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How People Take Their Tea Around the World

Fire up your kettles—we’re going around the world in seven cups of tea. Great Big Story senior producer Beryl Shereshewsky checks in with seven people in seven different countries who show us how they prepare their perfect cuppa. We sample all of it—from Japan’s matcha to Argentina’s mate. Even if you’re a coffee drinker, we’re certain you’ll want to reach for a tea bag after you’re steeped in all this knowledge.

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England

English Breakfast Tea

For Ryan Bray—the food and beverage manager at the Polurrian Hotel—tea is very serious business. According to him, the perfect cuppa English breakfast tea means boiling the water to at least 100 degrees Celsius, brewing the tea for exactly three minutes (the ideal time for black tea), and then, optionally, adding a splash of milk or sugar.

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Morocco

Green tea with herbs

Lahcen Ouja says that tea is for everyone (well, except his infant son). More than anything, it’s a chance for everyone to gather together and talk while sharing tea, bread and dates. He makes his tea by boiling water, adding green tea leaves and sugar, and then putting it back over the fire. The more tea leaves you use, the richer the red color.

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Argentina

Maté

According to Carolina, maté is more than just a drink—it’s a ceremony. The custom was first brought over from Paraguay by the Guarani people, who drank the tea from a gourd. Today it is drunk out of a cup called a maté with a metal straw called a bombilla. Carolina says it’s not something you will find in bars or cafés—maté is something you make and drink at home, with others or enjoyed alone.

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Spend Your Tea Time With Our Coloring Book

Great Big Story’s talented art department always has something fun brewing. This time, they’ve made a tea-themed coloring book. Whether you’re a grown-up, or a kid, coloring never gets old. So grab some crayons or markers and color away.

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Japan

Matcha

Junko Funakoshi says that matcha is a true part of Japanese culture. In order to make the perfect cup, you use a chashaku (tea scoop) to scoop the powder and add water, heated to 80 degrees Celsius, to the mix. It is then whisked together until bubbles appear.

The original purpose of the tea ceremony was a way to attain enlightenment. Today, Junko says it’s still a way of connecting people’s hearts. Tea is a magic she thinks everyone should experience, which is why she hosts private tea ceremonies in her home for others to enjoy.

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India

Masala Chai

Sunita Banerjee begins her day with a cup of chai. She says the smell of the tea and spices radiating through her home is the best way to wake up in the morning. To make a cup of chai, you start by grinding together ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, and a few peppercorns for an extra kick. Add those spices to boiling water with the black tea leaves, add milk, and then serve with sugar as needed. And there’s no wrong time to pour yourself a cup. Sunita says, “Any time is chai time.”

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Russia

Russian Black Tea

Tea first became popular in Russia in the 19th century as a way to encourage people to drink less alcohol. And in a cold climate, hot tea is perfect. Elena Goldberg says that in the past, people would fill up a large samovar with boiling water and drink five or six cups of tea in a row—enough that they would need a towel on hand for the tea sweats. Today, Elena serves her tea with pies of cabbage, meat and mushrooms, as well as candy, chocolate, jams, and sugar. She hosts tea ceremonies in her home for others to experience a typical Russian tea.

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Taiwan

Bubble Tea

Ho Chin-Shuen has a bubble tea shop on Zhongshan Road in Banqiao, Taiwan. He has been making the popular drink for more than 25 years. First, he adds the boba to boiling water, cooks it for 25 minutes and lets it stew for 25 minutes more. He then blends creamer, black tea and ice, then adds the boba before serving. Although creamer is traditionally used with bubble tea in Taiwan, Ho Chin-Shuen has also begun using milk as a healthier alternative.

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