Tea warms you if you are cold, and gives you a refreshing flavour when you are too heated. Not only this, tea cheers you up if you are depressed and brings people together in unimaginable ways. The magic of tea is inexpressible and has various forms all across the world. The different ways of serving tea and its rituals reflect the set of values and views of people. Here’s how people enjoy a cup of tea around the world.
In Japan, the tea ceremony is known as ‘Matcha’. As influenced by Zen Buddhism, it lasts for several hours where the tea is served in fine pottery and porcelain along with a traditional light meal or ‘kaiseki’ -a multicourse meal of seasonal specialties. This ceremony follows a particular order of utensils that are brought one after the other. The actual brewing varies, depending upon the time of the day and respective season.
The Chinese tea ritual is called ‘Gōngfu Chá’ which means tea with great skill. This ceremony involves a formal presentation of a tea leaf in six clay teapots and cups having intricate carvings on them, served altogether in a bamboo box. The first step involves sniffing the strong and slightly bitter leaves before brewing. The cups that are used to sniff are known as scent cups. The second is drinking the tea by first arranging the cups in a circle and then pouring it in a continuous manner all around until each cup is full. The guests cradle the empty cup to savour its aroma after finishing.
In Morocco, the ‘Touareg tea’ - a mixture of green tea leaves, mint, and sugar - is served to guests thrice with each glass boasting a peculiar flavor. This tea is poured from height into delicate and slim glasses. There is a saying which symbolizes the three servings – “The first is as gentle as life, the second is as strong as love and the third, as bitter as death.” Refusing even a single serving is considered highly disrespectful.
Argentina has a herbal tea known as ‘yerba mate’ which is prepared in a small pot and drunk through a special straw known as bombilla. This setup is then passed around the group to share happily. Saying ‘thank you’ in return is a ritual and is considered as declining the drink. Stirring the brew with a bombilla is considered as an insult since it questions the abilities of the brewer.
- In Iran, tea is served in various tea houses known as chaikhanehs. Traditionally, tea is carried in a silver tray, accompanied by yellow rock candy called nabat. This strong tea is served by placing a sugar cube between their teeth and suck the strong brew through it.