14 Tea Facts That May Surprise You
Tea is the world’s most popular drink and it has been around for thousands of years since originating in southwest China. It is consumed all around the world in immeasurable varieties, with over 2 billion cups consumed on a daily basis. We’ve collected some interesting and fun tea facts:
- While the UK is now famous for being one of the world’s most tea-crazy nations, it didn’t really catch on until the 18th century: It was prohibitively expensive up until that time which limited its appeal.
- The price of tea began to fall sharply in the 19th century, helping drive its popularity in Britain: With production of tea in India starting to ramp up, the cost of tea reduced to the point that it became affordable for almost everyone to enjoy it.
- While it’s common knowledge the British enjoy their tea with the addition of milk, other nations have different habits: In Eastern Europe, including Russia and Hungary, tea is typically accompanied by lemon juice.
- Tibet has an even more unique addition to their tea: If you ever visit the country, make sure you sample butter tea – this involves the addition of rock salt and butter made from yak milk.
- Meanwhile, visitors to Singapore or Malaysia can sample another variant of tea, known as teh tarik: Essentially meaning ‘pulled tea’, this beverage involves quickly pouring tea from a height between cups. The process makes the drink frothy by creating air bubbles.
- There are plenty of nations that love their tea, but the world’s biggest per-capita consumer is Turkey: As of 2010, the average Turkish resident consumed a massive 2.7 kilograms of tea per year, and in 2013 that equated to 10 cups per person, per day!
- The African nation of Mali has one of the world’s more unusual tea practices: This involves serving guests three rounds of tea, starting with an incredibly strong, unsweetened brew before progressing to a weaker blend accompanied with sugar.
- Tea is a popular beverage in the United States, but not in the same format as most other nations: 80% of tea consumed in the US is in the form of iced tea, and it is incredibly popular in the south.
- Taiwan has its own unique twist on tea, having created bubble tea in the 1980s: This variant typically involves a chilled tea with the addition of round, chewy ‘bubbles’ made from tapioca.
- If you add up all the world’s consumption of coffee, soft drink and alcohol, the combined total is still less than tea consumption: Over 5 million tonnes of tea are harvested each year, or roughly 600g per person on earth.
- China and India make up the world’s largest tea producers, accounting for 60% of annual production: Other major producers include Kenya, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Turkey.
- The invention of the tea bag came about by accident: An American tea importer shipped his tea in small silks bags, and the tea was meant to be removed from the bag prior to brewing. However, customers found it was easier to brew the tea by leaving it in the bag, and this inspired the first commercial tea bags.
- The world’s most expensive tea is China’s Da Hong Pao: This ultra-rare tea costs 30 times its weight in gold, and around US$10,000 for one pot. In 2002, a rich buyer made headlines after purchasing 20g of the tea for US$28,000.
- The main reason Da Hong Pao is so valuable is that no more tea from the original bushes can ever be harvested: The last harvest was in 2005, and since then the bushes have yielded no more tea.