It’s a staple in almost every society: drinking tea is incorporated into daily life. Sometimes when things are around us every day, we don’t notice the details. You may drink a cup of tea each day or enjoy one every now and then. Yet there’s a whole world of flavors and terms sitting in your daily drink.
Most of us aren’t tea connoisseurs, so probably didn’t know about the exhaustive list of tea terminology the world of tea has to offer. Browse below to up your vocab on what’s brewing in your cup.
Types of Tea
It may have never crossed your mind to think how tea leaves are made, and it may come as a surprise that just about every single type of tea is made from the same exact plant. Green Tea, Black Tea, White Tea, Yellow Tea, and Oolong Tea - they’re all the same leaves. Read a more extensive guide to how the different types of teas are made.
You’ve heard of wine tastings. Well, there’s tea tasting, too. People go through all sorts of organoleptic tests for wine and beer, and tea’s not too far off from that process. Tea professionals taste tea according to shape, color, texture, mouth-feel, aroma, and more.
Astringent: a pungent taste defined by an acidic flavor. Usually caused by polyphenols that haven’t been oxidized.
Body: the tactile quality of the tea when it’s in the mouth. It can be light or full depending on the tea. Also can be called the fullness of the tea.
Brassy: when a tea has a metallic taste.
Clean: the flavor is clean and not marked with any unintended tastes.
Finish: the after-effects of the tea once it’s been consumed. How it feels on the tongue, and the lasting taste after the tea is finished.
Harsh: a tea that’s bitter, or overpowering. This undesirable taste could result from teas that have been plucked too early in the growing process.
Heavy: the tea is strong, but it’s not particularly high quality - not balanced.
Light: not necessarily a bad characteristic, but sometimes associated with thin flavor lacking in color. It could also be applied to teas that are not heavy in flavor - commonly paired with fruity or floral teas.
Nose: the aroma of a tea when it’s brewed.
Woody: a more herbal, grassy taste, usually resulting from under-drying the tea leaves - also weedy or earthy.
There’s almost endless terms to describe the way tea looks, tastes, and smells - whatever vocab your taste testing palette can dream up, it probably applies to some tea out there.
Then there’s the way the leaves of the tea look, which get a whole glossary for themselves, too. Pick up just a few and you’ll sound like a tea aficionado in no time.
Dry Tea Leaves:
Biscuity: tea that’s been overfired and tastes mildly burnt.
Bloom: when tea leaves are handled and sorted to prepare them for drying, sometimes the sheen of the leaf is compromised. If there’s still a gloss on the leaves, it means the leaves have been dried out correctly, a nod to quality manufacturing.
Broken: yeah, you can break your tea - this just means that the leaves have many different parts that have broken off into small pieces.
Chunky: large leaves that are broken.
Clean: this term is more or less as it sounds. The tea leaves won’t have an extraneous matter like dust or particles.
Even: the leaves are all the correct size for the grade of the tea - not ragged.
Fannings: small pieces of tea that remain after higher grades of tea are gathered to be sold. The smallest particles are called dust.
Mushy: that mushy’s in the dry tea leaf category is a little counterintuitive. It refers to leaves that haven’t been dried properly in the manufacturing and packing process, so they’re literally mushy.
Ragged: poorly made tea leaves, with uneven grading.
Rough: a particularly harsh tea.
Tippy: teas that have leaves tipped with white or gold, which is indicative of high quality.
Well-Twisted: you guessed it, this means that the leaves are well-twisted. The tea leaves are tightly rolled, which can only be done to high-quality leaves without breaking, meaning the leaves were withered well. Can also be called wiry.
Bite: the tea is bright and brisk - a desired characteristic.
Coppery: the tea is literally a coppery color, which is indicative of good quality.
Dull: the liquor of the tea isn’t bright but it’s muted - typically a denotation of poor quality. Also muddy.
Smooth: the tea isn’t disrupted by any other textures.
Thick: the tea liquor has good color and strength.
