There’s no doubt about it… tea has the amazing ability to bring people together. It’s one of the many things we love about it. A hot cuppa provides a reason to catch up with a friend, forge a new relationship, and communally share stories. It also gives busy people a way to wind down, relax, and have a moment for introspection. We love that tea is so powerful!
Tea has been around pretty much forever! According to legend, the story of tea began in China in 2737 BC… (a loooong long time ago!) We love exploring tea rituals across different cultures. And this leads us to our first story…
China’s First Brew
According to legend, Tea was first discovered by accident. The Chinese Emperor Shen Nung (who was also a renowned herbalist) was sitting underneath a tree while his servant boiled drinking water, when some of the leaves from the tree blew into the water. He drank the tree leaf-infused water and was pleasantly surprised. The tree was a Camellia Sinensis - otherwise known as a Tea Tree - and the resulting drink was what we now call Tea.
China was the very first producer of tea, so it’s no surprise that tea is an integral part of their culture and they have some incredible tea rituals. Preparing and serving tea at weddings and special events is tradition. The day of the wedding the bride and groom serve tea to their parents, in-laws, and other family members symbolising the union of two families.
Did you know that for New Years celebrations the tradition is to drink a sweet red tea? The sweet tea symbolises hope that the following year will also be sweet.
There are some incredibleTea Houses in China to explore so even travelers can leisurely experience the tea culture in China.
English Afternoon Tea
They may not have been the people to originally discover tea, but no one loves tea more than the British - and because of Britain's influence on New Zealand culture, it’s not surprising that New Zealanders love a good cuppa too! Britain’s greatest contribution to tea (in our opinion) is the ‘Afternoon Tea’.
A traditional afternoon tea or ‘high tea’ is the idea of sitting down for an afternoon treat of sandwiches, scones, pastries - and of course, a pot of tea! This is a custom that was introduced in England by Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford in the 19th century. She would eat lunch early, and supper very late so she made a habit of taking tea in the afternoon with a light meal between 3 and 4pm. We love afternoon tea, so THANK-YOU Anna! Check out some of London’s most luxuriousafternoon tea experiences.
Japanese Tea Ceremonies
In Japan, a traditional tea ceremony represents harmony, respect, purity and tranquility. A tea ceremony is a cultural activity involving the serving of Matcha, a powdered green tea. Preparing a cup of tea is considered an art and the process of hosting a Japanese tea ceremony takes around 4 hours - it is an incredibly special experience and we highly recommend you take part, if given an invitation. Learn more about the entire process, from both a host and a guest perspective here.
India - The Art of Chai
You can’t go anywhere in India without the scent of chai spices filling the air. An Indian Chai Tea is rich in flavor - freshcinnamon, ginger, star anise, fennel, peppercorn, nutmeg, and cloves combine with black tea to create a decadent hot beverage that you can find for sale on pretty much every street corner.
Besides being a pillar of Indian street culture, chai is important in Indian households. Guests are treated as “emissaries of God,” and they always receive a cup of chai upon arrival. This warm tradition, a symbol of reception, and is the reason why chai is seen as a way to bring people together in India.
And last but certainly not least, since our Teas are all grown in Sri Lanka it would be unforgivable for us to leave them out. Sri Lanka holds the title of 4th largest tea exporter in the world after China, Kenya, and India. Entire communities rely on tea plantations to support their economies. For Sri Lankans, tea time is a time for sharing stories. At the end of the day, families get together over a cup of tea and talk about their days… much like we do here in New Zealand.
For a tea rich in history and story that’s hard to believe (we promise it’s true!) check outMama D’s Rebel Tea.