First discovered in China, people around the world have now been enjoying tea for over five thousand years. In fact, tea plays its own special role in many different cultures and traditions. If you’re a lover of tea, sampling varieties from around the world is a great way to introduce yourself to new, authentically prepared teas, as well as better understand different cultures.
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Japan, Green Tea!
A trip to Japan isn’t complete without attending a Japanese tea ceremony: a special tradition steeped in history and influenced by Zen Buddhism. Tea ceremonies involve preparing and serving matcha green tea to guests. Offering a complex flavor profile, matcha is a bright, earthy tea with a pleasant hint of bitterness. It’s also particularly high in chlorophyll since the Camellia sinensis plant it comes from is grown in shade, meaning the leaves turn a darker color. Alternatively, sencha, another must-try Japanese green tea, is the most popular tea in Japan. Sencha is refreshing yet rich in flavor and features delicate notes of sweet grass and umami, resulting in a harmonious balance between sweet and savory.
Morocco, Mint Tea!
If you’re heading to Morocco, you’ll find no shortage of delicious, fresh hot mint tea for sale in the bustling markets of Marrakech. And, in this part of the world, mint tea is more than just a comforting beverage; it’s central to the country’s tradition of hospitality (Morocco is known as the third most welcoming country in the world). In a traditional Moroccan tea ceremony, the host prepares mint tea for guests by steeping fresh mint leaves and dried green tea leaves together in boiling water. Sugar or another sweetener is also usually added.
Taiwan, Pearl Milk Tea!
Pearl milk tea (also known as boba tea) has been a staple in Taiwan since the 1980s. Although it comes in many tasty varieties and flavors, the most common pearl milk tea involves black tea, ice, and milk with sweet chewy tapioca balls at the bottom of the cup. The ingredients are all shaken together to result in a cool, refreshing, and moreish beverage.
Turkey, Turkish Tea!
Turkish tea is usually served strong and unsweetened, although sugar can be added to taste. It’s traditionally prepared using two stacked kettles called a çaydanlık, with the lower kettle containing water that’s brought to a boil. Once boiling, the water is poured into the upper kettle, which contains tea leaves, and left to steep for 3-5 minutes. The tea is then poured into small glasses and enjoyed.
Sri Lanka, Ceylon Tea!
If you’re visiting Sri Lanka, be sure to try some of the country’s world-famous Ceylon tea. Grown in the island’s central highlands, this tea is renowned for its rich flavor and deep amber color. When brewed properly, Ceylon tea should exhibit a slightly astringent taste with floral notes and a slightly fruity aroma. Sri Lanka is also home to many different varieties of tea, so be sure to sample as many as you can while you’re there!
India, Chai Tea!
No list of global tea hotspots would be complete without India. Chai tea, in particular, is hugely popular in this country of over 1.3 billion people. A traditional chai recipe involves boiling milk with water and spices such as cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger. Black tea leaves are then added to the mixture and the whole concoction is simmered until it reaches a rich, flavorful consistency. Chai tea is often enjoyed with milk and sugar to taste.
South Africa, Rooibos Tea!
Rooibos (pronounced “roy-boss”) is a type of red bush tea that’s native to South Africa. It’s made from the Aspalathus linearis plant, which produces long, needle-like leaves that are rich in antioxidants. When brewed, rooibos tea has a characteristic red color and a slightly sweet, nutty flavor. It’s often enjoyed with milk and sugar, although it can be enjoyed unsweetened as well.
In a Nutshell
Whether you’re looking for a traditional tea ceremony or something more modern, there’s a tea (and a country) out there for everyone. So, next time you’re planning a trip, be sure to add some of these global tea hotspots to your itinerary!