Tea is a huge part of a lot of cultures around the world. So I decided to have a brief look at how the tea cultures differ, how it is prepared and what type of tea is drunk depending on the country:
This is where it all started. According to legend, Chinese Emperor Shen Nong in 2737BC was boiling water to drink when the leaves of a tea plant fell into his pot. In China, tea is valued highly and tea leaves are often given as gifts during courtship rituals, ancestor worships and imperial tribute taxes. In the 9th century, tea spread to countries outside China. As the world’s only tea exporting country it now had to compete with India and Ceylon (Now Sri Lanka) to grow tea. Green Tea and Pu-erh are also used as medical treatments.
Tea is Japan became valued for its cultural significance as well as its health benefits. It is now a huge part of Japanese daily life. Mainly green tea is drank in Japan, especially Matcha (the powdered tea). Cha-no-yu is a tea ceremony using the powered green tea and if you want to know more follow the link for more details! http://www.teavana.com/tea-info/japanese-tea-ceremony
The most common teas produced by India are Darjeeling, which are grown high in the Himalayas and Assam, in the Northeast of India. Just the top 1 to 2 inches of the plant are picked to make tea. A new flush grows within 7 to 15 days during growing season. The most popular tea that is drunk is Chai (Cha-ya). It is created from herbs and spices from their own palate. The recipe of Chai depends on the household, everyone has their own way of making it.
Tea is Russian is brewed using a Samovar and almost always served hot. Traditionally tea is heated in the samovar with coal and charcoal but these days the modern samovars use electricity. Before the Siberian railroad was opened, tea in Russia would only be enjoyed by aristocrats as it was expensive to obtain but now it is enjoyed by all throughout Russia.
Middle East consumers are the highest per capita consumers in the world (which was very surprising to me). Tea is a big part of the social lifestyle and is sipped on all day. Tea is usually drank from very ornate teapots and glass cups. The black tea served is usually very strong and heavily sweetened.
In the United Kingdom, tea is the most drank beverage. Black tea from India or Sri Lanka is the most popular type of tea and the most common tea blends drank are Early Grey and English Breakfast tea. The Duchess of Bedford created afternoon tea, which was traditionally served around 4pm. She created this meal time because the upper class only used to eat two meals a day (breakfast and dinner) so they would get hungry in the afternoon. Afternoon tea is still enjoyed in hotels and remains a huge part of British lifestyle.
Iced tea has been popularized by the Northern America since it was introduced in the 1900s. However, recently the demands for more specialty teas have grown and tea shops becoming more common (yay!).
I have only covered the main tea cultures in the world but I will focus on specific countries in depth in later posts. If there is a specific country that you would like for me to focus on, let me know and I’ll do some research on it.
View full size image of the illustration above by following the link: https://madhatterstable.wordpress.com/2012/07/08/tea-around-the-world/