Tea is the second most consumed liquid in the world, after water. So in honor of January kicking off the year as National Hot Tea month, we’ve explored global regions where tea is a fundamental part of culture. Read on to learn how tea has gained its reputation as a natural curator in our modern world.
- Love you so Matcha in Japan: For Japanese, tea is also an integral part of culture and consumed on a daily basis. However, the Japanese are known to prefer drinking green tea over any other type of tea. So much is the Japanese love for green teas that they have discovered different ways to cultivate it, which tea different flavors, just like wine or coffee. Some of these different styles of green tea are:
- Ryokucha: A mixture of three stages of the green tea plant throughout the harvest rounds.
- Matcha: The highest quality leaves of the green tea plant are dried and milled to create a powder that is then mixed with hot water to make the delicious beverage.
- Konacha: The tea dust or the residual of green tea, making it the least expensive form of green tea.
- Hojicha: Made by roasting the green tea leaches giving it a caramel aroma.
- Chai It Up in India: Tea is a big staple of Indian culture, so much so, almost 70% of the tea produced in India is consumed by its own people. Indians are big fans of black tea, like Darjeeling and Assam. The most popular tea is masala chai known for spices in its flavor, including cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, cloves and cardamom.
- Chai Wallahs: This is a name given to particular tea stores found on many street corners in India where people gather to socialize, buy, and drink chai tea together.
- Oolong in China: It is believed that tea originated in China and was originally consumed as an herbal and natural medicine. This drink was strongly associated with many religions practiced in China including Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. Monks drink tea for its calming effects and peace seeking. With time it became not just a religious activity but also cultural and social.
- Gonfu Tea Ceremony: Translated to “making tea with skills,” gonfu is one of the most recognized tea ceremonies in China where hosts prepare the famous oolong tea as a sign of respect for family and friends.
- British Black Tea: Afternoon tea is almost a religion in Great Britain. Tea was first brought to the region around 1840 by the Duchess of Bedford as a simple solution to a very common problem: getting peckish between lunch and dinner. Unsurprisingly, many Brits encountered that same struggle so they sought a light meal between lunch and dinner with quality black tea and a dash of milk alongside finger food like sandwiches, scones or small pastries. Originally, drinking tea was only a high class activity; however, almost everyone implemented it into their daily routines and it has stayed a popular tradition. Pro-tip: There is a misconception that it’s posh to lift your pinky when holding the teacup. It’s actually seen as rude and elitist.
Many global cultures have found unique ways to enjoy tea on a daily basis. Hot tea is a healthy compliment to life. Enjoy some chai!
Sharon Schweitzer and Sophie Echeverry co-wrote this post. Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre and the Intercultural Communication Institute, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, and Fortune. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards and the 2017 New York City Big Book Award for Multicultural Nonfiction.
Sophie Echeverry is the Corporate Marketing Manager and Event Coordinator at Access to Culture. Born and raised in Colombia, she’s a 2018 graduate with a B.B.A. in International Business and Marketing from Hult International Business School in San Francisco, CA. Sophie has co-written more than 30 blogs since graduation. She’s a passionate foodie, and an avid e-scooter rider. Follow her foodie Instagram account or Connect with her on LinkedIn.