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The Amazing World Of Tea Culture

Updated on December 30, 2010

Tea? TEA?! GIVE ME TEA!

Do you love to dip biscuits in it? Or maybe you just love it with mint? What about tea with milk, lemon or maybe with a little cinnamon? There are food-related rituals in many places across the globe, and rituals associated with social tea drinking are a huge part in many cultures when it comes to contributing to friendship and good hospitality. There are places where drinking tea is done without any special graces, and other places where it's forbidden to disobey the tea drinking rules.

My South American Tea Ceremony Experience

Le Gustaría Tener Unos Mates?

In South America, an amazing play can be seen from the early morning hours: everywhere, regardless of pedigree, whether it's on the street or at a luxurious office a bus or a market, several people gather around a circular looking tool with a straw in it, and they're sipping from it one by one. "Mate" is the name of this drink, and it's the national drink of the continent. On one of my many trips on this journey, and because I was sitting near the bus driver and his assistants, I also took part of this ceremony. One of the driver's assistants got a green tea mixture into a vessel, then he added boiling water and began passing the drink between all of us, taking a sip and passing it on. Eventually, the glass reached my hands and I tasted the bitter tasting drink. And so it was everywhere - whether it was in some folk's apartment in Argentina, or traveling on the long roads, or just in the middle of the street, the all pass the Mate from one person to another and it is absolutely legal.

Would You Like A Cup Of Tea?

Right On!

You're probably imagining a British accent, and not in vein. The ceremony of drinking tea in Britain is one of the most well-known ceremonies around the world, but residents of the great kingdom of England aren't the only ones who like to drink tea on a regular basis as part of their lifestyle, the tea is also a big hit in India and Japan. The tea is known for its healing characteristics, and if you're only familiar with the simple tea bags, then you're very outdated, because in the last couple of years, the green tea became a huge trend in every out-in-the-nature Shanty festival, and also in the USA, many people tend to drink tea right at the end of their meal.

So Where Do The Small Tea Bags Come From?

The biggest "players" in the tea market are: India, China, Nepal, Kenya, Pakistan, Iran, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Japan, Indonesia, Australia, Argentina and Turkey, Tea leaves will wither if they're not processed immediately after the harvest and it is customary to process tea in five main forms and this process is called "Fermentation". The plant from which the tea leaves are produces is called Camellia (Camellia Sinensis), and these plants grow in Southeast Asia for thousands of years. The tea was first discovered in china by the Emperor Sheen Nang, in 2737 BC, and even back then it made a reputation for being able to treat pain, stimulation the immune system, and detoxification of dangerous poisons. In 800 AD the custom of drinking tea came to Japan and from there it was spread to the whole world. The black tea accounts for 78% of the total global tea consumption and it's especially popular in the western world. Green tea stands for about 20% of the global tea consumption, and it's mostly popular in Japan, China, Korea India and North Africa.

Scents Flavors and Colors

In One Word: The Aroma!

Drinking tea is done in almost every country in the world, in some of these countries it's a custom to also add different herbs to the brewing, in order to give different tastes and smells to the tea. Adding Shiva or Sage is popular in Arab countries, a "morning tea" is popular in the UK and Ireland and it's made out of a black tea mixture. Jasmine tea is tea with jasmine flowers. Earl Grey is a black of black tea with a bergamot plant concentration. Spiced tea -like the Indian "Chai" is being mixed with spices such as ginger, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, and black pepper, nutmeg and such. Mint tea - is very popular, especially in the Middle East.

Just like I said, the custom of drinking tea is definitely popular, but sometimes, its ritual makes people wonder: "Why drinking tea became such a ritualistic manner?" "Why did people believe back then, that the tea has blessed and magical powers?" there's a belief which says that the Gautama Buddha Sidaratah (the founder of the Buddhism) was the first to discover the tea leaves when he drank water and suddenly tea leaves fell straight into his glass. Others, may attribute the discovery to Budahirama (the funder of Zen-Buddhism), who ripped off his eyelids, so he won't fall asleep during meditation, and that his ripped eyelids were the seeds of the first tea - hence its awaking capabilities. Another belief says that it was actually Sheen Nang, the Chinese emperor who drank the hot water and that a couple of tea leaves accidently fell into his glass...

