Tea culture

Tea culture

Tea culture is defined by the way tea is made and consumed, by the way the people interact with tea, and by the aesthetics surrounding tea drinking.

Tea is commonly drunk at social events, and many cultures have created intricate formal ceremonies for these events. Western examples of these are afternoon tea and the tea party. In the east, tea ceremonies differ among countries, Japan's complex, formal and serene one being the most known. Other examples are the Korean tea ceremony or some traditional ways of brewing tea in Chinese tea culture. Unique customs also exist in Tibet, where tea is commonly brewed with salt and butter, or in the Middle East and Africa where tea plays an important role in many countries.

The British empire spread its own interpretation of tea to its colonies, including places like Hong Kong, or Pakistan which had existing tea customs.

Different regions also favor different varieties of tea, black, green, or oolong, and use different flavourings, such as milk, sugar or herbs. The temperature and strength of the tea likewise varies widely.

East Asia


Due to the importance of tea in Chinese society and culture, tea houses can be found in most Chinese neighbourhoods and business districts. Chinese-style tea houses offer dozens of varieties of hot and cold tea concoctions. They also serve a variety of tea-friendly and/or tea-related snacks. Beginning in the late afternoon, the typical Chinese tea house quickly becomes packed with students and business people, and later at night plays host to insomniacs and night owls simply looking for a place to relax. Formal tea houses also exist. They provide a range of Chinese and Japanese tea leaves, as well as tea making accoutrements and a better class of snack food. Finally there are the tea vendors, who specialise in the sale of tea leaves, pots, and other related paraphernalia.

Two periods

In China, at least as early as the Tang Dynasty, tea was an object of connoisseurship; in the Song Dynasty formal tea-tasting parties were held, comparable to modern wine tastings. As much as in modern wine tastings, the proper vessel was important and much attention was paid to matching the tea to an aesthetically appealing serving vessel.

Historically there were two phases of tea drinking in China based on the form of tea that was produced and consumed, namely: "tea bricks" versus "loose leaf tea".

Tea brick phase

Tea served prior to the Ming Dynasty was typically made from tea bricks. Upon harvesting, the tea leaves were either partially dried or were thoroughly dried and ground before being pressed into bricks. The pressing of Pu-erh is likely a vestige of this process. Tea bricks were also sometimes used as currency. To improve its resiliency as currency, some tea bricks were mixed with binding agents such as blood.Fact|date=September 2008 Serving the tea from tea bricks required multiple steps:
*"Toasting": Tea bricks are usually first toasted over a fire to destroy any mould or insects that may have burrowed into the tea bricks. Such infestation sometimes occurred since the bricks were stored openly in warehouses and storerooms. Toasting also likely imparted a pleasant flavour to the resulting tea.
*"Grinding": The tea brick was broken up and ground to a fine powder. This practice survives in Japanese powdered tea ("Matcha").
*"Whisking": The powdered tea was mixed into hot water and frothed with a whisk before serving. The colour and patterns formed by the powdered tea were enjoyed while the mixture was imbibed.

The ground and whisked teas used at that time called for dark and patterned bowls in which the texture of the tea powder suspension could be enjoyed. The best of these bowls, glazed in patterns with names like oil spot, partridge-feather, hare's fur, and tortoise shell, are highly valued today. The patterned holding bowl and tea mixture were often lauded in the period's poetry with phrases such as "partridge in swirling clouds" or "snow on hare's fur". Tea in this period was enjoyed more for its patterns and less for its flavour. The practice of using powdered tea can still be seen in the Japanese Tea ceremony or "Chado".

Loose-leaf tea phase

After 1391, Emperor Hung-wu, the first Emperor of the Ming Dynasty, decreed that tributes of tea to the court were to be changed from brick to loose-leaf form. The imperial decree quickly transformed the tea drinking habits of the people, changing from whisked teas to steeped teas. The arrival of the new method for preparing tea also required the creation or use of new vessels.
*The "tea pot" was needed such that the tea leaves can be steeped separately from the drinking vessel for an infusion of proper concentration. The tea also needs to be kept warm and the tea leaves must be separated from the resulting infusion when required.
*"Tea caddies" and containers also became necessary in order to keep the tea and conserve its flavour. This was due to the fact that tea leaves do not preserve as well as tea bricks. Furthermore, the natural aroma of tea became the focus of the tea drinking due to the new preparation method.
*A change in Chinese tea "drinking vessels" was also evident at this point. Smaller bowls with plain or simple designs on the interior surfaces were favoured over the larger patterned bowls used for enjoying the patterns created by powdered teas. Tea drinking in small bowls and cups was likely adopted since it gathers and directs the fragrant steam from the tea to the nose and allows for better appreciation of the tea's flavour.Teawares made with a special kind of purple clay (Zisha) from Yixing went on to develop during this period (Ming Dynasty). The structure of purple clay made it advantageous material with tiny and high density, preferred for heat preservation and perviousness. Simplicity and rusticity dominated the idea of purple clay teaware decoration art. It became soon the most popular method of performing Chinese tea ceremony , which often combines literature, calligraphy, painting and seal cutting in Chinese culture.

