Eight Little-Known Tea Facts

Even true tea connoisseurs might not know all the tea facts listed below. Read through them to expand your knowledge about the world’s second most popular drink.

1.) China rules the tea world.

The Chinese are associated with tea for good reason. They are the world’s largest producers of the product, making more than 950,000 tons each year. That’s about 27 percent of the world’s tea production. Furthermore, China is the only country to produce all varieties of tea in industrial quantities. So chances are the tea you buy in a grocery store is from China.

2.) Early tea didn’t taste good.

We don’t know this for sure, but evidence suggests that the first teas of the world weren’t very tasty. Early Chinese green teas were roasted, pounded, and made into tightly wound balls. The tea was infused with water and flavorings like ginger, orange, mint, and even onion were added to disguise the taste. If onion-flavored tea was preferable to the original version, the pounded tea balls must have been hard to stomach.

3.) The United States likes it cold.

Around the world, hot tea is far more popular than the iced variety. However, in the United States, almost 80 percent of the tea that is consumed is iced!

4.) Tea trade.

Blocks of tea were once used as currency in some parts of Siberia. The practiced died out in the early 19th century.

5.) Tea buzz?

You hear about coffee being filled with caffeine, but did you know that tea leaves actually contain more of the compound than coffee beans? It’s true. However, much less tea is needed than coffee to create a good drink. In the end, the higher quantity of coffee beans gives brewed coffee a bigger burst of caffeine.

6.) Chai tea is surrounded by its own culture.

Many kinds of teas are associated with traditions, but chai has an especially striking subculture in India. The recipe for chai calls for brewing tea leaves along with peppercorns, cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves. Milk and honey are added before serving. In India, the tea is sold by “wallahs” who serve the beverage in unglazed clay cups, which are known as “kallurhs.” The wallahs actually make their cups in the same flames that help brew the tea. The kallurhs give the chai a distinct, earthy flavor. When chai drinkers finish with their drink, they throw the cups on the ground, where they are reabsorbed into the earth.

7.) Tea bags are a new phenomenon.

Most of the tea you can buy in a grocery store now comes in bags. However, these bags are a recent development. They become popular after World War II, when tea was rationed in the UK. Tea giant Tetley introduced the bagged tea to the UK after rationing ended to great success. Consumers loved that each bag had the perfect amount of tea already included. Tazo Teas are also available in tea bags.

8.) Tea drinking is a metaphor for reading.

The American poet Wallace Stevens is credited with developing this metaphor, which is now commonly used. Stevens compared tea drinking, which is taking in a beverage from leaves, to the absorption of knowledge from the leaves of a book.