Tea Stories from Around the World: Where Tea Is More Than a Drink

Tea Stories from Around the World: Where Tea Is More Than a Drink

Coming from the beautiful island of Sri Lanka, not a day passes without a cup of piping hot tea in our lives. Nathan loves his tea with a little milk, while I am a huge fan of Indian masala chai (tea) where tea leaves are boiled with milk and subtle hint of spices such as cardamom and ginger. Once prepared, a thick milky froth hugs the surface of the muddy-colored masala tea.

One of our favorite memories associated with tea runs to the bustling lanes of Old Delhi. It was a food tour with Anubhav at Delhi Food Walks. After a visit to the wholesale flower market nestled in a crumbling down building, we came to a chaiwala (the Hindi term loosely translates to a tea maker).

Seated on the small bench at night, surrounded by the chaos and shrouded mystics in Old Delhi where the Mughal Empire once thrived, we sipped our tea.  “I take everyone here,” Anubhav told us, “It’s our Starbucks,” he chuckled.

Tea also led me to my bestfriend, Sahid, who literally has become part of our lives.

In this blog post, 30 bloggers from around the world share their beautiful memories associated with tea. These are 30 beautiful stories to tell you that tea is not just a beverage, but also a skill, a tradition and an escape. Sometimes, brewing tea is an art. Other times, sipping tea is joy.

Stories from Argentina

Yerba Mate in Argentina

By Erin from Sol Salute

Yerba Mate in Argentina

Yerba mate is fundamental to Argentine culture. It’s more than a drink, it’s a shared experience, a ritual. When planning a road trip through Northeastern Argentina I knew I wanted to visit a mate plantation. Months before traveling I contacted an organic yerba mate company and arranged a tour, everything was prepared.

Finally, in Misiones, we drove down the highway through fields of tea leaves, rolling green hills that seemed to never end. Many turns and dirt roads (and a mud pit that forced us to walk the final stretch) later, we finally found our destination, and it looked a lot more like a family home than the big factory I was expecting!

Kraus Organic Mate is a family-run establishment. I knew that beforehand but was still a bit taken aback to be greeted by the mother/son duo as if we were showing up at a friend’s house. They gave us a tour of the property, showing us how they dry and process the leaves before returning to the house. Before leaving we ended the meeting the only way possible, by sharing a mate.

We ended our tour in the only way possible, by sitting together and sharing a mate, each drinking from the same straw (called a bombilla).

Stories from Bangladesh

Tetulia Tea House in Bangladesh, where tea is a humble brag

By Josh from The Lost Passport

Tea in Bangladesh - The Lost Passport

Bangladesh is the first place I have travelled to where people brag about how many cups of tea they can drink per day. “Yesterday I had 25 cups of tea” an elderly man says to me in Bengali via my translator. That rivals the 15 cups of tea that was apparently consumed in one day by a man I met yesterday in Dhaka, the nation’s capital.

Today we’re traveling in northern Bangladesh, visiting a town called Tetulia. We’re sitting in a local tea house constructed of odd bits of timber, and rusted sheets of corrugated iron. Hot water is boiled over an open fire, and a thick haze of smoke wafts through the shop. It smells great, of authenticity, and feels like we have dived headfirst into the local culture.

In front of us a local man stands pouring rounds of hot tea made with fresh milk from his cow. The cow is tied up just outside the window and was milked only ten minutes earlier. Normally I don’t drink my tea with milk, but on this occasion, I just couldn’t pass up the offer.

My experience in this Tetulia tea house was only brief, but it has left a vivid memory of the Bangladeshi people and their true hospitality. Now it’s time to go back to the terrible highway where potholes are large enough to eat the car whole.

Stories from Bosnia

A cup of Turkish tea in Mostar

by Martina & Jürgen from PlacesofJuma

Turkish Tea PlacesOfJuma Bosnia Mostar

One of our favorite experiences of drinking tea while traveling was definitely in Mostar in Bosnia and Hercegovina. This town is world famous for its picturesque Old Bridge of Mostar, the “Stari Most”, which is historically considered a symbol of the connection between Christianity and Islam. 

Especially inside the old town are plenty of very good restaurants and Arabic decorated cafés where you can have the famous Bosnian coffee but also the delicious Bosnian Caj, a typical Turkish tea. For all tea-lovers a must try!

Bosnia and Hercegovina is looking back on a long tradition of drinking tea. For sure, the best way to enjoy your tea is to drink it as the locals do: very strong, in small Arabic styled teacups and with lots of sugar. Mostly you will get black tea, but they also offer all kind of herbal organic teas, which actually also taste quite good. Important is, that in this country it is not common to drink tea with milk. Although you get one, but you have to emphasize that you want milk with it. 

If you are looking for a fantastic place in Mostar for having tea, we can recommend you the Caffe Stari Grad next to the bridge, and also the Bastan Coffee Place just next to the famous Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque is very excellent!

Stories from China

Beijing tea ceremony

by Erin from Love To Travel, Stay-Eat-Do

 Beijing Tea Ceremony China

Tea has played an integral role in the daily life of the Chinese for centuries. Unless you are invited into someone’s home, which is unlikely as a tourist, you must take the time to visit a Beijing Tea House and take part in a traditional Tea Ceremony. China should be famous for more than The Great Wall, partaking in a Tea Ceremony in the heart of Beijing, was one of our most memorable moments on our trip to China.

