Tea - Tea Culture

Tea Culture

Tea may be consumed early in the day to heighten alertness; it contains theophylline and bound caffeine (sometimes called theine). Decaffeinated brands are also sold.

While tea is the second most consumed beverage on Earth after water, in many cultures it is also consumed at elevated social events, such as afternoon tea and the tea party. Tea ceremonies have arisen in different cultures, such as the Chinese and Japanese tea ceremonies, each of which employs traditional techniques and ritualized protocol of brewing and serving tea for enjoyment in a refined setting. One form of Chinese tea ceremony is the Gongfu tea ceremony, which typically uses small Yixing clay teapots and oolong tea.

Tea is prevalent in most cultures in the Middle East. In Arab culture, tea is a focal point for social gatherings.

In Pakistan, both black and green teas are popular and are known locally as sabz chai and kahwah, respectively. The popular green tea called kahwah is often served after every meal in in the Pashtun belt of Balochistan and in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which is where the Khyber Pass of the Silk Road is found. In the Kashmir region of Pakistan, Kashmiri chai or noon chai, a pink, milky tea with pistachios and cardamom, is consumed primarily at special occasions, weddings, and during the winter months when it is sold in many kiosks. In Central and Southern Punjab along with metropolitan Sindh, tea with milk and sugar (sometimes with cardamoms, etc.), commonly referred as chai, is widely consumed. It is the most common beverage of working class and households. In the northern Pakistani regions of Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan, a salty, buttered Tibetan-style tea is consumed. In Iranian culture, tea is so widely consumed, it is generally the first thing offered to a household guest.

In the United States and Canada, 80% of tea is consumed cold, as iced tea. Sweet tea is a cultural symbol of the southern US, and is common in that portion of the country.

Switzerland has its own unique blend of iced tea, made with the basic ingredients like black tea, sugar, lemon juice and mint, but a variety of Alp herbs are also added to the concoction. Apart from classic flavors like lemon and peach, exotic flavors like jasmine and lemongrass are also very popular.

In India, tea is one of the most popular hot beverages. It is consumed daily in almost all homes, offered to guests, consumed in high amounts in domestic and official surroundings, and is made with the addition of milk with or without spices. It is also served with biscuits dipped in the tea and eaten before consuming the tea. More often than not, it is drunk in "doses" of small cups (referred to as "Cutting" chai if sold at street tea vendors) rather than one large cup. On April 21, 2012, the Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission (India), Montek Singh Ahluwalia, said tea would be declared as national drink by April 2013. The move is expected to boost the tea industry in the country. Speaking on the occasion, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said a special package for the tea industry would be announced in the future to ensure its development.

In the United Kingdom, especially England, it is consumed daily and often by a majority of people across the country, and indeed is perceived as one of Britain's cultural beverages. In British homes, it is customary good manners for a host to offer tea to guests soon after their arrival. Tea is generally consumed at home; outside the home in cafés. Afternoon tea with cakes on fine porcelain is a cultural stereotype, sometimes available in quaint tea-houses. In southwest England, many cafes serve a 'cream tea', consisting of scones, clotted cream, and jam alongside a pot of tea. Throughout England, and Scotland, 'tea' may also refer to the evening meal.

In Burma (Myanmar), tea is consumed not only as hot drinks, but also as sweet tea and green tea known locally as laphet-yay and laphet-yay-gyan, respectively. Pickled tea leaves, known locally as laphet, are also a national delicacy. Pickled tea is usually eaten with roasted sesame seeds, crispy fried beans, roasted peanuts and fried garlic chips.

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