Tea Cultures Around the World

Cup of Oolong Tea From China

Tea is one of the most popular drinks in the world. People drink a wide variety of tea and have an equally wide variety of reasons why they like tea so much. Whether you drink it because of the Darjeeling tea taste or the matcha tea benefits of health, there’s no denying that no other beverage makes you feel the way a cup of tea does.

Given how popular tea is, it should come as no surprise that every culture enjoys tea in their own way. If you were to travel around the world, here are some of the different types of tea you might be offered.

Tea Cultures in Asia

Tibet Tea Culture

You might add some cream or sugar to your tea, but how about butter? Po cha, the Tibetan traditional tea, starts out with some black tea. Tibetans then add yak butter, milk and salt to the brew and churn the ingredients together. Tibetans claim this tea is an energy booster, perfect for the high altitude and cold weather of the Himalayas.

Taiwan Tea Culture

Besides the famous premium teas like Tung Tin Oolong, Pouchong, Oriental Beauty and High Mountain Teas, Taiwan is birthplace of the much-loved bubble tea, or pearl milk tea. Cold tea is mixed with either cold tea or milk, then given a spoonful of soft, chewy tapioca balls. The result—a sweet, cold drink with an intriguing mix of textures. Bubble tea has exploded in popularity, and can be found throughout Asia, as well as Europe and North America.

India Tea Culture

India is known for its high quality black teas including Darjeeling, Assam and Nilgiri. If you ever find yourself there, make sure to try some chai tea, a blend of black tea and spices such as cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, and even pepper. The chai blend changes from region to region, but no matter where you are in India, you can be sure chai is readily available. For a real treat, seek out the chai vendors who serve chai in sustainable clay cups. According to chai connoisseurs, the earthy dust of the clay is the only way to get the true taste of chai.

Tea Farm Workers in India

China Tea Culture

China is the biggest tea production country in the world, producing not only green, Oolong and black tea, but so many other varieties of teas as well. China has its own unique tea classification depending on production method, fermentation, species, color and flavor: green, red (black tea), white, yellow, black (pu’er tea), blue (oolong tea) and flower (jasmine). There are world famous growing areas in China including the Fujian, Zhejiang, Yunnan and Anhui Provinces.

Thailand Tea Culture

Nothing tastes quite as good as a Thai iced tea, or Cha Yen. It’s a blend of Assam and Ceylon tea mixed with spices that include orange blossom, tamarind and star anise. Sugar and condensed milk finish off the drink, and it’s served over ice in a tall glass. The finished drink has a distinctive reddish-brown color, a sweet and spicy flavor, and a lot of calories.

Hong Kong Tea Culture

Light Blue Rustic Chinese Tea Set

Hong Kong brings the phrase “pantyhose tea” to the global tea table. It’s an odd phrase that makes sense when you realize the tea is named for the straining sock you use to steep the tea. The straining sock need to be durable, since pantyhose tea needs to be brewed for at least 10 minutes and potentially as much as 20. If you can’t wait that long, head to a cha chaan teng, a tea-centric diner where you can find a cup of pantyhose tea and quite possibly a companion willing to chat about the current state of the world with you.

Japan Tea Culture

Japanese tea ceremonies have been refined throughout centuries, with each move painstakingly choreographed, from how the home has been prepared to how the tea ceremony is cleaned up. Matcha, a powdered green tea, is used for the ceremony. It is served with sweets to add a contrast to its bitter flavor.

Pakistan Tea Culture

Pakistan is the home of the lovely Noon Chai, a blend of tea made of nuts and spices, including cardamom, pistachios, cinnamon, almonds, milk, star anise and salt. Noon Chai has a distinctive pink color, and many Pakistanis enjoy it with local pastries such as sheermaal, kulcha, bakarkhani and kandir tchot. You might also enjoy their milk tea, called “Doodh Pati”.

Iran Tea Culture

Even though Iran had teahouses, known as “chaikhanehs,” around the 15th century, Iran only started to grow its own black tea in the 20th century. Now, tea is so ubiquitous that Iranians usually keep a kettle burning all day to prepare for tea. The tea is served hot and strong, and rather than mix in sugar, Iranians put a cube of sugar between their front teeth and suck the tea through it.

Malaysia Tea Culture

If you ever get the chance to drink Malaysian pulled tea, known as “teh tarik,” you’re in for a treat. While the drink tastes fantastic, thanks to the blend of black tea, sugar and condensed milk, the real treat is how teh tarik is made. Brewers pour the concoction back and forth from one mug to another, exposing the tea to cool air and giving the teh tarik its signature frothiness. It’s quite the sight to see.


Tea Cultures in Europe and Africa

Russia Tea Culture

Russians developed zavarka during the days when food was scarce and everything needed to be shared. Zavarka is a black tea concentrate brewed in a vessel called a samovar. Guests then take a small amount of the brew and thin in to their liking with hot water. The host may offer some cream or sugar, as well as a snack like crackers or cookies if they want to be polite, but most Russians drink zavarka black.

Elegant White Tea Set With Gold Trim

England Tea Culture

Tea is at least as important to England’s cultural identity as it is to China and Japan. The British custom of afternoon tea  was invented by Anna Maria Russell, the seventh Duchess of Bedford in 1840. Since dinner was always served around 8 p.m. in the nineteenth century, she asked her household staff to prepare a small meal at 4 p.m. to tide her over until then that included small cakes, mini sandwiches and of course tea. This idea caught on with the upper class, and spread through the country.

Today, you can have afternoon tea in a variety of tea gardens. The traditional afternoon tea includes scones served with clotted cream and preserves, and mini sandwiches including the famous sliced cucumber sandwiches. You may even get some tiny cakes or pastries as well.

Morocco Tea Culture

If you’re ever in Morocco and a friend offers you a slim, delicate glass of tea, take it. You’ll be drinking Touareg Tea, a blend of green tea leaves, mint and a large serving of sugar. To refuse this tea is extremely rude.

Touareg tea is served three times to guests. The host uses the original Touareg Tea leaves and adds hot water to them. and the next batch is ready to be served.


North and South America

Elegant White Tea Set With Gold Trim

United States Tea Culture

In the southern part of the United States, you’ll find that Americans eschew hot tea for iced sweet tea. Almost any tea can be used, but black tea is generally accepted as the tea of choice, so long as you mix it with a lot of sugar and ice. The drink was first mentioned in a nineteenth century cookbook.

Argentina Tea Culture

The Argentinian answer to chai is yerba mate (pronounced mah-TAY). Known as “the drink of the gods,” this herbal tea is served in a small pot or gourd and drunk using a bombilla, a straw with a strainer attached. Yerba mate is usually served without any sweetener, although younger people might add some honey or sugar. If you’re ever served yerba mate in a social gathering, never say “thank you”—people will think you’re turning down the tea, which is considered extremely insulting.

Visit Den’s Tea for the Best Selection of Green Tea


polished ceramic tea pot

If you’ve been thinking about trying some teas from the far reaches of the globe, why not begin your journey by visiting Den’s Tea? New green tea drinkers can try one of the green tea trial kits. More experienced green tea drinkers can explore the different types of green tea, from matcha to kukicha.Either way, you’ll be able to take advantage of the matcha benefits, not to mention the benefits of all the other teas Den’s Tea sells.Contact Den’s Tea today at 877-336-7832 to talk with one of our experts about which type of green tea would be best for you.

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