The culture of drinking tea dates back to ancient times. The first records, found in China around 50 BC, testify to the widespread use of tea, and it is believed that it was consumed long before that time. Tea, behind water, is the most widespread and most popular drink in the world, and coffee comes only in third place. Many countries are known for cultivating their culture of drinking tea, and the most famous Asian countries are China and Japan, followed immediately by England, and of course Russia, whose harsh winters cannot be imagined without samovars and hot tea.
The plant from which the tea is made is Camellia sinensis, it is actually an evergreen shrub, whose leaves are picked at a certain time, dried, oxidized, chopped, or rolled, all depending on the need. There are also herbal teas, but they do not include the tea plant, but the use of chamomile, mint, turmeric and various meadow herbs, which are soaked in hot water.
Tea plants grow in East and South Asia and are indigenous species there. It is assumed that they were initially used for medical purposes, as a medicine and support to the body. Because Chinese and English tea are most famous, we will break down differences between those two.
Although China and England are the two dominant nations where the daily routine cannot be imagined without tea, there are many differences between them in the type of tea, the way it is consumed, the cups, and so on.
First and foremost, the plant Camellia sinensis has been growing in China since ancient times, while the English import their tea from India and Burma. There are six different types of Chinese tea: green, white, yellow, red, oolong and black (pu-erh). They differ in the weather conditions in which the plants are grown, then what is the composition of the soil, the time when the leaves are harvested, the method and length of fermentation, the way the leaves are processed… Therefore, the aromas are different supplements. You can find even more about them at buychineseteaonline.com
In China, jasmine tea is also drunk, which is highly valued, it is a flower tea that has a beneficial effect on the body and spirit, affects peaceful sleep and can be drunk at any time of the year.
Way of drinking in England
In England, black tea is mostly drunk. Due to its strong taste, people often add things such as milk, sugar, lemon slices, the ingredients must be mixed with a teaspoon, which is unacceptable for the Chinese. Tea is always prepared with water that is heated to around 80 degrees C, not more, where as many spoons are placed as there are people present and always one more “for the teapot”, as the English say. Small sandwiches, tea cookies or fruit balls are often served to complete the atmosphere.
The Chinese have a real ceremony of serving tea, which means an atmosphere of quiet music, scented sticks, sitting on the floor or in the natural environment of bamboo, next to water. They are really keen of their ritual, of a refined aroma that acts on the senses and has a calming effect on the entire organism. The first water from the teapot is spilled and used to wash the tea leaves from dust and possible pesticides. Only in the second water do the leaves soak and release all the best of themselves. Their cups are miniature, hemispheres, without handles and plates, discreetly decorated or monochromatic. They drink their tea around 3pm, when they feel it is the right time to relax and regenerate, after a hard day and many commitments.
As we know, the English are great traditionalists in every way, and their obsession with tea at 5pm is known all over the world. During this period, everyone who has time, sits in a teahouse, restaurant or at home to meet the family gathered around a smoking kettle. We have already mentioned that they, in addition to tea, must eat sandwiches, cakes, dry biscuits, muffins, cakes… all nicely served on multi-storey round trays, with porcelain cups, often floral decorations and containers for milk and sugar.
For the English, afternoon tea is an opportunity to socialize, meet, chat and is rarely drunk without company, which is also a cultural difference, compared to the Chinese. Story, laughter, English humor are iconography that is unavoidable in our experience of English everyday life.
This whole scene can’t help but remind us of classic movies and dramas about England, gardens full of roses, green hills … and everything that is inscribed in the long and famous history of Albion.
How to choose tea?
It is a well-known fact that, whatever tea we choose, and wherever we drink it, we must know one key thing, and that is to choose quality tea. Of course, today’s teas in bags, where there are only remainings of really tea, have almost no value. It is designed for a busy man who has neither the time to prepare nor consume tea in the right way. This type of tea can be a quick help at times, to strengthen us a little or relieve any sore throat or tension. If our goal is to be true connoisseurs of tea, then we will choose dried leaves, preferably in the correct shape. The highest quality teas are distributed as leaves in rolls, which develop easily in warm water, and such teas are drunk by high society and the Queen of England, which speaks volumes about it.
Whatever taste you prefer, whether your prefer the essential Chinese touch of pure tea or you are in the mood for fragrant, sweet tea with a little milk do not miss to enjoy this centuries-old tradition, to share your knowledge and preferences with others. To try new flavors of teas, find your favorite, create your own ritual and attract someone new to a large circle of tea lovers. Because tea is arguably healthiest and most popular drink in the world.