Maybe you’re not going to use these terms constantly when you’re drinking tea, but they’re still fun to know.
Black Dragon: another name for Oolong tea.
Billycan: an Australian term for a lightweight tin container used to boil water, mostly used over campfires. The tea made is called billy tea.
Caddy: a name for a jar or a tin used to store tea.
Char: an old British slang term for tea.
Estate: a property where tea is grown. Can also be called a plantation.
Gunpowder: a type of green tea that’s been rolled into small pellets, and when it’s put into hot water it unfurls.
Tannin: the chemical component in tea. Pointed at as the main ingredient that creates health benefits, and also contributes to the strength and the taste of the tea.
Twankey: a green tea made from poor quality, open leaves.
These are only a select few of the of the most important points in the broad database of tea terms out there. If you know even just a few, you’ll be seen as a tea-master by all.
It’s pretty common knowledge - tea is good for you. You may remember when you were young and your mom handing you a cup of tea as a remedy for when it was cold season. You could even just be jumping into the tea scene. No matter what, you know that there’s not a bad tea. There’s a whole lot more than that waiting to be unlocked in each tea bag, though.
Of course it’s delicious for any time, but when you’re feeling under the weather, certain teas are going to boost you back to health. Yet not all teas are created equal. Some are better for your stomach, some are better for your throat - whatever’s ailing you, there’s a tea for that. Most teas have multiple health benefits. For instance, you might already know green tea has been thought to help with weight loss, but it’s also great for skin care and cholesterol reduction. A lot of teas are powerhouses. So we scoured the internet for the best of the best in each category - the side effects are only going to help you.
Obviously, each person is different and not all teas are going to have the same specific results, but definitive studies have shown them to have alleviated common aches and pains of everyday life. We’ll drink to that.
Ah, the headache. It might be from not getting enough sleep the night before, stress, or that noisy next door neighbor’s band practice. Either way, headaches are not something that you want to live with. So bust out the hot water - feverfew to the rescue.
People have been treating headaches with feverfew for centuries. The leaves are consumed whole and fresh - but this is no longer recommended, as sometimes they might irritate the mouth. Now they come in capsules for more concentrated doses, but for the occasional migraine sufferer, feverfew might just get you the help you need.
Feverfew contains parthenolide, a naturally occurring substance thought to relieve spasms occurring in smooth muscles, which is typically what’s going on when you have a headache. It has also been linked to helping prevent inflammation, and stopping blood vessels from contracting in the brain. This all means that you’re going to feel a lot less pain in your brain.
When you’re tossing and turning at night, you’d probably do pretty much anything to get some shut eye. There are tons of sleep aids on the market, but a lot of them may scare you away with a long list of side effects or even ineffectiveness. Chamomile can help, without the fear of unnatural effects.
Chamomile tea has long been associated with causing sleepiness. That’s because many studies have proven that after drinking the tea, patients do indeed feel sleepy and report better a better night’s sleep. Some people think that it’s possible because your brain thinks that warm liquid makes you feel relaxed and sleepy, then you will - but the studies show it’s still worth giving a shot beyond the potential placebo effect.
The tea contains many different flavonoids, one of which is called apigenen. This flavonoid goes into the brain and binds to benzodiazepine receptors, which grab up the apigenens. This is considered to produce the calming effect and reduce locomotor activity. Brew up a cup of calming chamomile next time you need to get some rest, and see how the flowery tea works for you.
We all know that sore throats are basically the worst possible symptom of having a cold. It’s hard to eat, hard to drink, and hard to enjoy your time doing anything else than being asleep. Don’t waste any time feeling this way. Go get yourself some licorice tea.
We recognize it as the sweet red or black treat that we’d get as a reward for answering in class or that grandma always kept in her drawer. But licorice root actually has a slew of medicinal properties, and not only can soothe your throat, but cure your cough, too. This sweet tea, when brewed, creates a viscous coat on the throat to start giving relief.
