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Tea Culture

This article is about tea culture.

Tea culture

Tea is often drunk at social events, especially early in the day to heighten alertness—it contains theophylline and bound caffeine (sometimes called "theine"), although there are also decaffeinated teas.

Historical China and mandarin speaking country

In China, at least as early as the Tang Dynasty, tea was an object of connoisseurship, and formal tea-tasting parties were held, comparable to modern wine tastings. As much as in modern wine tastings, the proper vessel was important; the white tea used at that time called for a dark bowl in which the tea leaves and hot water were mixed and whipped up with a whisk. The best of these bowls, glazed in patterns with names like oil spot, hare's fur, and tortoise shell, are highly valued today. The rituals and the traditional dark pottery were adopted in Japan beginning in the 12th century, and gave rise to the Japanese tea ceremony, which took its final form in the 16th century.

Modern China, Hong Kong and Taiwan

In modern China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, tea houses can be found in many neighborhoods and business districts. Chinese-style tea houses offer dozens of varieties of hot and cold tea concoctions. They also serve a variety of tea-friendly and/or tea-related snacks. Tea houses in Hong Kong and Taiwan tend to remain open 24 hours. Beginning in the late afternoon, the typical Chinese tea house quickly becomes packed with students and business people, and later at night plays host to insomniacs, night owls, and Triad gangsters simply looking for a place to chill out. Formal tea houses also exist. They provide a range of Chinese and Japanese tea leaves, as well as tea making accoutrements and a better class of snack food. Finally there are the tea vendors, who specialize in the sale of tea leaves, pots, and other related paraphernalia.

There are more tea ceremonies which have arisen in different cultures, Japan's complex, formal and serene one being the most known. Other examples are the Korean tea ceremony or some traditional ways of brewing tea in Chinese tea culture.


The world's second largest producer, tea is popular all over as a breakfast and evening drink. It is often served as masala chai — with milk and sugar, and sometimes scented. Almost all the tea consumed is black Indian tea.

Britain and Ireland

"Tea" is not only the name of the beverage, but of a late afternoon light meal, called that even if the diners are drinking beer, cider, or juice. Frequently (outside the UK) this is referred to as "high tea", however in the UK high tea is an evening meal. The term evidently comes from the meal being eaten at the "high" (main) table, rather than the smaller table common in living rooms. Tea is usually served with milk and sugar, although taking sugar is increasingly less common. There is a tradition of tea rooms in the UK which have declined in popularity since World War II but still exist in small village communities. They usually provide the traditional fare of cream and jam on scones. In Devon and Cornwall particularly, cream teas are a speciality. Lyons Corner Houses were a successful chain of such establishments.


Ireland has, for a long time, been the biggest per-capita consumer of tea in the world. The national average is four cups per person per day, with many people drinking six cups or more.

Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, tea is served in the English style, with milk and sugar, but the milk is always warmed.


As pictured, Turkish tea or Çay is produced on the eastern Black Sea coast, which has a mild climate with high precipitation and fertile soil. Turkish tea is prepared in a samovar and can be served strong ("koyu" dark) or weak ("açik" open). It is drunk from small glasses in order to show the colour of the tea, with lumps of beetroot sugar. As a Muslim country, tea replaces alcohol as the social drink.


In Russia, it is customary to drink tea brewed separately in a teapot and diluted with freshly boiled water. The traditional implement for boiling water for tea used to be the samovar (and sometimes it still is). Tea is a family event, and is usually served with sugar and lemon, and an assortment of jams, pastries and confections, including pastila - pressed apple paste.

Czech Republic

Specific tea culture developed in the Czech Republic in recent years, including many style tearooms. Despite same name, they are mostly different from British style tea rooms. Pure teas are usually prepared with respect to habits of country of their origin and good tearoom may offer 80 teas from almost all tea-producing countries. Different tea rooms had also created various blends and methods of preparation and serving.

Some Commonwealth countries

Devonshire tea is the staple "tea ceremony" of the English speaking Commonwealth countries, available in homes and tea rooms throughout the United Kingdom, Australia, India and New Zealand. Devonshire tea is almost unknown in the USA.

United States

In the United States, tea is often served cold, or iced. Sweet tea, with sugar or corn syrup added whilst the tea is still hot from brewing, the mixture then being cooled with ice, is ubiquitous in the Southern U.S. states. Iced tea can be purchased, like soda, in canned or bottled form at vending machines and convenience stores, usually, this pre-made tea is sweetened, and sometimes lemon flavoring is added. Sun tea is brewed by leaving the water and tea with direct sunlight as the only source of heat; steeping times are necessarily long. Recently, bubble tea from Taiwan has become popular in the USA. The so-called Long Island iced tea actually contains no tea — it is an alcoholic cocktail that looks like and, if made correctly, tastes like iced tea.

Hot tea is often consumed "black" but sugar or honey can be added, milk or creamer is less common. When cream is added to tea, it is called "English style". Most American restaurants are not familiar with tea preperation: instead of pouring boiling water over tea leaves or a tea bag they bring the customer a tea bag and a cup (or small pot) of hot water to dunk it in; if the customer is lucky the water has just been boiled, but often it has been sitting for a while and there is no way to know. Traditionally, red and white teas were difficult to find in the U.S., and even green tea was uncommon; however, they have recently become more common. Recently, many coffee houses have begun to serve a milky, sweet, spiced tea called "chai", based on Indian "masala chai".


Cold tea is very popular in Japan as well. In cafeterias and lunch-type restaurants, the meal is usually served with hot or cold green tea according to the customer's preferences. Most of the ubiquitous vending machines also carry a wide selection of cold bottled teas.


Recently, bubble tea from Taiwan has become an extremely popular drink among young people. This Asian fad spread to the USA in 2000, where it is generally called "bubble tea" or "pearl milk tea". (See news)

Tea Culture

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