Tea Traditions From Around the World

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:

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China

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.

Japan

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

India

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.

Russia

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

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.

United Kingdom

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.

North America

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.

Drink On!

View full size image of the illustration above by following the link: https://madhatterstable.wordpress.com/2012/07/08/tea-around-the-world/

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Spices: Drying your own and where to shop for them.

Hopefully from these posts I have inspired you to make your own tea blends! One thing I have noticed is that good quality spices can really impact the taste of your tea. I started off buying all my spices for my tea but then decided to experiment with drying my own spices instead. I started off with dried ginger, I realized that buying the root fresh and drying it myself was cheaper than buying the already dried spice. Of course, if I cannot get it in stores or if the plant is not native to California then I can’t dry it. However, anything that I can grow on my patio and dry in the Sun or in the oven, is fair game. I also branched out to drying my own fruit. If you like your kitchen gadgets you can purchase yourself a nifty dehydrator but if you’re on a budget (like me) then the oven will do fine. So I spoke about drying ginger… well let me tell you how easy it is to dry!

  1. Buy ginger
  2. Peel ginger and cut into slices as thin as you can manage
  3. Lay out the ginger (not on top of each other) on a dish on top of parchment paper or kitchen towel
  4. Leave for 4 days to 1 week depending on how hot it is where you live
  5. Dried Ginger!

Now for fruit… I have recently dried apples so here goes:

  1. Preheat oven to 200F
  2. Cut apple into 1/8th inch slices. I don’t peel or de-core the apple as I like the cool star shape the core makes and the skin gives it color but it is completely your choice.
  3. Lay out the apples on a tray lined with parchment paper
  4. Cook for 1 hour, flipping the apples, cook for another hour
  5. If you want your apples very crispy, then cook for another hour

I also like to season my apples with cinnamon!

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The last comment I’ll make on drying your own fruits is that I try to dry the fruits that are currently in season as they’ll be more ripe which will make for tastier dried fruit. I caught the apples at the end of the season but next I am going to be drying strawberries and maybe apricots. Here’s a list of what fruits and vegetables are in season in Spring: http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/whats-in-season-spring

Now, for those spices you can’t grow or buy in your country I suggest going to a specialty spice shop. Supermarkets will stock the more well known spices but if you’re into trying the more weird and wonderful then I recommend finding a spice shop or an ethnic food market. I go to the Savory Spice Store as they have all the spices you can imagine and it won’t break the bank either. Here’s a link to their website:  http://www.savoryspiceshop.com/

Drink On!

Spiced Apple Tea Recipe

For a while I tried to make this tea into a premixed blend that could be stored but found it difficult to get a strong apple flavor without the use of artificial flavoring (which is not what I want to do). So I decided on a different technique and this gave me the strong apple flavor I wanted with using fresh ingredients. Also for this recipe, I dried my own apples. The instructions for that I will give in another post or if you really want to know just send me a message!


Ingredients

8 oz                        Water

½ cup                    Dried apples

1 inch                    Cinnamon Stick

¼ tsp                     Cloves

1 tsp                      Black/Rooibos Tea

Instructions

  1. In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil
  2. Throw in the dried apples, cinnamon stick and cloves
  3. Simmer for 10 minutes
  4. After 10 minutes, turn off oven top and add in the tea. Depending on the tea, let it steep for 3-4 if using black tea or 5-10 if using rooibos tea
  5. Pour through baby sieve and enjoy!

Review: Precious White Peach White Tea

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Price: 14.98 for 2 oz

Ingredients: White tea, apple pieces, candied pineapple pieces (pineapple, sugar, citric acid), rose hip peels, peach pieces (peach, rice, flour), artificial flavoring, lemon verbena, chamomile flowers, marigold petals.

Temperature: 175°F/79°C

Brew time: 4-5 min

So yet again I found myself in Teavana tasting the free samples they had out and just my luck they had their high quality Jasmine Silver Needle White Tea out. Whilst tasting this and talking to a sales agent I decided to be daring and try a white tea. After I said this the sales agent rushed off to the counter and took out a couple samples for me to smell and in the end I decided to purchase the Precious White Peach White Tea. The canister that held the leaves in store had a beautifully strong smell of peach and pineapple. So I went home and put the kettle on to try out my new tea! I was warned in store to make sure the water was at the right temperature so I busted out a thermometer and made sure that the temperature was exact. Finally to taste this tea! The taste is very different to black tea, it is light and delicate. This tea was already sweet but if you want to add sugar you are welcome to. When I let it brew longer the peach taste and smell grew stronger and I could detect more floral notes. I found it very refreshing and have been suggested that it tastes good iced so I will be trying that too. I very much enjoyed this tea and would probably buy again!

Rating: 4.5/5

Drink On!

A Tea Voyage Through LACMA

Recently I decided to go to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) as I have never been before and to see if I could find any interesting teapots and teacups on display. I was pleasantly surprised by the beautiful and intricate tea sets they had on display! I will be going through a few of my favorite tea sets I saw throughout my visit and a little bit behind each one.

This four-piece tea set was designed by Josef Hoffman in Austria in 1922 and is made from silver and ivory. This set is one of only three in existence. Its sleek surfaces combined with its carved tulips on the ivory handles make it a beautiful masterpiece.

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This teapot with Lid and Cup is inscribed with the Crest of John Deane. It was made in India, Mughal empire, c. 1725-32 and is made from Cobalt blue glass with gilding and a brass sprout. John Deane was the governor of Bengal for the English East India Company from 1723 to 1726 and 1728 to 1732.

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This Ovalado tea set was designed by William Spratling in 1945. It is made out of silver and the handles are made out of rosewood with a conch shell motif. This design was inspired from Aztec designs as even though Spratling was an American architect, he settled in Mexico and continued his art from there.

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Here are some more teapots and tea sets I found throughout the day! The museum closed before I could explore the teapots in the Chinese art collection so it looks like I will have to go back for round two of exploring LACMA. If you know of any other museums that have wonderfully delightful teapots and tea set that I must see then please comment below!

Drink On!