We love a tea. Herbal, Earl Grey or simply English Breakfast, the health benefits of drinking tea are plentiful, and us Brits can’t get enough of the herbal drink. In fact, the average Brit drinks 876 cups of tea every single year – that’s enough to fill two bath tubs!
So, what better way to start the New Year than with a revitalising trip to one of the world’s eminent tea destinations? Owner’s Direct, the holiday rental company, has rounded up the top ten places around the globe perfect for a detoxifying break as well as for learning more about exactly what it is that makes tea one of our top ‘superfoods:’
Tea is the most commonly drunk beverage in Japan – in fact, green tea is the most popular and makes up about 99% of the country’s consumption, whether it’s hot, cold, bottled, etc. The Japanese famously have a ‘tea ceremony’ where they prepare to drink the tea, strongly influenced by Zen Buddhism. Tea ceremonies are held in traditional Japanese rooms in cultural community centres, or even private homes.
Perhaps not as obvious as Japan, but Indonesia currently ranks seventh on the list of the world’s largest tea producers and therefore cannot be dismissed. Almost half of Indonesia’s tea production is exported abroad, so they must know their stuff! Indonesian tea is known for having the world’s highest catechin content (a natural antioxidant) so you have the excuse of being healthy too! Most of the country’s tea production is black tea, but closely followed by green.
Drinking tea is much more of an experience in Morocco. It’s an invitation to witness and participate in an important part of Moroccan culture – so much more than simply drinking from a mug! When you visit a Moroccan home, the first thing they’ll do is brew a tea. Again, the most typical type served is green, but more specifically Chinese gunpowder tea, brewed with fresh mint and sugar. The level of sugar varies by geography, but as an example, those in the South typically prefer a much sweeter tea.
India tops the list as the largest consumers of tea in the entire world. Tea plants were brought to India from China by the British East India Company from the 17th century onwards. There are two famous strains of tea in India: Darjeeling and Assam. Chai has also become hugely popular in recent years, spreading out of India over the East where most cafes and coffee shops have now added it to their menus.
We couldn’t forget Britain, could we? Tea was actually first introduced to us Brits almost 400 years ago, described as a ‘China drink’ based on its origins. Since then however, popular teas are barely recognisable to what first arrived in the UK. Much like Morocco, a cup of tea has become native to British culture, and whilst ‘builder’s tea’ remains the number one choice for Brits, green, herbal and fruit blends have become incredibly popular in recent years.
Often considered the original tea drinkers, the Chinese are believed to have enjoyed the hot beverage for more than 4,000 years. Heard the phrase ‘not for all the tea in China’? This is based on the assumption that the country produces tea in enormous quantities and shares all over the world. Back in the Tang Dynasty, tea drinking was common practice amongst the upper classes and Buddhist monks. Now, tea is enjoyed by the masses, and a report produced back in 2010 claimed that China consumed tea leaves equal in weight to 26 Titanic’s that year! Perhaps unsurprisingly, green tea is again the most popular variety consumed today, despite there being over 800 different types of Chinese tea available.
Whilst Thailand might not be an obvious choice in the world stage of tea producers, the country has begun to establish itself as having a tea culture of its own. Tea variations from China and Japan have been available across Asia for decades, but it was only as recent as the 1990s that local brews were frequently available. The most popular selection of Thai tea ranges from herbal and green varieties, to black and oolong blends. However, arguably the most popular is Thai Iced Tea or ‘cha-yen’, made from a blend of black tea leaves and flavours of cinnamon, vanilla, star anise and sweet spices.
Ever tried a cup of mate? Pronounced ‘mah-tay’, the Argentinian national drink is something of an acquired taste and is usually drunk through a straw. Jam-packed with caffeine, the herb tea also has a number of health benefits and is filled full of anti-oxidants. It is as much a social experience as it is sitting down to enjoy a hot beverage. Nationals claim there is an art to making the drink – first a gourd is filled with the dried leaves, topped with hot (not boiling) water, sipped through a silver straw known as a bombilla – then refilled before passing to the next person!
9. Sri Lanka
Much like the other nations, Sri Lanka can thank China for its booming tea industry. The island first received a Chinese tea plant back in 1824, and has since grown into a billion-pound industry. Sri Lanka was known as Ceylon up until the early 1970s and its tea production retains the name. Dimbula tea is a well-known Ceylon tea grown at an elevation of 5,000 feet, and can often be recognised by its strong flavour and golden colour. More recently, Sri Lanka was reported to have exported over 340 million kg of tea in 2012, the third highest in the world!
American tea culture may not be an obvious one but should not be discredited because of its modern approach. In fact, on any given day, over 158 million Americans are drinking tea. What’s different to that of the Asian destinations listed however is that Americans prefer Black Tea – about 85% of all tea consumed is black, whilst only 14% is green. Americans are also much fonder of iced varieties than they are hot, so if you fancy a cold blend, the US could be the first pin on your map.