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IN THE RAINFORESTS AND THE AMAZON BASIN

The tea culture of South America is closely tied to the history of the area's indigenous people. The most popular kinds of tea here are Mate tea and Lapacho tea. Traditionally, if no modern drinking vessels are available, South Americans drink tea from a hollowedout gourd which looks a bit like a squash or pumpkin. Gourds are also used as musical instruments, like drums, or to form the body of a sitar, a wellknown instrument from India. It is said that the Incas drank Lapacho tea, which gives an indication of its heritage. It also reminds us of the ingenuity of those people who frequently used plants and the bark of certain trees to treat diseases. Given this, it comes as no surprise that tea was a central part of Inca culture. As with other cultures, tea has a social function in South America, and it is also at the centre of traditional rituals. Even though the favoured teas are different from those consumed by other nations, the attitudes towards tea as a drink are very similar.