The Many Faces of Tea

Tea Garden on a hillside
Tea Garden on a hillside

For such a simple leaf, the tea plant has undergone amazing transformations in the cups of its drinkers over the centuries. There are as many ways to drink tea as there are leaves on Camellia Sinensis.

The Chinese people today drink tea as a simple infusion. But there was a time that so many additives made their way into hot water that tea became more of a vegetable soup, with onions and other foods mixed in.

Japanese people invented matcha, the powdered green tea used in the beautifully elaborate tea ceremony.

In many Thai restaurants, you can order Thai iced tea, often a black tea with coconut added, served with cane sugar syrup and coconut milk.

In Morocco and other Middle Eastern companies, green tea with mint is very popular.

The Bedouins prepare their tea after a campfire, giving it a strong smoky flavor.

Tibetans add yak butter and salt to their infusion.

In India, black tea is highly spiced and mixed with sugar and milk. On the street, this is sold in pottery cups that are then dashed against the ground.

In the United Kingdom, the most popular style is very strong, with lots of milk and sugar.

In the United States, we don’t have much of a tea culture, and yet people continue to find endless ways to drink the stuff. Some still like it black (or plain green), while others add a myriad of ingredients, such as honey or agave syrup, sugar, cane sugar, lemon, or even, as suggested by one company, maple syrup. Starbucks has created tea lattes, with whole leaf tea, steamed milk, and flavored syrups. Tea has found its way into beers, sodas, and juices. Americans also love their iced tea, sweetened or unsweetened, or mixed with lemonade to make an “Arnold Palmer.”

No matter how you steep it, tea continues to be the most consumed beverage in the world, yak butter or no.

Check out the scoop on tea at Stephanie’s blog!

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