Drinking Strange Tea All Over the Planet
If you love a cup of tea then you will be delighted to discover that it is popular in just about every country you could possibly visit. However, the cuppa you are served might not always bear much resemblance to what you drink at home.
Coca Tea – Bolivia
We know that the coca leaves are a principal ingredient in the manufacture of cocaine. However, in Bolivia they are sold legally and are used mainly for chewing on. The local culture has a strong belief in the powers of this plant to do everything from fight hunger and fatigue to deal with altitude sickness. In its simplest form coca tea involves pouring hot water over a bunch of leaves. More modern presentations include little tea bags filled with the crushed up leaves. You might be offered a cup of this tea if you are suffering from altitude sickness. It isn’t a drug but some tourists still prefer to give it a miss.
Mint Tea – Morocco
If you have ever tried mint tea- known as Touareg tea – in Morocco then you were probably at least as impressed with the method of preparation and serving as you were with the taste. This delicious variety of tea is made from mint leaves and green tea, is popular in most Arabian countries and is a big part of life for the people there. When a guest gets invited to drink some mint tea the serving of the drink can turn into a rather elaborate ceremony involving the tea being finally poured into glasses from a decent height. It is usually the male head of the family who prepares and serves the tea, with the guest typically getting 3 glasses of more of the stuff. If you are suffering from a dry throat on a hot day then this refreshing drink has a wonderful cooling effect.
Butter Tea – Tibet
It sounds weird, but butter tea is a strong tradition in Tibet, Bhutan and parts of China. It involved tea, yak butter and salt. A few bowls of this tea gets a typical Tibetan ready for a day of work and it is also usually served to guests. It is said to be an idea drink for providing energy at high altitude and for helping avoid chapped lips. In fact, many people (especially nomads) are said to drink dozens of cups of this drink every single day.
Matcha Tea – Japan
Japan is another country where the drinking of tea is a highly ceremonial occasion. This typically involves a green tea called Matcha which includes a lot of antioxidants in it. The tea ceremony in Japan has a long and complex history and it continues in homes and tea houses across the country. If you ever drink a cup while you are in Japan then expect a long and elegant ceremony ending with a deliciously intriguing cup of tea with a flavour which it might take you some time to get used to.
Photo by none-design on Flickr