There are a wide range of tea cultures around the world. Not only are they distinguishable by the types of tea consumed, but also because of the customs and practices associated with those cultures. Here's an abbreviated guide to tea culture from around the world.
Like coffee shops in the west, teashops can be found in pretty much every neighborhood in China. They're especially popular with students and businesspeople in the afternoons, and can also be crowded late at night. Tea vendors sell tea leaves, as well as teapots, teacups, and other items related to tea service.
Green tea is particularly popular in Japan and is often consumed during special occasions or when guests are present. The close ties between green tea and Japanese culture are obvious by the popularity of green tea in all types of Japanese restaurants. It is consumed both ceremoniously and using modern brewing techniques.
India is one of the world's largest producers of tea. Predominantly black tea, it is often served as "chai" with milk and a variety of spices such as ginger, cinnamon, black pepper, and cardamom. In addition, some of the most famous tea regions in the world reside in India like Darjeeling and Assam.
In Russia and other ex-Soviet nations, tea is traditionally consumed in a tea glass holder. Tea is usually served strong in Russia, with the strength level often associated with a host's degree of hospitality. Boiling water is used to dilute tea, and it is often served as a family event with sugar and lemon and a collection of pastries and jams.
The German region of East Frisia is often associated with tea consumption and German tea culture. Traditionally, sugar is added in the form of rock candy, which slowly melts as tea is added to the cup, as well as heavy cream. Tea in Germany is often served with small cookies during the week or with cake on weekends and during special occasions.
A jolly cup of tea is as English as the Queen, and the British are some of the largest tea consumers on Earth. It is typically served black, with milk, and sometimes with sugar. Though there are formal afternoon tea ceremonies in the United Kingdom, standard tea consumption is more casual.
Yes, the United States is the inventor of iced tea, something that makes the rest of the world somewhat apprehensive. Most reports cite the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis as the birthplace of its popularity, and tea, of course, has a place in U.S. history when a group of protestors dumped it into Boston Harbor to protest high tea taxes.
In reality, tea is one of the fastest growing beverage segments for American consumers. Many foodservice operations are looking for new ways to capitalize on this trend by utilizing new tea brewing technologies, by considering new methods for serving tea, and by delivering tea from the leaf to the cup in new, appealing ways.
One thing all tea cultures have in common is an effective and appealing way to consume tea. Consumption is part tea quality, part aesthetics. Learn more about tea service by spending a few minutes with Tafelstern.