The loose-leaf tea and the purple clay teaware is still the preferred method of preparing tea in Chinese daily life.

: See also Tibet and Hong Kong listed below.


Dutch settlers established tea plantations on the island of Java in the early 18th century and later on Sumatra and Sulawesi. Although tea is picked year round, usually by hand, the best comes during the dry season of August and September. Nearly 60% of Indonesian tea is green tea; black tea is mostly exported for blending. The word for tea in Indonesian is "teh."

The drinking customs in Indonesia differ by region. The Sundanese people, from the region of Western Java, serve tea without any sugar. In restaurants in that region, it is common to serve plain tea as a free beverage, instead of a glass of water. This is because the main tea plantation is in West Java, so tea is cheap and plentiful. Furthermore, the tropical Indonesian water is unsafe to drink without boiling it first. So, serving a cup of plain hot tea is a gesture to the guest that "the water is clean and boiled".

The Javanese people, from Central and Eastern Java, serve tea with sugar. The sugar refineries and plantations are located in that region, so the sugar is cheap, and the Javanese people serve sugar to improve the taste of their tea. The plain tea is known as "Teh Pahit" / "Teh Tawar" or "Bitter Tea" in English.


Green tea's traditional role in Japanese society is as a drink for special guests and special occasions. Green tea is served in many companies during afternoon breaks. The Japanese have a custom of buying confectioneries for their colleagues when on vacations or business trips. These snacks are usually opened and enjoyed with green tea. If a Japanese company is visited on business, one is likely to be offered a cup of tea to sip during the meeting. When guests arrive, Japanese brew a pot of green tea. A thermos full of green tea is also a staple on family or school outings as an accompaniment to bento (box lunches). Families often bring along proper Japanese teacups, to enhance the enjoyment of the traditional drink.

The strong cultural association the Japanese have with green tea has made it the most popular beverage to drink with traditional Japanese cuisine, such as sushi, sashimi and tempura. At a restaurant, a cup of green tea is often served with meals at no extra charge, with as many refills as desired. The best traditional Japanese restaurants take as much care in choosing the tea they serve as in preparing the food itself.Many Japanese are still taught the proper art of the centuries-old Tea Ceremony as well. Still, the Japanese now enjoy green tea processed using state of the art technology. Today, hand pressing -- a method demonstrated to tourists -- is taught only as a technique preserved as a part of the Japanese cultural tradition. Most of the ubiquitous vending machines also carry a wide selection of both hot and cold bottled teas. Oolong tea enjoys considerable popularity. Black tea, often with milk or lemon, is served in American or UK-style restaurants.

Major tea-producing areas in Japan include Shizuoka Prefecture and the city of Uji in Kyoto Prefecture.

Other infusions bearing the name "cha" are barley tea ("mugi-cha") which is popular as a cold drink in the summer, buckwheat tea ("soba-cha"), and hydrangea tea ("ama-cha").


Myanmar (formerly Burma) is one of very few countries where tea is not only drunk but eaten as lahpet - pickled tea served with various accompaniments. cite web|url=http://www.myanmar.gov.mm/myanmartimes/no113/myanmartimes6-113/Timeouts/1.htm|title=A World filled with Tea|author=Ma Thanegi|publisher="Myanmar Times" vol.6 no.113|accessdate=2007-04-01] cite web|url=http://www.myanmar.gov.mm/myanmartimes/no37/timeout_4.htm|title=The Travelling Gourmet|publisher="Myanmar Times" no.37|accessdate=2007-04-01] It is called "lahpet so" (tea wet) in contrast to "lahpet chauk" (tea dry) or "akyan jauk" (crude dry) with which green tea - "yeinway jan" or "lahpet yeijan" meaning plain or crude tea - is made. In the Shan State of Myanmar where most of the tea is grown, and also Kachin State, tea is dry-roasted in a pan before adding boiling water to make green tea. It is the national drink in a predominantly Buddhist country with no national tipple other than the palm toddy. Tea sweetened with milk is known as "lahpet yeijo" made with "acho jauk" (sweet dry) or black tea and prepared the Indian way, brewed and sweetened with condensed milk. It is a very popular drink although the middle classes by and large appear to prefer coffee most of the time. It was introduced to Myanmar by Indian immigrants some of whom set up teashops known as "kaka hsaing", later evolving to just "lahpetyei hsaing" (teashop).

