It will warm you if you are cool, cool you if you are too heated and cheer you if you are depressed. Tea brings people together in ways that one cannot imagine and its magic is inexpressible. All around the world, cultures have distinct ways of serving tea. These nuances and rituals often reflect the values and views of their people. Here’s how to enjoy a cup around the globe!
In Japan, the tea ceremony is called Matcha.Influenced by Zen Buddhism, it lasts several hours, with the tea served in fine pottery and porcelain, with a traditional light meal (tenshin) or kaiseki (a multi-course meal of seasonal specialties). The order in which utensils are brought into the room and the actual brewing vary, depending on the time of day and season.
TheChinesetea ritual called Gōngfu Chá (meaning tea with great skill) involves the ceremonial presentation of the tea leaf in six clay tea pots and cups with intricate carvings, served in a bamboo box. The first step involves ‘scent cups’ used to sniff the strong and bitter leaves before brewing, along with warming the cups with a wash of the tea’s first brew. The second is drinking- the tea is poured in a continuous motion all around, by arranging the cups in a circle, until each cup is full. Guests are supposed to cradle the empty cup to savour the aroma after finishing.
InMorocco, the Touareg tea (a mix of mint, green tea leaves, and dollops of sugar) is served to guests three times with each glass carrying a unique flavor. It’s poured from up high into slim, delicate glasses. Symbolizing the three servings, they have a saying – “The first is as gentle as life, the second as strong as love and the third, as bitter as death.” Refusing any single serving is considered the height of discourtesy.
Argentinahas yerba mate , an herb tea, prepared in a small pot from which it’s drunk through a special straw called a bombilla. This device is passed around the group to share. Saying “thank you” in this ritual is considered as declining the drink; stirring the brew with the bombilla is taken as an insult as it questions the abilities of its brewer/your host.
InIran, tea is served in tea houses called chaikhanehs. Traditionally, the tea is carried in a silver tray, accompanied by a bright yellow rock candy called nabat. The presence of tea is so constant in Iranians’ lives that the kettle is kept on a stove all day. Very strong tea is served: instead of mixing sugar to thwart the bitterness, they place a sugar cube between their teeth and suck the strong brew through it.
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