Chinese Tea Ceremony

The Chinese culture is one of the most ancient civilizations, and the tea drinking is an ancient ceremony that is very, very important in this culture. During the tea ceremony, first, the participants must small the tea's aroma, and then they taste it and focus on its unique taste with every sip. The Chinese tea ceremony works according to the Chinese "Way of Tao": it must be executed in a relaxed and harmonious environment. We're talking about a real social event, during which, the host is the one who makes the tea and pours it into the glasses. The ceremony takes place for the most important discussions, such as marriage proposals, family meetings, etc, while the ceremony itself is strongly honored and respected.

Traditional Chinese Tea Ceremony

Chinese tea ceremony is about art, elegance and harmony.

Bestselling, And My Personal Favorite Chinese Tea Brands:

Japanese Tea Ceremony

The Japanese tea ceremony is similar to the Chinese one, but he is also considered to be an artistic event with aesthetic elements, because the Japanese emphasis on the design of the serving dishes. The ceremony operates according to the rules of the Japanese Zen, and takes place in a special room available in any traditional Japanese house. This is a very dignified and serious ceremony, the serving dishes are characterized by Japanese art, and the glasses are often decorated with paintings. The ceremony is being done while sitting on the floor, without shoes, at a very low table. There are schools in Japan that teach the tradition and the hospitality of the Japanese tea drinking. The traditional Japanese teapot is called: "Tetsubin" and you can see pictures of it below:

The Best Deals On Tetsubin Sets (I personally own the black one)

Traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony

Tea At Koken: A Japanese Tea Ceremony By Joy Mari Sato in the Wet Mountains of Colorado.

Bestselling, And My Personal Favorite Japanese Tea Brands:

South America Tea Ceremony

In South America the popular tea drink is Mate. Mate is a caffeine-rich drink made from a plant called: "yerba", whose origins are in South America. The Mate drink can mostly be seen in Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay and southern Brazil. Drinking the mate is a common social activity in all walks of life, like drinking coffee. Drinking traditional mate is usually done through a metal straw with a filter at its tip¬, which is placed in a vessel made out of pumpkin or leather. The leaves feel three quarters of the tool's cavity, which is flooded with hot water at the temperature of 70-80 degrees.

Russian Tea Ceremony

Drinking tea in Russia became acceptable long before the Russians came to Europe, thanks to a visit from China's emperor in the 17th century who brought the Russian Czar tea, as a gift. The Russian tea ceremony is designed to create social connections, the tool with which they pour the tea is called: "Samovar" (means: "Self-cooker" in Russian) - a metal container. The tea is mixed with boiling water and its known for being strong and bitter; therefore the Russians love to sweeten it with sugar, honey or jam.

Bestselling, And My Personal Favorite Russian Tea Brands:

My grandmother actually has a real old Samovar, so next time i'll be at her place, i'll photograph it and upload it here, promise!

Indian Tea Ceremony

India was under the rule of England, and the English people encouraged Indian farmers to grow tea. Today, India owns one of the most thriving tea industries in the world, and tea became one of the main products which India produces (oh yeah, India makes about 30% of all the tea in the world). With Indian teas are Assam tea, and Darjeeling tea. Indians tend to drink black tea with milk, just like the En British who have implemented this practice in India during their long stay there. Another common tea is the Indian Chai, which has many variations, and the most famous one is the "Chai Masala", that's made out of tea, sugar, spices, and milk.

Bestselling, And My Personal Favorite Indian Chai Brands:

Turkish Tea Ceremony

The "Rize" is a sort of black tea from the rize province in turkey. The tea, which is cooked in a Samovar, is being drank everyday and everywhere. It's being served in small cafes in small and narrow glasses, with a golden tip. Sometimes you might come across merchants with huge samovars on their back, serving tea to costumers even on the hottest Turkish day.

Bestselling And, My Personal Favorite Turkish Tea Brands:

British Tea Ceremony

Scons Included!

The consumption of tea in England is one of the highest in the whole world, drinking tea in England is an ancient culture and the tea is also considered to be the national drink of England. The "Tea Time" ceremony is very common in England, and they mainly drink black tea.

Bestselling, And My Personal Favorite British Tea Brands:

Which County Got The Best Tea?