ocial nexus

Burma's street culture is basically a tea cultureas people, mostly men but also women and families, hang out in tea shops reading the paper or chatting away with friends, exchanging news, gossip and jokes, nursing cups of Indian tea served with a diverse range of snacks from cream cakes to Chinese fried breadsticks (youtiao) and steamed buns (baozi) to Indian naan bread and samosas. Green tea is customarily the first thing to be served free of charge as soon as a customer sits down at a table in all restaurants as well as teashops.

Pubs and clubs, unlike in the West, have remained a minority pursuit so far. Teashops are found from the smallest village to major cities in every neighbourhood up and down the country. They are open from the crack of dawn for breakfast till late in the evening, and some are open 24 hours catering for long distance drivers and travellers. One of the most popular teashops in Yangon in the late 1970s was called "Shwe Hleiga" (Golden Stairs) by popular acclaim as it was just a pavement stall, with low tables and stools for the customers, at the bottom of a stairwell in downtown Yangon. Busy bus stops and terminals as well as markets have several teashops. Train journeys in Myanmar also feature hawkers who jump aboard with giant kettles of tea for thirsty passengers.


Lahpet (pickled tea) is served in one of two ways:
# "A-hlu lahpet" or Mandalay lahpet is served in a plate or traditionally in a shallow lacquerware dish called "lahpet ohk" with a lid and divided into small compartments - pickled tea laced with sesame oil in a central compartment, and other ingredients such as crisp fried garlic, peas and peanuts, toasted sesame, crushed dried shrimp, preserved shredded ginger and fried shredded coconut in other compartments encircling it. It may be served as a snack or after a meal with green tea either on special occasions or just for the family and visitors. "A-hlu" means alms and is synonymous with a novitiation ceremony called "Shinbyu" although lahpet is served in this form also at "hsun jway" (offering a meal to monks) and weddings. Invitation to a "shinbyu" is traditionally by calling from door to door with a "lahpet ohk", and acceptance is indicated by its partaking.
# "Lahpet thouk" or Yangon lahpet is pickled tea salad very popular all over Myanmar especially with women, and some teashops would have it on their menu as well as Burmese restaurants. It is prepared by mixing all the above ingredients without the coconut but in addition includes fresh tomatoes, garlic and green chilli, and is dressed with fish sauce, sesame or peanut oil, and a squeeze of lime. [cite web|url=http://www.innwa.com/dev/kitchen/news/get-news.asp?id=142|title=Lephet - Green Tea Salad|last=Haber|first=Daniel|date=March 31 2002|publisher="Swe Sone" magazine|accessdate=2007-04-11] Some of the most popular brands sold in packets include "Ayee Taung lahpet" from Mandalay, "Shwe Toak" from Mogok, "Yuzana" and "Pinpyo Ywetnu" from Yangon. "Hnapyan jaw" (twice fried) ready-mixed garnish is also available today. [cite web|url=http://www.myanmar.gov.mm/myanmartimes/no184/MyanmarTimes10-184/049.htm|title=Pickled tea - a traditional favourite|last=Balun|first=George|publisher="Myanmar Times" vol.10 no.184|accessdate=2007-04-11]


Taiwan is the producer of some of the world's high-end green and oolong teas. It is also famous as country of origin for "Bubble tea".

Bubble tea

Bubble tea, pearl milk tea (Chinese: 珍珠奶茶; pinyin: zhēnzhū nǎichá), or boba milk tea (波霸奶茶; bōbà nǎichá) is a tea beverage mixture with milk which may include balls of tapioca. Originating in Taiwan, it is especially popular in Asia (Taiwan, People's Republic of China, Hong Kong, South Korea, the Philippines, and Singapore) as well as Europe, Canada, and the United States. It is also known as black pearl tea or tapioca tea.


