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Tea around the world : Middle East and Africa

We continue our trip exploring tea around the world this time in Middle East and African Countries! Are you ready to go?

Turkey

While Turkey may be famous for its black coffee, tea is also an important part of Turkish social life. Tradition also requires daughters to know how to prepare the perfect cup of tea before they’re able to get married. Cay tea is prepared in a double teapot: tea is brewed in the top one while at the same time steamed from the boiling water in the bottom kettle. For the perfect Turkish tea, pour into small tulip-shaped glasses and never add milk. Sugar, if needed, is not added directly into the drink, but placed under the tongue or between the cheeks while drinking.

Egypt

Another large importer of tea is Egypt and black tea is consumed several times throughout the day. Tea leaves are strongly brewed and boiled and the infusion is heavily sweetened. Dried mint leaves are sometimes added for additional flavoring.

Iran

Tea is the national beverage in Iran. Always sweetened, black tea is favored for warmth and comfort, while green tea is consumed for refreshment. Also known as Chai, it is served for breakfast, lunch, dinner, in between meals… all throughout the day! A pinch of rose petals is added to the tea leaves followed by hot water and the whole is left to simmer for several minutes. Transparent glasses are used so the guest can make sure the color of the drink is to their taste, as some prefer it light while other prefer a stronger drink.

North African Countries

In Morocco as well as other countries in the area, tea is part of the local people’s hospitality traditions. Any home, shop, hotel … that you will step in will serve you the country’s version of tea. Touareg tea is a highly sweetened green tea in which spearmint is added. Because of the high honor of preparing and serving tea, it is usually done by the man of the house. Guests at tea ceremonies are customarily served three glasses each one symbolizing life, then love and finally death. It is considered rude to refuse a drink or to not finish it!
Mauritania also has its own version of the Touareg tea service. Sweetening is done progressively with the three cups, making the first one bitter and progressively ending on a sweet note.

Africa

Africa is a fertile ground for tea production. Kenya for example, is the third largest producer of tea in the world. Being right on the equator, tea can be produced all year long! South Africa may not be a major exporter, but it is where the Rooibos plant can be found. While not exactly a tea, this infusion is prepared the same way as tea is, and milk and/or sugar can be added. As for Malawi, the red color of the soil is transferred onto the plants, giving the leaves a uniqueness that cannot be found in Kenyan tea.

Tea around the world : Asia

Tea is the second most consumed beverage around the world after water. While all teas originate from the same plant, the Camellia sinensis, its methods of preparation and consumption changes from one country and culture the other.

As tea originated from Asia, it is only fitting to start our exploration there. Let’s take a trip around the world!

Japan

You can’t go to Japan without at least taking part or attending a tea ceremony. This historical and traditional ritual is organized by the host, who prepares and serves Matcha, the powdered green tea, to the guests. The powdered tea leaves are placed in a bowl where hot water is gradually added and the whole mixture whisked using special tools until it is soup-like. There are several schools and clubs that teach the art of the tea ceremony, which can sometimes take up to four hours!

China

The country where it all began! According to legend, Chinese emperor Shennon discovered tea when a tea leaf accidentally fell into his hot water cup. Like their ancestors before them, the Chinese still enjoy their daily cup of tea and often gather in tea houses to get together and chat over their favorite drink. It is also still commonly used as a medicinal treatment for a variety of illnesses as well as during meditation. They also have their own tea ceremony which symbolizes respect and gratitude. The most commonly consumed types are green tea, black tea and scented tea.

Korea

Unlike the rest of Asian countries, tea in Korea is drunk for relaxation purposes but recently, traditional Korean tea ceremonies are being revived. Even though green tea is the most used type, several other imported or native teas are also served. Preference is for fresh harvest and leaves are rarely left to age.

Taiwan

The global phenomenon of pearl milk tea, or bubble tea, finds its roots in Taiwan. Mixed with fruit or milk, it is served with tapioca balls cooked in sugar syrup. Taiwan is one of the largest producers of Oolong tea which is a favorite in the country as well.