Licorice tea is a demulcent, which means that it forms a film over mucous membranes, similar to honey. It’s also used as an expectorant, so can help remove the pesky mucus that’s been building up and adding to the soreness in your throat. The anti-inflammatory properties help to calm inflamed throats, then create a protective covering. We’ll be reaching for a pot next time we’ve got a cold.
It’s 2:00 and you’re fading fast. You know you’ve got to lay off the coffee - all that cream, sugar, and caffeine is really not helping your new diet or your sleeping habits. Okay, so what do you do? Green tea might come to mind, but it’s actually yerba mate that’s going to do the trick.
You may have seen it lining the shelves of your grocery store lately - yerba mate energy drinks have been popping up left and right, and for good reason. It contains about 85 mg of caffeine per 8-ounce cup, where green tea usually contains 35-70mg and coffee contains 150mg. So you’re not delivering as much of a punch to your body’s system as with coffee, but you’re still giving it a little kickstart.
That little kickstart also tends to be much healthier, as well. Yerba mate is thought to release energy more slowly throughout the day, so your body is sustained in its boost without experiencing the crash, and without the addiction. Many claim it supports sustainable energy without the jitters.
Maybe you ate way too much at that all you can eat buffet. Maybe something at that all you can eat buffet really didn’t agree with you. You’ve sworn that you’ll never do it again, but in the meantime you need a fix for your upset stomach. Time for some peppermint tea.
Not to be used for extreme pain in the stomach - hint, it’s time to go to the doctor - peppermint still packs a lot of helping power for the average upset stomach. Peppermint can help smooth the stomach muscles that are contracting when you’re not feeling so good, causing relief. It also helps speed up the flow of bile, which in turn speeds up the process of getting food out of your stomach more quickly.
This, in turn, has been shown to get rid of stomach gas and cramping, which is a definite must for relieving pain in the stomach. In the meantime, peppermint can also clean out the liver, which would result in the lessening of pain in the future. With its antispasmodic properties, basically meaning it suppresses spasms, peppermint is a safe way to aid in the alleviation of your stomach aches.
It’s that time of year again. The flowers are out. The birds are singing. And your eyes are watering like crazy and you can’t stop sneezing. It may sound counterintuitive in even just the name itself, but stinging nettles can help you.
So histamines are generally what cause allergies. The leaves of a stinging nettle contain low amounts of histamine. But wait, before you dismiss the idea - receptors in nettles have been shown to prevent the symptoms of hay fever due to its anti-inflammatory compounds.
Get rid of the itchy eyes, sneezing, and runny nose without having to deal with the possible side effects of over the counter medication, like drowsiness. Studies even show that if nettles are taken over time, they begin to desensitize the body to allergens. Gradually taking more and more nettles may actually mean less and less allergy symptoms.
If you’ve celebrated Easter, you probably know a few things about the Easter bunny. And going on a candy hunt. And Easter brunch. And, of course, dyeing Easter eggs.
Whether you’re an egg dying pro or new to the game, anyone can agree that artificial colors are a big no-no.
The good news is, you can dye your eggs just as well without having to expose yourself to the chemicals contained in artificial colors. That’s because we’re bringing you our line of all natural food colors that are completely derived from plants and vegetables. Especially if you’re going to make use of the boiled eggs in an egg salad or another recipe after they’re all dyed and done being enjoyed, natural colors are they way to go.
Now that the lack of chemicals has you worry-free, you can concentrate on making the cutest, most natural Easter decorations of your life.
What you’ll need:
As many eggs as you’d like to dye (boiled)
Small containers to hold dye
Sharpie marker (for the bunny eggs)
Start off with your boiled eggs - no, you don’t necessarily have to boil them, but they will last a lot longer if you do. And you have the option of eating them afterward.
Another option is to drain the egg before dyeing, although it requires a bit more technique. You’ll want to use a sharp knife and carefully pierce both ends of the eggs, but only slightly. Then, use a straightened paper clip to poke through and stir the yolk inside the egg. When it’s time to empty out the contents of the egg, hold it over a bowl. You’ll need a small straw to blow the contents of the egg into the bowl. But viola - your egg is empty and ready to go.
