If tea had a passport, it would have more stamps than that Instagram chick you envy-follow who jet sets to Croatia or Abu Dhabi every other day. In the 4000+ years since it was discovered by the Chinese, the beverage has seeped into pretty much every corner of the globe.
Whether you’re a tea-worshipper or an amateur brewer, here are 8 of the most iconic teas the world has to offer.
Songluo Green Tea from CHINA
According to legend, tea was discovered in 2737 BCE by the Chinese Emperor Shennong. Apparently, the Emperor was boiling a kettle when a tea tree leaf fell into the pot. Nobody really knows why the Emperor decided to take a sip from the bubbling brew – but damn are we glad he did, because the Chinese have been inventing delicious teas ever since.
One of their best is the premium green tea Songluo, which takes its name from Mount Songluo, on whose slopes the tea has been harvested for centuries. It’s a rare tea but well worth the effort of seeking out: drinking a cup of Songluo has been compared to the sensation of “munching on snowflakes”.
Rize Tea from TURKEY
“Rize” to the occasion with this black tea from Turkey’s eastern coast. Prepared in a contraption called a “çaydanlık”, Rize tea is served black and sweetened with sugar beet crystals. Tea fanatics will feel right at home in Turkey – the average Turk drinks almost 7 pounds of tea per year, making the country the world’s top tea consumer per capita!
Usucha Matcha from JAPAN
Delectable as matcha flavoured Kit-Kats are, they have got nothing on the real thing. Next time you’re in Japan, pop into the nearest tea house for a cup of authentic Usicha matcha. Usicha is a light powdered tea, served in the Japanese “Chanoyu” tea ceremony. What’s more, a cup of Usicha is usually accompanied by an adorable selection of traditional Japanese “wagashi” sweets!
Rooibos Tea from SOUTH AFRICA
Okay, so this inclusion is a bit cheeky. Rooibos is not *technically* a tea as it is made from the leaves of the Rooibos plant rather than the tea tree. But Rooibos’ famously bittersweet taste and striking rich red colour earns South Africa a deserved place on this tea pilgrimage.
Coca Tea from the ANDES
Lace up your hiking boots, because this next tea will have you climbing to the highest peaks of the Andes for a taste. Coca tea, made from the coca plant, is traditionally offered in South America to travellers as a cure for altitude sickness. But professional sportspeople beware! Drinking a single cup of coca tea can give a positive reading on a cocaine drug test, so give this one a miss if you’re competing in the Olympics anytime soon.
Maghrebi Mint Tea from MOROCCO
This refreshing brew was dreamed up in the dense, chaotic cities of North Africa. A sweet green tea, infused with sugar and mint, Maghrebi Mint is best enjoyed on a summer evening in Marrakesh, as you wind your way through the warren-like alleyways of the city’s marketplace.
Masala Chai from INDIA
This tea is the spiciest kid on the block. Traditionally, chai is created by infusing spices or “masalas” (such as cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg) into a black tea. This infusion is then mixed with a thick buffalo milk, giving the beverage a creamy consistency. If you’re visiting India, you won’t have look far to find an authentically prepared chai. Chai wallahs, or roadside tea vendors, are as common in India as coffee shops are in the West. What better way to conclude your tea pilgrimage than with a steaming cup of authentic Indian chai?
Pu’er Tea from CHINA
Health nuts, this one’s for you! Pu’er tea is lauded for its health benefits as it is packed with nutrients and good bacteria. It comes in the form of a tea leaf cake, which is then aged to improve taste. Ditch the kombucha and do your gut a solid with a mug of Pu’er!
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