a fire to start something of his own, Lorien and a partner opened Zhi Tea in 2007. They initially worked out of their house and were solely focused on manufacturing their own teas and distributing them to wholesalers, but after finding the quaint building in East Austin where they reside today, their hand-blended teas were introduced to the public. “It grew organically over time,” says Lorien. “We just wanted to provide really good tea and see where it went.”
There are countless benefits to drinking tea, as Lorien has discovered and believes. Among those, hydration, mood regulation, and the presence of vitamins and antioxidants are the top reasons tea should be a staple in one’s diet. A little known fact about tea is that it’s surprisingly hydrating. The myth that caffeine is dehydrating has been debunked. It’s actually the alkaloids in coffee that cause dehydration. Lorien states “I drank tea for about a year and nothing else [and] I was so healthy.”
If you’re thinking about making the transition from coffee or soda to tea, the best advice Lorien says: “It’s a journey, take your time, and don’t expect to [transition] within a week.” You can find close to 100 different varieties of tea at Zhi Tea, from flavored blends to pure herbal and caffeine-free, and they’re one of only a handful of shops across the country who offer only organic teas. But if you’re wondering which tea you should start with, Lorien’s advice is don’t force it. “The best tea for you to drink is the one you’ll drink.”
Teas to Drink this Winter
Chai: These teas are full of spices, which are good for digestion. “In the winter, everything slows down,” says Lorien. “We tend to eat more and [chai] keeps your metabolism going.”
Teas with this South-African herb are warm, soothing and brothy. Zhi Tea carries many blends with Rooibos.
The most indulgent tea, and Jeffrey’s favorite, oolongs are flavorful, rich and “best on a cold day.”
In the new year, Zhi Tea will relocate just down the road from their current location to Springdale General at 1023 Springdale Road. Springdale General is a 10-acre affordable maker studio complex. Within their new modern space, Zhi Tea will be housed among many other creatives who call East Austin home.