Grab water and your food coloring and whichever container you’ve designated to hold your eggs.
For a traditionally dyed egg like the red egg pictured above, choose a glass where the egg can be fully submerged in water. Once you put a teaspoon of vinegar to the water, where the acidity speeds the effectiveness of the dye, you’re ready to add food coloring into the mixture.
Dole out food colors according to the depth of color you’d like to achieve. Using the color dropper, the red egg took about thirty to forty drops of color. Again, depending on the amount of color you want to adhere to the egg, let it soak in the water. The red egg took about two hours, but you could even let yours soak overnight to get a particularly vibrant hue.
Break out a few paper towels for these ones. We used our yellow and blue colors to achieve this effect. Start out with a base color if you’d like using the same technique as the red egg, then layer the color on. We applied color directly to the shell of the egg.
With a color dropper, alternate applying your desired colors to the eggshell until it’s saturated the point where you’re satisfied with the appearance.
For a fully colored egg like the one pictured on the far left, blend the colors evenly across. To get the swirls of the far right egg, concentrate your color dropper and design the spirals how you see fit.
This technique is the same as the original technique, but instead of fully submerging the egg, it’s just dipped into a little egg bath. For a softer color and if you have a lot of patience, you can hold the egg in the dye yourself. We used a shallow dish and filled it up halfway with food color, then let the egg sit for about two hours.
Now you can give your egg a personality. Put your doodling skills to work and give your bunny some ears, clothes, and a smile. And don’t forget to name them.
Got some really cool dyeing results? Feel free to share them with us by dropping us an email or giving a shout on social media.
Fancy a cup of tea? But wait. Which kind? There’s green tea. Black tea. White tea. Herbal. Oolong. Matcha. Peppermint. The list literally goes on and on. And you know you want to make your cup just the right match for you.
What you might not know is that all tea comes from the same plant - with teas like herbal tea as the small exception. The Camellia Sinensis plant, or the tea plant, is the mother of all teas. All teas are made from its buds and leaves, but are prepared and oxidized differently to create the different flavors. It’s often likened to a glass wine - all wine’s made from grapes, but where the grapes are grown and how they’re harvested makes all the difference. The same goes for the tea plant.
There’s a few main processes that go into determining what makes each type of tea unique. The most common of these are plucking, withering, oxidation, rolling, and drying.
Plucking: plucking’s more or less what it sounds like. The buds and the leaves of the plant are plucked throughout the year, varying from three to twelve times depending on several factors, like weather and how much growth the plucker wants to take place before plucking again.
Withering: withering is essentially what makes your tea look like tea. During withering, tea leaves lose most of their water weight. The taste of the tea changes during this period, depending on how long it’s left and where the leaves are stored during the withering process.
Oxidation: oxidation can also be known as fermentation, where the tea leaves are left in a climate controlled room where the exposure to the air causes chemical reactions to occur. The chlorophyll is broken down, and the tannins in the tea are released.
Rolling: leaves are rolled to change their appearance, tighten up the mixture, and release natural juices throughout.
Drying: this is typically the finishing step in the tea-making process. Often, the leaves are baked to lock in the flavor. Sunning and air drying are alternative methods to baking.
for the adventurous
Black tea is usually left to wither for no longer than a day, or 24 hours. When it comes to oxidation though, black teas oxidize to one hundred percent capacity, to almost full capacity. This is what creates such an intense flavor in the teas. They’re rolled heavily by hand, also adding to that strong taste. And watch out - these teas tend to be stronger, too, so don’t drink them before you’re about to get your forty-winks unless you know the caffeine content. Black tea’s the typical base of chai tea, and tends to be named after the region where it’s made.
