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Tea Drinking Around the World

Japan
In Japan the preferred tea is still the traditional green leaf (particularly in the morning and as a digestif drink after a meal), and thousands of men and women attend the various tea schools to learn how to perform the Tea Ceremony. However, things are changing and many people are switching to black tea drunk with milk in the British style. The boom in black tea consumption began on a small scale about 10 years ago and has recently escalated, prompting the opening of smart Western-style tea-rooms in hotels and shopping malls in major cities, and the development of a variety of hot and cold tea-based drinks that have fruit, fruit juice, cream, spices, or hot milk added. Tea teachers are offering seminars and classes all over japan in order to instruct interested tea drinkers in how to brew black tea correctly and serve it in the traditional British way, accompanied by typical teatime foods.

Tibet
Tea is considered a sacred offering in Tibet and is prepared with great care each day. To make the green salty tea, a piece of green tea brick is ground up, boiled for a few minutes in water, then the liquid is strained into a churn and mixed with goat's milk or yak butter and salt. It is called tsampa and is the traditional way in which tea is served in Tibet. The brew is poured into a kettle to be kept warm on the fine and then served with a flat cake made from barley or corn.

India
Tea is very much the favorite drink in India, sometimes served in the British way or boiled with water, milk, and spices. Street stalls sell very strong tea with lots of sugar and milk, and on India's packed trains and train stations, tea is kept hot in large kettles and served in clay cups that are smashed and thrown away after use.

Turkey
In Turkey, tea is far more popular than coffee, despite popular belief, and is generally brewed out of sight in the kitchen. The strong black brew is strained into little curved glasses, and served at home, in restaurants, and to business clients all day long. Some households keep a pot of tea constantly on the fire, adding fresh hot water to the leaves before serving. Tea is so important to domestic life that mothers make sure that future daughters-in-law know how to brew it correctly for the rest of the family.

Iran and Afghanistan
Tea is the national drink in both these countries. Green tea is drunk as a thirst quencher and black tea as a warming beverage—both taken with lots of sugar. At home and in tea houses, drinkers sit cross-legged on mats on the floor and sip their tea from brightly colored porcelain pots.

Russia
Russians started drinking tea in the seventeenth century, but the beverage did not become widely popular until the beginning of the nineteenth century. In Russia, both green and black tea are drunk without milk from glasses that often have a metal handle. A lump of sugar or a spoonful of jam is taken into the mouth before the tea is sipped.The samovar, still very much part of Russian household equipment today, became popular in the 1730s and seems to have developed from a firepot used by the Mongolians. The samovar's metal container has a fire underneath and a pipe that runs up the middle to keep the water hot. Very strong tea is brewed in the little teapot that sits on the top and this is diluted with hot water drawn from a tap on the side of the samovar. The samovar keeps tea hot for hours and provides a ready supply for any number of household members or guests at any time of the day.

Egypt
The Egyptians are avid tea drinkers and like the beverage strong and sweet without milk. In cafes it is served in glasses that sit on a tray which also holds a glass of water, sugar, a spoon, and sometimes mint leaves.

Morocco
Tea is served in glasses on silver trays. It is the man's job in Moroccan households to pour the tea and he holds the long-spouted pot high above the glass as he pours, so that each glass of tea has a slightly frothy head to it It is often served with candies.

New Zealand and Australia
In both these countries, tea is served at home and in restaurants in the British fashion but the Australian bushman makes his own unique brew in a billycan.

As in Britain and other European countries, the increased consumption of coffee and soft drinks has gradually caused a reduction in tea consumption. In Australia, imports of tea reached a high of 40,785.4 tons in 1967 but since then they have declined to a steady 23,148.5 tons per year—approximately 28 pounds 8 ounces per person.

The U.S.
Although the U.S. is generally thought of as a coffee-drinking nation, a revolution in tea drinking started about 16 years ago, coinciding with a revival of interest in the U.K. The reasons may be a wider concern with health and a fascination with the nostalgic qualities associated with tea drinking. Today, more than 125 million Americans drink tea daily in one form or another—hot black tea, iced tea, or ready-to-drink bottled or canned tea.

The specialty tea market is growing, and more and more energetic and enthusiastic people are opening tea-rooms, or adding tea outlets to existing businesses such as gift stores. Tea specialists are offering presentations, demonstrations, and promotional and celebratory tea events, training their customers to brew tea properly. A growing number of mail-order companies are offering rare and exclusive teas that have been carefully selected from quality sources. As well as a wide variety of teas, the mail-order catalogs and Internet listings also include unusual tea wares such as Yixing teapots, Japanese tea sets, and guywans, as well as tea time foods to serve with afternoon tea.