Most people in the United States drink more coffee than tea. In yoga circles, though, tea often predominates. While there’s no official study that examines why tea is more popular than coffee among people who practice yoga (at least when they’re doing it), we have a couple of theories.
There is undoubtedly a historic influence from India, where yoga originated, as well as possibly from other Far Eastern countries.
Yoga’s most widely practiced in the Far East, where tea tends to be more common than coffee. India and China are, by far, the world’s two largest tea-growing countries. For perspective, Kenya is the world’s third-largest tea-producing country. In 2012, Kenya grew 369,400 metric tons (tonnes) of tea. That year, India produced 1.14 million tonnes of tea, and China harvested 1.8 million tonnes — almost 5 times Kenya’s production.
Today, India and China continue to show a strong propensity to prefer tea to coffee. According to The Economist, tea is favored at least 75 percent of the time in each country. Indeed, tea is favored in much of the East, not just India and China, while coffee tends to dominate in the West. (South India residents do have a special coffee drink: South Indian filter coffee.)
Yoga’s and tea’s paths into the United States haven’t been identical. Where one made inroads, though, you’re more likely to find the other. In other words, it’s not surprising that people who practice exercises from the Far East also drink the beverage of the Far East.
Tea also is more conducive to contemplation and meditation, which are key components of many yoga traditions, than coffee. Both beverages contain caffeine, and tea leaves actually contain more caffeine than coffee beans. There is far more caffeine in a cup of coffee than one of tea, though.
Coffee can focus the mind, and many people drink it for its stimulating effects on the brain. The way caffeine affects the brain, however, makes it difficult to remain calm and relaxed after drinking a bunch of it. It’s much easier to meditate after having tea.
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