If you like:.
this is your type of tea.
for the carefree
Unlike the other teas, green tea isn’t left to oxidize at all. After harvesting, they’re either pan-fired or steamed to stop any oxidization in its tracks. That’s what gives the tea its color - it’s not left to oxidize, so doesn’t get darker. That helps the flavor stay fresh, too, which gives it its light, more airy taste. The leaves are rolled after the steaming or pan-firing process, which is sometimes repeated more than once depending on the desired flavor of the tea. They’re then rolled according to the preference of the tea maker. Some are twisted, balled up, or left in their natural form.
If you like:
this is your type of tea.
for the free-spirit
White teas are the least processed type of all the teas. Young buds are plucked and then allowed to wither for up to 72 hours. Very rarely, the teas are rolled, but normally they’re left alone in a pure state to preserve the freshness of the leaves. The fruity, light flavor comes from the minimal processing involved in the making of the tea.
If you like:
this is your type of tea.
for the nonconformist
Yellow teas are, probably not surprisingly, similar to green teas. Like green teas, yellow teas aren’t allowed or are barely allowed to oxidize. The tea leaves are then steamed under a damp cloth or a mat, the key step in what makes them yellow. This process takes out the more leafy taste of green teas and gives yellow tea its distinct flavor.
If you like:
this is your type of tea.
for those who want it all
If you’re looking to cut out the middleman, well, don’t drink oolong tea. It’s essentially a halfway mark between the two giants of green tea and black tea. They’re allowed to wither, but for a shorter time period than black tea, which means less than a day. A key factor in the making of oolong? The leaves are shaken in bamboo baskets, and allowed to bruise, tear, and react with the air, causing them to turn dark in color. Like green teas, they’re then fired up. The more they’re allowed to oxidize, the more they’ll resemble black tea, and vice versa with green tea.
If you like:
this is your type of tea.
for the eccentric
Herbal teas aren’t actually real teas at all. That’s right - true herbal teas actually contain no tea leaves. They’re literally a mixed bag, usually made up of buds and flowers of varying plants. Those varying plants can be lemongrass, basil, rosebuds, chamomile, or any number of dried fruits. Typically, they’re not going to contain any caffeine, but they’re going to offer you a slew of health benefits.
If you like:
this is your type of tea.
How do you take your tea? One sugar? Two? If you’ve ever drank tea at one point or another in your life - and we’re wondering why you’re here if you haven’t - then you’ve probably got a way you prefer to drink it. Whether it’s an afternoon pick-me up, or you’re cuddling up with a hot cup and a good book, there’s endless ways to enjoy your cuppa.
You do your own thing, which means everyone around the world is doing their own thing, too. And their own things are pretty different from yours. The culture of tea around the world vastly differs from country to country, and you might never have even thought about it. So sit down, pour yourself a cup, and commit some time to other culture’s tea ceremonies.
Boston tea party, anyone? While it’s true that the history of tea in America is rich and exhaustive, we actually don’t drink as much tea as the other guys. In fact, American tea consumption per capita doesn’t even break into the top ten of all the countries in the world.
Even so, Americans do love their tea. 158 million Americans drink tea, every single day. When it comes to take it or leaf it - pun intended - they take it.
So what’s brewing in the states?
Sweet tea. Everything’s bigger in Texas, and there’s no exception with how big sweet tea is there. It started out as a luxury - in the 1800’s, sugar and ice were difficult to come by, and considered a commodity. In 1879, the first recipe for sweet tea was published in Texas. During World War II, acquiring green tea became an increasingly tough job because of anti-Japanese sentiments. With black tea in abundance from Britain, controlled by India, sweet tea became overwhelmingly popular.
Popular it remains, but the industry is predicting to be growing at a rate of 5% per year, with ready to drink teas - like sweet tea - at the forefront. Watch out, UK. American tea drinkers are coming for you.
Culture Takeaways: none. Is America just full of uncultured swine? Possibly - but let’s chalk this one up to the melting pot. If people have any particular tea ceremonies, they’re fairly unique to themselves and their culture. Essentially, it’s tea-time anytime, and everyone has their own customs on how to enjoy the beverage.
