From a single plant, Camellia Sinensis, tea is consumed in different forms and enjoyed by many around the world. Tea culture is steeped in history, formed by centuries of trade, beliefs, practices and experiences.
India is both a huge producer and consumer of tea. Amongst all its variants, the country is best known for its chai blends – black tea leaves mixed with spices such as cinnamon, ginger, nutmegs and more. White sugar and honey are typically added to chai tea to enhance its taste. Milk and other dairy alternatives like soy and almond milk are also added after chai was discovered in India and cultivated by the British, who ruled at the time and had an insatiable thirst for black tea with milk and sugar.
Chai tea is an essential part of their daily lives, and readily available anywhere on the go!
Tea was discovered fortuitously by a Chinese ruler Shen Nong about 5000 years ago when tea leaves fell into hot water and made a refreshing drink. Chinese tea can be classified into different categories such as green tea, black tea, oolong tea, white tea and fermented tea based on their level of fermentation and processing method.
The traditional Chinese tea ceremony is a very detailed process, down to the intricate designs on its small pot and cups. The first step is to invite the guests to smell the leaves before brewing, along with warming the cups with a wash of the tea's first brew. The second is drinking, and the tea will be poured by arranging the cups in a circle, pouring in one continuous motion, around and around until each cup is full.
English tea is usually served with milk and confectioneries such as cakes and pies, and are often served between lunch and dinner. Afternoon tea also gave way to another favorite tradition: the creation of tea gardens, a quaint and quiet place for people to enjoy tea with the nature.
In England today, the tradition of afternoon tea continues on in the homes, neighborhood cafes and tea rooms. Whether it is a short break for a cup of tea and a small cookie, or a 3 course event of cakes, scones with jam, afternoon tea will continue to be a true English tradition. And tea itself will have a lasting place in English culture. Besides afternoon tea, the English consume large quantities of tea throughout the day, even at night before bed.
Tea is believed to have first arrived on Japanese shores in the 9th century from China. It has gained popularity throughout the years and is established as the most commonly consumed beverage in the country.
Tea is a part of everyday life in Japan and is readily available within the country. Its cultural significance is best manifested during Japanese tea ceremonies (Chado), which can occur in both informal and formal settings. A single ceremony last up to several hours and the focus is very much on the art of tea making, with great care and attention going into the creation of each brew.
Japan produces and consumes mainly green tea. The largest producing regions are Shizuoka, Kagoshima, Mie and Kyoto. Sencha is the most popular green tea produced throughout the country. While Shizuoka is now the largest producing region, Uji is often referred to as the birthplace of Japanese tea culture as this is where the Japanese tea ceremony was first established.
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