Our favourite drink is inexpensive to buy and easy to make, although everyone has their own way of brewing up (the ‘milk in first or last’ debate has divided tea drinkers for centuries!). But enjoy it we do, getting through a grand total of 165 million cups a day. So let’s hear it for those countries all over the world where this aromatic and delicious leaf is grown. In fact, why not put the kettle on now, grab the biscuit tin and learn a few facts about the world’s tea-producing countries.
Chinese Tea Culture
Let’s start with China – tea is cultivated in 18 of its 24 provinces and this vast country produces the greatest variety of tea, too. Green, black, oolong, white, yellow and pu-erh to name but a few. The history of tea here is long and complex, with scholars hailing it as a cure for a variety of ills, nobility considering it a benchmark of their status and everyone in between simply loving its flavour.
Japanese Tea Ceremony
Another country that takes its tea seriously is Japan, and it’s here that the famous tea ceremony was born. The process is not actually about drinking tea but it’s a choreographed ritual about aesthetics. The host considers their guest with every movement and every gesture, demonstrating respect through grace and good etiquette.
The Perfect Blend
Africa’s largest tea-producing country is Kenya, with this major cash crop grown here since 1903, when seeds from India were first planted on a two-acre farm. Today, tea plantations of over a billion tea bushes cover more than 4,000 square miles, mostly in the highlands of the Great Rift Valley, where the air is cooler. The central highlands of Sri Lanka also offer excellent tea-growing conditions, with cool temperatures, humidity and rainfall the perfect blend for cultivating the perfect blend! In the mid-1800s British planter James Taylor introduced tea plantations to this tiny island nation, then known as Ceylon, where he worked with Thomas Lipton to develop the tea industry. The rest, as they say, is history.
The British, through colonisation, also introduced tea to Australia. In fact tea was aboard the First Fleet in 1788 when 11 ships made the voyage to the other side of the world to found the penal colony. Thanks to the country’s climate, tea grows well in the north, and just like us Brits modern Australians would never give up their daily cuppa – not for all the tea in China!
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