We were treated with great respect, welcomed with open arms and were able to witness and learn the fundamentals of the traditions behind tea in China. The Tea Ceremony itself focussing on the way the tea was presented; there was a slow and ritual-like approach to preparing and brewing the tea–it was formidable. The tea sommeliers movements were graceful, purposeful, elegant and created a serene atmosphere for us as their guests.

We tried a variety of different Teas, including a traditional Chinese Tea, which was subtle and memorable. After what had already been a busy day touring Beijing, our Tea Ceremony experience was nothing short of relaxing and rejuvenating. 

Throughout the ceremony we had learnt about drinking tea at the right temperature and how if the water is too hot, it would ruin the flavour. At the end of the Ceremony, we were gifted a Tea Pet ‘Pee-Pee Boy’. We were instructed to immerse him in cold water, to at least half fill him up, then pour water over him. When he pees, this indicates the water is the right temperature. A fun little keepsake, from our Tea Ceremony.

A cup of tea in a Chinese temple

By Hannah from Hannah’s Happy Adventures 

Chinese Temple Tea Life In China

I lived in Chengdu, China for one year working as an English teacher. This experience gave me the opportunity to explore places less travelled by. One of these was Wuhou Temple in Chengu’s city centre. It is a beautiful temple with many different places within it to explore. These included a small open-air teahouse located at the centre.

After stumbling across it, I knew we had to sit and have a cup of tea and enjoy the atmosphere. We were quickly served a cuof tea, of which the English name is lost. However, I nicknamed it ‘biscuit tea’ due to its closeness to a British digestive biscuit in hot water. It may sound disgusting but it’s the only tea I have tried and loved. Since leaving China, I have craved it on a daily basis.

We settled back and soaked in our surroundings while sipping our ‘biscuit tea’. I noticed a group of local men, playing Mahjong at the side of the teahouse, and we watched on with interest. Mahjong is one of the oldest games in China and despite wanting to, I had never learnt how to play in China. 

The locals noticed our interest and waved at us. Foreigners are a big novelty in China – and my blonde hair was of great interest to them. This was one of the best cups of tea I had in China – and believe me we had a lot!

The taste of tea at Alice’s Tea House

By Raquel from Meals and Mile Markers 

Alice's Tea House, Beijing

I spent a summer studying in China and developed a taste for tea. As someone who had never enjoyed tea in the past, I was quite surprised by how much I enjoyed trying different teas throughout the summer. Before heading home, I spent the last week in Beijing, staying across the street from a small little shop called Alice’s Tea House.

My friends fell in love with the shop and took me with them to visit one afternoon. Alice was an amazingly sweet lady who showed a passion for her job. She taught us about tea and the customs revolving around tea with friends. She entertained us with some jokes and conversation. 

While she knew some English and we knew some Chinese, our conversational ability was definitely limited by language barriers. However, drinking tea brought us together so that it was quite a memorable afternoon even though we couldn’t completely communicate with each other.

Since I loved the experience so much, I decided to buy a tea set. I also bought some tea leaves so I would have some flavors of China when I returned home to the States. I chose a flower tea (although I don’t know the English name for it) and some lychee black tea.

The taste of this tea brings me back to Alice’s Tea House. It also encourages me to reach out to my Chinese friends and review some Chinese vocabulary that I haven’t used much since college. It’s amazing how tasting tea can bridge people together!

Stories from England

Afternoon Tea at Sketch London

by Ellie from The Wandering Quinn

Sketch London Afternoon Tea

Sketch in London is a famous restaurant with an even more famous afternoon tea experience.

Living in London in your 20’s you tend to not spend too much money on expensive treats but when one of our friends was leaving London to go back to Canada and she had ‘afternoon tea’ left on her London bucket list, we knew that Afternoon Tea at Sketch London was the answer!

This turned out to be the perfect girls day out experience! The room in Sketch used for afternoon tea is called The Gallery which is decked out with pink walls, pink velvet seating, lots of quirky art and musicians playing live music.

We were offered a variety of tea’s to start with and a detailed explanation about which ones to drink with which dish, something none of us knew anything about.

The first course was the fanciest egg and soldiers we’d ever seen followed by a huge tier of finger sandwiches and cakes before ending with scones, cream and jam.

We didn’t visit Sketch just for their afternoon tea though, we also wanted to see their famous egg pod toilets that had been all over our Instagram feed and naturally, a photoshoot occurred.

We had such a memorable time together here, we all ticked this off our London bucket list, learnt a few new things about tea and got some nice photos to serve as a memory of our friends’ last few days in London!

Stories from India

A warm cup of tea in the hills of Munnar

By Atul from Our Backpack Tales 

Kolukkumalai Peak Tea Munnar Kerala

Kolukkumalai is considered to be the highest organic tea plantation in the world. The tea here is famed to have a unique flavor and aroma due to the high elevation. Witnessing the Kolukkumalai sunrise is one of the main things to do in Munnar and one needs to take a jeep safari very early in the morning to be able to reach the sunrise point right in time. 

We made our trip at 4 am in the morning when it was still dark and chilly. The fog covered every bit of the mountain and it was the best time to enjoy a warm cup of tea. We also went to the Kolukkumalai Peak where there was a blanket of fluffy clouds right at our feet! 