Thai tea (also known as Thai iced tea) or "cha-yen" ( _th. ชาเย็น) when ordered in Thailand, is a drink made from strongly-brewed red tea [http://www.blueray.com/thaitea/index.html] that usually contains added anise, red and yellow food colouring, and sometimes other spices as well. This tea is sweetened with sugar and condensed milk and served chilled. Evaporated or whole milk is generally poured over the tea and ice before serving--it is never mixed prior to serving--to add taste and creamy appearance. Locally, it is served in a traditional tall glass and when ordered take-out, it is poured over the crushed ice in a clear (or translucent) plastic bag. It can also be made into a frappé at more westernised vendors.

It is popular in Southeast Asia and in many American restaurants that serve Thai or Vietnamese food, especially on the West Coast. Although Thai tea is not the same as bubble tea, a Southeast and East Asian beverage that contains large black pearls of tapioca starch, Thai tea with pearls is a popular flavour of bubble tea.

Green tea is also becoming very popular in Thailand, spawning many different variations such as barley green tea, rose green tea, lemon green tea, etc. Thai green tea, however, is not to be confused with traditional Japanese green tea. Thai green tea tends to be very heavily commercialized and the taste is sweeter and easier to appreciate than other bitter variations.


Tea is cultivated extensively in the north of the country, making Vietnam one of the world's largest exporters. The tea is normally drunk green, and strongly brewed. The word in the Vietnamese language is trà (pronounced cha/ja) or che. In Vietnamese restaurants, a complimentary pot of tea is usually served once the meal has been ordered, with refills free of charge.


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Central and South Asia


The world's largest producer of tea, India is a country where tea is popular all over as a breakfast and evening drink. It is often served as masala chai with milk and sugar, and sometimes scented. Almost all the tea consumed is black Indian tea. Usually tea leaves are boiled in water while making tea, and milk is added.

Offering tea rather than alcoholic drinks to visitors is the cultural norm in India. Tea has also entered the common idiom so much so that the term "Chai-Pani" which translates to "tea", or "tea and water" usually refers to wages, tips or even bribery.

There are three most famous regions in Indian to produce black teas- Darjeeling, Assam and Nilgiri. "Strong, heavy and fragrance" are 3 criteria for judging black tea.
Darjeeling tea is known for its delicate aroma and light colour and is aptly termed as "the champagne of teas", which has high aroma and yellow or brown liquid after brewing. Assam tea is known for its robust taste and dark colour, and Nilgiri tea is dark, intensely aromatic and flavoured. Assam produces the largest quantity of Tea in India, mostly of the CTC variety, and is one of the biggest suppliers of major international brands such as Lipton and Tetley. The Tetley Brand, formerly British and one of the largest, is now owned by the Tata Tea Limited.


As in India, tea is popular all over Pakistan. During British Rule tea became so popular in the subcontinent that it is now a common breakfast and all-day drink. Most of the tea consumed in Pakistan is imported from Kenya.

In recent 10 years (after 1995), the Pakistani government began to implement a tea plantation project, which established green tea estates in Pakistan and achieved good performance.

ri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, tea is served in the English style, with milk and sugar, but the milk is always warmed. Tea is a hugely popular beverage among the Sri-Lankan people, and part of its land is surrounded by the many hills of tea plantations that spread for miles. Drinking tea has become part of the culture of Sri Lanka.


Butter, milk, and salt are added to brewed tea and churned to form a hot drink called Po cha ("bod ja", where "bod" means Tibetan and "ja" tea) in Tibet. The concoction is also sometimes called cha su mar, mainly in Kham, or Eastern Tibet. Traditionally, the drink is made with a domestic brick tea and dri's milk (a dri is the female of the animal whose male is called yak), then mixed in a churn for several minutes. Using a generic black tea, milk and butter, and shaking or blending work well too, although the unique taste of yak milk is difficult to replicate. (see [http://www.tanc.org/new_food/pocha.html recipe] )

Tibet tea drinking has many rules. One such concerns an invitation to a house for tea. The host will first pour some highland barley wine. The guest must dip his finger in the wine and flick some away. This will be done three times to represent respect for the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. The cup will then be refilled two more times and on the last time it must be emptied or the host will be insulted. After this the host will present a gift of butter wine to the guest, who will accept it without touching the rim of the bowl. The guest will then pour a glass for himself, and must finish the glass or be seen as rude.

There are two main teas that go with the tea culture. The teas are butter tea and sweet milk tea. These two teas are only found in Tibet. Other teas that the Tibetans enjoy are boiled black teas. There are many tea shops in Tibet selling these teas, which travelers often take for their main hydration source.

