Dearies, you may remember my post from a few weeks back. Well, there was so much to cover, that I must add part 2! As you know I’ve travelled extensively with Char and a bit with Kat, and tea was consumed almost everywhere we went. Here are a few more of my favorite tea traditions we’ve experienced:
Japan- The Japanese tea ceremony is a beautiful experience. It focuses on preparing and serving tea with a pure heart. Each piece of teaware has significance, and everything is treated with the utmost respect. Movements are fluid and artistic, just like a choreographed dance performance. The ceremony is called chanoyu, which translates to ‘hot water for tea’. It sounds like a simple event, but it’s complex and takes years of study to master. The ceremony is an interaction between the host, guests, and the teaware. Matcha powder is expertly prepared in a chawan (tea bowl) using a chasen (matcha whisk) and an array of significant teaware. I urge you to experience a Japanese tea ceremony if you are able to. It is a special, meditative experience. Aside from the tea ceremony, tea is ubiquitous in Japan and is enjoyed daily. Green tea is consumed everywhere. You can learn more about Japanese green tea in my previous post .
United Kingdom- I’m sure most of you know that teatime in the UK is an important part of the culture. Tea is used to wake up, soothe, calm down, and socialize. In the UK tea is almost always the answer to any situation. Kat has a British friend that ‘puts the kettle on’ all throughout the day. In the UK, black tea is most popular, and is often consumed with milk. Of course, there is the famous afternoon tea that is a fancy affair- finger sandwiches, scones, pastry and cakes are consumed along with a fancy pot of tea. But for most ordinary British folks, tea is consumed daily by the mugful, with water boiled in an electric kettle. A buttery, crisp biscuit often is enjoyed with the tea. Dunking is optional! Kat prefers her tea without milk, but when she’s watching one of her favorite British shows, tea with a spot of milk is just the right thing.
Turkey- Oh, how I loved having tea in Turkey! The super-strong black tea served in pretty curved glasses. I like how each glass always has a porcelain saucer. I just wouldn’t feel right without my saucer! Tea is an important social element in Turkey. Similar to Morocco or even the UK, tea is offered to guests as soon as they arrive. It is also consumed over business transactions, and is sold from street stalls (like in parts of India). Most towns in Turkey have a tea house, and it’s the place to go to socialize and learn about town current events. Turks prepare tea similarly to the Russian style. They use a double teapot similar to a samovar. Water is boiled in the lower large pot and loose leaf tea is steeped in the smaller top pot. The tea can be sipped nice and strong from the small pot, or diluted with a little water from the larger pot. As I mentioned, I adore the curved tulip-shaped glasses that are used all throughout Turkey. They are small, but the perfect size for the strong tea. I love admiring the beautiful reddish hue of the tea through the glass. Oh, when the sun shines through that glass of tea, there just isn’t a color more beautiful. Sugar is often added to Turkish tea, but no milk.
Tibet- Tea is considered a nourishing drink in Tibet, and is consumed multiple times a day. In fact, yak butter tea is the national drink of Tibet. Traditionally the tea leaves are in brick form (which could have been be pu-erh or black tea). The leaves are are crushed, soaked and then boiled for a few hours. Then yak butter and milk, plus salt are added and actually churned together until it is thoroughly mixed. A more modern version of the tea preparation is steeped loose leaf tea mixed in a blender with the other ingredients. I must admit that Tibetan tea is an acquired taste. To my porcelain palate it tasted a bit greasy, funky, and very salty. We learned that the Tibetan custom is to offer guests a bowl of tea, and refill it after each and every sip. The guest would have an endless bowl right until the time they were to leave. When it was time to get going, the guest is expected to finish the entire bowl before leaving. Kat seemed to enjoy it, and slurped down quite a bit of it. I was happy to just take tiny sips of mine. I suppose I was not the most gracious guest. But as a teacup, no one seemed to be offended by my behavior!
Dearies have you enjoyed tea in any of these regions? I’d love to hear your travel stories and learn of tea in places I haven’t visited yet.