Tea Around the World
As a universally recognized symbol of hospitality, tea is served to convey kindness, to celebrate a special occasion or simply to bring people together. Its presence in every culture takes on special forms that reflect people and their traditions. Here are some of our favorite iconic teas.
No meal or gathering is complete without a glass of tea in Morocco. Serving a pot of mint tea, or "Atay", is directly linked to the practice of hospitality – something Moroccans are well known for. The tea is comprised of green tea, mint leaves, an abundance of sugar. Even in the hottest times of the day, this drink is served to reflect a belief that consuming hot tea will actually make you feel cooler.
Tea was brought to India by the British to break the China tea monopoly several centuries ago. However, India has managed to give tea its own spicy spin and has successfully made it its own: masala chai. In addition to delicious condensed milk, this type of tea takes over 10 different spices, including cinnamon, cardamom, clove, and even black pepper. Served throughout the day, masala chai can be found on every roadside in India, as the chai walah ("tea boy") pours the beverage at astonishing heights.
In the past, street chai was served in bio-degradable tea cups (see right image). The clay gave the tea a special taste and earthy scent, and the cup was smashed on the ground after a single use to avoid pollution. Today, chai walahs usually use plastic cups but the government in Rajasthan, North India, has started to reimplement the clay cups in the efforts of reducing trash.
Argentine Yerba Mate
Argentines have a special love affair with their mate. Forget coffee, pizza, gnocchi, steak, empanadas, football, tango, wine, and gauchos. It is this drink that is fundamental to the identity of Argentina. Served hot and with a metal straw in a dried pumpkin shell, yerba mate is essentially a lot of dried leaves finely processed. It’s usually consumed in social settings and - sorry germaphobes, everyone drinks from the same straw.
Peruvian Coca Tea
Any description of Peruvian life would be incomplete without the mention of coca tea. Harvested for at least 2,000 years in the highlands of South America, Coca leaves are more than just a plant to the Andean people. It is considered to be a sacred plant and was/is used in religious and shamanistic rituals. Offerings of coca are given to ask for good crops, health, protection, or as gifts/signs of respect. Chewing coca leaves is part of everyday life in Peru, as it is a natural medicine for altitude sickness. It is also popular to make tea by boiling the leaves: "mate de coca."