See results

The Health Benefits Of Tea

Tea is also known for its healing characteristics and many believe in its good nutritional qualities - Chinese tea, Tibetan diet tea, green tea, various herbal blends and more… Here is some medical evidence that reinforce the belief in the virtues of the Tea:

  • A team of scientists from the University of Newcastle in England have discovered that green tea and black tea can affect the enzymes in the brain which are associated with memory. This study may lead to now drugs to treat the Alzheimer's disease.

  • Several studies have found that the tea contains antioxidants, and a regular consumption of 5 cups of tea a day, contributes to keeping a high level of them in the blood, and this way they are able to neutralize free radicals in our system, which are accumulated inside our bodies and become a big burden on our immune system.

  • Another study conducted by dentists, has shown that washing your mouth with black tea between meals, will reduce the amount of bacteria and prevent the formation of plaque in the tooth. The same dentists said that drinking black tea between meals, also has a very positive affect.

  • A study conducted by a team of Japanese researchers showed that women, who drank less than five cups of tea per day, had a bigger chance (almost 97% more) to have a stroke. They also found that the polyphones found it the tea, protect against the oxidation of cholesterol, which may cause damage to blood vessels.

  • The Green Tea is also famous for having many healing qualities. One study on the subject discovered that drinking green tea, drastically reduces the chances of getting cancer, inflammation in the lover, arteriosclerosis, and infectious intestinal diseases, and also found that green tea helps to lower the cholesterol levels, to lose weight, and to strengthen cognitive abilities

  • A study conducted in Cambridge, among a group of about a thousand women aged 65-76 showed that those women who drank at least one cup of tea a day, had improved their bone density significantly more than women who didn't drink tea. Since the study took place in England, they also tested drinking tea with milk, and even here there was a positive effect on the bones.

Granny's Guide to Treat Medical Problems with Tea:

*These are only recommendations! They are not alternatives to medical treatment!

  • Relief from Nausea - Tea with ginger, chamomile tea

  • Abdominal pain - chamomile tea, sage tea

  • Gas problem - tea with cinnamon, tea with mint, chamomile tea

  • Reducing Fever - Ginger tea or chamomile tea

  • Sore Throat - chamomile tea, tea with honey and lemon

  • For folks with high blood pressure - Green Tea

  • To lower the cholesterol levels - Cinnamon tea

  • To those who suffer from insomnia - Chamomile Tea

  • Relief from Cough - Cinnamon Tea

  • Relief from Chill - Green Tea

Think You're A True Tea Fan? Prove It In The Comments!

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    • profile image

      Amenze 2 years ago

      Sensephotoz - : thax for d photo…like it vr much…btw…any new photo will b upload?no the new photo all will be DVD and pass to ur all soon lo in fact isidne still hv lot nice photo lot lot

    • Vovchik LM profile image
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      Vovchik LM 6 years ago

      @carny: You might laugh, but i used to love the cheapest earl gray brand, the one that costs like 15 bucks for 100 tea bags! Yup, that's my dark secret!

      What's your favorite brand of green tea?

    • Vovchik LM profile image
      Author

      Vovchik LM 6 years ago

      @Ramkitten2000: Thank You for the comment! And for the kind words :)

    • Vovchik LM profile image
      Author

      Vovchik LM 6 years ago

      @glenbrook: Nice catch ;) I'm glad there are other tea fanatics on Squidoo. Does your wife makes tea the simple way, or she also likes to have a ceremony around it?

    • Vovchik LM profile image
      Author

      Vovchik LM 6 years ago

      @I-sparkle: Thank you for the kind words. What coffee type is your favorite?

    • I-sparkle profile image

      I-sparkle 6 years ago

      Excellent lens. I am a coffee drinker, but this lens was truly intriguing.

    • glenbrook profile image

      glenbrook 6 years ago

      Nice lens. My wife is Chinese so I drink lots of tea, mostly oolong.

    • profile image

      Mikayla 6 years ago

      Haha funny. Now, tell me, what is Kazakhi tea. And how does the $1,500 tea you have for sale there taste?

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 6 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      I like how you set this up by country. Well done and interesting.

    • carny profile image

      carny 6 years ago

      I love all kinds of tea: green, matte, black (Earl Gray mostly). My favorite kind is green tea, I like trying out new sorts of it, and different additions like jasmine, etc. Don't know much about ceremonies and stuff like that though.