Sure, you may know your tea, but do you know your tea worldwide? The way tea is consumed around the world is a lot like the traditions surrounding food. Tea illuminates pieces of culture, social customs, and geography in unique places. The way tea is enjoyed in Canada is vastly different from the way tea is enjoyed in Japan. Learn more about the consumption of tea worldwide with these probing Q’s and illuminating A’s.
Your FAQ’S Answered
Q: What’s more popular worldwide, tea or coffee?
A: Tea by a long shot. After water, tea is the most highly consumed beverage in the world.
Q: Who drinks the most tea in the world per capita?
A: The Republic of Ireland followed by Britain.
Q: What area in the world consumes the most tea?
A: More than half of global tea consumption comes from Asia.
Q: How much tea does the world collectively drink?
A: In 2002 the world consumed 1.6 tonnes of tea. This rose to 2.9 million tonnes of tea in 2016. Global consumption of tea is forecast to reach 3.3 million tonnes in 2021.
Q: Does this mean tea will continue to be more widely consumed than coffee?
A: Not necessarily. In 2021, global consumption of coffee (6.2 million tonnes) is predicted to be almost double that of tea (3.3 million tonnes) if it continues at its current rate.
Q: Who is the largest producer of tea in the world?
A: Here are the top three:
- China with 2,230,000 tonnes.
- India with 1,191,100 tonnes.
- Kenya with 399,210 tonnes (2015 production).
Q: Do people drink tea plain or with milk?
A: 98% of the British tea drinking population (the second-ranked consumer of tea) take milk in their tea. We’re not sure about the worldwide tea drinking population though.
Q: Ok, so we know how the British take their tea, what about the rest of the globe?
A: Tea is taken very differently around the world. Here are a few notable tea traditions:
Tea is taken with a mix of mint, green tea leaves, and a generous serving of sugar.
Milk, salt, and yak butter are added to tea, and the mixture is then churned together.
Classic chai is a mix of black tea leaves with spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, and pepper.
Yerba Mate is consumed It is prepared in a small pot or dried calabaza gourd from and drunk through a special straining straw called a bombilla.
Zavarka is a loose-leaf tea concentrate brewed in a small metal container called a samovar. A very strong (usually black) tea is brewed and then served in large mugs. It’s rude to fill the entire mug or to serve the tea without crackers and treats.
In China, there is a traditional Chinese tea ceremony called Gongfu The ritual is elaborate and involves ornate tea dishware and utensils. The ceremony is all about mindfully preparing, smelling, and sipping the tea.
Ceylon or Assam tea is mixed with sugar, condensed milk, and spices like star anise, tamarind, and orange blossom, and served over ice in a tall glass. Much of the time evaporated milk is added on top.
Bubble tea started in 1988 and is a combination of tea and small balls of tapioca, a starchy white grain.
Matcha is served in a detailed tea ceremony that combines meditative practices with tea preparation and consumption, even the clean up is done mindfully.
Noon Chai is a blend of tea that includes a mix of pistachios, almonds, salt, milk, and spices like cardamom, cinnamon, and star anise. It has a charming pink colour!
Very strong black tea is served with sugar cubes. They place a sugar cube between their front teeth and suck the strong tea through it.
Q: That’s a lot to take in. I think I could use a cup of tea.
- Alan Macfarlane; Iris Macfarlane (2004). The Empire of Tea. The Overlook Press. p. 32. ISBN 1-58567-493-1.
- Houyuan Lu et al. (7 January 2016). “Earliest tea as evidence for one branch of the Silk Road across the Tibetan Plateau”. Nature. doi:10.1038/srep18955. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
- Liu Tong (2005). Chinese tea. Beijing: China Intercontinental Press. p. 137. ISBN 7-5085-0835-1.
- Mary Lou Heiss; Robert J. Heiss (23 March 2011). The Story of Tea: A Cultural History and Drinking Guide. Random House. p. 31. ISBN 978-1-60774-172-5.
- Puchko, Kristy. 15 Tea Traditions From Around the World. (2016) Retrieved from http://mentalfloss.com/article/72891/15-tea-traditions-around-world
- UK Tea & Infusions Association. Tea – A Brief History of the Nation’s Favourite Beverage. Retrieved fromhttp://www.tea.co.uk/tea-a-brief-history
- UK Tea & Infusions Association. Tea Glossary and FAQs. Retrieved from https://www.tea.co.uk/tea-faqs