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Tea Around the World

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By: burgundy bug

LINE Friends Brown mug in front of amethyst geodes

Source: LINE Friends Brown Mug | Penelope Peru Photography P³

Tea is more than a drink. The word embodies various flavors that give our tongues a taste of culture throughout history around the world.

The Origins of Tea

The history of tea

Source: The history of tea – Shunan Teng | TED-Ed

Tea is not defined by one place or point in time. It’s roots are intertwined in a variety of cultures, beginning with Ancient China, according to the video “The history of tea – Shunan Teng” by TED-Ed.

Tea in Ancient China

As an ancient folklore would have it, the farmer Shen Nung is often credited for the origins of tea. It is said that Nung accidentally poisoned himself 72 times while searching for edible grains and herbs.

“Before the poisons could end his life, a leaf drifted into his mouth,” Shunan Teng, the narrator in the TED-Ed video says. “He chewed on it, and it revived him.”

Although tea is not actually a remedy for poison, this story emphasizes the long-lasting impact of tea on Chinese culture and wellness.

Based on archaeological evidence, it is estimated that tea was grown in China as far back as 6,000 years ago.

The same tea plant that was cultivated is still enjoyed in the mugs of millions today. However, it was originally consumed as a vegetable or in porridge.

It was under the Tang Dynasty in 618 through 906 AD that tea was established as the national drink of China, according to the United Kingdom (UK) Tea & Infusions Association.

“Tea only shifted from food to drink 1,500 years ago,” Teng says. “People realized that a combination of heat and moisture could create a complex and varied taste out of the leafy green.”

After experimenting with the preparation of tea for hundreds of years, matcha came to be the staple tea in China. It was enjoyed by emperors and artists alike.

During the Tang Dynasty, Japanese Buddhist monks who had gone to China to study brought the tea plant back to their home country. It became such a major part of Japanese culture, they created their own tea drinking rituals, which pathed the way for their Tea Ceremony.

Japanese Tea Ceremony

In a small tea house, the host serves special desserts with a frothy tea, perhaps followed by a light meal, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.

Tea Time Today

Today, tea is still sipped across all continents. Each country has their own traditions and their signature blends of flavors.

Tea in China

Oolong, white, yellow, black, and green tea are prominent flavors commonly served warm in China, according to China Highlights.

Tea in Japan

Matcha is still prevalent in Japan today, commonly served during Tea Ceremonies, Japan Guide reports.

However, matcha’s use has spread beyond the Tea Ceremony. The vibrant, earthy flavor can be enjoyed in desserts such as ice cream, mochi, crepe cakes, cookies, and so on.

Other popular flavors in Japan include oolong, green tea, black tea, Jasmine-cha, and kombucha.

Tea in Taiwan

While oolong, black, green, and white tea are present in Taiwan, it’s often served thick and creamy as a milk tea.

In more recent years, Boba Tea, also referred to as “Bubble Tea” or “Pearl Milk Tea,” has exploded in Taiwan, spreading all throughout the world.

Bubble Tea is milk tea served cool in a glass of ice with squishy tapioca balls that line the bottom.

To get the full bubble tea experience, it is typically served with an extra wide straw so the tapioca pearls can travel through with ease.

Tea in the United Kingdom

In their guide for brewing the perfect cup of tea, the UK Tea & Infusions Association touts black tea as UK’s mug of choice.

Black tea bags are often steeped in boiling water and topped off with a splash of milk or cream. It’s also not uncommon for tea to be served with a biscuit or pastry.

Tea in India

India is one of the largest tea producers on the planet, according to Teatulia. Assam, Darjeeling, Nilgiri, and Chai are staples of Indian tea culture, served warm after steeping in boiling water.

Tea in Morocco

Drinking tea is a vital part of Moroccan culture, ParTaste reports.

In Morocco, green tea is brewed over boiling water in a kettle with mint and plenty of sugar, giving it a sweet and refreshing flavor.

Additional mint or sugar may be sprinkled into the beverage after it’s been poured into a glass.

Tea in Egypt

The black tea brewed in Egypt is not so different from that of what’s served in the states, the Sicilian Tea Company reports. Much like Morocco, mint and sugar are often used to flavor Egyptian tea.

It remains an integral part of life in Egypt. Sitting down for a cup of tea is valued as a way to connect with others and unwind.

Tea in the United States

The United States is a melting pot of tea traditions from around the world.

Widely commercialized, iced tea can be found bottled in every grocery and convenience store. It’s also served at just about every restaurant.

Sweet tea is at the heart of culture in southern states. Black tea, loaded with sugar and lemon, is served ice cold across households and fooderies.

Drawing inspiration from around the world, mainy chains such as Starbucks, serve matcha lattes hot, iced, or blended.

Bubble tea chains have also started cropping up left and right in the United States, including Kung Fu Tea and CoCo.

In Conclusion

LINE Friends Brown mug in front of amethyst geodes

Source: LINE Friends Brown Mug | Penelope Peru Photography P³

Sipped, savored, and sensationalized, tea has withstood the test of time. Whether you enjoy a cup first thing in the morning with a splash of milk and a biscuit, as a mid-day break with loved ones, or just before bed with a bit of honey, you’re not alone. It is a $73 billion industry, according to Statista.

Personally? I’m partial to tea with a bit of a fruity twist; whether it’s lemon, raspberry, or peach. I enjoy my caffeinated teas unsweetened over ice, my herbal teas warm, and my matchas as iced lattes (thanks to my body’s inability to digest lactose, I’ll typically substitute the dairy with soy or almond milk).

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burgundy bug


A cynical optimist and mad scientist undercover, burgundy bug is the editor, graphic designer, webmaster, social media manager, and primary photographer for The Burgundy Zine. Entangled in a web of curiosity, burgundy bug’s work embodies a wide variety of topics including: neuroscience, psychology, ecology, biology, cannabis, reviews, fashion, entertainment, and politics. You can learn more about working with burgundy bug by visiting her portfolio website: burgundybug.com

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