Whether you’re discussing ancient or modern times, tea is important in cultures all over the world. Although Americans drink about three times as much coffee as they do tea, in parts of the Middle East, Europe, and Asia, 75 to 100 percent of people prefer tea to coffee. According to Tea Association of the U.S.A., tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world with the exception of water, and tea is still a key part of many countries’ traditions and ceremonies.
Read on to learn about three afternoon tea traditions that take place around the world.
Yerba mate is a key drink in Argentinian culture, and it’s made from placing chopped green yerba mate leaves in hot water, resulting in a slightly bitter tea that’s packed with caffeine. Preparing, sharing, and drinking yerba mate are integral traditions, and the drink is usually enjoyed either at work for an energy boost or in the afternoon with family and friends.
Teahouses are popular gathering places in China, but the drink is equally important at home – it’s usually served with every meal and, traditionally, to welcome new guests into one’s home. One Chinese tea ceremony is called Gong Fu, and the one preparing tea for the group, or the “tea master,” pours the tea artfully and follows other specific aspects of the tradition.
English afternoon tea is probably the most famous tea tradition of them all, at least from an American standpoint. It used to be more common but now has become a formal or weekend affair, and alongside tea, tiered trays filled with finger sandwiches, scones, and petite cakes are usually served between 2 and 5 p.m.