Eastern Europe

Czech Republic

Specific tea culture has developed in the Czech Republic in recent years, including many styles of tearooms. Despite having the same name, they are mostly different from the British style tea rooms. Pure teas are usually prepared with respect to their country of origin and good tea palaces may offer 80 teas from almost all tea-producing countries. Different tea rooms have also created various blends and methods of preparation and serving.


A Russian tea glass-holder is a traditional way of serving and drinking tea in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, other CIS and ex-USSR countries. [http://www.kmizar.ru/en/podstak.php Podstakanniks, made in Russia, Kolchugino town] ] Expensive podstakanniks are made from silver, classic series are made mostly from nickel silver, cupronickel, and other alloys with nickel, silver or gold plating. In Russia, it is customary to drink tea brewed separately in a teapot and diluted with freshly boiled water ('pair-of-teapots tea', 'чай парой чайников'). Traditionally, the tea is very strong, its strength often indicating the hosts' degree of hospitality. The traditional implement for boiling water for tea used to be the samovar (and sometimes it still is, though usually electric). The podstakannik ('подстаканник'), or tea glass holder (literally "thing under the glass"), is also a part of Russian tea tradition. Tea is a family event, and is usually served after each meal with sugar (one to three teaspoonfuls per cup) and lemon (but without milk), and an assortment of jams, pastries and confections. Black tea is commonly used, with green tea gaining popularity as a more healthy, more "Oriental" alternative. Teabags are not used in the traditional Russian tea ceremony, only loose, large-leaf black tea.

In Soviet and Russian prisons, inmates often brewed very strong tea known as 'chifir', in order to experience its mood-altering properties. [ [http://www.tyurem.net/mytext/how/023.htm Тюрьма, зона, понятия, блатной жаргон (феня), тюремные татуировки (наколки), чифир, братва, мужики, петухи и многое другое ] ]


Less visible than in the Czech Republic, tea culture also exists in Slovakia. Although considered an underground environment by many, tea rooms continue to pop up almost in every middle-sized town. These tea rooms are appreciated for offering quiet environments with pleasant music. More importantly, they are usually non-smoking, unlike most pubs and cafés.

Middle East and Africa


Tea is the national drink in Egypt, and holds a special position that even coffee can't rival. In Egypt, tea is called "shai". [The book of cities by Philip Dodd] Tea packed and sold in Egypt is almost exclusively imported from Kenya and Sri Lanka. The Egyptian government considers tea a strategic crop and runs large tea plantations in Kenya. Green tea is a recent arrival to Egypt (only in the late 1990s did green tea become affordable) and is highly unpopular.

Egyptian tea comes in two varieties: Koshary and Saiidi. Koshary tea, popular in Lower (Northern) Egypt, is prepared using the traditional method of steeping black tea in boiled water and letting it set for a few minutes. It is almost always sweetened with cane sugar and is often flavored with fresh mint leaves. Adding milk is also common. Koshary tea is usually light, with less than a half teaspoonful per cup considered to be near the high end.

Saiidi tea is common in Upper (Southern) Egypt. It is prepared by boiling black tea with water for as long as 5 minutes over a strong flame. Saiidi tea is extremely heavy, with 2 teaspoonfuls per cup being the norm. It is sweetened with copious amounts of cane sugar (a necessity since the formula and method yield a very bitter tea). Saiidi tea is often black even in liquid form.

Tea is a vital part of daily life and folk etiquette in Egypt. Most people can't function without a morning shot of tea, and drinking tea after lunch is compulsory. A visit to anyone of any socioeconomic level entails a compulsory cup of tea. A nickname for tea in Egypt is "duty", as serving tea to a visitor is considered a duty, while anything beyond is a nicety.

Besides true tea, tisanes are also often served at the Egyptian teahouses. Especially karkade is a highly popular beverage.


Tea found its way to Persia (Iran) from India and soon became the national drink. The whole part of northern Iran along the shores of the Caspian Sea is suitable for the cultivation of tea. Especially in the Gilan province on the slopes of Alborz, large areas are under tea cultivation and millions of people work in the tea industry for their livelihood. That region covers a large part of Iran's need for tea. Iranians have one of the highest per capita rates of tea consumption in the world and from old times every street has had a "Châikhâne" (Tea House). Châikhânes are still an important social place. Iranians traditionally drink tea by pouring it into a saucer and putting a lump of rock sugar ("kand") in the mouth before drinking the tea.


