How do you like it?
Brewed or stewed?
Black or Earl Gray?
Sweetened or with its aroma heightened?
To be quite honest, we are talking about tea! Yes, your everyday cup of tea, so sophisticated sometimes it can be.
We all like big cups when it comes to tea.
Found accidentally and popularized during the Tang Dynasty as a potential herbal drink its addiction has grown to quite a lot. To the extent that it is the second ‘most consumed beverage’ after water.
Ethically, tea is Chinese and yes, China produces the largest amount of tea while Turkey holds the record for the maximum consumption but we Indians have set quite the standards by consuming something around the lines of 30% of the world production of tea.
The oldest of written records about tea happens to be in the Chinese culture. However, the modern tea culture talks about the Britishers treating the drink with quite the reverence. From literature to history and important life-changing decisions it appears like tea has been a part of every significant aspect of human history.
Even dictators like Adolf Hitler were dictated by their urge for the perfect cup of tea.
Tracing back the history of tea...
Native to East Asia with its accidental origin in Southwest China, however, it was the trading through seaways that helped in introducing tea to the world.
Tea trade was started by the Portuguese who arrived in China first during the Ming Dynasty. After that, it was the Dutch and then finally the British who exclusively started exporting tea after realizing it’s potential as an acceptable beverage across seas.
As foreign varieties of tea couldn’t be cultivated in India it was time for the British to come up with something different. Archibald Campbell brought some seeds of Chinese Tea Plant from Kumaun. He began experimenting with them in the hills of Darjeeling.
When it comes to tea you have the options for going for leaves, powder (matcha) and grains. The best part is that each one of them has a different storage and preparation process along with the way it tastes because the molecular structure helps to decide how well and in which way it’d simmer and brew.
Tea Cultures across the world.
Chinese prefer tea as a thirst quencher. With ethics, morality and philosophy being associated with tea people here believe in enjoying the spirit of life through the essence of tea. Green tea associates itself with simple and light and talks about scholasticism while black tea has ladylike features like mild and reserved. Oolong tea talks about persistence and perseverance of scholars and the famous dark tea with a strong aftertaste are all about wisdom.
On an average, a single person consumes about 2 kg (dry) tea per year and hence the name ‘tea people’. Interesting to note that they, however, do not grow their own tea!English Breakfast tea or Earl Grey, that’s British for you. They love their tea black. Though there is a current decline in the tea culture we don’t see it going anywhere in the near future.
The Japanese hold elaborate Tea Ceremonies. We know them as ‘Way of Tea’ or Chanoyu in Japanese. Zen Buddhism seems to have quite the influence over this particular ceremony. It’s Chakai and Chaji for them, informal and formal tea ceremonies respectively. Documented evidence for the same has been found. Imported from China they have quite customized it as per their literary and philosophical tastes and the end result is the current day ceremonies.
Camellia sinensis assamica, the Assam tea is ingenious. Indian chai goes synonymous with Darjeeling tea, quite the elite taste. Believe it or not, Indians have quite adapted themselves into this mild-caffeine rush in the most intoxicated way. This goes without explaining that they are quite fond of Chai pe Charcha.
They kind of top the tea consumption chart. Special tea vessel in the name of ‘çaydanlık’. Offering tea to their guests is a part of their hospitality. Herbal tea prepared by them are quite a craze among the tourists.
So, the question is – How well do you know about your Cup of Tea?
Cup of Tea.
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