When most of us think of drinking tea, we envision lace gloves, dainty cucumber sandwiches, and fresh brews in porcelain china poured into adorable cups held with pinky-extended hands.
Not so. Some of the greatest fighters humanity has ever produced were known to enjoy a spot of tea as battle fuel.
Enter Rakkasan Tea Company, a veteran-owned brand on a crusade to prove tea’s illustrious role throughout military history and make the case why today’s warfighters should consider choosing the leafy beverage over muddy coffee.
“My introduction to hot tea wasn’t tea and crumpets,” said co-founder and CEO Brandon Friedman. “It was drinking tea with Iraqi and Afghan fighters between missions. It was how we bonded.”
The company’s recently-launched ad campaign depicts warriors “from Genghis Khan to Britain’s Nazi-fighting ‘Mad Jack’ Churchill and the Vietnamese Trưng sisters who rode elephants into battle against the Chinese,” according to a company release.
“In America, we tend to view tea as a proper drink for proper people, but in reality it was the foundational drink for a lot of great warriors and thinkers throughout history,” said Diesel Jack Media and Ranger Up founder Nick Palmisciano, one of Rakkasan’s partners.
And he’s right. Tea has numerous health benefits for those seeking an active lifestyle. It’s been reported to encourage heart health, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, reduce risk of stroke, prevent cancer and improve focus — all good things.
And there’s a flavor for everyone.
“In east Asia, they would likely have been drinking green or white tea, as black tea came about later,” Friedman told Military Times. “Mad Jack Churchill, however, was almost certainly drinking black tea in the British Army. And Ragnar and Boudica would have consumed herbal teas.”
For the Japanese Samurai, some of the most revered warriors in history, tea was more than a drink — it played a prominent role in their military identity and culture.
“There’s some evidence that it was also integral to their training, sharpening their acuity, focusing their concentration and patience,” according to TeaBox. “This prepared them for the explosive violence they could unleash.”
Rakkasan Tea Company, which traces its roots to the U.S. military, has a mission to do more than just sell tea, the release said.
In 2017, the company began working to promote economic stability and peace by importing and selling premium loose-leaf tea grown solely in post-conflict countries like Rwanda, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Nepal, Laos, Sri Lanka and Colombia.