Shift of Female Involvement in Tea Culture

Through the latter half of the 20th Century, tea had become much more apparent within the public’s eye and has led to a deeper involvement within people’s lives. Tea's popularity can be witnessed in its increased presence in the media. From newspaper and magazine articles about the potential health benefits of tea to paid advertisements touting the delicious taste, tea seems to be everywhere, and the national awareness of tea is, undoubtedly, on the rise. Tea suggests something healthy and wholesome, something brand-new yet tinged with tradition, something slow and peaceful and mindful (Martin, 167). With the wide array of brands, types, and temperatures, tea became more heavily involved with the public. Women have been a large demographic for tea advertising for the last century, and while it is still quite apparent, the ways in which tea is advertised to its consumer has strayed from the days of “afternoon tea.” Tea is no longer about being fancy, classy, or culture, but is depicted as a refreshing drink for everyone to enjoy. Tea was no longer a predominately female social event but was a more casual and common drink. Men, women, and children all seemed to have a role within tea consumption, and the increased development of convenient, healthy drinks led to a much larger market.

While tea continues to rise in popularity, tea advertisers turned to other forms of advertising, such as athlete sponsorship and television advertisements. Above are two advertisements from the Lipton tea company, involving 18-time Grand Slam champion, professional tennis player Chris Evert Lloyd. These advertisements portray these tea products as a refreshing, healthy, and athletic drink. These advertisements offer us an interesting viewpoint on the shift in tea advertising throughout the back end of the century. In relation to the print advertisements from Lipton on the previous page, these advertisements only came out a few years later. There is a noticeable shift in the way these advertisements convey themselves to the audience throughout the 1980s. Both the print and TV advertisements acknowledge the taste and health benefits of the product, but do so in different ways. The print advertisements portray women as delicate, slender, and sexy, leaving the audience with a somewhat negative or sexist connotation. On the other hand, the Chris Evert advertisements appeal to and portray women in a very different manner. In this tea advertisement, Evert portrayed women as strong, tenacious, and athletic – leaving the audience with a sense of empowerment. Even the language in the advertisements give different meaning. Tea is advertised as “light, clean, and not syrupy or sweet like a soft drink” instead of just a number of calories implied to help watch your weight. This noticeable shift in tea advertising has led to more diverse and involved consumers, and has progressed away from society’s unfair perception and representation of women.

As we have followed trends in tea advertising in regards to women, health, and culture, it is apparent that there has been a large shift in nature throughout the century. Tea expanded its zones of production by establishing groups of new consumers through appealing to cultures health, fitness, and femininity. We can recognize the trends that have led us to the point of unfair representation and objectification of women within advertising, and are able to understand the results and consequences of these themes. From here, we can use these visual sources and trends to recognize how advertisers promote their product, and stray from harmful representation in the future. Gender, health, and culture are all massively important topics within society, and recognizing these values within tea advertising and advertising in general can help portray commodities effectively.

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