A Japanese monk called Dengyo Daishi in the early 8th century first brought tea to Japan from China. Their tea drinking custom has been strongly influenced by Zen Buddhism ever since. Macha (powdered green tea) reached Japan at the end of the 12th century, and by the 1500s, it became popular and widely accepted among the upper class. A Japanese tea ceremony takes place in a traditional room that is designated especially for the occasion. Guests gather at an appointed time for sweets or a small meal, followed by the serving of macha tea. A Japanese tea bowl and whisk are the most important instruments used in making macha for the ceremony. The origin of chanoyu was established in the 16th century and has continually played an important role in the lives of the Japanese.

The Chinese tea ceremony is unlike the way Japanese performed with special emphasis on the tea rather than the ceremony. What the tea tastes like, smells like and how one tea tastes in comparison with the pervious one would be the quintessential issues that the Chinese tea ceremony are most concerned with. The use of the right water and control of the temperature are the two key issues in order to make the best flavor tea. Tap water should be filtered before heating and distilled water should be avoided as it is void of natural elements. The ideal water should contain the least amount of minerals in order to bring out the richness and sweetness of the tea. The ideal temperature of making strong teas such as red or black tea would be 100oC; for lighter teas such as green or flower teas would be 80oC. The style of tea drinking is slightly different between the southern and the northern regions of China. In southern regions such as Fujian and Chiujao, small cups and unglazed clay teapots are commonly used, while in northern regions such as Shanghai and Beijing, larger cups are used. The benefit of drinking tea after one’s meal is that it helps resolve meat and fat, especially for those people who live mainly on meat (such as ethnic minorities in China). In addition, it helps to discharge nicotine out of system for smokers. Tea has become one of the daily necessities in China.

Afternoon tea was invented in England by Anne, the seventh Duchess of Bedford in the second half of the 19th century. In her day, people usually had very late dinner around eight o’clock. The Duchess would become hungry around four o’clock every afternoon due to the long period of time between lunch and dinner. She asked her servants to serve tea, bread and butter and cake to her room during the late afternoon. The Duchess found the experience was very delightful, and it became a daily ritual for her family and close friends. In the beginning this was an upper class social affair, but it soon became popular in the public teashops and tearooms. Furthermore, the English have classified ‘tea’ into low-tea (also called afternoon tea) and high-tea. Afternoon tea is served on small tables or “coffee tables” with lighter meal such as sandwiches, scones, cookies fruit tarts and rich cakes; it’s normally served around four o’clock. High-tea is served with heavier meal such as ham, roast beef, lamb, bread and butter, pastries, custard and cakes on the dinner table around five or six o’clock. For the middle classes, ‘tea’ meant afternoon tea. It can be served either formally in the dinning room or living room tea table or informally in the garden or kitchen. For the working classes, ‘tea’ was the main cooked meal of the day and eaten when returned from work. Today, the afternoon tea ritual still has remained true to its original intent.

Chai is originally from India and now has become one of the most popular beverages in the world. Drinking Chai becomes a tradition and also part of everyday-life habit for Indian. Chai is generally made up of 4 parts:
  • Rich black tea
  • Milk
  • A combination of various spices
  • Sugar or honey
In India, the used of spices may vary from region to region, however, some households even created their own home-made Chai. The most common spices to make Chai are cinnamon, ginger, cloves, pepper and cardamom. Spices need to simmer in the milk or cream in order to bring out its own flavors. Hence, the traditional way for Indian families to make Chai is to add black tea, milk or cream, spices and honey or sugar all together. Keep it on stove for 24 hours by slow simmering and then grab a ladle when they want some. It is not like tasting fine teas; instead it is more like a casual tea, a folk tea or even a comfort tea.
You can even create your own Chai recipe!