This is also a great spot to witness the Neelakurinji flowers that bloom only once in twelve years. We were lucky to be able to see them as they will only bloom in 2030 next! We descended right after the sunrise and enjoyed the perfect cup of Kolukkumalai tea from a traditional tea shop at the foothills of Kolukkumalai. 

You can also buy some good quality tea powder from the factory outlet right at the base of the Kolukkumalai Tea Estate. 

Staying at a tea estate in Assam

By Jitaditya from Periplus Northeast

Tea Tourism Assam Northeast India

Assam is the largest tea growing region in the world and naturally, the whole state is dotted with tea estates. Most of them were started by the British planters in the colonial era. So, they usually contain an old colonial bungalow in the middle of the lush green estates. Many of them have now been turned into heritage properties where tourists can stay and have the ultimate tea garden experience. 

Recently I stayed in one of them called Sapoi Tea Estate, located not far from the hills of Arunachal Pradesh. It was established in 1914 and is being run by the same family over several generations. We stayed in the bungalow which must have been 100 years old. We roamed around the vast estate, where hundreds of people were working at the same time. 

Eventually, we also got a chance to take part in a tea tasting session, which is an eclectic process just like wine tasting. We were introduced to some premium brews produced in that estate as well as some other exotic organic varieties produced in the region.   

The matir bhar-er cha of Bengal (tea served in an earthen pot)

By Madhurima from Orange Wayfarer

Chai India Kolkata

“Chaye… chaye…” the man hawks around the train compartments of Purulia Express. He has found a taker. He serves piping hot tea on an earthen pot, which can be collected from the iron train tracks and reused, I figured out later on one such train journey. 

“While throwing the pot once you are finished, aim it at one of the iron tracts, lest they reuse it again,” I had been advised. 

Anyway, the man returns, this time from the platform, starts to run as the train catches on speed till the drinker has taken the wallet out of his pocket and paid a meagre 5 rupee coin. I would hold my breath and wait so that the tea-seller gets his money. He would never miss it. Like the six sigma Dabbawalas of Bombay. 

Later, I would see the same visuals being enacted by Shahrukh Khan in the film Swadesh, only when he does not take back the change from an underage tea seller. Instead, his eyes moisten.

I grew up abhorring tea. My dad was a diabetic and he did not take sugar in his tea. The first sip I took was from his plate, I did not like it! Then, “children do not drink tea”, I was told. I would only get a flimsy offer to drink tea while riding these trains. It was almost an incredible adventurous act to balance the earthen cup as the express train rushes past Bengal paddy fields. 

I finally drank tea from Hedua Playground. It was opposite Bethune School and I was falling in love with Kolkata at that time, one day at a time. My girlfriends and I would sit there, chat and a blind man would approach. Partially blind. He would immaculately pour in the last drop of Lemon juice in his plastic cup of Lemon Tea-Lebu Cha, another unique find in Kolkata, the city of joy. I have never drunk tea anywhere else. All the tea pictures you see on my Instagram are usually drunk by Sayantan.

Tea in Assam- Of aromas and culture

by Abhinav from A Soul Window

Agor Jwmgra Aronai Manas National Park Bodoland Assam India

I took a 3-month long trip to offbeat places like Bodoland, Mechuka and Basar in North East India which was truly memorable.

I can smell the fragrant undulating fields of Assamese tea estates as I write this. One of my loveliest tea memories are from Bodoland in remote Assam. Bodoland, the erstwhile conflict zone is now a peaceful area, populated by a high number of tea workers from Assam and other states. Not only does the tea play a major role in local culture but it also drives the wheel of local economy. I was chosen as one of the Bodoland Ambassadors in the first season. It gave me a good experience of rural tourism in the tea estates of Bodoland.

After a successful 7 hour long epic safari in the stunning Manas National Park, I and other co travelers chose to go to the many tea estates and village homes near our hotel. The sun was about to set as we started navigating through the dirt tracks of the dense tea estate. Birds were returning to their nests and so were the workers of tea estate. In far distance, the cicadas were doing what they do best. Their shrill sound, though faint to us, added music to the lyrical moment we were in.

And what’s a landscape without its people? We made it a point to visit the home of one of the local Bodo tea workers who lived nearby. We admired their authentic mud home, its unique architecture. The possibility of relishing Assamese pitha and local tea lal cha (red tea) was also not slim, had it not been getting too dark, too soon. However, we were not complaining as we had tasted enough Assamese lal cha (read tea) by now.

It was a memorable experience to see not only where our tea comes from but also who makes it. This connection will surely enhance the taste of my tea the next time I will sip one from Assam.

Having a cup of Darjeeling Tea watching the Kanchenjunga ranges

By Amrtia from Tale of 2 Backpackers

Sitting on a bench in Darjeeling with tea and Kanchenjunga - Taleof2backpackers

Darjeeling is famous for a lot of things–tea and the mountain ranges are only a few among them. My favourite memory related to tea is having a cup of first flush Darjeeling Tea right in the heart of Darjeeling, the place where it is grown. Having a cup of chai or tea is always a pleasing experience, and more so if the view before is drop-dead gorgeous. 