Morocco is considered the first importer of green tea worldwide. [ [http://www.angolapress-angop.ao/noticia-e.asp?ID=497915 Morocco tea imports from China hits $56 million mark] AngolaPress]

Tea was introduced to Morocco in the 18th century through trade with Europe. Queen Elizabeth I of England intended to help the tea pot manufacturers to sell British china (porcelain) tea ware and accessories to Morocco by introducing the afternoon tea custom to the Moroccan palace. The queen sent many gifts to the king of Morocco, including some delicate tea pots and cups. The palace quickly adopted the ceremony, and within one hundred years the tea drinking habits became national. However, possibly due to the hot weather of Morocco, or the relatively cheap price of green tea, the African country did not follow up the black tea tradition from the United Kingdom.

Morocco consumes green tea with mint rather than black tea. It has become part of the culture and is used widely at almost every meal. The Moroccan people even make tea performance a special culture in the flower country. Moroccan tea is commonly served with rich tea cookies, fresh green mint leaves, local "finger shape" brown sugar, and colorful tea glasses and pots. Drinking Moroccan tea is not only a luxury of tongue, but also the eyes.


In the Sahel region on the southern fringe of the Sahara, green gunpowder tea is prepared with little water and large amounts of sugar. By pouring the tea into the glasses and back, a foam builds on top of the tea. Sahelian tea is a social occasion and three infusions, the first one very bitter, the second in between and the last one rather sweet are taken in the course of several hours.


Turkish tea or Çay is produced on the eastern Black Sea coast, which has a mild climate with high precipitation and fertile soil. Turkish tea is typically prepared using two stacked kettles especially designed for tea preparation. Water is brought to a boil in the larger lower kettle and then some of the water is used to fill the smaller kettle on top and steep several spoons of loose tea leaves, producing a very strong tea. When served, the remaining water is used to dilute the tea on an individual basis, giving each consumer the choice between strong ("koyu"/dark) or weak ("açık"/light). Tea is drunk from small glasses to enjoy it hot in addition to show its colour, with lumps of beetroot sugar. [cite web
title = Turkish Tea (Cay)
publisher = http://www.iwasinturkey.com/content/view/69/7/
url = http://www.iwasinturkey.com/content/view/69/7/
accessdate = 2006-11-13
] To a lesser extent than in other Muslim countries, tea replaces both alcohol and coffee as the social beverage. Within Turkey the tea is usually known as Rize tea.

Turkey has the highest per capita consumption in the world at 2.5 kg (in 2004) [ [http://www.foodanddrinkeurope.com/news/ng.asp?id=17656-britons-have-less Britons have less time for tea ] ] , followed by the UK (2.1 kg) and Morocco (1.4 kg). All these figures represent consumption of packaged and branded tea sales.

Western Europe


While Germany is a mainly coffee drinking country, the region of East Friesland is noted for its consumption of tea and its tea culture. Strong Assam tea is served whenever there are visitors to an East Frisian home or other gathering, as well as with breakfast, mid-afternoon, and mid-evening. The traditional preparation is as follows: A "kluntjes", a rock candy sugar that melts slowly, is added to the empty cup (allowing multiple cups to be sweetened) then tea is poured over the kluntje. A heavy cream is added to flavour the tea. It is served without a spoon and drunk unstirred, i. e. in three tiers: In the beginning one predominantly tastes the cream, then the tea and finally the kluntje at the bottom of the cup. Stirring the tea would blend all three tiers into one and spoil the traditional tea savouring. The tea is generally served with small cookies during the week and cakes during special occasions or on weekends as a special treat. The tea is rumored to cure headaches, stomach problems, and stress, among many other ailments.


Tea growing in Portugal takes place in the Azores, a group of islands located 800 km west of Mainland Portugal. Portugal was the first to introduce the practice of drinking tea to Europe as well as the first European country to produce tea.

In 1750, terrains ranging from the fields of Capelas to those of Porto Formoso on the island of São Miguel were used for the first trial crops of tea. They delivered 10 kg of black tea and 8 kg of green tea. A century later, with the introduction of skilled workers from the Macau Region of China in 1883, production became significant and the culture expanded. Following the instructions of these workers, the species "Jasminum grandiflorum" and "Malva vacciones" were introduced to give 'nobility' to the tea aroma, though only the Jasminum was used. [http://www.gorreana.com/historiae.htm]

This tea is currently traded under the name of the processed compound, "Gorreana", and is produced by independent families. No herbicides or pesticides are allowed in the growing process, and modern consumers associate the production with more recent organic teas. However, production standards concerning the plant itself and its cropping have not changed for the last 250 years.