The overwhelming go-to tea of Japan? Green tea. It’s said that in the 11th century, a Japanese priest brought tea seeds from China and planted them all over the hillsides in Suruga, Japan.
As tea culture developed, it was viewed as a ritual reserved for the religious or royals. Then another priest came along and opened a tea shop in Kyoto for the common people, because he believed drinking green tea should be open to the common people, as well. Since then, green tea has been a staple in Japanese culture.
Today in Japan, it’s not offensive to add milk or sugar to your tea - but it is if you don’t taste it before doing so. It’s customary to drink the tea to taste it in its purest form before you go putting all sorts of sweeteners in it.
In the business world, if you’re not a big shot executive, at some point or another you’re probably going to be brewing green tea for any guests to the office. As a guest, drinking your tea before your host does is a big no-no, because it says that you’re not as interested in what your host has to say as you are in guzzling down your tea. Wait until they drink first, then it’s safe to take your turn.
It’s also common to host Japanese Tea Ceremonies, which hold an entire set of rules all their own. Just a few from among the crowd: drink all of the tea, eat everything served, and don’t drink the tea from the front side - turn the bowl slightly to avoid drinking directly from the front. And as with most Japanese households, don’t forget to remove your shoes. Many important feudal arguments were carried out, ironically, in the serene setting of these tea ceremonies.
Culture Takeaways: always drink all of your tea, and if it’s going to be any kind, it’s probably going to be green. Don’t drink before your host - but always drink before you’ve added any cream or sugar. And, should you get lucky, you might find yourself participating in a tea ceremony.
Legend has it that tea was invented in China. In 2737 B.C., Emperor Shen Nung was enjoying a nice meal and drinking his water at a boiling temperature - just how he liked it, to make sure it was clean. Some stray leaves found their way in - which we’d like to argue isn’t particularly clean - and viola, tea was born.
In China tea was highly renowned for its medicinal properties and, again, almost exclusively used by the upper class. It was seen as a way to improve relaxation and focus while meditating, and Buddhist priests ran it through noble circles. Tea gained popularity increasingly into everyday life when the common folk thought hey, we’d like some of those health benefits too, thank you very much. It’s highly ingrained into the fabric of the society, and no meal is served without it. Even if someone was too poor to afford it, tea was so important that they would serve a cup of hot water and make do.
Tea is on the list of the “Seven Household Necessities,” an idea first submitted in the Song Dynasty from a saying: “Firewood, rice, oil, salt, sauce, vinegar and tea are the seven necessities to begin a day.” Rumor has it that alcohol was once on this list - but China seems to have nixed that one.
Like Japan, China has its own tea ceremony which primarily uses Oolong tea, whose leaves have a very short brewing time. Only the purest water is used, and elaborate pouring techniques are often displayed. Many steps need to be completed before actually drinking the tea - like passing it around to admire the quality.
In Tibet specifically, a creamy concoction called yak butter tea is served every morning. Why’s it called yak butter tea? Because there’s yak butter in it. The mixture begins with black pu’erh tea, and then combined with milk curds, barley powder, and of course yak butter. It’s a testament to their climate - where brutal temperatures abound, the tea gives them energy and substance to go about their day.
Culture Takeaways: you’ll never go without your cup of tea, even if it’s actually a cup of hot water. You’re bound to impress your friends if you learn some fancy pouring techniques, and don’t skip out on getting yourself a taste of yak butter.
A lot of credit for the commercialization of tea in India goes to the British, and we thank them for it because India is now the world’s second largest producer of tea next to China. In fact, they were trying to break up the monopoly China held on the industry, and in the 1920’s the British East India Company launched heavy tea advertising campaign throughout the country, which took off as a success.
The tea that the campaigns promoted, however, was lower grade tea. The company was out to make a profit, and they did. Indians added milk and sugar to the potent tea, which upped the taste and carried on into the way tea is consumed there today. It was also popular to adds spices to the mix, such as masala, which introduced chai to the culture.
