Tea cultures of the world

Cultural Insights — By on July 20, 2009 at 4:33 pm

There are many ways to differentiate between cultures. I have to admit, though, that one way I hadn’t thought of was in the different ways that cultures prepare and enjoy their cups of tea. But Allen Burt recently wrote an intriguing article for Matador Travel that did just that, reviewing six tea cultures around the world. England and China are on the list, as you might expect, but here is an excerpt about some of the other interesting choices:

Tibet – After passing over 13,000ft mountain passes to the Tibetan Plateau, Chinese green gives way to its western cousin, butter tea. A mainstay of the local diet, generous portions of (often rancid) butter and salt give Tibetan tea a uniquely unpleasant flavor that is undoubtedly an acquired taste. Tibetans take advantage of the butter’s oils to protect their lips from the high-altitude sun. Consequently, the higher you go, the more butter in your tea.

Morocco – Sipping hot mint tea in the souks of Marrakech, Morocco, entails more than you might expect. You sit among boiling cauldrons of lamb heads, watching as your tea is poured from large steaming copper kettles at arm’s length into tiny palm-sized glasses. The addictive sweet mint tea is served throughout the day. Alcohol is regarded as taboo in traditional circles in this Muslim nation, so mint tea acts as the social beverage of choice.

Peru – The coca leaf, notorious for its roll as the principal ingredient in cocaine, has been used for centuries in Andean tea. Among the Inca-descended Quechua in particular, the ancient brew is still consumed to alleviate the effects of life at altitude. Try the tea in the mountain city of Cuzco, where tourist accommodations offer a complementary cup on arrival.

Read the entire article for his other insights about these and other countries.

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