According to legend, the history of tea began as early as 2737 BC when the Chinese emperor, Shen Nung was sitting underneath a tree. His servant was boiling water for him to drink when a few leaves from a Camellia Sinensis tree fell into the water, creating the first cup of tea.
It is estimated today that, on average, 159 million Americans drink tea on a daily basis. In 2019, Americans consumed over 84 billion servings of tea. From black tea, to green tea, to herbal tea, there are hundreds of varieties, each with its own nuances, health benefits, and tastes. It’s no wonder that tea is the second most consumed beverage, right after water.
For tea lovers and folks who want to try, SAIN Kava + Tea Bar, 110 E. Fifth St., is a hip, quaint space nestled in downtown Greenville with its own funky welcoming tea vibe. The business opened back in February and has been brewing up tea in all its medicinal and magic wonder ever since.
Co-owners, Mike Wallace and Jermaine Harris both had a love of tea and wanted to bring their knowledge and tastes to Greenville. SAIN specializes in herbal tea blends as well as kava shots, kava mixed drinks, and a variety of herbal remedy drinks. “SAIN is not just an herbal tea and kava bar, it’s a mindset that goes back to the way things were supposed to be,” Mike said. “Before, we manufactured our health and well-being. Our beverages help you get back to what’s real.”
Mike, who studied herbology and alternative medicine, came up with the name SAIN when he was typing out a family name St. Clair in a database when he was sidetracked by his rambunctious daughter. He looked back up at the screen and noticed he had typed SAIN instead. He looked up the meaning and in french it meant health. A perfect name.
Each tea beverage on the menu offers different health benefits from boosting metabolism, keeping you focused or calming your digestive system. Herbal teas re-shape and re-surface your inner wheels, allowing you a “sain” ride. Caffeinated options include the hand-blended Verde Cool made with matcha, peppermint and coconut, which have a cooling and comforting effect. Each tea is expertly blended to produce maximum health benefits.
I tried the Thai BOBA tea with black tapioca pearls. It’s served cold and made with a Thai black tea blend along with traditional chai spices. It’s earthy with a spice-noted front flavor profile. It is warm and enchanting. The tapioca pearls nestled in the sugary black bottom soak up the spices, so you get an extra warm hit of spice when you pull one through the straw.
Caffeine-free tea drinks include a variety of herbal teas and flavors. The blending of herbal teas is a handcrafted science, and Mike can create a blend that will work with the homeopathic needs you are seeking. Some of the options include Liquid Gold made with turmeric, ginger, lemongrass, licorice root, orange peel, lemon peel, black pepper and natural citrus flavors, hand-blended to maximize turmeric’s amazing anti-inflammatory properties and offer up a soothing and enjoyable taste.
They also serve an aromatic Menosha tea to aid in menopause, soothe the mind and support hormonal balance. It features over a dozen herbal teas from raspberry leaf to birch bark to dandelion root and sage. They even have teas to soothe a sore throat, help with insomnia and calm the digestive tract.
Next, I tried the Prescott iced tea made with butterfly pea flower tea, cucumber, lemon peel and lemonade. When you add citrus to the blue pea flower tea, the color changes to purple, giving it an amethyst hue. It was cool and refreshing with soft ribbons of lemon flavor. You can taste hints of soothing lemon balm too. A perfect drink to enjoy any time of day.
Now it’s time to learn about kava. Kava is made from the roots of the Piper methysticum, a plant found in the south Pacific. You soak the roots and stems in water then extract the liquid and use it as a herbal remedy. It has been known to relieve pain, help reduce anxiety, help with focus and insomnia. Many people call it an anxiety pill in a glass.
Upon initial sipping, you will start to feel your tongue go numb slightly. As the tea works on your GABA-receptors, some people feel an overwhelming calm or euphoria. Kava acts on the central nervous system and stimulates dopamine in the brain. Many recovering drug addicts and alcoholics have used kava to assist in their recovery process.
Instead of trying straight kava, I opted for a blend in pineapple juice. After my initial sips, I felt what I would call euphoric clarity about 30 minutes after I drank it. My head didn’t pop up and spin in a circle, I didn’t get a stomach ache, and I didn’t experience any dizziness or discomfort. If you are pregnant or have Parkinson’s disease, you will want to avoid using kava. Stop by the store and Mike can educate you on the benefits of adding kava to your wellness plan. It’s was a unique experience and worth learning about and trying.
If you haven’t visited a tea bar before, or are ready to add tea to your health and wellness routine, check out SAIN Kava + Tea Bar. They are open 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Follow them on Facebook or on Instagram @areyouinsane.