It is said that the Discovery of Tea was in 2737bce in China. “Emperor Shennong, while resting under a tea tree, noticed the aroma from leaves that had fallen into a bubbling kettle. Intrigued by he fragrance, he took a sip and found it to be refreshing.”–The Tea Book by Linda Gaylard.
From there, cultivation, trade routes and the East India Trading Company did the rest. All over the world there are different forms, and tea ceremonies unique to each culture. Traditional Tea Ceremonies are part of holidays, family events, weddings and so much more. It requires your full presence and is a form of meditation that has added health benefits.
Some health benefits of drinking tea regularly:
Personally, I enjoy the process of making tea, learning how to create new flavors by blending different kinds of tea leaves together and I love shopping for new tea sets!
Learning about tea can be a long process if you’d like it to be. For many, it becomes a hobby, because there are so many styles you can always learn something new. Learning something new everyday is a policy everyone should aspire to. It keeps your brain on point and helps develop you as a person.
Being as the topic of Tea is so expansive, here’s 5 Tea Ceremonies/Styles for a brief look into the world of tea!
The Chinese Tea Culture is expansive and the birthplace of all that is tea. So, it’s only fitting that they be listed first. The video shows a very basic Tea Ceremony using only the needed utensils. However, the art and practice are beautiful and something that is taught and takes great practice.
The beauty of the tea ceremony is you take the time to appreciate the aroma, the strong flavors and learn to respect the process of tea making. It’s a form of meditation and a rite of passage.
Most traditional Chinese Tea Ceremonies, known as the Chinese Gongfu Cha use all the utensils shown, each with its own variance and style depending on the owner. Most of these are custom made, and range from $200 and up. The set shown below I bought for $100 through a friend who makes them. It’s an interesting process.
A simple YouTube search will give you a view into the more intricate tea ceremonies, usually along with gorgeous music. I think one of my favorite small details in this a most tea sets in this region is the use of what’s called, a Tea Pet!
These small figurines, usually made of Zisha clay and depicting an animal or mythical creature, changes color when hot water is poured over it. It is believed to bring good fortune to the tea ceremony.
Chinese Gongfu Cha is a celebration of the process as much as the product, the Gongfu Cha ceremony pays homage to the time and effort required to prepare a good cup of tea.
Traditionally, India is known for its malty Assams and prized Darjeelings. Now the country is experimenting with growing different types of tea, such as Nilgiri Frost and Darjeeling Green.
Indian is the second largest producer of tea in the world.
Although the video posted above is long, it lends the style, energy and popularity of Masala Chai Tea or their Famous Milk Tea. “Chai wallahs, or tea vendors, make Masala Chai from scratch with their own blend of spices, low-quality black tea, milk and sugar. The chai is poured from a height and often served in small, lightly fired clay cups known as “kullarhs.” —The Tea Book.
Drinking tea twice everyday is a normal habit. Visit any house in India and you will be definitely offered tea instead of any other beverages like alcohol or coffee. During British rule, tea was conceived as a beverage of the rich class or high status people. But now, the scenario is completely different. It has now become a very popular beverage across the world.
The Japanese Chanoyu Tea Ceremony is specific, rigorous and detail oriented. Every movement and gesture is planned and coordinated according to the traditional customs. It’s intimidating and beautiful all at once.
Chanoyu, which translates as “hot water for tea,” is a meditative ritual. Also , known as Chado, or “Way of Tea.” It is believed that through performing the ritual motions of tea preparation, it is possible to reach enlightenment.
This is where our obsession with Matcha Green Tea came from. The Japanese Chado Tea Ceremony revolves around a perfectly made cup of matcha. I don’t happen to have a friend that makes these, but I did find the needed utensils on Amazon. I would also suggest you look for a local store as well, maybe you have a hidden gem close by.
Originally a Zen Buddhist ceremony, Chanoyu was refined by tea master, Sen no Rikyu in the 16th century. He outlined the principles of harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility. His tea ceremony practices are still taught around the world.
Russian Tea Culture traditionally brewed using water heated in a Samovar, and it’s often referred to as “A Russians Best Friend.” “Tea has been enjoyed in Russia since the 17th century, when it was brought to the country from China. Today, tea is so popular in Russia that it is considered a national beverage.”–The Tea Book
Most everyone can recognize the Russian Tea Culture for it’s very specific designs. If you didn’t know about the Samovar, not to worry, it’s rarely used in everyday life. Although it remains a powerful symbol of Russian society, invoking positive feelings of warmth, comfort, and togetherness.
You’ll most likely recognize these little cups, called “Podstakannik.”
The real prize with these cups wasn’t the glass itself, that part is removable. The part that holds the glass is where you’d find family crests, and all manner of Russian designs. Keep your eye out the next time you go through an antique store. These gorgeous teacups are usually worth some money.
Moroccan Tea Culture is the custom of drinking sweet green tea infused with mint. It originated in Morocco in the 19th century, when Gunpowder Green Tea was introduced by British merchants. In just 150 years, tea drinking has become an intrinsic part of Moroccan culture.
I have my own take on the Moroccan Mint Tea, and it as a Signature Drink at The Canyon Suites when I was the Chef there. It’s both delicious when served cold or warm, which was perfect for the Arizona heat or the “cold” winters that never got below 30F. Regardless, I enjoy the use of fresh herbs with a good green tea blend.
Just a friendly reminder that although what’s above is a lot of information, it in no way covers all of the material that is The Tea Cultures of the World. Maybe that’s a book I should write! Until then, immerse yourself in this delicate and yet robust world of flavors. Expand your knowledge and in return, you’ll find the teas both healing and calming.
Sources: YouTube (links provided to owners of videos)
The Tea Book by Linda Gaylard available on Amazon