Enjoying teatime to the fullest with local flavours and traditions.
A hot cup of tea is perfect for any occasion, whether we're socializing, celebrating, or just cozying up with a book on a rainy day. Tea is a cultural staple shared by people all around the world, just like the breads we share at our tables. In this roundup - which still only covers a fraction of teas! - you'll find that we all enjoy these special brews a little differently, and some teatime traditions are so ingrained into culture that they have been beautifully preserved for centuries.
1. MAGHREBI (MOROCCAN) MINT TEA
Description: a mix of green tea leaves, mint, and sugar.
Guests are traditionally served this tea three times, symbolizing Moroccan culture's emphasis on hospitality. In the process, each cup is meant to be enjoyed in a unique way as the host provides for their guest. Maghrebi is often poured from a pot high above glasses, which helps to aerate the tea.
Description: black tea leaves mixed with spices such as ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and pepper.
Famous for its many chai blends, India’s spiced tea is a cultural staple. Chai was originally an ancient healing and energizing Ayurvedic drink. Tea sellers (chai wallah) traditionally sell it in clay cups - for some, the dust from these cups is an essential ingredient.
3. GONGFU TEA
Description: a ceremony that focuses on the art of brewing and presenting tea with skill - black teas like oolong and pu'er are preferred.
As a part of ancient Chinese tea culture, gongfu allows the tea maker to self-cultivate and focus on movement. If aware of the tea energy (cha qi), the maker appreciates how the tea affects their mind and body, in addition to its taste and smell.
4. BUBBLE TEA
Description: iced tea made with powdered milk, syrup, and tapioca balls (boba or pearls)
Popularized in Taiwan in the 80s, bubble tea is a sweet variation on Chinese tea traditions. Now considered a cultural staple, bubble tea is served in most Taiwanese teahouses and has further taken the world by storm as a beloved beverage that can be found across cities and continents.
5. TEH TARIK
Description: black tea, condensed milk, and sugar.
This popular Malaysian drink (a.k.a. pulled tea) is known for its frothy texture. Traditionally, it's made by pouring the tea between mugs, exposing it to the air. This craft is so appreciated that makers will compete to show off their "pulling" skills.
6. GREEN TEA
Description: caffeine-rich tea made from the Camellia sinensis plant
Green tea is so essential to Japanese culture that it's served with nearly every meal. It's valued for its many health benefits, and the sharing of green tea embodies a cultural emphasis on hospitality. Sencha is the most well-known, but there are many varieties of green tea to try.
7. EARL GREY TEA
Description: a slightly citrus-flavoured blend of black tea leaves and bergamot orange.
Britain is known for its love of teas, and 'afternoon tea' is a longstanding social tradition. Earl Grey, named after a 19th century prime minister, was first popularized by the royals. Today, it's one of Britain's most well-known blends.
8. IRANIAN TEAHOUSES
Description: water is traditionally heated in a samovar and the tea is sweetened with sugar cubes or a yellow saffron rock candy (nabat)
Iran is known for its teahouses (chaikhane) and love for tea. With a teahouse on many streets, this cultural staple creates a space for older generations to meet up and socialize.
9. YERBA MATE
Description: a caffeine-rich herbal tea made from the local yerba plant
This famous Argentinian tea - which originated with the Indigenous Guarani people - is sipped through a metal straw (bombilla) which filters out the leaves. Traditionally, the brew is part of social culture, served in a gourd and shared among a group.
11. ROOIBOS TEA
Description: a caffeine-free blend with a sweet and nutty flavour and a signature red color derived from the rooibos plant
This tea has been consumed in South Africa for centuries, primarily by the KhoiSan people, who used it for its medicinal properties. Over time, the rooibos has become more widely consumed, and today it's a popular beverage throughout South Africa. It's often consumed as a social beverage and served to guests.
12. OOLONG TEA
Description: with a flavour profile of black and green teas, the taste depends on the level of oxidization; it can be light and sweet or woody
This tea is an important part of Chinese tea culture and is often served in traditional tea ceremonies. The preparation and serving of oolong tea is an art form, with each step of the process carefully executed to ensure the tea is of the highest quality and flavour. You can even find oolong tea in Chinese cuisine, where it's often paired with spicy or rich foods to balance the flavours.
13. CACAO (CHOCOLATE) TEA
Description: caffeine-free and made from the roasted husks of cocoa beans (the same beans used to make chocolate), giving it a rich and chocolatey flavour
Cacao tea has cultural significance in the countries where cocoa beans are grown, particularly in Central and South America. It's a traditional beverage in many countries, including Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, where it's enjoyed in the morning or afternoon as an energizing brew.
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