It was during one of my Darjeeling visits that I went out walking around the Darjeeling Mall Road. The weather was foggy, which is quite natural on a winter morning in Darjeeling. I was hoping to see the Kanchenjunga ranges from Mall Road, but the mountains were clearly hidden behind the layers of clouds and fog. I reached my favourite place at Mall Road and sat down on the bench. There is a local lady who sells tea and snacks there. I asked for a cup of black tea from her, sat on the bench and was lost in my thoughts. 

Gradually the weather seemed to get better. The sun came out and to my surprise, I saw a brief outline of the Kanchenjunga ranges looming in the horizon. Very soon, the entire range was clearly visible. I was not the only one there who was ecstatic to see the snowy ranges of Kanchenjunga that day. All those around me were quite happy to see the mountain.

I asked for another cup of tea. So there I was having a perfect cup of Darjeeling tea looking at a perfectly beautiful Kanchenjunga range just before me. Things can never get better than this!

Hot cups of lemon tea in the in the snow-clad vistas of Zanskar Valley

By Arnav from TheETLRBlog 

There are something’s in life where words fall short of describing the experience. One such experience was having some hot cups of chai in -25 deg C during the Chadar Trek. These hot cups of chai, mostly lemon tea, were such a treat, in the freezing cold. 

The porters are the backbone of the Chadar Trek  and they make sure that they are the first one to reach the campsites, where first they set up the kitchen tent, and prepare hot chai, which they serve along with biscuits.

Nothing fancy, but still it’s a treat and something that is appreciated by all the trekkers.

Having chai, that too while travelling is something I always cherish, but during the chadar trek, having this hot chai, while enjoying the panoramic views of the Zanskar Valley, with the Zanskar River flowing in front of my eyes, surrounded by snow everywhere, will undoubtedly remain etched in my memories forever.

Beating the cold with Black tea in Manas National Park

By Ketki from Explore With Ecokats 

Manas National Park Assam

After a sweltering hot and humid day in Manas National Park, I could not believe it was spring. It felt more like summer and there looked no respite as I chugged water and cold drinks. I was camping on the periphery of the Manas National Park and I prayed to the weather gods for a better day tomorrow. 

I woke up to a rather cloudy sky so much so that the probability of safari being cancelled was high. With no rains yet, the wildlife safari happened on time. And it started pouring as soon as we entered the park. The morning safari chills, along with the rains and wet clothes made me shiver. I strained my eyes to spot a herd of elephants, some deers and very few birds, constantly worried about my camera.

Halfway through the safari, the driver stopped at a Machan for a 360-degree view of the park. The cold had gotten unbearable by then. As I shivered to climb up the stairs, I couldn’t help but notice the forest guard serving Chai to a guest who was not a regular tourist. 

I couldn’t resist and requested if he could prepare some for me and my safari friends. He said he was out of milk but could make black tea seeing us shivering from the cold. I obliged and 5 minutes later had the magic potion which made me survive the next 2 hours and made for the favourite chai memory. Oh, did I mention, I am not a chai person? 

Stories from Indonesia 

In Indonesia, teh tarik and roti make for an amazing meal

By Clara from Petite Capsule

Teh Tarik Bali Indonesia

One of my best tea memories is drinking teh tarik and eating roti in an authentic local roti and tea house in Bali, Indonesia. Teh tarik is milk tea created by blending strong black tea with condensed milk. The tea is blended by “pulling” – pouring the mixture between two cups from a height. This repeated pouring gives teh tarik a nice thick froth on top.

The pouring cools the tea, mixes it well, and gives it a fantastic flavour. Teh tarik can be served hot or cold. In a warm climate like Bali, I ordered mine cold. Warung Bunana is the name of the little roti and tea house.

It’s a little different from other warungs as it has an open kitchen. The staff are friendly, energetic and full of smiles, and almost put on a show when preparing your order. There’s a wide range of roti options on the menu. 

The roti was the perfect fluffiness to chewiness combination, and full of flavour. Washed down with a nice cold refreshing teh tarik; an amazing meal. So much so that I went back to Warung Bunana for more teh tarik and roti a number of times, whilst I was in Bali travelling with baby and partner.

Stories from Iran

From tea to friends in Iran 

By Coni from Experiencing the Globe

Tea in Shiraz, Iran - Experiencing the Globe

One of the first things I learnt while researching before my trip to Iran was that Iranians are very hospitable, and that tea is an important part of their culture. I’m a tea addict, so I was excited. But nothing prepared me for what I was going to experience. 

Since the moment I arrived in Tehran, I was offered one cup of tea after another. I refused most of them thinking they were only offered out of politeness, and I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone. Until one of these kind strangers told me that it’s an honor for them to show part of their culture to foreigners through a cup of hot back tea. 

I have accepted every single cup offered since then. It’s hard to tell how many, but I’d say easily a hundred during my month in Iran

With a cup in hand I got to talk about life, politics, history, relationships, and everything in between. So many strangers became friends. Some were quick conversations, some developed into life-long friendship. Regardless of how deep we bonded, every single person that took the time to sit with me has a bit of my heart. 

As if the hospitality wasn’t enough, I was delighted to learn that the tea is locally produced in the north of the country. I brought back some of it with me. Now I get to invite friends over and spread the word about the wonderful people I met in a wonderful country.