Assam is the most heavily produced tea throughout the region. It was brought to India by the Chinese, who couldn’t cultivate it in the cold weather of their climate. The plants thrived in the hot environment of India, making way for the popularity of the intensely flavored tea. So once you’re offered it, it’s thought to be polite to turn down an offer for a cup at first. Your host with then insist, and you’ll oblige the next time.
The Assam tea gardens in India step out of time. The tea garden zones are an hour ahead of Indian Standard Time, to keep in accordance with the early sunrise in that part of the country. Tea workers days start early to preserve daylight.
Culture Takeaways: your tea’s going to be strong, but it’s going to be good. It’s also likely to be Assam tea because of its vast popularity in the area. Deny your chai at first, but then willingly accept.
If you were asked which country drinks - by far - the most tea in the world, your mind might first jump to the good ol’ British. But, surprise, Turkey’s got them beat, drinking almost seven pounds a year per person to their measly four pounds. There’s an old folk saying that goes, “Conversations without tea are like a night sky without the moon.” Both poetic and an insight into just how important tea is to the Turkish.
Tea passed through Turkey on the silk road in the 1500s, but it wasn’t until around the 1900s that they began to get serious about their tea production. Their previous addiction, coffee, became more and more expensive to import, so they turned to tea. The climate of the Black Sea Eastern Province, Riza, had fertile soil and was perfect for production. Here, cay was born.
Cay is a kind of Turkish black tea brewed in a double teapot called a caydanlik. Water boils on the bottom while the leaves remain at the top, and once it’s finished the two are blended together. Milk is rarely added, but sugar cubes often accompany the beverage. The tea is traditionally served in small, tulip-shaped glasses. In fact, nearly 400 million of these glasses are sold per year. That’s six per person.
The culture is so tea obsessed that gathering around tea gardens is a popular social activity. And if you run out tea while serving a guest? Might as well move to another country. Guests are always served their tea first, and if they truly cannot take another sip, they signal their satisfaction by placing their tea spoon inside the glass or turning the glass on it’s side. Don’t turn it upside down, though - you’re telling your hosts that their tea was bad.
Culture Takeaways: before you come to Istanbul not Constantinople, make sure you come thirsty, because you’re going to drink a lot. Don’t turn it down - you might have to take a lot of bathroom breaks, but refusing a cup makes you seem impolite.
It’s hard to think of tea without thinking of England and their famous afternoon cup of it. Britain got green tea from China in the 1600s, and there was no going back. Except for when they took to pouring milk and sugar into their drinks, which is much more suited for black tea.
Afternoon tea is newer than you’d think - it started in the 19th century with Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, who got hungry at four in the afternoon. Which we can all sympathize with. She would often ask for tea and bread around this time, and began inviting her friends to eat with her. Since people love to eat, the tradition caught on.
A longstanding British quarrel has been whether you should put your tea in the cup before or after milk. Some people think “milk in first” people are lower class. This originated from the idea that less expensive cups could crack when hot tea was poured in, and milk first helped cool down the mixture. But the other camp thinks exactly the opposite - milk first emulsifies the tea and makes it creamier. The last time there was such a great divide was between the Montagues and the Capulets.
Contrary to popular belief, if you stick your pinky finger out while drinking, it actually makes you seem like a snob. It comes from the idea that cultured people would eat their finger foods with three fingers, while the rest of the commoners would eat by grabbing with all five. The pinky finger was then inevitably raised - but tuck it in unless you want people to think you think you’re better than them. Dunking biscuits is also seen as primitive behavior. They’re to be nibbled on while sipping - never slurping - the tea.
Be careful not to say “high tea’ when referring to your afternoon tea. Unlike how it sounds, high tea was actually for servants when they were done with work, served at high tables instead of couches or recliners.
Culture Takeaways: put your pinky finger away, and get ready for a tea-filled afternoon - but don’t call it high tea. Put your milk in first or last, but be prepared to defend your position. Also be prepared to eat some delicious finger foods, just not with all five fingers.
