Call it Chai, Cha, Tehtarik, or Matcha; tea might have different names in different countries but the beverage holds a special place among most cultures of the world. The legend says that it was a Buddhist monk who traveled from India to China in 475 AD and chewed some tea leaves to help stay awake during long penance. The brewed cup has traversed far and long since then with different nomenclatures, traditions, and ceremonies surrounding tea drinking.
Though India has the largest population of tea-drinkers in the world, Chinese were the first to discover the tea leaf and have been drinking it since then. Called ‘Cha’, Chinese tea is used in traditional Chinese medicine and is an important part of every meal.
‘Matcha’ is finely powdered, high-quality green tea of Japan. Like China, this island nation also has highly detailed tea ceremony called Cha-no-yu. Many people believe that Japan was where tea met perfection in the art of Cha-no-yu.
Indian tea or ‘Chai’ is a mix of black tea leaves with spices like cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom, and pepper. It’s most popular form is chai served in a clay cup with raw, astringent taste of earth that is loved by commoners and elites alike.
While India has Chai, Malaysia’s ‘Tehtarik’ is country's signature brew that contains black tea, sugar, and condensed milk. The USP of this tea is its distinctly frothy texture that’s result of pouring the beverage back and forth between mugs many times. I am just wondering how did the local tea-vendor down my office building learn this art?
In the South American nation of Argentina, tea is known as ‘Yerba mate’ which is a kind of herb tea, also known as "the drink of the gods". Mate is shared from the same cup in a gathering, using the same straw, person to person so all might share its tea and bond. Cheers to mate and friendship!
Butter tea, also known as ‘Po cha’ in Tibet is a blend of butter, milk, and salt added to brewed, hot tea. Po cha is an integral part Tibetan hospitality culture.
“Dearly beloved – dearly revered – dearly discovered – dearly feared – all present – all powerful – all knowing – all from the taste of tea.”
― Dharlene Marie Fahl