A world of tea drinkers
The humble little tea leaf has made quite an impact worldwide. In fact, it’s become the second most drunk beverage in the world after, not surprisingly, water.
So, forget those fizzy, sugary soft drinks, those beers and wines that’ll leave you with a sore head and that other hot, black liquid (which can make you feel all jittery), it’s a tea that’s the planet’s real hero.
Tea unites the world, it’s drunk to bring people together, to calm us down, to pep us up, to soothe a crisis and to celebrate a reunion. It’s drunk out of mugs, cups, glasses and saucers; it’s drunk hot or iced, with spices, with sugar, with honey, with fruit, with milk (of all sorts: yak, we hear, is special), without milk, with, well, whatever really takes your fancy.
Learning to make tea is like a rite of passage and, of course, only you can make yourself the perfect cup. There are ceremonies the world over to celebrate the making of our favourite drink. Over the following pages, we explore some of the customs and traditions of tea drinking worldwide and highlight how this amazing drink has such a deep but diverse cultural following.
1 NEW YORK is believed to be the birthplace of the teabag in 1908 – a tea merchant inadvertently invented it when he wrapped up his tea samples in silk bags to help keep them safe in transit.
2 Yerba mate, an indigenous plant from the Amazon jungle, is the massive favourite hot brew in ARGENTINA and URUGUAY.
3 By the mid-18th century, tea had leapfrogged gin to claim the title of BRITAIN’s favourite drink.
4 IRELAND may be famed for its beloved Guinness, but its people drink more cups of tea per day than any other nation!
5 Mint tea is a staple of MOROCCAN hospitality – if you’re ever offered a cup from a local, be sure to accept it as refusing is seen as extreme rudeness. Take 5 minutes to sit down, relax and enjoy!
6 In SOUTH AFRICA rooibos (or ‘redbush tea’), from the mountainous Cederberg region, is a favourite drink, usually drunk without milk but with lemon or honey.
7 SIBERIA used solid blocks of tea as a currency until the 19th century.
8 Tea in RUSSIA is traditionally made in a samovar – a type of urn used to boil water that has a teapot filled with tea concentrate on the top.
9 When in IRAN do as the locals do and pop a sugar cube in your mouth before taking a sip of hot tea – definitely one for anyone with a sweet tooth to try!
10 The beautifully pink brew of noon chai is extremely popular in the region of KASHMIR.
11 The tea industry in INDIA employs over 1 million people.
12 In MYANMAR, they have an entirely different way to enjoy tea – they pickle it to create lappet!
13 Butter tea is the drink of choice in TIBET – tea churned with yak’s butter and salt may not be to everyone’s taste, but it gives just the right amount of energy to cope with life in the Himalayas.
14 HONG KONG offers the amazingly nicknamed ‘pantyhose milk tea’ – a mixture of black tea and condensed milk that has been passed through a sackcloth bag, which just so happens to look an awful lot like ladies’ hosiery! Yum!
15 TAIWAN gave us bubble tea and we are forever grateful!
16 In AUSTRALIA they ‘billy up the fire’ to make billy tea, made famous by the swagman in the lyrics to Waltzing Matilda.
The world over, tea has its name synonymous with the country you’re in. It seems that in those countries where tea arrived by ship the words for tea begin with the letter ‘t’ – for instance tee (German), thé (French) and té (Spanish) – while those countries where it arrived overland use words beginning with ‘tch’ or ‘ch’ – çay (Turkish), chay (Russian), chai (Arabic and in India) and po cha (Tibetan) – from the Mandarin ‘cha’.