Tea is a cup of life. ~Author Unknown
People in different parts of the world favor different varieties of tea – black, green or oolong. They also use different flavorings, such as sugar, milk or herbs. The temperature and strengths of different teas also vary widely. This article will describe different traditions for brewing tea leaves in top five tea consuming countries in the world. They are Turkey, Great Britain, Ireland, Iran and Morocco.
Turkey has the highest consumption of tea in the world. An average consumption of tea per person is 2.5 kilograms (88 oz) per year. In Turkey the tea is prepared using two kettles stacked up on the top of each other. In one at the bottom the water is boiled. Then the water is poured into the top kettle (tea pot) which is filled with tea leaves. Turkish tea is served either strong or weak, by diluting with the remaining water. Pieces of sugar are added into a hot tea consumed from small glasses. As a social beverage tea replaces both alcohol and coffee. Within the country the tea is known as Rize tea.
The British are the second largest group of tea consumers in the world (2.1 kg or 74 oz per person per year). The tea was first introduced in United Kingdom in the 17th century. Usually it is a black tea served with milk (never cream) and sometimes with sugar. The brewing process goes like this: the water in the kettle is brought to boil. The water is swirled around the tea pot to warm it and then poured out. Loose tea leaves or tea bags are added to the pot and hot water is poured into it. A tea cosy is then placed on the top of the tea pot to keep it warm. Boulder’s tea is a strong tea and is served with lots of milk and couple teaspoons of sugar in a mug. Cups and saucers are used for slightly formal events.
Irish are third on the list of the biggest drinkers of tea. In Ireland a person consumes 2 kg or 71 oz of tea per year. To brew a perfect Irish tea fresh cold water is brought to a boil. Tea pot is usually a piece of an Irish earthenware, called Belleek China. The tea pot is usually warmed before adding tea leaves and boiling water. The portion is one teaspoon of tea for the cup and one extra for the pot. The boiling water is added and stirred. The steeping time last 3-5minutes, but no more than 5 minutes. Somebody who would act as a mother serves the tea – young or old, a man or a woman. A whole milk or cream (1/3 to 1/4 of the cup) is first poured into a cup before adding tea. After that the sugar is added to taste. Traditionally a cup of Irish tea is served with scones, biscuits (cookies), cheese or other light sweet items.
The fourth largest tea drinker in the world is Iran (1.4 kg or 49 oz). Iranians love to drink their tea (Chai) many times throughout the day and consider this ritual an art. A couple of pinches of loose tea and one pinch of rose petals are placed into a tea pot and boiling water is added to it. Tea pot is then covered with a lid and tea is steeped for 5-10 minutes. Some tea is poured into a clear glass to check the color and then poured back into a tea pot (doing this also mixes up the tea). A clear glass cup is filled 1/3 or half with tea. Then hot water is poured to fill up the glass. Some Iranians like their tea strong some like it light. Pouring tea into a glass cup clearly shows the strength of the tea. Tea houses are an important social place for Iranians.
Morocco is the fifth largest tea consumer (1.2 kg or 42 oz a year). Moroccan people drink exclusively green tea – a gunpowder tea variety imported from China. Unlike cooking food, tea preparation is usually a man’s affair. This is the Moroccan method of preparing tea: two teaspoons of tea leaves are combined with a liter of boiling water and steeped for 15 minutes. The mixture is then filtered into a stainless steel pot so that the tea leaves and powder are removed. Sugar is added. Then the tea is brought to boil over medium heat (sugar undergoes hydrolysis which gives the tea a very distinctive taste). Mint leaves can be added to the tea pot or directly to the cup. If you are a guest and tea is offered to you it is impolite to refuse it.
Brewing tea in different countries has its similarities, but also variations. These variations in tea preparation came about many centuries ago and still evolve. No matter how a tea ceremony varies from country to country it was created for one purpose – enjoyment of a great cup of tea.