Tuesday, May 19, 2015

How Different Countries Prefer to Drink Their Tea

Japanese Green Tea Photo Credit: Mhonkoop    

Tea plays an integral role in many cultures.  It’s the type of beverage that shapes societal customs and inspires elaborate ceremonies centered on its consumption.  The way people drink tea tells a lot about the environment they live in and the culture of their country. From clear glass to porcelain mug, there’s a lot to be said about one of the world’s favorite beverage.

Here’s how many countries drink tea:

  • Japan.  Finely ground, high-quality green tea leaves make powdered Matcha what it is today.  Used in the culinary world to flavor cuisine, this type of tea grew in popularity the moment Americans realized how delicious it is.  Matcha is used in Japanese tea ceremonies.

  • India.  Masala chai tea is rich and creamy.  It’s a staple in South Asia and has been for thousands of years.  White Darjeeling tea is popular as well.  It grows wild in India.

  • Britain.  Black tea with or without milk and sugar is a staple.  Brits are known for “tea time.”  They also know a thing or two about what to serve with tea.  Cakes, crumpets, and scones are delicacies.  Some are served with butter, jam, and clotted cream.

  • Turkey.  Served in a two-chamber pot, Turks love tea almost as much as they love coffee.  They drink black tea with every meal and sometimes in between meals.  Occasionally, it’s served with sugar but many people prefer to drink it without.

  •  United States.  Americans love their tea hot and iced.  Sweet iced tea is popular in the South.  It’s typically made with sugar and the optional lemon.  Some Americans brew sun tea.  They stick a jar of tea out in a sunny area and let it brew naturally.

The history of tea is fascinating.  How different cultures grow, pick, prepare, and consume tea is equally intriguing.  What’s your country’s story?  How do you drink your tea?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

What Exactly Does a Tea Taster Do?

What does a tea taster do?  Get paid to taste different varieties of tea and give their expert opinion about them?  Travel the world in search of the perfect blend?  You’re right! 

The job of a tea taster is rare but also very exciting.  Imagine working for one of the larger companies as a tea taster and buyer.  Where do you think your job would take you?  To India or Argentina?  How many varieties of tea do you think you’ll “test”?

All in a Day’s Work

Tea tasters work in labs and test dozens of samples before determining what flavors taste best.  Just like wine tasters, they sip the tea at a high speed and expel it into a spittoon.  They want to experience the full flavor of the tea before formulating an opinion.

Some of the things a tea taster does includes:

  • Knowing the process of the tea trade.  This includes crop planting, harvesting, and delivering product to supermarket shelves.
  • Presenting market reports.  Tea testers explain weekly purchases and current forecasts for future price, availability, and demand.
  • Taking courses on blending.  This helps the tea testers get to know public demand, learn the manufacturing process, and understand how tea is bought and sold.

Even tea sold in bags at chain supermarkets undergoes tasting.  The reason why so many delicious varieties exist is because a team of tasters determined that the flavors were a hit.  If tasting tea wasn’t on the top of your list of career options, think again.  The job requires a lot from its tasters so it pays well.

What It Takes to Be a Taster

To become a taster, one must rigorously train the palate.  It takes five years to do this.  A tea taster must be able to identify the origin and blend of each sample tasted.  They must be able to detect the country and region where the tea came from.  Knowing something about botany or science helps but isn’t necessary.

What counts is interpersonal skills and numbers.  Tea tasters analyze and interact all day long.  Feedback helps companies win business in the competitive tea market.  Color, flavor, and aroma help tea varieties stand out.

The job of a tea taster isn’t easy.  It requires skills and a well-trained palate.  More importantly, a tea taster must prove how qualified he or she is because jobs are limited.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Top Ten Best Quotes About Drinking Tea

Throughout history, leaders, writers, and revolutionaries spoke about tea.  In fact, the beverage has long been the subject of admiration in the world.  Some literary tea drinkers included Ralph Waldo Emerson, A.A. Milne, and Agatha Christie.

Here are some famous thoughts about tea:

1. “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”  C.S. Lewis

2. “Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea! How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea.”  Sydney Smith, A memoir of the Rev. Sydney Smith

3. “Tea is the magic key to the vault where my brain is kept.”  Frances Hardinge

4. “I am in no way interested in immortality, but only in the taste of tea.” ― Lu T'ung

5. “Empty teacups gathered around her and dictionary pages fell at her feet.”  Nicole Krauss, The History of Love

6. “Tea is the elixir of life.”  Myoan Eisai, Kissa Yojoki How to Stay Healthy by Drinking Tea 

7. “The spirit of the tea beverage is one of peace, comfort and refinement."  Arthur Gray, Little Tea Book

8. “Wouldn't it be dreadful to live in a country where they didn't have tea?”  Noël Coward 

9. “Astonishing how tea opens the ears.”  Michelle Franklin

10. “Tea ... is a religion of the art of life.”  Kakuzō Okakura, The Book of Tea

If you were to sum up your experience drinking tea in one or two sentences, what would you say?  How do you describe a beloved beverage enjoyed by millions?  Would your musings inspire future generations of tea drinkers the way these quotes have?  You never know how passionate a tea lover is until they speak about their favorite drink.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Five Countries That Love Drinking Tea

Who doesn’t love tea?  Hot, cold, green or fruity, it’s the second most popular drink in the world for good reason.  Ever come in from the blustery cold and need to warm up quickly?  A cup of hot tea does the trick every time. 
Tea comforts.  It relaxes people.  It invites people to come into your home or business, sit down, and shoot the breeze for a while.  Best of all, tea comes in a variety of forms (iced, hot, cold, bagged or loose) and even more flavors.

When and how you drink tea tells a lot about your culture.  Although enjoyed everywhere, the following five countries drink more tea per capita than their neighbors.  Tea is customary in:
1. Turkey.  With 6.87 kg (242 oz.) of tea consumed per capita, is it any wonder why Turkey leads the pack of tea drinkers?  People admire the color of Turkish tea.  It comes in its own little clear tulip glass making it aesthetically pleasant as well as delicious.
2. Morocco.  Moroccans are serious consumers of tea.  They drink 4.34 kg (153 oz.) per capita.  Moroccan mint tea is so popular that it’s a sign of hospitality and served to guests.  They even have a special way of pouring it.  The ragwa method creates a foam on the top of the tea.
3. Ireland.  You may have heard of Irish coffee but Ireland natives also love their tea.  They drink 3.22 kg (114 oz.) per capita.  Called “tae” and pronounced “tay,” it’s often black and served hot with milk and sugar.
4. Mauritania.  Mauritanians drink 3.22 kg (114 oz.) per capita of tea.  It’s part of a ceremony.  Like Moroccan tea, the brew consists of a combination of green tea, sugar, and mint leaves.  It’s poured from high above to give it a foamy froth on top.  Some people like to add zrig, sweetened milk to their Mauritanian tea.
5. United Kingdom.  Britons drink tea throughout the day.  That’s what has led to their 2.74 kg (97 oz.) consumption rate.  The preferred drink is black tea.  It’s sometimes served with lemon or milk and sugar.  Britain is best known for Earl Grey and other breakfast blends.
Americans love their tea, too.  They consumed 80 billion servings, or 3.60 billon gallons, of tea in 2014.  Black tea was the most popular followed by green tea and then oolong, white, and dark tea.  According to the Tea Association of the U.S.A. Inc., “The USA is the second largest importer of tea after Russia.”

Photo Courtesy of the Tea Association of the U.S.A. Inc.