Drinking tea is a tradition that's said to date back to 2737 BCE, when, according to legend, Chinese emperor Shennong found his hot water was greatly improved when a dried leaf fell from a plant into his cup. Since then, tea drinking has spread around the world, its recipes and preparations evolving along the way. Here’s how to enjoy a cup around the globe.
Tea is a common drink and a courtesy extended to guests across Pakistan. An element of Kashmiri culture, Noon Chai is a special blend of tea that includes a mix of pistachios, almonds, salt, milk, and spices like cardamom, cinnamon, and star anise. It's easy to pick out because of its signature pink color, which can be enhanced with a bit of baking soda. Served on special occasions, Noon Chai is typically enjoyed with pastries like sheermaal, kandir tchot, bakarkhani, and kulcha. More casually enjoyed is "Doodh Pati," or milk tea, which involves no water.
2. THE UNITED KINGDOM
Tea was introduced to England in the 17th century, but the iconic British tradition of afternoon tea took nearly another 200 years to catch on. In 1840, standard meal times placed lunch at midday and dinner late, around 8 p.m. or so. Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, requested her household staff prepare a sort of mini-meal around 4 p.m., where tea and a selection of cakes or small sandwiches would be served. Her example inspired the upper class, and then spread across the country, spurring the proliferation of tea gardens where customers could enjoy tea and cake in a lovely setting. Today, tea is a major element of Great Britain's identity and day-to-day life.
3. NEW ZEALAND
British missionaries in the early 19th century are believed to have introduced the tea-brewing practice to the Kiwis, and by the end of the century, tea had replaced ale as the beverage of choice for breakfast across all classes. The rise of tea gardens during this time promoted tea drinking to a social activity, which gave men and women the perfect chance to mingle in public without drawing gossip. Inspired by their British roots, "afternoon tea" became a staple, and New Zealand developed its own high tea ceremony, which includes elegant settings, delectable finger sandwiches, and mouth-watering sweets.
After tea caught on in India and China, the taste for it spilled down the Silk Road and into the Middle East by the 15th century, sparking the rise of tea houses known as chaikhanehs. But it wasn't until the 20th century that Iranians began growing their own black tea, making it a nationally embraced beverage, which now welcomes guests and is a crucial element in social life. A silver tray customarily carries in the drink, which is accompanied by a bright yellow rock candy called nabat. So constant is tea's presence in Iranians' lives that its kettle will be kept on a stove burner all day. Tea is served very strong. Rather than mixing in sugar to counteract the bitterness, you're encouraged to place a sugar cube between your front teeth and suck the strong brew through it.
This Southeast Asian country's signature brew contains black tea, sugar, and condensed milk. But what makes teh tarik or "pulled tea" special is how it's mixed. To achieve its distinctly frothy texture, Malaysian brewers pour the beverage back and forth between mugs, giving the liquid repeated access to cool air as it flows from one glass to another. As this tradition developed, so too did the showmanship of its making. To watch teh tarik being mixed is to witness an elaborate and energetic dance, where the brew behaves as a partner, leaping to and fro without a drop ever being lost!