Stories from Ireland

Tea with mum at Dromoland Castle

by Lauren at Always Find Adventure 

I took my mom on her first trip across the pond to Ireland back in 2016, driving around the country, and staying in cute, little bed and breakfasts. One morning we were trading stories with other guests, and they recommended we visit Dromoland Castle for Mrs. White’s Afternoon Tea.

My mom is big into tea, in fact, she has a very big tea party every year. When we heard about this, her face lit up. It wasn’t on the itinerary, but we 100% had to fit it in. We decided to go without a reservation. (For the record, I recommend making a reservation). 

We drove up to the castle and were in awe. The exterior and the grounds were just out of a movie and it was exactly as you might imagine the inside of a castle to be – ornate, fancy, and beautiful. 

We were lucky to snag the last free table. Waiters in full tuxedos seated us. Afternoon tea came with your choice of teas, along with a 3-tiered stand of 5-star sandwiches, scones (with fresh clotted cream), and pastries. The waiters asked for allergies and preferences to customize the snack tray.

The star of the show (haha) was the sugar they served with the tea – it was like rock candy. The waiter was friendly with us and ended up giving my mom some as a parting gift because she loved it so much. My mother could not get over how amazing this experience was. She and I reminisce about it often.

Imported tea from Ireland: A family tradition

by Cath from Travel Around Ireland 

Ireland Dublin Tea

As an Irish expat living away from home for over 16 years, there is one thing that I cannot do without and that is a cup of Irish tea. Despite living in Britain for 13 of those years, there was nothing more comforting that would remind me of home than a cup of Irish tea. English Breakfast, Earl Grey, for me, nothing compares. 

So, whenever family or friends from Ireland are coming to visit, either while we were living in the UK, or now in Portugal, there is one thing we always ask them to bring above all else. A box of Lyons or Barry’s Tea. The same is said when we visit home for any length of time. The night before we return to Portugal, we go shopping and stock up on tea bags. 

It is a tradition that has spanned 16 years now and is something that will never stop. We have even discovered a shop over an hour away from where we live that sells Irish tea bags if we run out and no-one is due to visit. Even my mum adopted the tradition when she and my dad moved to Portugal shortly before us. And although she died last year, her stock of Irish tea bags has been keeping us going until family can come and visit again. 

It’s a real treat to wake up in the morning knowing you are about to brew your favourite cuppa and a strong cup of tea made with Irish tea bags ensures I am reminded of home and all the family still living there, even when we are 1000 miles away. 

Stories from Japan 

Enjoying matcha tea In Japan

By Sarah from Hotels & Hand Luggae 

Kanazawa Tea Japan Travel

During our two months in Japan we had seen beautiful, traditional tea houses everywhere we went. Matcha tea has been an important part of Japanese culture for centuries, so we spent ages trying to find the quintessential spot to try it. The beautiful tea house we stumbled across in Kanazawa was exactly what we had been looking for.

The friendly owner showed us to our seats on tatami mats overlooking the pristine garden. Matcha tea is traditionally served with a side of Japanese sweets so we choose two different options from the menu to try.

The tray arrived with the matcha tea served in a traditional bowl and the sweets pristinely presented. The tea was delicious and was different to any tea we had tasted before; it had definitely been worth the wait. We savored every sip. The sweets were the perfect accompaniment too.

We enjoyed the long-awaited moment as long as we could and then left to continue on with our day. To our surprise the owner came outside behind us and presented us with a small homemade gift of a coaster with a pressed flower inside of it. We will never forget our first time trying macha tea in Japan and now we have a beautiful keepsake too.

Green tea in Japan 

By Lyn from A Hole In My Shoe

Green Tea Japan

A year ago we were in Japan and took a daytrip from Osaka to Kamakura, about 50km southwest of Tokyo to see the sights. Along with the typical sights to see, secluded in the hills of Kamakura was a visit to a small, peaceful bamboo grove. Located at the Hokokuji Temple, this was an absolute gem. Set at the end of a narrow path behind the main temple was a tea house where we bought tickets to enjoy a green tea in a very zen setting.  

Matcha Tea is made from a powder and we watch the preparation. The tea is served in a bowl with a little sweet accompaniment to put on your tongue. There is a mindfulness and elegance to making tea. It is a ritual like activity and its important how the tea is prepared and presented.

Matcha tea promotes well-being and mindfulness and drinking the slightly bitter green tea regularly is good for your health. We felt real purity and respect in the tranquillity of the process, so serene and inspiring. We watched as the ladies mixed the green tea and it was served in the teahouse overlooking the bamboos whispering in the gentle breeze.

We sipped our tea and soaked in the peace as we enjoyed the views and the bamboo glowed with vitality. The trunks made gentle clunking sounds as they bumped each other swaying in the breeze. The light flickered between the tall trunks that were reaching up into the sky. The area was small but the atmosphere was truly breathtaking. Moss covered the ground, sunlight dappling through the bamboo and the sound of water gently trickling. 

I simply loved the whole experience, it was quintessential Japan–simple, truly special and the etiquette of the tea making so surreal.

Stories from Malaysia

Having a cuppa in the Cameron Highlands

by James from The Travel Scribes

Cameron Highlands - Tea plantations James and Lee

When you think of tea, you’ll most likely envision the rolling plantations of countries like China, India, Sri Lanka or even Kenya. But it’s in the foothills of Malaysia that we had one of our most memorable experiences with tea. 

