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More Ways Than One

There is only one way to drink tea...NOT! We live in a world of cultures in which ceremony with tea has been around for thousands of years. Tea has been an educator, creating and extracting tradition and custom from each generation. Tea has so many varieties, and such a span of taste and aroma, that we would be very bored if we limited ourselves to 'only one way.'

Most of us are a bit familiar, at least, with the Chinese and Japanese tea ceremonies with their spiritual and art influences. But I would like to share some other countries in this blog, as I have been fascinated lately while studying about the broad range of tea preparations this leaf has on our planet.

If you were in Taiwan and literally a weary traveler, you may find roadside shelters on your journey where a tradition of the Hakka ethnic group is to leave large open bowls with tea leaves and water for anyone to be refreshed. Called Da Wan Pao Cha (Big Bowl Tea), it is a welcome thirst-quenching reprieve and a most hospitable thing to do!

A popular Hakka beverage is 'pounded tea.' They make it by grinding peanuts, sesame seeds and tea in a ceramic bowl with a pestle. Once a paste is formed, hot water is added and it is consumed like a soup!

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On a more modern theme, Taiwan's craze regarding Bubble Tea is spreading around the world and gaining popularity even here on PEI. In 1980, street vendors were competing to get the younger generation to buy their teas. They started mixing fruit juices with tea and shaking it (much like a martini) creating bubbles on the top of the drink. Then in 1983, tapioca pearls became a part of the mix. Fat straws have become the accessory of choice in order to suck up the gelatin-like pearls.


Image source: Mr. Tin BC 

On to Morocco, the largest importer of green tea, where the elaborate tea ritual is considered an art form, signifying the importance of family and hospitality. First the tea steeps in a large pot and is strained. Then a generous amount of sugar is added. After the sugar dissolves, handfuls of fresh mint and orange blossoms are added. The mint infuses in the sweet tea. Imagine the aroma! Then it is poured from a great height into a glass to produce a foamy beverage. Sounds delicious, doesn't it? I have fresh peppermint in my garden and adding it to our Green Explosion gunpowder tea does the trick. There is a famous Moroccan proverb about their tea ceremony. It goes like this: 

The first glass is as bitter as life, 
The second glass is as strong as love, 
The third glass is as gentle as death.


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Russians have always favoured strong black sweetened tea which is often poured over clove-studded lemons. It is, if very strong and earthy, also customarily drunk with a spoon of jam! The well-known Russian Caravan tea is very smoky with Lapsang Souchong in the blend. The Lapsang Souchong is a pine-smoked tea that falls into that category of either 'love it or hate it.' It definitely makes sense to me to sip it after taking a spoon of jam! 

The Russian teapot is called a samovar, adopted from the Tibetan hot pot. It's a combination of a hot water heater and a tea pot in one and is central in the Russian home.

Russian tradition also includes afternoon tea served with sweets and snacks. Along with the samovar, glass cups in silver holders are used making the Russian ceremony unique.

Image source: Wikipedia

Cultural influences of simplicity, beauty, spirituality, hospitality, ritual, family, and peace are all integral in my own journey on North American soil (Prince Edward Island in particular) where we are so blessed to experience many cultures and ethnic foods and customs.

The message in tea is inspirational to say the least. I hope to explore more countries in future blogs. I always love hearing back from you readers as to what the tea experience means to you and which cultures and traditions are in your background. Share with me, won't you?


1 comment

Kathleen Turner

Do you serve High Tea during September in on the weekdays? Thank you.

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