Relaxation, spirituality, tradition and pleasure; tea isn’t just a drink, and all across the world, at any given time, millions of us enjoy the drink, for many different reasons. Continuing on our tea tales journey, we’d like to invite you to join us as we jet around the four corners of the world and explore the different types of tea enjoyed in various countries, as well as the associated customs, rituals and legends that are out there.
Having introduced the world to tea, China is the perfect place to start.
For Chinese people, tea is very much a way of life. The country’s diverse climate creates literally hundreds of different types of tea; Oolong, Jasmine and Gunpowder are some of the more familiar teas, but how about Huangshan Moafeng?
Legend states that this variety of green tea plant grew from the tears of a young girl who lost her lover the day before their wedding. “Cha Doa” refers to the art of making tea and is closely linked to Daoism and Chinese philosophies of balance, harmony, fulfilment and enjoyment.
Japan is home to popular teahouses where Matcha is served.
Matcha is prepared in the same way today as it was in the 12th century, and is essentially dried to the point where it can be ground in to a fine, bright green powder to then made in to a drink.
The tea is sometimes used as the basis of a traditional Japanese ceremony called Chado (“Way of tea”), the ceremony is a spiritual experience where the host may spend a lot of time preparing for all the correct gestures and movements required.
Tea is one of the most popular drinks in India, and it’s no surprise as the country produces and consumes more tea than anywhere else in the world.
The national drink of India is called Chai, which is a black tea infused with flavours of ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper, cardamom and cloves. It has been popular for centuries and is the first thing offered to any guests.
Chai sellers and vendors (known as Chaiwallahs) are a staple of the community, with their stalls which line the streets being a centre for gossip and news amongst the locals.
Thailand is perhaps best known for delicious Thai iced tea, or ‘cha-yen”. It’s a drink which has become popular in Thai restaurants around the world and is made from strongly brewed black tea served over ice.
Various aromatic flavours and spices are added including orange blossom, cinnamon, star anise and ground tamarind. The drink is sweet and floral, with a liquorice aroma. Cha-yen is perfect in blisteringly hot weather, or as an accompaniment to equally hot food!
You can’t talk about the world of tea and not mention Britain! Tea is as synonymous with British culture as fish and chips, cricket and the royal family.
From dainty afternoon teashops selling earl grey and scones, to a hearty builder’s brew at a greasy spoon, people can’t live without our favourite hot beverage. Its popularity has remained since the days of the empire, and shows no sign of wavering, with over 160 million cups being drunk in the UK every day.
If you spend any time in Morocco you’re guaranteed to be served some delicious hot mint tea, or Touareg, as it’s known.
This drink is fully engrained in Moroccan culture and strongly linked to hospitality. It is typically poured into tall glasses over three servings, with each serving having a unique flavour. You are then meant to reflect on the wishes and meanings of life, love and death.
The first serving is describes as being as “gentle as life”, the second glass is “as strong as love” and the third “as bitter as death”.
For that Moroccan flavour why not try Moroccan Mint.
Russia, having embraced tea culture much later than most countries, have truly made it their own with the intensely strong tea drink known as zavarka.
This drink is made with boiling water and loose tea leaves that are then steeped to make a concentrated, powerful base for tea.
Undiluted, zavarka is undrinkable, but as a part of a Russian tea ceremony, drinkers would use what’s known as a traditional samovar which is an ornate metal container that holds boiling water, to which the person pouring would then dictate the strength of the brew.
So there you have it, the truly global nature of tea and its amazing ceremonial value for people around the world. So many nations love to wake up and smell the tea that wherever you find yourself, you are sure to be able to enjoy a delicious brew of the local blend.
Credit to: twinings.co.uk