A must-visit place on any Malaysia itinerary and nestled in the central part of the country is the small town of the Cameron Highlands. Known not only for its tea but also for it’s many hiking trails, the ethereally exquisite Mossy Forest and the many strawberry farms where you can go and pick your own punnet of juicy, ruby red fruits.

However, a visit to the Cameron Highlands just isn’t complete without taking the time to visit it’s tea plantations, most notably the country’s most famous company: BOH. 

Founded in 1929, the BOH tea company is perfectly positioned in the Cameron Highlands since the area has the country’s most fertile region – cool temperatures, high altitudes and slightly acidic soil. This plantation produces 70% of all the tea in Malaysia and is a great place to visit not just to take in the amazing scenery, but to pay a visit to the Sungei Palas Tea Garden.

Perched high above the plantation, the tea room gives you sweeping views but also the chance to sample fragrant teas from its extensive menu, while tucking into beautifully baked scones, carrot cake or even flaky sausage rolls. It’s a tea lover’s dream: a perfectly poured cuppa, delicious food and views for days!

Stories from Morocco

In Morocco, tea is a learned skill

By Diana at Travels In Poland 

Tea Morocco Green Tea

Tea in Morocco is a surreal experience, as drinking tea is one of the most popular things that are done in Morocco. Friends and family gather around tea several times a day, and have specific times during the day where they drink only tea and catch up. It is a way of life, a learned hospitality that Moroccans show to anyone and everyone visiting their country. 

Moroccan tea is also a learned skill, where Moroccans take the time and patience to ensure that they brew a good pot of tea to share with others. Moroccan tea is usually a green tea, sometimes with added mint, and a lot of sugar. Most visitors who try Moroccan tea for the first time can be taken aback by the incredibly sweet taste of the tea, however it is worth partaking in the tradition of Moroccan tea time.

Moroccans have a special way of pouring the tea, with many lifting the pot high and pouring it into a glass from high up. This is a skill that takes time to master. During our time in Morocco, we saw this happen almost every time. On our trip through Morocco and specifically on our drive out of Marrakech to the Atlas mountains, we stopped at a small shop where there was an outdoor tea space. We were welcomed and served tea with others.

Later that day, we were also invited into the home of a Moroccan man who was our tour guide. We enjoyed an afternoon of tea and small treats. Moroccan tea is not only delicious, but a way to celebrate a culture.

Stories from Nepal

Drinking masala chai in the Himalayas 

by Alya from Stingey Nomads 

Tea-stop-near-Namche-Baser-on-Everest-Base-Camp-trek-in-Nepal

Drinking tea is a big part of culture in many countries all over the world. In the last year we’ve spent a lot of time trekking in Nepal and got to know local food traditions. Tea or chai plays an important role in the Nepalese culture. Masala chai is the most popular hot drink here. It has a lot of ingredients including some spices that add a unique flavor and aroma to the tea. 

The recipe for Masala chai includes milk, hot water, black tea leaves or tea bags, sugar, cardamon, cloves, and cinnamon. Ginger and black pepper can also be added. You can order Masala chai anywhere in Nepal from a fancy restaurant in Kathmandu to a small local guesthouse high up in the mountains. 

A tea stop in the middle of the day is a solid part of our hiking itinerary. To put down our backpacks, sit and drink a cup of Masala tea while enjoying the stunning scenery of the Himalayas is a very special experience. 

Our best memories of drinking tea in Nepal come from the toughest hiking days high up in the mountains. A cup of chai was alway amazing when we hiked for hours at high altitudes where even day temperatures are below 0° C. Arriving at a guest house, putting down a backpack, making ourselves comfortable in a warm dining room and ordering a hot and aromatic cup of Masala tea is the best end to a challenging day.  

Stories from Sri Lanka

Admiring plantation views at Lipton’s Seat with tea and rotis

by Tammy from Travelling Tam

Lipton's Seat Sri Lanka

When you think of Sri Lanka, you just can’t help but to be transported to hills upon hills of lush green tea plantations. And one of the best ways to admire them would be at Lipton’s Seat in Haputale.

Lipton’s is an iconic tea brand – it’s yellow label no doubt gracing many households around the world. But understanding where it’s made, and most importantly admiring where it’s grown whilst drinking it, is something else.

Getting to Lipton’s Seat isn’t the easiest task. Once finally at the Dambathenne Tea Factory, you can either walk, or get a tuk-tuk up. Wanting to enjoy the views, I decided to walk – though little did I know just how hard it would be!

After struggling the whole steep 9km, I finally made it – hot and truly exhausted. At first clouds obscured my view. But just as I sat down with a hot Lipton’s Tea (no milk of course) and a roti, the clouds parted like a beautiful mirage revealing what I had worked so hard to see.

Once where Mr Lipton himself used to come and admire his plantations, I couldn’t help but to look at the 360 degree views and feel more than a bit jealous. For this view and a fragrant cup of tea, I’d consider walking it every day.

