|Tea Around The World
Tea has had a long – and sometimes sordid
– history. In its 5,000 years of existence, it has affected virtually
every realm of society, contributing to historical scandals, spiritual
growth, medical advances, economics, and technological innovation.
Each tea-drinking culture has
developed unique rituals surrounding the cultivation, preparation, and
consumption of tea:
The first tea plantations in Australia were established on top of the
country’s highest mountain, Mount Bartle Frere.
In the 1920s, a Japanese immigrant rekindled the dwindling Brazilian tea
industry by smuggling Assam tea seeds into the country and planting them
on the southern coast of São Paulo.
China was the world’s only tea-producing country for what is believed
to be the first 3,000 years of tea history.
The custom of “afternoon tea” was established in the mid-nineteenth
century by Anna, the Duchess of Bedford. One afternoon, too hungry to
wait until her eight o’clock meal, Anna ordered her servants to
bring tea and cakes into her chambers. Anna was so fond of her afternoon
snack that it became an everyday ritual.
Tea was first sold in France as medicine, but was denounced by medical
professionals as unhealthy and ineffective – they preferred herbal
In Indian railway stations, tea is served in clay cups that are shattered
after each use (for sanitary purposes).
The earliest Japanese tea plantations were planted around Buddhist temples
and monasteries – this was because tea was originally brought to
Japan by Buddhist monks.
Mongolians typically steep their tea in yak butter, and then strain it
and add milk and roasted grains.
Tea is poured from a height of several inches (or more) above the table.
The "Russian Tea" found on store shelves is not Russian at all,
but rather a blend of Chinese teas imported into Russia.
Tea in Russia is typically served out of a samovar,
a heated metal urn. The urn holds hot water, and a small pot containing
tea is kept warm on top of the urn. The tea brews all day, creating a
very strong brew that must be diluted with the hot water before it is
• South Africa
An herbal infusion that looks and tastes just like tea - though it’s
made from a different plant and is caffeine-free - originates in South
Africa. The infusion is called rooibos, which means “red bush”
• Sri Lanka
In the 1860s, tea replaced coffee as the island’s primary crop.
The switch occurred when a fungus called Hemileia vastatrix virtually
destroyed the Sri Lankan coffee industry.
• United States
The only tea grown in America comes from the Charleston Tea Plantation,
located on a balmy barrier island off of the South Carolina coast.
An English traveling tea salesman invented iced tea
in 1904 while selling black tea in the Midwest during a hot spell.
Tea bags were the innovation of a New York tea importer,
Thomas Sullivan, who had the idea to sew tea into silk bags to replace
the costly tin tea canisters. The silk bags were later replaced by muslin,
and then paper.