After water, tea is the most popular beverage consumed in the world. In America, however, tea is mostly still used when we are sick or if we’re looking to cool off with a refreshing iced tea. Iced tea, by the way, is consumed by the gallons in the south and at many of our favorite fast food restaurants. In other parts of the world though, hot tea is a daily staple. So what’s the tea on tea around the world..
Why do I think tea is so popular? Well, tea is an old beverage. It originated in 2737 BC with Chinese Emperor Shen Nung. It has a very rich history and a ton of cultural significance. It is also extremely interesting. Here are some interesting tea facts.
• Did you know that all tea comes from the same plant?
• Did you know that like wine, tea is highly influenced by its terroir- the soil, sunlight, and air in which the plant is grown.
• Did you know that not everything we call tea is actually tea?
Read on to learn more!
1. Taste and Variety: It’s plain and simple – tea tastes good and there is a lot of variety to taste. Whether hot or iced, tea is full of unique tastes and flavors. As mentioned before, like wine, the terroir or where its grown imparts a distinctive taste profile. I often say drinking tea is like traveling the world in a cup. Whether it’s a sencha green tea from Japan, a black tea from China or an Assam from India, drinking tea if an adventure for your palate.
2. Accessibility, Cost and Convenience of Making: Although tea may appear to be expensive at first glance, when you factor in the actual cost per serving, it’s one of the world’s most affordable luxuries. The quantity of tea used to make a cup will vary depending upon the tea type, but the industry standard is that on average a pound of tea can yield around 200 cups. This is much higher than a pound of coffee which yields around 40-50 cups. Keep in mind that with some oolong and green teas you can also steep multiple times!
3. Ritual and Ceremony: The importance of the ritual of tea drinking plays a central role in many cultures around the world. Developed in China, the original tea ceremony focuses on the actual tea itself including the taste, smell and look versus the more predefined Japanese tea ceremony with strict, memorialized rules. In China, the host and those enjoying the tea will drink tea for a number of reasons including honoring guests, showing appreciation, celebrating a life event and much more.
The Japanese tea ceremony (The Way of Tea or Chado) is highly revered for its connection with Zen Buddism and a refined attention to detail. The preparation and serving of matcha tea is elevated to performance art. Drinking strong black tea from a Samovar is a key component of Russia’s tea culture tradition. In Morroco, drinking mint tea (a mixture of gunpowder green, fresh mint leaves and sugar) is a national pastime. You can find chai wallahs everywhere in India serving up fresh cups of chai tea. Afternoon and high tea in England highlight the importance to the British of tea in society and their culture.
4. Caffeine: Let’s be honest – lots of people like tea because it’s a good alternative to coffee and provides them with a caffeine boost. Waking up or making it through a long afternoon at work can be difficult. A hot cup of tea provides a nice pick-me-up and makes it easier to get through the day.
5. Health Benefits: Many studies have been published that have concluded that tea may have positive health benefits. These studies have noted the lower caffeine, increase in antioxidants and L-Theanine. I'll make a blog post about that later. It's just so much goodness :)