Stories from Taiwan

A traditional Taiwanese tea ceremony

by Jodie at Alajode

Taiwanese Tea Ceremony

Situated in the heart of the tiny town of Jiufen, A-Mei tea house is a beautiful 3-storey building devoted to tea. It was high on my Taiwan bucket list and remains one of my favourite memories from my Taiwan travels to this day. To get to A-Mei tea house, you have to walk through the main alley of Jiufen, which really set the scene for the tea experience we were about to have.

When you arrive at A-Mei tea house, you’re given a choice of two different traditional Taiwanese ceremonies and we chose one with a number of traditional snacks as well as the pot of tea. A friendly waiter talked us through each stage of the tea ceremony, explaining how to prepare and drink the tea. What made it really special, though, was the setting itself. 

A-Mei tea house is an architectural delight. Built into a hillside, the tea house is a traditional Taiwanese built mostly from wood. If there’s a seat free, the top floor offers amazing views out into the countryside surrounding Jiufen – something that’s worth waiting for if you can. I wanted to visit A-Mei tea house to have the authentic tea ceremony experience but I didn’t expect to be quite so blown away by the building and the location itself.  

The first sip of Taiwanese bubble tea 

By Hrish from Dhempe Family Travel Blog

Bubble_Tea_Taiwan

My favorite memory associated with tea is when I discovered the craze for bubble tea in Taiwan when I landed in Taipei for a FAM trip. It was apparently invented in the 1980s and is made of tea, milk and ‘bubbles’ which are tapioca or fruit jelly pieces. 

There are literally a thousand varieties of bubble tea that you can get there. They even have a pizza with bubble tea toppings! They are so crazy about it in Taiwan that they even have declared April 30th as National Bubble Day! 

I found the bubble tea to be a little more sweet than I would have liked but it was a refreshing drink to welcome us into Taiwan after a long 1 stop flight from India via Singapore. It is served with a fat straw to allow us to enjoy eating the ‘bubbles’ while having the cold tea too. 

It is very important to shake your bubble tea before drinking it as the pieces would have settled at the bottom and you would get an uneven taste otherwise. Don’t miss the cultural phenomenon of bubble tea when you are in Taiwan! 

Stories from Thailand

Thai tea in Chiang Mai

by Rose from Where Goes Rose 

Thai Tea Chiang Mai

Thai tea is Thailand’s most popular beverage (apart from perhaps Chang beer). This icy cold drink has a distinctive orange colour and a taste that’s hard to put your finger on. Perfect on a hot afternoon, it’s so sweet that it’s almost addictive. While I can’t vouch for the health benefits of Thai tea, I can promise you’ll be craving it long after you leave Thailand.

Thai tea is a type of strong black tea but you wouldn’t guess thanks to the sweet ingredients that flavour it. Star anise, tamarind and cardamon are just a few of the ingredients, giving it a similar taste to masala chai in India.

Drinking Thai tea will always remind me of my time living in Chiang Mai. Unlike masala chai, this beverage isn’t served for pennies on the roadside but more commonly at cafes where young people and travellers hang out. Chiang Mai is a fantastic city for ethical cafes and local businesses.

Once such cafe is Free Bird in Nimman neighbourhood which donates all its profits to Northern Thai and Burmese hill tribes. Here you can sip iced tea, try tasty Thai dishes and shop for handmade souvenirs, all with a clear conscience. 

For more cafes in town, see this Chaing Mai food guide.

Stories from Turkey

The romance of Turkish tea & Bosphorus Cruise

by Tanayesh from Shoestring Travel
turkish tea Istanbul Shoestring Travel

I believe if you have been to Istanbul and did not taste the outstanding Turkish tea known as CAY (chai) your trip is incomplete. Appreciating the surreal and stunning view of the city’s skyline with a sip of hot brewing chai on the Bosphorus Cruise is an experience that I cherished the most there. They have a unique technique to prepare this tea in a double teapot called a caydanlik.

Water is boiled in the lower(larger) pot and loose tea leaves are put in the above (smaller) pot allowing the tea to be served in varying strengths and are served in small tulip-shaped glasses for the drinker to appreciate and relish the crimson color of the tea. There are varieties of tea served from black tea to apple tea, green tea, rosehip tea, sage tip, and the list continues.

While walking down the streets of Istanbul you can stop by to have a sip of tea at any time be it day or night as it is available always in every restaurant or hotel and experience the Turkish culture, even every shop you stroll around be it for exquisite carpets or beautiful jewelry they will offer you tea or chai as a welcome drink because Turks believe it to be a token of friendship!

A symbol of Turkish hospitality

by Yukti from Travel With Me 24 X 7

Turkish Tea Black Tea

Turkish Tea, a symbol of Turkish hospitality, is served with all the love in Turkey. Tea is an important beverage in the Turkish culinary scene. China and India claim to discover tea as a drink but it is hugely important for this hot drink in Turkey as well. Grown on the highly fertile soil of the Black Sea Coast, in Rize province, Turkey claims to be one of the largest producers of tea in the world. It is prepared like black tea and is infused with many herbs too.

Having a rich red color and a strong taste, this tea is usually served in small portions in tulip-shaped transparent glasses. Sugar or honey-coated sugary cube can be added extra but this tea is without milk tea. Also, the procedure to prepare this tea is very unique in the two-tiered container. In this container, water is boiled in the lower container and tea leaves are brewed in the upper container for at least 15 minutes to get the rich dark flavor.