Other Asian countries

Thai tea consists of brewed black tea served chilled along with sugar and condensed or evaporated milk. In Hong Kong, it is called pantyhose tea due to its color being similar to that of nude stockings.

Tibet is famous for its butter tea, or po cha. After brewing the tea leaves for several hours, they are then combined with salt and yak butter. This energy boosting drink is perfect for life in the Himalayas.

In Malaysia, there is also a preference for strong brews. Their own specialty of tea, Teh tarik adds milk and sugar to frothed black tea for a bubbly drink.
As for India, tea is also part of the daily life. Cha-ya is found everywhere and can even be sold on the streets in small cups. It is black tea to which pepper, cardamom, cloves and other spices are added, and then mixed with sugar and milk. Chai is also a favorite in Pakistan, where the specialty is Noon Chai, a pink tea with milk, pistachios, almonds and spices.

The teapot over time

There is an indispensable tool for preparing a good tea: the teapot. But where did the idea - well appreciated - come from? So here is a short story of the teapot, from its appearance in China to your kitchen!

The first teapots

There is no official date related to the invention of the teapot but what is well known is that it came well after the tea became a widespread drink. Most believe that the first teapot was introduced in the fifteenth century in China, but some sources associate it with previous dynasties. The tea until then was consumed in powder in bowls to which the water brought to boiling is added. There was no real brew like nowadays.

Coffee
 
It is in the city of Yixing that the first teapots appeared and then spread from the sixteenth century. These small zisha teapots, a kind of clay, have revolutionized the method of tea preparation. Their small size meant that they were used for individual consumption, allowing one or two cups of tea.

Introduction in Europe

Coffee
 
The tea begins to be imported into Europe thanks to the East India Company. The Europeans are fascinated by this drink as well as the Chinese pottery they tried to reproduce in vain. This rigid and translucent material that formed the teapots is none other than the primitive form of porcelain that we know today.

Initially, tea was exclusive to the aristocracy, like all exotic drinks imported from the East. In France, the first teapot was used by Louis XIV.

England and teapots

With the emergence of the capabilities of the middle class and their desire to copy the aristocratic way of life, tea is slowly beginning to be introduced into the way of life of Europeans. With the tax on tea reduced and demand increasing, many manufacturers are starting to create their own teapot concepts. In England, it's the beginning of Afternoon Tea in everyday life.

Unable to separate from their teapots, the English also introduce this new concept to the Americas.

Teapots: a decor as well as a tool

Several varieties of form are beginning to appear as well as the use of new materials. The teapots were also transformed into works of art, originally decorated with images of Baroque or Rococo style. Become fashion items, we could not keep the same set for a long time. At the end of the War of 1812 and the victory of the United States, teapots are adorned with scenes of victories and landscapes and become objects of commemoration.

Coffee

The main function always present, an explosion of imagination takes place. It is no longer odd to see teapots in the shape of animals, cars ... The aesthetic side combined with the function have made the teapot an essential object in each house while also being part of the decor.

The health benefits of drinking tea

For over 4000 years, drinking tea has been a commonly suggested remedy for curing some illnesses and pains. From colds and headaches to helping with digestive problems, tea can be an excellent natural cure for various ailments we suffer from in our daily lives. Here are some benefits that come from drinking tea you may not have known about:

It reduces the risk of heart attacks, strokes and Type II Diabetes

Studies have shown that daily tea drinkers have up to a 20% lower risk of getting a stroke when compared to non-drinkers. Drinking tea has been also linked with reducing the risk of heart attacks as certain compounds help lower LDL cholesterol levels.

A Type II Diabetes patient’s main problem is with insulin sensitivity that causes blood sugar levels to go up. Tea helps increase this sensitivity, thereby improving the metabolism of sugar. It is also an excellent way to help prevent Type II diabetes in the first place.

It helps your brain fight off degenerative diseases.

