Of all the nations on Earth, which one drinks the most tea? That would have to be the Irish, of course. Or would it? Well, if the truth be told, the nation that consumes the most tea of them all is…China. Which is fitting enough, I guess. The Chinese are said to put away about 1.6 billion pounds of tea a year, but they are also the world’s largest tea producing country, with India in second place.
But that distinction is a little bit deceptive, to be honest. As you may have heard, China is a rather populous country and so when you figure that into the equation China falls to 19th on the list of the world’s tea drinkers.
So, if you adjust for population and list the top tea drinkers of the world on a per capita basis, who’s at the top of the list? It would have to be the Irish, of course. Wouldn’t it? Well, not many people are probably aware that the Turkish are such avid tea drinkers, but they’re at the top of the heap, drinking almost seven pounds of tea a year per person. That puts them well ahead (more than two pounds ahead, actually) of the second place finishers – Ireland.
The United Kingdom is not too far down the list, mind you, falling into third place, just behind the Irish. Next on the list, the Russians, the nation who popularized the use of that age-old tea gadget – the samovar. Beyond that, the rest of the top ten was something of a surprise, at least to me – Morocco, New Zealand, Egypt, Poland, Japan and Saudi Arabia.
In India, where they turn out substantial quantities of tea, they’re only in 27th place when it comes to drinking the stuff, which puts them seven places ahead of us Americans, who only drink about a half a pound a year on average. Last on the list, although it appears that there were many countries who didn’t make it at all, was Mexico, where they only drink about a half ounce of tea a year. See the full list here.
While this site is obviously about tea, it might be interesting to look at a similar list that examines coffee drinking. One might assume that if we don’t drink much tea here in the U.S. that we surely must drink a lot of coffee, especially since we’re home to one of the world’s biggest coffee retailers. But we don’t even make it into the top ten, although we are close, at number 16. The Scandinavian countries dominate this list, with the Netherlands heading it up, and it should be mentioned that the Polish have made their way into the top ten of both lists.
For some more thoughts on how many people drink tea worldwide, see my earlier article on the topic here.
See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.
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