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As a traveller, you can do a lot more than just drink a steaming cup of tea. There are all kinds of fun and even educational ways to explore tea culture around the world and at home. If you’re a tea lover, check out one of these tea destinations around the world:
Popular doesn’t even begin to describe the cult of mate tea in South America. Think Starbucks is a thing? In Argentina, people carry around thermoses of hot water and gourds in their purses to brew tea.
You won’t find this tea served in cafes, even though mate is commonly considered Argentina’s national drink. Locals brew yerba mate leaves with hot water in a cup, often made out of a gourd or cow horn. It’s passed around in social circles, with each person taking a sip from a metal straw (bombilla) until it’s ready to be refilled.
Like Argentina, tea culture is social in Morocco. The serving of mint tea is an important social ritual, especially when hosting a guest. But it it’s different from your grandma’s brew: Moroccan mint tea (atai) has its own style. Gunpowder green tea is steeped with fresh spearmint leaves, and served a pinch of sugar.
Want to try this blend? Try a cup of Moroccan mint tea made by Alokozay Tea.
Brace yourselves – there’s plenty o’ tea in this island country off the coast of India. According to the World Tea Council, Sri Lanka exported 340 million kilograms (!) of tea, the third highest by volume behind Kenya and China.
But there are even more ways to experience tea while visiting Sri Lanka. You can visit a tea estate, stay on a tea grower’s farm, go for tea tastings or high tea, or just enjoy a hot drink in a local shop. There’s even a School of Tea, complete with tea mixology courses!
You won’t find any chug-a-lugging or other uncouth behaviour at a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. At a chado or sado, each movement is given careful thought, from the cleansing of utensils to turning the cup three times before drinking. One of the best places in Japan to experience this ritual is Kyoto. The city has numerous tea houses and close connections with Zen Buddhism.
Can’t get to Japan? Just be zen about it! Alokozay makes a fab Green Tea for your drinking pleasure.
Kenya has more than safaris and wildlife spotting opportunities. Tea lovers from around the world flock to gardens and plantations to master the art of tea making. It starts with learning about “tea breeding” to discerning different grades of tea. But also, how about tea picking on a tea plantation? The country has a thriving tea industry, and visitors can pluck tea leaves with the locals in the fields.
Of course China made the list! China has an ancient tea culture, dating back to 2700 BC. Allegedly, a dead leaf from a wild tea bush fell into the emperor’s boiling water. Luckily, the emperor loved the brew and cha (tea) was born.
Today, China’s tea tourism is still young, but burgeoning. You can take a tea tour and learn about Chinese tea culture, or just enjoy a cup at a tea house. For adventurers, there’s also the option of hiking into a tea terrace, or tea-picking in the fields to learn about production methods.
Jasmine Tea is the most famous scented tea in China. Typically, the brew has green, white, or black tea as a base, and then is steeped with jasmine flowers, giving it a subtly sweet flavour. To try this flavour, Alokozay makes a Jasmine Tea.
Okay, technically Hong Kong is part of China; but given its status as a former British colony, it has a distinct tea culture to explore. In particular, High Tea is a thing in Hong Kong. From 2:00 onwards, you can indulge in freshly baked scones, bite-sized sandwiches, sweets, and steaming cups of hot tea. There are tons of options for High Tea across the city, but the InterContinental Hong Kong offers a panoramic view of Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong Island.
India is one of the largest tea producers in the world, although over 70 per cent of its tea is consumed within India itself. Plus, there are so many varieties to sample: black Darjeeling teas to milky masala chai fused with Indian spices. To follow the Indian tea trail, you can hike and enjoy Darjeeling tea at the Happy Valley Tea Estate or go on a “tea retreat” in a heritage bungalow overlooking greenery. There’s also a Tea Festival in Ooty!