Drinking tea is great to keep degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or dementia at bay. Polyphenols, the chemical compounds found in your tea, will increase your concentration and focus all while stimulating the parts of your brain in charge of memory and learning.
It helps protect your body from cancer

Some studies are showing that the antioxidants available in tea, and in particular green tea, can help protect your body against a number of various cancers such as breast, lung or even prostate. Components found in tea might also help decrease the negative effects of smoking on your lungs and skin. While it’s not a cure and definitely not an excuse to keep smoking, it can increase protection against cancerous cell formation.

Your teeth and bone will thank you for it

The health benefits of drinking tea

Bone density and strength has been found to be at higher levels for people who regularly drink tea. Also, tea contains fluoride and tannins which are excellent in fighting plaque build-up, the number one cause of cavities and tooth decay.
It’s ideal for weight loss

The antioxidants found in your tea will help your body stimulate the metabolism and the fat burning process especially in the abdominal area. Regularly drinking tea can help you lose those few annoying centimeters in your waist line. Furthermore, tea is calorie-free so you can enjoy your cup without worrying about your calorie count… that is unless of course you add sugar or sweeteners. Another benefit of tea is the increased physical performance: with fat being burned into fuel for the body, energy levels will go up as well as muscle endurance.

It boosts your immune system

The health benefits of drinking tea

Wonder why a cup of tea is always recommended when you have the flu? Research has shown that tea will help your immune system fight off infections. Tea can also help reduce the effect of pollen and seasonal allergies as well as arthritis related inflammations.
It’s a great weapon in the anti-aging battle

Despite containing caffeine, tea has been linked with providing the needed elements to keep your skin hydrated. On another note, drinking tea helps fight off spikes in cortisol, the stress hormone, that also has a direct effect on your skin aging process and belly fat.

There you have it! Time to put that kettle and enjoy the many health benefits of your cup of tea!

The different forms of tea

Tea can be prepared in different ways depending on the form in which it is purchased. Some people still prefer loose tea, while others prefer tea in tea bags, especially because of the ease of use.

Loose tea

Bulk Tea

The advantage of loose tea, especially for connoisseurs in the field, is the quality of taste and aroma superior to that of tea bag. Also, the choice is much wider and varied: colors, country of origin, aromas ... you will find everything. You can also experiment with different flavors to obtain exquisite blends. For many, making tea in bulk is a real pleasure! However, you must be careful to know the method of preparation, the duration of infusion and the amount of leaves to add, otherwise the result will not be optimal. The duration of infusion, for example, depends directly on the size of the tea leaves. A good teapot with a filter, which can be integrated or separate, disposable or reusable, are essential to any tea preparation in bulk.

Tea in a bag

Tea in a bag

The easy and fast preparation make tea in sachet a favorite for everyday life. After bringing the water to a boil, all you have to do is infuse the sachet and throw it away. Unfortunately, and especially in the case of major brands, the aroma of tea is often added artificially, and the mixing of the leaves is not always as pure as that of loose tea. Always check the box for the description of the contents of the bag to avoid substandard teas. By comparison price / quantity, the tea bag is much more expensive, and you will be limited by the quantity purchased.

Tea in muslin sachet

The muslin tea is distinguished from tea in commercial bag by the wide mesh of the fabric used. This allows the water to seep better, and therefore a better infusion of tea leaves and of course an appreciation of the aroma and flavor close to that of loose tea. The tissue of the all-natural bag, the taste of tea leaves will not be mixed with the subtle changes resulting from the artificial products introduced into the creation of industrial bags. With the muslin sachets, you will taste the tea in bulk while having the ease of use of the tea bag.

Tea in bloom

Tea in bloom

There is also tea in bloom which is in itself a unique experience. Not only is this a new variation in terms of taste but it is a real pleasure to the eye. The flowers, edible, are individually chosen for their beauty. Then the flower, usually a lily, jasmine or carnation, is hand woven with white, black or green tea leaves. Once in the hot water, the petals begin to unfold and the flower will appear to hatch, hence its name in English "blooming tea". A real show! Above all, do not forget to use a glass or transparent teapot to avoid missing this unique scene every time!

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