Cha, chai, tea, tay or te ... it's a much-loved brew around the world. From tea steeped in history to recipes using tea, and pub quiz pearls of wisdom – pour a cup and immerse yourself.
The origins of tea
Drinking tea is said to date back to south-west China in 27BC. China is the largest producer and consumer of tea, it’s enjoyed throughout the day, but usually after meals to aid digestion. It’s common to be served green tea with yum cha (dim sum). In China teas embody clearness, respect, joy and truthfulness.
The Cha-no-yu Japanese tea ceremony
The Cha-no-yu Japanese tea ceremony is a celebration of the beauty of life, harmony and zen sensibility. The ritual is held in a sukiya [tea house], a standalone building located in a garden and led to by a winding path.
Entry is through a 1m doorway, forcing you to bow andemphasising humility and your insignificance compared to the Cha-no-yu. The tea is made, served and drunk according to a carefully choreographed 500-year ritual. The tea is Macha, powdered green tea, and is made in a small bowl using a bamboo whisk.
The word "Chai"
Chai is the word for tea in India, not specifically the spiced tea drunk by many Kiwis today. India’s most popular drink, chai is considered a herbal medicine. The people on the roadsides who sell small cups of chai Masala offer a sweetened tea that has been slowly boiled with ginger, cinnamon, cloves and star anise as well as other aromatic spices,and milk. Chaiwallahs (tea workers)used to sell tea in clay pots, but over time these have been superseded by either small glasses or plastic cups.
Tea is a drink, not dinner
If you’re invited for tea in the UK, you won’t be getting dinner. Tea is a drink, you eat supper. Just saying! If you’re having afternoon tea at a posh hotel such as the Ritz or Savoy, you’re likely to be served tiered plates piled high with petite sandwiches, scones and cakes on low tables surrounded by armchairs and couches. High tea, however, is served at a high table, and likely to be part of your evening meal or at least more substantial fare – historically preferred by the working class.
Peppermint tea with a twist!
While Kiwis tend to drink peppermint tea made with just boiling water, if you are in Morocco you’ll be more accustomed to it having lashings of sugar and fresh mint leaves. Traditionally the oldest male of the house would make the tea, and it is poured from standing height to allow the aromas to fill the room. Add fresh or dried mint if you want to take a virtual vay-cay.
Tea in the Middle East
Tea in the Middle East is served strong, almost bitter. To balance the flavour, it’s customary to hold a sugar cube between your teeth and sip the tea through it. Like many other countries, Arabians consider tea to be hospitable and expected etiquette is to offer it as both social and business events.
Taiwanese bubble tea
Taiwanese bubble tea is a twist on sweet, milky tea. A relatively new trend, black or jasmine tea has milk and sugar added before little pearls, or bubbles, of tapioca are added as an edible novelty.
Tea is bad for your teeth: Yeah, nah! Research suggests the flavonoids and fluoride in tea may be beneficial to teeth by reducing cavities and helping prevent plaque. If you brush your teeth at least twice a day (including after your last cup before bed) stains will be removed.
Something in The Water
The quality of your water will affect the taste of your tea. Spring water is better than tap water that has fluoride or chlorine. Using a filter or distiller will give you an improved tea taste.
Wait a minute! Much of the caffeine in tea is released in the first minute of brewing. To naturally decaffeinate tea, pour hot water on the leaves, wait one minute, discard the water and re-use the leaves or teabag.
Keeping it Real
Chanui tea and teabags should be stored in an airtight, dark container in a cool place. Clear glass or plastic lets in the light, aging the tea. And avoid storing it by food with strong aroma as tea is porous and absorbs the smell.
Wash your mouth out with soap
You don't want to taste soap, so don't use soap on your teapot. Just a rinse with hot water is all it needs.
Ever wondered why tea will warm you when you’re cold, cool you when you’re hot?
To Tea or Not To Tea?
That is the question - the tea plant Camellia senensis is a relative of Camellia. All tea varieties derive from this plant – black, oolong and green. The difference in flavour and appearance is due to the way the leaves are processed. Herbal infusions are not strictly regarded as tea, as they do not come from this plant.
There have been many studies on the health benefits of tea, we think the best health benefit of tea, is just taking time out, sitting down and reflecting.