Tea Traditions Around the World, Pt. 1

aroundtheworld

I’ve traveled all over with world with Char and recently Kat and I have taken a few adventures as well. One thing we’ve learned is tea can be found in every corner of the globe. I’ve seen it offered as a sign of hospitality, expertly prepared in an intricate ceremony, served at large gatherings, and of course just consumed at all times of the day. There are so many cultures around the world that enjoy tea. It would take pages and pages to discuss it! Here are a few places where we’ve had memorable cups of tea.

In Morocco, we were greeted with mint tea everywhere we went. Many households offer it to guests in greeting when they visit. It is a sign of hospitality we greatly enjoyed. These teas are a mixture of green tea and mint leaves, often served quite sweet. I loved how it is usually served in little glasses and poured out of a teapot perched high above the glass. It is theatrical and delicious! I remember how lovely those vibrant green mint leaves looked floating in the tea, dancing as they poured into the cup.

To re-create Moroccan mint tea at home, Kat often brews a pot of green tea and will add loads of mint to each cup. For the colder months when mint isn’t available, Kat picked up a box of Wegmans Peppermint Tea to add to her green tea. This tea only contains cooling, refreshing peppermint so it is a perfect substitute to using the leafy green herb. After bringing this tea home from the store, Kat was surprised at just how aromatic it was.  She drinks it alone to relax in the evenings, or uses it for her Moroccan tea fix. After a few sips she imagines she’s sitting amongst the vibrant Arabic art and architecture.

In India, masala chai of course is the drink of choice. Whenever I think of India I see steaming cups of fresh tea infused with ginger, cardamom, cloves and pepper. You can find it on the streets sold by chai wallahs.  I recently discussed masala chai in a previous post. The flavor of masala chai depends on the region you visit. I recently found this wonderful website that tells stories of the chai wallahs in India. Reading through it makes me wish Kat would whisk me back there.

In Russia, black tea is made into a concentrated brew and then diluted with boiling water. Traditionally the water was boiled with a samovar, but these days the gorgeous urns are mostly ornamental. You can find a few tips on how to create the concentrated tea and water mixture here.  Russian tea is often sweetened with a spoonful of jam. The teas are usually smoked black blends, and adding jam gives an amazing combination of smoky and sweet.

In China tea is of course ubiquitous. You’ll find green, oolong, puerh, white, and black teas depending on the region. People often prepare tea with the leaves directly in the water and leave them in when it’s time to drink. They’ll simply use their teeth to act as a strainer. This technique is often called ‘grandpa style’ brewing. Grandpa style is super easy to do, and it only requires tea and a cup or bowl to drink out of. For more details on brewing tea this way, check out Nicole Martin’s helpful YouTube video. Kat’s brother-in-law recently visited China and I overheard him explaining that many people walk around with a plastic tumbler filled with leaves that they drink from all day long. They refill the water as needed.

These are so many more ways to enjoy tea around the world, so stay tuned for another post about tea in other countries! Is there a tea culture that you’d like to learn more about? Do let me know and I’ll be happy to post about it.

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