In Turkey, tea is served at any time of the day and people love to drink it any time and even numerous times. Not only Turkish tea, but its special tea glasses are very unique too. People purchase tea leaves and also tea glasses when they visit Turkey. Nowadays you can see many varieties of tea available in Turkey with infused flavors of herbs like Rose Tea, Lavender tea, Chamomile tea, and many more which all are homegrown.

Stories from the USA

Drinking tea in the Colorado Mountains

by Kate from Parked In Paradise

Colarado Tea Camping

My husband and I LOVE camping, especially when we get to go off-grid and stay places few people dare to travel. One of my favorite memories is camping in the mountains of Colorado. We had been driving all day and a snowstorm started to come in. The roads were getting slicker and slicker so we knew we would have to pull over soon to spend the night.

Once the heat died down, our homemade camper conversion got extremely cold! We never travel with a heater, but we had lots of warm blankets and sleeping bags to keep us company. 

One of the best ways to keep your body temperature up when you’re camping is to snuggle together and drink hot coffee, tea, and cider. That evening, we fired up the Jetboil and spent the whole night sipping tea, talking about our travels and watching the snow fall.

Coffee mugs are our favorite souvenir to collect as we drive to new places because they’re so practical and bring back memories of our past trips. Every time I pull that blue coffee mug off the shelf I think back to our snowy night in Colorado.

Stories from Vietnam

Journaling time at The Reaching Out Teahouse in Hoi An

by Carly from Two’s Company

Reaching Out Teahouse

During my time in Hoi An I visited The Reaching Out Teahouse in the scenic old town. The Teahouse employs local people with speech and hearing impairments with the aim to provide them with meaningful employment and the opportunity to lead independent and fulfilling lives in their communities.

Due to the staff having speech or hearing impairments, the Teahouse encourages their customers to practice silence whilst visiting. However, they provide different aids so that you can still easily communicate with the wonderful staff at the Reaching out Teahouse, such as notepads and speech blocks.

During my visit, I ordered a cold green tea, it was served to me in a beautiful decorative teapot with a delicious biscuit. I was lucky enough to find a seat by the window, looking out onto the beautiful old town. I sat there for a couple of hours, enjoying the silence, and writing in my journal – it was the perfect place to sit and write. 

The quiet policy that the Reaching Out Teahouse operates means that it provides a tranquil environment which allows you to enjoy your visit in total peace, a novelty that many of us don’t get to enjoy in our busy lives.

Reaching Out Teahouse was a truly unique experience for me, one that I will always remember, all whilst supporting an amazing cause.

Watching the tea pickers in Thai Nguyen

By Emily from Wander-Lush

Emily-Lush-Thai-Nguyen-Vietnam

As a fervent coffee drinker, I normally seek out bean-related experiences when I travel. But the beautiful cultural values and rituals surrounding tea always pique my curiosity.

One of my favourite tea travel experiences took place in Vietnam. Vietnam has a thriving tea industry and is in the top 15 largest exporters of tea leaves in the world. Long before the French arrived in Indochina, bringing their coffee bushels with them, Vietnam was traditionally a tea-drinking nation. Many tea-focused ceremonies are still practiced in rural villages and cities alike today.

When I was living in Vietnam, I decided to get off the beaten track visit the tea plantations in the small city of Thai Nguyen, just north of Hanoi. The country’s tea growing capital, Thai Nguyen doesn’t attract very many tourists – so I found myself the only foreign visitor there that weekend. My homestay host accompanied me to one of the city’s most prominent tea fields, where I got a chance to watch the pickers at work. 

Dressed in their traditional non la conical hats, they moved incredibly fast and with expert dexterity, plucking the young tea leaves and throwing them into recycled rice bags. They were generous enough to give me a go and pose for a photo with them in the middle of the field.

Afterwards, I was treated to a green tea tasting. Seeing how much energy and passion goes into picking tea gave me a whole new appreciation for this humble beverage.

Afternoon tea on the beach in Phu Quoc

By Fiona from Fiona Travels From Asia

Phu Quoc Vinpearl Tea Resort Vietnam

Among my various tea-related experiences, enjoying afternoon tea on the beach while watching the sunset in Phu Quoc, Vietnam is definitely the most memorable. 

During our trip to Phu Quoc at the end of 2019, we decided to stay at Vinpearl Resort & Golf Phu Quoc on the northern part of the island. According to locals, this resort boasts one of the most beautiful beaches in Phu Quoc from November to March – the Bai Dai. It was on this pristine white-sand beach that they served us an enchanting afternoon tea which truly delighted us.

Normally I wouldn’t expect an afternoon tea experience at a beach resort in Vietnam to be too brilliant, but this one was special in its own way. The experience started as we sat down on one of their comfy bean bags on the beach and chose from a selection of tea such as chamomile, Earl Grey, peppermint, and jasmine. 

Our jasmine teas were not too strong, which was good for us as it was already late afternoon. The warm scones were served properly with two types of jam. They were not the best scones I have ever tasted, but they were pleasant enough for us to enjoy with our tea. Along with the collection of sweet and savory pastries, we were completely full afterward.

It was a deeply peaceful and beautiful experience to sit quietly on the beach, feel the sea breeze on our skin, and take a sip of the aromatic tea. We could have sat there all day and just enjoyed the moment.


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