The practice of drinking tea has a long and complex history. Tea has been enjoyed and revered for over a thousand years. Beginning in China and spreading across Asia, it is a central part of traditional ceremonies and special celebrations. From preparing, brewing and sharing tea, tea traditions around the world can vary.

Tea traditions around the world reflect each culture tweaking the drink to fit their own style. Nonetheless, the constant among the different traditions is the shared love of tea. It is an incredibly diverse drink, accessible to all people and classes, and a lovely simple way to socialise with and to treat yourself.

What is tea?

Tea refers to a drink made by steeping the leaves from the Camellia Sinensis family of shrubs. Tea is the second most popular beverage after water, and it is this popularity which encouraged different tea traditions around the world.

The Chinese classification of tea divides tea into six types, based on the degree of oxidation. These are green tea, red tea, oolong tea, yellow tea, white tea and black tea. Did you know, confusingly, in the Western world, red tea is referred to as black tea due to historical tea trade terminology? The most consumed teas worldwide are green, oolong and black teas (as defined in the Western terminology).

Many herbal ‘teas’ are also drunk worldwide. However, these are not technically tea and often called tisanes instead. Herbal tisanes are made by steeping flowers, leaves, roots and bark of other plants in hot water to make drinks like peppermint tea or chamomile tea.

Tea travelled across the world

In the beginning, tea was used in ritual offerings in China. Then, tea leaves were eaten as a vegetable, or used in medicine. Tea drinking become an art form and a recreation enjoyed by society only during the Tang Dynasty (618 to 907). From then on, its popularity spread across Asia.

Portuguese priests reportedly brought the drink to Europe during the 16th century from the Portugese colony of Macau. In the 17th century, a Portugese princess popularised the drink in England after marrying the English monarch.

And from England, tea travelled to India as the English wanted to produce tea for their own consumption without relying on the Chinese. The Portugese probably would not have predicted how their love of tea would change the world in this way!

Tea traditions around the world: Let’s look at how some countries in Asia celebrate tea

China

Tea is an essential part of daily life and cultural identity across China. It is especially important during family celebrations such as weddings and birthdays, where respect to elders is paid using tea. Tea is also used when praying to ancestors and entertaining guests.

Tea is revered in a number of other ways. It is enjoyed in private or in formal tea houses. It is enjoyed in the tea ceremony known as “Gong Fu Cha” (meaning “tea with great skill”). Gong Fu Cha involves the ritualised preparation, pouring and serving of tea. The fluid hand movements of an experienced practitioner almost seem like an elegant dance!

Chinese_tea_traditions_around_the_world

“Yum Cha” is a favourite Chinese culinary experience from the Cantonese-speaking belt of China. This has now gained immense popularity all over the world, including cities here in Australia. “Yum cha” (Cantonese for “drink tea”) is a tradition of eating bite-sized “dim sum” and drinking tea, often in family groups.

Originating from Taiwan, bubble tea is another relatively new way of enjoying tea that is popular with the young crowd. Bubble tea is a cold drink with a mix of tea, milk, and chewy balls of tapioca.

Japan

Japan has embraced tea and tea traditions and made them all their own. The Japanese have a tea ceremony which is held for only the most special of occasions and you might only experience a few times in your life.

The Japanese tea ceremony (or “chado”, the way of tea) is taught in special schools.  Traditionally, it cannot be performed by just anyone or just anywhere. The teahouse is called the sukiya, and the door is traditionally small to require people to bow upon entering and come to the ceremony from a position of humility and respect.

Japanese_matcha_tea_traditions_around_the_world

Japan has created some of its own special forms of tea as well, which are taking the culinary world by storm at the moment. Matcha, for example, is a powder made from the green leaves of the tea plant grown in special shaded conditions. It has a very distinct flavour which lends itself beautifully to desserts, ice creams, and pastries as well as hot and cold drinks.

Tibet

The Tibetan people celebrate their tea in quite a different way to other Asian cultures, preferring it served with rich, creamy butter, salt, and milk, even yak’s milk.

Tibetan_tea_traditions_around_the_world

Tea drinking in Tibet is again quite ceremonial, with guests to a home saying tributes to Buddha using highland barley wine before drinking their butter tea. Guests take great care in finishing their cup of tea, or they risk insulting the host’s hospitality!

India

India has become one of the largest tea producing countries in the world, with its most famous kinds including Darjeeling and Assam.

The Indian way of drinking tea uses milk and has popularised the chai drink across the world. Masala (meaning spice) chai (meaning tea) is tea mixed with spices such as ginger, cardamom, black pepper, and cinnamon, as well as sugar.

Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei

The Southeast Asian countries of the Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei love their “teh tarik”, meaning “pulled tea”. This popular drink is first created by Indian-Muslim immigrants, and is served in roadside stalls or coffee shops.

Comprised of black tea, sugar and condensed milk mixed to frothy perfection, the concoction is poured through the air between two metal cups until it reaches the right texture. It takes years to master the art, so that you don’t pour the hot tea on yourself!

Thailand

In Thailand, most people enjoy red tea which usually has a blend of anise and red and yellow spices. This is served cold mixed with sugar and condensed milk, and is another tea drink which is being popularised through Western countries.

Across Australia, many Thai restaurants will serve this lovely iced tea drink as a refreshing treat.

Myanmar

In Myanmar, people enjoy tea as a drink served with or without milk. But did you know that Myanmaris also enjoy eating their tea? Their national dish is known as lahpet, which is pickled tea served with a variety of side dishes and accompaniments.

Lahpet is eaten as a salad or as sort of a grazing platter, accompanied by things like fried garlic, coconut, sesame, peas, and peanuts.

Tea traditions around the world: to be continued

Next time, I will continue our geographical exploration of tea traditions around the world, focusing on Europe and North Africa.

What is your favourite tea tradition or your memorable tea experience? Share with me in the comments section below!

 

Wishing you a great day,

The Caffeine Trifecta Signature

Suk-yi is a caffeine lover, blogger, entrepreneur, air quality consultant, environmentalist, world citizen, wife and mother. She explores various topics related to coffee, tea, chocolate and everything in between on her blog. Make sure to follow her on her Facebook Page, Instagram Page and Pinterest Page.

Everything you need to

slow down, fill your cup

and indulge

 

Great coffee, tea and chocolate

 

Everything you need to

slow down, fill your cup

and indulge.

 

Great coffee, tea and chocolate

 

SLOW DOWN, LIVE WELL

More than your typical coffee, tea or chocolate company. 

(We love all those things, but we want more for you).

Although we provide techie information that will make any caffeine geek swoon, we focus on being a welcoming haven - approaching coffee, tea and chocolate from an intuitive perspective. 

We strive to inspire both the heart and the mind when it comes to enjoying your caffeine.

Why is this different?

So much of coffee, tea and chocolate is allowing oneself time and space to stop and ruminate. To clock off from a busy day when you need it the most. To clock in to yourself by cultivating moments of solitude or to deepen connection with others. To have a slower and richer pace. 

We know this is what's missing from most other online, caffeine friendly places. We're going to teach you how to live well, in that moment.

Welcome to The Caffeine Trifecta.

 

LOVE COFFEE, TEA & CHOCOLATE?

Join our email list for our latest news & giveaways!
It’s the best way to stay in touch so you don’t miss a thing - latest information, recommendations, recipes, mindfulness tips & more. Plus we love a surprise giveaway or discount. Be sure to stay in touch.

LOVE COFFEE, TEA & CHOCOLATE?

Join our email list for our latest news & giveaways!
It’s the best way to stay in touch so you don’t miss a thing - latest information, recommendations, recipes, mindfulness tips & more. Plus we love a surprise giveaway or discount. Be sure to stay in touch.

LET'S INDULGE IN WORDS

Create moments that matter. With a thoughtful cup of coffee, tea or chocolate. 

Slow Coffee Over The Weekend

Slow Coffee Over The Weekend

Coffee is such an essential part of every day that we may not really stop to think about it. It becomes a habit and something that we just do so quickly. We wake up, we drink coffee, we get on with the day. Coffee becomes such a given in our lives, especially during...

read more
What is hygge, and why should you embrace it?

What is hygge, and why should you embrace it?

I love the Danish concept of hygge. Hygge (pronounced ‘hue-gah’) is defined by the Oxford dictionary as ‘a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being’. Even that definition sounded kind of like poetry – don’t...

read more

COME JOIN US ON A JOURNEY

Click on an option below to get started.  

YOU'LL LOVE THESE

We complement your journey of living well with caffeine through great coffee, tea and chocolate.

Picked, roasted, handcrafted and produced with passion and expertise.

Only the Best

We know how time-consuming it can be to find quality coffee, tea and chocolate. Not to fret as you've come to the right place! We've done all the hard work for you in finding the best small businesses that serve you caffeine.

Browse and Buy

Shopping on our website is really simple. Buy or subscribe from as many different sellers as you like, or from your favourite. Add the products to your cart and proceed to an easy check-out via secure payment.

Delivered to You

Our sellers will deliver their products directly to you for that added personal touch. You'll receive a few different parcels if you've purchased from different sellers. All you need to do is sit back and enjoy!

WE ARE LOVED BY

shares