How People Drink Tea Across the Globe
You know all about afternoon tea in England – but what’s it like to have matcha in Japan? Or mint tea in Morocco? Below, we take a look at some of the different ways tea lovers drink their favorite beverage around the world.
In Morocco, green tea is combined with mint leaves and sweetened before being poured into dainty glasses from a pot held high by the host. It’s extremely rude to decline the tea, so drink up.
In Japan, tea ceremonies reign. With roots in Zen Buddhism, the ritual often makes use of matcha tea. Also known as the Way of Tea, the ceremonies involve elaborate rituals meant to represent grace and good etiquette. A chaji, or formal tea gathering, can last up to four hours.
Tea in Great Britain has enough variations to fill a set of encyclopedias (check out this article for a comprehensive run-down), but we’re most interested in afternoon tea, which is the pinkies-out sort of affair that you probably associate with the British and their tea. Reportedly, it began when Anna Maria Russell, the duchess of Bedford, felt hunger pains between lunch and dinner and called for refreshments to be served in her bedroom chambers. Today, it’s served with pastries and tiny sandwiches, and you’ll want to mind your manners by placing your napkin in your lap and avoiding devouring all of the food set before you (doing so would be highly unladylike).
Chai is India’s tea of choice, a spicy-sweet variety made of black tea, star anise, cardamom and cinnamon. It’s commonly served with milk and sugar, and can be purchased from tea stalls. Guests are served chai, but locals also drink it often – twice a day, or more. The tea’s hot temperature is thought to trigger cooling reflexes in the body. Vendors known as chai wallahs sell the brew in clay cups made from local earth; some say that the dust from the cups is essential to the drink’s true taste.
Russians prepare their tea in a samovar, which is a container that holds loose-leaf tea concentrate called zavarka at the top. They vary the strength of their tea by pouring in more or less water. Serving zavarka without cookies or another accompanying snack is considered highly rude.
Move over, Turkish coffee: Cay tea is the country’s most popular drink, served with every meal (and sometimes in between). It’s black tea without milk, though sometimes sugar is added. It’s brewed in a two-chamber pot.
Order a cup of tea in Tibet and you might be surprised by what you’re served. The local po cha, or butter tea, is made of tea, salt, and – wait for it – yak butter. The bitter taste develops over several hours of brewing, and then the tea is combined with the butter and salt right before serving.
Hong Kong’s iced milk tea is made by mixing strong chilled black tea with condensed milk and ice. But what do they call it? Pantyhose tea – for its color, which is similar to nude ’hose.
Traditional Chinese tea ceremonies, called Gongfu Tea, are very elaborate. The aroma cup plays an important role, allowing guests to sniff the brew in order to pick up nuances of the tea’s delicate scent. After that, guests are invited to drink their tea, which is poured in a continuous circle until each cup is full. Cradle the cup and sip slowly; afterward, continue to hold the cup and relish the lingering aroma.
You already know that Taiwan is home to some of the best oolong tea in the world, but did you know that it’s also the country of origin of bubble tea? Also known as pearl milk tea, bubble tea can be served hot or cold and is poured over tapioca pearls cooked in a sugary syrup. Bubble tea is so popular it can now be found worldwide.
Have we missed your favorite tea ritual? Share in the comments below!
Information on tea rituals gathered from: