It is well known that tea was first discovered in China many years ago and since then, it has spread across the globe. Many countries have made their own version of tea by either tweaking the recipe or altering the way it is prepared and made it their customary item. Let’s go around the world, one tea tradition at a time.
What comes to your mind when you hear tea and Morocco? Moroccan mint tea! The Moroccans way of having tea is to infuse the green tea with spearmint leaves and a generous serving of sugar. Brewing and drinking tea in Morocco is a tradition that is carried out with great care and signifies great hospitality.
The preparation of tea is referred to as atai and is customarily done in front of the guests. A tea ready for drinking should ideally have foam on top. To get this, the tea is usually poured from a long-curved spout teapot from at least a height of twelve inches. If the tea still doesn’t foam, it indicates that it needs to be steeped for longer. According to some traditions, the tea is served from the same pot thrice to each guest and it is considered rude to refuse the servings. The idea behind it is that each serving tastes different from the preceding one and it is related to a proverb that goes “The first glass is as gentle as life, the second is as strong as love, the third is as bitter as death.”
India is not only a consumer of tea; they also produce tea. The most popular variant of tea is what is called “masala chai”. This absolutely delightful concoction consists of a combination of spices like ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and pepper. There are different variations to this recipe as well; for example, some add lemongrass and or nutmeg to the mix. The availability of ready-made masala chai mix makes it more convenient to prepare your own masala chai- just add your preferred amount along with your black tea, bring it to boil and enjoy!
The chai is an archetypal beverage in India and is consumed throughout the day and offered to guests. Most locals and tourists love to visit the “chai wallahs” also known as chai vendors, who set up a small stall where they brew the tea in clay pots. These clay pots also contribute to enhancing the flavour of the chai.
Gongfu Tea is the traditional tea ceremony in China which involves the ritualized preparation and presentation of tea. The Chinese are known to pay great attention to their tea and their ritual consists of many tea making equipments such as tureen, tongs, tea towels, brewing trays, strainers and even scent cups. The scent cup is only used for smelling the tea. The hosts invite the guests to smell the tea leaves before going on to the process of brewing. Once the tea is ready to be served, the traditional way of serving is the cups are arranged in a circle and the tea is poured into all cups in one continuous motion around and around until the cups are three-quarters full. The guests are then expected to hold the cup, not with two fingers in the handle, but in a cradling gesture using both hands. They are advised to smell the aroma of the tea, drink it in small sips and savour the flavour simultaneously. A majority of the Chinese population consumes tea daily, that’s why Zesta thought it fit to develop an online store in Mandarin to cater to the large fan base of Ceylon tea in China!
The United Kingdom
At present, tea plays an important role in every person’s day-to-day life. Tea was first made known to United Kingdom in the 17th Century, soon after the Chinese discovered it. It was considered a luxury item back in the day and only royalty could afford it. The most popular tea tradition that belongs to the British is the afternoon tea, a trend that was started by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford in the 1800s. Afternoon tea consisted of tea that was served with a range of cakes, pastries and sandwiches. This tradition caught on and to date remains popular and is known as ” high-tea”.
Thailand is known for its famous amber-coloured Thai iced tea, which usually uses tea from Sri Lanka, along with condensed milk. What makes them unique to Thailand is the addition of certain spices like tamarind and or orange blossom. The tea is usually served cold in a tall glass. Sometimes, to create a more visually pleasing glass of tea, some vendors and restaurants pour evaporated milk gently on top to create a colour gradient down the glass. This tea is favourable during the summer days in the country and also complements Thai cuisine very well.
Malaysian signature tea is no different from Thai tea; it is made of black tea, sugar and condensed milk. But what makes Malaysian tea unique is the way it is made. They are known for their “pulled tea” locally known as teh Tarik. The tea is mixed using two mugs by pouring the tea back and forth repeatedly, allowing the air to cool it down during its process. The result is a well-mixed, “pulled” and particularly frothy textured tea. The making of teh Tarik is an art in itself and as its popularity grew, so did the showmanship of the skill. It is indeed a delight to see this process and will definitely leave you in awe!