Tea Traditions Around the World

By Briana Seftel

Steep your way into the world of tea! Originating in China thousands of years ago, tea comes in as many tastes and types as you could dream of. They say varie-tea is the spice of life, so here are nine international teas you gotta chai.

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Tea isnโ€™t just a drink in China, itโ€™s a way of life. As the top producer in the world (and the country that introduced the world to tea), China leads the way when it comes to tea, whether its rich pu-erh, fragrant jasmine or elegant oolong. While cities like Hong Kong favor their tea iced with milk, most of China still drinks tea traditionally in clay pots. The art of making tea is known as cha doa and involves pouring the tea several times back and forth before it is deemed perfect.


Fragrant and sweet, Moroccan mint tea (known as maghrebi) is the perfect ending to a meal of spicy tagine and couscous. Handfuls of spearmint are crushed and steeped in green tea, adding in sugar, then served in ornately decorated glass cups. The tea is poured from high above to swirl the tea leaves at the bottom and improve the flavor.


A milky, spicy cup of masala chai is a must on a trip to India. Black tea, usually assam, is infused with ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper, cardamom and cloves, then milk and sugar is added to make a delicious frothy concoction. Vendors hawking the tea are known as chai wallahs, while a cup will likely cost you a dollar or less!


South America may be known for its coffee, but in Argentina tea reigns supreme, and that tea is known as yerba mate. Praised as having the "strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and the euphoria of chocolate," yerba mate is as integral to Argentina as gauchos and tango. Dried leaves from the mate tree are steeped in hot water and traditionally sipped out of a hollowed calabaza squash.


Because vodka isn't recommended at all hours of the day, try Russia's version of tea! This intensely strong tea is known as zavarka and is made by brewing lots of loose leaf black tea. Traditionally, hot water used for tea was heated in a samovar, with the teapot placed on top.

United Kingdom & Ireland

"Fancy a cup of tea?" is a question you'll hear a lot all over the U.K. and Ireland Black, where a "cuppa" is as commonplace as fish and chips. While you'll find all types of tea, the traditional English tea is black and is served with milk and sugar. Whether you're after a traditional afternoon tea or a simple builder's tea at takeaway shop, having tea in the U.K. and Ireland is a must.


Known locally as cha yen, Thai iced tea is a refreshing and sweet drink of Ceylon or Assam black tea, sugar and condensed milk. Topped with evaporated milk, the creamy tea is the perfect counterpoint to mouth-numbing Thai curries and noodles. Other ingredients like orange blossom water, star anise and crushed tamarind seed can be added, too.


What's not to love about bubble tea? Now a popular drink across the world, bubble tea got its start in the 1980s in Taiwan. Also known as boba, bubble tea is a delightful combination of milk or fruit tea and chewy tapioca balls.


Tea drinking in Japan can be traced all the way back to the 9th century, but it wasn't until the 12th century that matcha was introduced. Involving finely ground green tea powder, hot water and a delicate wooden whisk, the making of matcha in Japan is practically a religious experience. You could say we love it so matcha.

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