Republic of Ireland

The Republic of Ireland has, for a long time, been one of the biggest per-capita consumer of tea in the world. The national average is four cups per person per day, with many people drinking six cups or more.Fact|date=September 2008

The Commonwealth and former British Colonies

United Kingdom

The British are the second largest per capita tea consumers in the world, with each person consuming on average 2.1 kg per year. [ [http://www.foodanddrinkeurope.com/news/ng.asp?id=17656-britons-have-less Britons have less time for tea ] ] The popularity of tea dates back to the 19th century when India was part of the British Empire, and British interests controlled tea production in the subcontinent. It was, however, first introduced in Britain by Catherine of Braganza, queen consort of Charles II of England in the 1660s and 1670s. As tea spread throughout the United Kingdom people started to have tea gardens and tea dances. These would include watching fireworks or a dinner party and dance, concluding with a nice evening tea. The tea gardens lost value after World War II but tea dances are still held today in the United Kingdom.

Tea is usually black tea served with milk (never cream) and sometimes with sugar. Strong tea served with lots of milk and often two teaspoons of sugar, usually in a mug, is commonly referred to as "builder's tea". Much of the time in the United Kingdom, tea drinking is not the delicate, refined cultural expression that the rest of the world imagines—a cup (or commonly a mug) of tea is something drunk often, with some people drinking as many as 6 cups of tea a day. This is not to say that the British do not have a more formal tea ceremony, but for the working class of the United Kingdom, tea breaks are an essential part of any day. Employers generally allow breaks for tea and sometimes biscuits to be served.

British Tea Ritual

Even very slightly formal events can be a cause for cups and saucers to be used instead of mugs. A typical semi-formal British tea ritual might run as follows:

# The kettle is boiled and water poured into a tea pot.
# Water is swirled around the pot to warm it and then poured out.
# Loose tea leaves are then added to the pot while the kettle is reboiled.
# Water is added to the pot and allowed to brew for several minutes while a tea cosy is placed on the pot to keep the tea warm.
# A tea strainer, like a miniature sieve, is placed over the top of the cup and the tea poured in.
# The straight black tea is then given to guests and they are allowed to add milk and sugar to their taste.
# The pot will normally hold enough tea so as not to be empty after filling the cups of all the guests. If this is the case, the tea cosy is replaced after everyone has been served.

Whether to put milk into the cup before or after the tea has been a matter of some debate and has traditionally been seen as a class divide. Working classes who could not afford good quality crockery would add milk first to ensure that the sudden increase in heat would not crack the cups, whereas middle and upper classes who did not need to worry about this would add milk afterwards so that guests would be able to take the tea as they personally preferred it. This latter tradition has been considered the correct one according to etiquette. However, some hold that adding milk second tends to scald the milk. This affects its taste and so, for best taste, the milk should be poured first.

There is also a proper manner in which to drink tea when using a cup and saucer. The cup and saucer should be lifted together from the table with the left hand on the saucer and the right on the handle of the cup. The right hand should then lift the cup away from the saucer to be drunk before replacing it. This rule is relaxed when having tea at a dining table, as opposed to having tea in arm chairs etc. Drinking tea from the saucer (poured from the cup in order to cool it) was not uncommon at one time but is now almost universally considered a breach of etiquette [http://www.steepedintea.com/teablog/PermaLink.aspx#afcf59ccf-fdf7-4a92-b7ae-0887927487a9] .

Tea as a meal

"Tea" is not only the name of the beverage, but of a late afternoon light meal, irrespective of the beverage consumed. Anna Russell, Duchess of Bedford is credited with the creation of the meal circa 1800. She thought of the idea to ward off hunger between lunch and dinner. The tradition continues to this day.

There used to be a tradition of tea rooms in the UK which provided the traditional fare of cream and jam on scones, a combination commonly known as "cream tea". However, these establishments have declined in popularity since World War II. In Devon and Cornwall particularly, cream teas are a speciality. "Lyons Corner Houses" were a successful chain of such establishments. It is a common misconception that "cream tea" refers to tea served with cream (as opposed to milk). This is certainly not the case.

