Tea is the one of the world’s most popular drinks, second only to water. No matter what the type or flavour, tea is refreshing and relaxing and definitely trumps coffee and other beverages in a number of ways. Hot or cold, it provides more health benefits than any other drink on the planet.
If tea is your passion, then you’ll be delighted to find out that there are many destinations you can visit where you can relax and enjoy the world’s best brews. Below is a list of the best travel destinations every tea lover should visit right now.
Considered one of the largest tea-drinking countries in the world, Turkey has a tea culture that extends even to its neighbouring countries. Turkish tea is so deeply ingrained in the local culture that it has become a staple in Turkish households. Locals drink an average of 4 to 5 cups of tea per day and even have them with their meals. And probably can’t survive without it.
The beverage is an important element of Turkish hospitality. So do not be surprised if when vacationing in Istanbul, you’re invited to have Turkish black tea served on lovely tulip-shaped glasses at a local’s home many times during your trip.
Even when shopping for souvenirs like tea and tea sets at Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, one of the world’s biggest and oldest markets, you would often get by merchants to have a cup of full-flavoured Turkish tea with them. That’s how fundamental tea-drinking is in Turkish life.
Another tea-loving country you should visit is Morocco, where serving Moroccan mint tea to guests during parties and other social gatherings is a must. Affectionately called Berber whiskey by locals, Moroccan mint tea is traditionally prepared by brewing gunpowder green tea and is served with mint leaves, sugar, and tobacco for flavour. Tea preparation is both an art and a ritual in Morocco, and is usually done by the head of the family.
If you’ll be staying at a riad or traditional guesthouse in this African nation, expect to be offered mint tea as a welcome gesture.
Just like coffee, tea is also central to Vietnamese culture – from social gatherings and celebrations to ritual ceremonies. If you’re travelling to Vietnam, you will notice that the locals love to have a hot brew after their first meal of the day or a tall glass of iced tea when it’s hot and humid.
The country has been growing different kinds of tea since 1880 including shan tuyet, a variety that’s native to the country. Shan tuyet is a fruity black tea with malt and nutty notes.
Famous for its Ceylon teas, Sri Lanka is the 4th largest tea-producing country in the world, producing 6% of the world’s tea. There are several regions dedicated to the tea industry but Kandy City, where James Taylor established the first tea plantation, is still Sri Lanka’s tea capital.
While there are other Ceylon tea varities, Ceylon black tea is still Sri Lanka’s most popular export. Dilmah is the most popular tea brand in Sri Lanka and if ever you’re in Colombo, consider attending private tastings of locally grown tea at the company’s headquarters. Then, continue your adventure to the tea plantations of Kandy or Nuwara Eliya and learn a bit about tea production and enjoy different brews to your heart’s content.
Unknown to many, tea is Russia’s favourite beverage and is also integral to the local culture. Tea is traditionally brewed through a two-step process. Firstly, tea concentrate called zavarka is brewed in a small kettle. Then, a small amount of the concentrate is mixed with water boiled from the samovar, a kettle-like device that’s used in the Russian traditional tea-brewing process.
Tea is usually served after meals and is often accompanied by cookies and other light snacks.
India, the second largest tea producer in the world, has many tea-producing districts and must-visits are Darjeeling and Brahmaputra Valley. In Darjeeling, you can take in the spectacular views of tea gardens as you help yourself to aromatic Darjeeling tea.
Brahmaputra Valley, the tea capital of the world, is where you’ll find the expansive Assam tea estates. Assam tea is an invigorating black tea that’s perfect for those who like their tea rich, bold, and malty.
With a tea culture that started as early as 10th century B.C., China is considered the birthplace of tea. And with an annual yield that’s 36% of the world’s tea, it is also the top tea-producing country in the world. Visitors to the country can enjoy different varieties of tea – white, oolong, red, yellow, puerh and flower tea.
The Chinese are heavy tea-drinkers. Virtually every household in modern china has a set of teaware for preparing a fresh brew. Locals also go to teahouses where they can socialize while enjoying a cup of tea.
If you’re looking to have a tea tour in China, the place to visit would have to be Hangzhou, famous for its green tea called Longing Tea. Longing tea has been granted the elusive imperial tea (gong cha) status. A tour of Hangzhou will take you to China’s National Tea Museum and to several tea villages and plantations, providing you with opportunities to try your hand at tea picking and learn about tea processing.
By: Brendelyn Balaga