All Women's Talk

7 Places to Drink Tea around the World and How ...

By Neecey

China Tea, black tea, green tea, herbal tea, decaff tea, breakfast tea, Earl Grey tea, gunpowder tea - there are so many types of tea, but there are places to drink tea around the world where how you drink it and even sometimes, where you drink it is as important as the choice of what you drink. The next time you go to add your milk and two sugars or squeeze a lemon, think on how it’s done traditionally and historically in these places to drink tea and you might make a change to your usual cuppa.

1 Morocco

MoroccoWhen I visited Morocco, I knew it to be one of the places to drink tea and had a vague idea that it was somewhat ritualistic and involved mint. My palate wasn’t really that cultivated back then and although I didn’t enjoy the taste, I appreciated the theatre of the way it was served. Tea in Morocco is generally a mix of green tea and mint tea, with liberal doses of sugar. It is usually poured with a flourish (and some skill) from height into dainty glasses. It’s rude to refuse a cup of tea if you are offered it so just sip it if you don’t like the taste. The glasses are usually small so it’s not such a hardship to avoid offending your host.

2 Japan

JapanIf you have seen the movie Karate Kid II, you’ll already have some idea of how tea is revered in Japan. But, as beautiful and romantic, the Tea Ceremony – known as Chanoyu – is, it’s not an everyday occurrence. The original Chanoyu dates back to the 12th century when tea leaves were first introduced into Japan by Buddhist monks traveling from China. Some traditional families may conduct their own versions of the ceremony in their own homes but on a general level, tea is simply a much-loved and favorite beverage, enjoyed for its medicinal properties and its spiritual connection with nature.

3 India

IndiaIf you love a good cuppa, India is one of the best places to drink tea. Indians love tea. The basic chai is as you would expect - hot tea with the addition of milk and a sweetener. The type of tea used varies very much on the location. Tea is grown in various states in India – Assam, Kerala and Himachal Pradesh being the main producers, and it is the Assam teas that dominate the chai scene. You will find street stalls selling chai in every town and as the west is looking for more ways to enjoy their favorite beverage, spiced chai – aka masala chai – is growing in popularity. Spiced chai, is basic chai enhanced and enriched by the addition of vibrant Indian spices like cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger.

4 Russia

RussiaThey don’t serve iced tea in Russia. The country is mostly cold so Russia is one of the places to drink tea when it is hot and warming to the body and soul. Like many places, when tea was first introduced it was the reserve of the rich – no Russian peasant could afford it when the price reflected it had travelled more than 10,000 miles usually by camel train. Today though, tea is ubiquitous, with an estimated 80+ per cent of the population drinking at least one cup daily. It is generally served black sweetened with sugar and lemon and honey. There are some charming traditions of tea in Russia. In the 19th century it was the custom to not add sugar to the tea itself, but to hold a sugar lump in your teeth and drink the tea through it. Then there’s the samovar – essentially a two part kettle which is often highly decorative and comes in a wide variety of sizes for the simple1-2 cup to being able to serve a whole party.

5 Kenya

KenyaDid you know that Kenya is the second largest exporter of tea in the world, behind Sri Lanka? I was surprised too, I assumed it would be India or China. Kenya drinks its fair share of its own product though – they are a nation of tea lovers. We can thank the Brits for introducing tea to Kenya which was a major African colony of the British Empire, and indeed the tea that is grown in Kenya is appealing to the British palate. It’s no surprise therefore that drinking tea in Kenya mirrors tea drinking in the UK. The tea of choice is chai (black tea – usually Pekoe) and it is taken hot with milk and sugar.

6 The UK

The UKWe all know the UK loves tea. Many people think that there are no traditions relating to tea anymore and that it’s one of the most boring places to drink tea. But seriously, how little credit my fellow Brits give to our rituals. There are many of them,; people just don’t realize they are ritualistic about the way they make and take their tea. Some will swear by tea made in a pot and will have all kinds of traditions, like swilling out the pot with hot water first, only using leaf tea, and adding an extra spoon of leaves or a bag “for the pot”. Some people will only drink leaf tea from a china cup (my grandmother – heaven forbid you should have ever offered her a mug of tea bag tea!). We have greasy spoons who serve tea in bucket sized mugs, so dark the spoon stands up by itself and then there’s the ritual of afternoon tea being kept alive up and down the country by humble tea shops and the swankiest hotels. Go to the supermarket and there are aisles of tea of every flavor, color and combination! The UK is far from one of the most boring places to drink tea.

7 China

ChinaTime to move on to where it all began. The story goes that tea was “invented” sometime around 2737 BC by Emperor Shennong. One day, a tea leaf drifted into his pot of water that was being boiled to make drinking water. Shennong took a sip and the legend that is tea was born. Ever since, tea has been important in China – not only as one of its major cash crops, but as the nation’s favorite beverage. It is considered one of the “Seven Necessities” along with rice, salt, sauce, vinegar, oil and firewood. Green tea is the favored type and is esteemed for its medicinal properties. Like most tea drinking countries there are some customs and rituals, and in China, each province has their favorite ways to make and take tea.

Did you know that drinking tea could be so interesting? How do you take yours?

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