Industrial Revolution

Some scholars suggest that tea played a role in British industrial revolution. Afternoon tea possibly became a way to increase the number of hours labourers could work in factories; the stimulants in the tea, accompanied by sugary snacks, would give workers energy to finish out the day's work. Further, tea helped alleviate some of the consequences of the urbanisation that accompanied the industrial revolution: drinking tea required boiling one's water, thereby killing water-borne diseases like dysentery, cholera, and typhoid. [ [http://www.alanmacfarlane.com/savage/tea.html Tea and the Industrial Revolution ] ]

Tea cards

In the United Kingdom a number of varieties of loose tea sold in packets from the 1940s to the 1980s contained tea cards. These were illustrated cards roughly the same size as cigarette cards and intended to be collected by children. Perhaps the best known were Typhoo tea and Brooke Bond (manufacturer of PG Tips), the latter of whom also provided albums for collectors to keep their cards in. Some renowned artists were commissioned to illustrate the cards including Charles Tunnicliffe. Many of these card collections are now valuable collectors' items.

Commonwealth countries

Afternoon tea and the variant cream tea (called "Devonshire Tea" in Australia and New Zealand) is the staple "tea ceremony" of the English speaking Commonwealth countries, available in homes and tea rooms throughout the United Kingdom, Australia, India, Africa and New Zealand, although in most of these places it is an antiquated, and no longer daily routine. Note that "tea" may also refer to a meal, or dinner, in Commonwealth nations, regardless of the beverage served with the meal. This could lead to confusion over the meaning of an invitation to "tea". The slang term "cuppa" (as in a "cup of tea"), is used in the United Kingdom possibly to counteract this confusion, but is more likely just an abbreviation. Due to the diverse mix of races and cultures in Australia since the 1950s, most cultural variations of tea are available these days.

Hong Kong

The English-style tea has evolved into a new local style of drink, the Hong Kong-style milk tea, more often simply "milk tea", in Hong Kong by using evaporated milk instead of ordinary milk. It is popular at "cha chaan tengs" and fast food shops such as Café de Coral and Maxims Express. Traditional Chinese tea, including green tea, flower tea, jasmine tea and Pu-erh tea, are also common, and are served at dim sum restaurant during "yum cha".

As with the United Kingdom, tea in the Republic of Ireland is usually taken with milk and/or sugar and is slightly spicier and stronger than the traditional English Blend. The two main brands of tea sold in the Republic of Ireland are "Lyons" and "Barry's". There is a considerable amount of light-hearted debate over which brand is superior. The Irish love of tea is perhaps best illustrated by the stereotypical housekeeper, Mrs Doyle in the popular sitcom Father Ted.

United States

In the United States, tea typically can be served at all meals as an alternative to coffee, when served hot, or soda, when served iced. Tea is also consumed throughout the day as a beverage. Afternoon tea, the meal, is rarely served in the United States except in ritualised special occasions such as the tea party or an afternoon out at a high-end hotel or restaurant, which may also have cream teas on the menu.

Prior to World War II, the US preference for tea was equally split between green tea and black tea, 40% and 40%, with the remaining 20% preferring oolong tea. The war cut off the United States from its primary sources of green tea, China and Japan, leaving it with tea almost exclusively from British-controlled India, which produces black tea. After the war, nearly ninety-nine percent of tea consumed was black tea. "Green", "oolong", and "white" teas have recently become more popular again, and are often touted as health foods.

Recently, many coffee houses have begun to serve a milky, sweet, spiced tea called "chai", based on Indian "masala chai". Bubble tea from Taiwan has also become popular in the United States in recent years.

Decaffeinated tea is widely available in the United States, for those who wish to reduce the physiological effects of caffeine.

Iced tea

Prior to the mid-1800s tea, when served cold, was referred to as tea punch and was typically spiked with alcohol. These punches had names such as Regent's Punch, Charleston's Saint Cecilia Punch, and Chatham Artillery Punch.

The non-alcoholic version commonly known today was popularized at the 1904 World's Fair. "Sweet Tea" is popular in the South and refers to heavily sweetened iced tea, although unsweet tea is generally also available on request, with sugar and sweeteners provided. In the north and west, iced tea is typically served unsweetened. Sweetener is typically available to stir into the cold unsweetened tea, which can result in a less sweet beverage since the cold tea will not dissolve sugar quickly.

Iced tea can be purchased like soda, in canned or bottled form at vending machines and convenience stores. This pre-made tea is usually sweetened. Sometimes some other flavorings, such as lemon or raspberry, are added. Many restaurants dispense iced tea brewed throughout the day from upright containers. In the United States, about 80% of the tea consumed is served cold, or "iced".

ee also

* Tea ceremony
* Influence of tea on Chinese culture


External links

* [http://www.teamtea.com/?cat=33 Japanese tea ceremony]

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