Other Fun Facts:
In Morocco, it’s traditionally the man’s job to pour the tea.
Yerba Mate tea is so popular in Uruguay that people say “you can’t be elected to office unless you have been seen drinking yerba mate.”
The national drink of Iran and Afghanistan is tea.
In Siberia, up until the 19th century, blocks of solid tea were used as currency.
In Russia the traditional tea glass holder is called a Podstakannik.
When you think of tea, you think of that stuff that you drink in the morning. Or maybe what your grandparents like to sip in the afternoon with a plate of biscuits on the side. You probably don’t think DIY powerhouse. Yet, that’s what tea is - it has a slew of hidden uses that you’ve never even considered, but will be glad you discovered. Tea-time is all the time with these unexpected applications.
If you accidentally baked in the sun, then tea can come to your rescue. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, tea is a natural remedy for sunburn. Take some cool tea-bags and place them on the affected area and feel the soothing effects sinking in almost immediately. In black tea, the tannic acid works to remove the heat from the burn. It’s also high in catechins, an antioxidant which promotes skin repair.
It’s no secret that drinking tea is highly beneficial for your skin. But that’s not the only way that your skin can drink in the benefits. All teas have at least mild astringent properties, with green tea being particularly high on the spectrum. And if you’ve ever checked a bottle of your toner, this is what you’re looking for. Apply it topically by dabbing it on to reduce redness and pore size.
Ease Under Eyes
Along the same lines, the tannins in tea help blood vessels to shrink, so you’re going to want to pop some tea bags over your eyes and take a little nap. When you wake up, your under eye circles will be visibly reduced. Again, green tea is the go-to you should reach for when trying this DIY remedy. These are bags under your eyes you’re going to actually want.
Sites like Pinterest are awash with tea face masks, and there’s a reason - they work. Sprinkle some white or green tea powder into your mask mix, and let the anti-inflammatory properties work magic on the elastin in skin cells. Also say goodbye to puffiness and hello to sun protection - tea has been shown to have protective properties and help block out the sun.
Doing dishes is never fun, but tea can make it better. If your food is really caked on your dishes, give ‘em a soak overnight in a tea bath. Those tannins will come to use again and cut through the grease, making your next dishwashing session a little less crumby.
Believe it or not, if you don’t feel like busting out the chemicals, tea can do the trick. Black tea is actually effective as a cleaner and a refinisher for your hardwood floors. If your floor’s got scratches, bust out the black tea. The tannins work to gently color where the damage has been done, and doesn’t hurt in making your floor nice and shiny, too.
Have you noticed your gym bag’s gone a little funky lately? Tea bags are here to help. After you’ve had your cup of tea, set the tea bags out to dry. Then stick them inside wherever you want to get the smell out - in your bag, or maybe some sweaty shoes. The bags are going to absorb the moisture and get you smelling fresh in no time.
Help Your Hair
Tea works wonders for hair repair in more ways than one. Once more, green tea is our particular hero. It contains Panthenol, which helps to prevent split ends by strengthening the hair. Its potency with antioxidants also has been proven to stimulate hair growth. It can even combat dandruff - the anti-inflammatory properties give flaky skin a run for its money. Give your hair a tea rinse to start seeing the benefits.
You probably never thought to put your tea in the tub. You’ve heard of bath salts, but a more and more popular alternative? Bath teas. Yep, make your own herbal bath - if you’ve ever loved your tea so much you want to crawl into a big cup of it, then this is the trend for you. Combine tea leaves into a reusable cloth bag with your favorite herbs, like lavender, sage, chamomile, or even rose petals for aroma. It’s not just a recipe for aromatherapy, it’s aromathera-tea.
Double Your Drink
Okay, we know this technically counts as drinking your tea, but if you don’t know what to do with your old teabags, don’t necessarily throw them away. You can steep them in your next cup of tea to get up on flavor instead of getting rid of them after one brew. The used tea bags don’t have all of the oomph of their new counterparts, but they do definitely boost the flavor in a regular cup.