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TIME FOR TEA

If there's one thing that stands out about tea drinkers, it's their special relationship with time. It is almost as if brewing a cup generates a few extra minutes in the day, enabling us to relish the moment before refocusing on our daily lives. In reality,it's probably the case that the decision to make a cuppa helps people take control of their daily routines. As the philosopher Immanuel Kant said,time is a "mere form of intuition"-so all we need to do is get a handle on it and it no longer dominates our lives. Sit down,then, drink a cup of tea, revel in the complex mix of flavours, and let your thoughts drift. Pretty soon,you'll feel refreshed and renewed, with more energy and a whole raft of bright ideas. And everything you do from then on will feel easier, less onerous,more creative. Even the tea rookie,the person just discovering the delights of tea, can experience this sense of the drink making time elastic. Their stresses dissipate as they lean back in their chairs and grasp the reality of what seasoned tea drinkers have long believed: if you keep calm,you'll reach your goals even more quickly. Part of the discipline comes in the preparation, which is definitely something to be savoured. Don't think of tea as a thief of time. Instead, view it as a drink that uncovers what time is really for: to be with our nearest and dearest,and pause for breath in the midst of the chaos of the world. Set aside time for tea, and you will be giving yourself and those with whom you share it a great gift. Tea is a way of beating time. On a daily basis,it grants us small pockets of the stuff to enjoy ourselves and live completely in the moment.

TONNES OF TEA

In 2012,worldwide tea production amounted to more than 4.7 million tons. More than 37 per cent of that was exported from the countries in which it was grown. The result is that approximately 1.74 million tons of tea were transported around the world for people in every nation to enjoy.

ESSENTIAL FACTS

Tea was first cultivated in China about 5,000 years ago. In 552 AD,Buddhist monks brought tea from China to Japan. It did not arrive in Europe until 1610, when it was brought first of all to Amsterdam in The Netherlands.

For a long time, tea was an expensive commodity, available only to the richest echelons of society.

Today, tea is the most frequently consumed drink in the world, after water. It is now a highly popular modern lifestyle drink.

There is no such thing as a "typical" tea drinker. Tea fans come from all age groups and cultures.

The six principal tea-producing countries are: China, India, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Japan and Indonesia.