Even though there is little information concerning the origins of tea, it is a commonly acknowledged fact that one of the most popular tea growing regions is the land of the red dragon, China. Initially used for medical purposes during the Shang dynasty, it slowly became more of a stimulating drink, rather than a cure.
In our days, tea is grown in almost every part of the world, in over 40 countries. However, this does not mean that it has lost its roots. Some of the best types of tea in the world are still carefully cultivated and taken care of in 5 traditional tea growing areas.
- China – the Land of the Red Dragon. It is a commonly acknowledged fact that, for centuries, China has been the world’s leader when it comes to exporting tea. It successfully managed to preserve its reputation nowadays, too. China produces a great variety of tea, from black, to white, green, oolong or pu-erh. There are also four main tea growing areas within China: Jiangbei, Jiangnan, Linglan and the Southwest.
- India – the place where spirituality meets philosophy. Known for the high quality of its tea, India consumes almost 70% of the tea it produces, while the rest is delivered to other countries. The three main tea growing regions, Darjeeling, Assam and the Nilgiris, provide different climatic conditions and elevation, which has a great influence on the plants used in the process of producing tea.
- Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon and also the home of the eighth wonder of the world. Being one of the largest exporters of black tea into the world, it managed to build for itself a very complex culture regarding tea. The process of growth depends on the altitude on which the tea plants are located, as there are three main varieties. That strong black infusion is obtained by cultivating the plants at up to 600 meters high. The quality of a black tea is directly proportional with the altitude. The higher the altitude, the better the quality.
- Japan, the land of the rising sun. It specializes in the processing of green tea, out of which 97% of the production is consumed internally. There are three main types of green tea, Bancha, Sencha and Gyokuro, and they can be prepared in three different styles: pan-fired, basket-fired and natural leaf. They can be found in the three main tea growing regions within Japan: Shizuoka, Kagoshima, and Uji.
- Taiwan, known all over Asia for its outstanding cuisine. The region was formerly known as Formosa, which is why the tea produced here is still named Formosa tea. Even though it is niched on producing Oolong tea, green and black varieties of tea can also be found here. The principle that reigns here is the higher the altitude, the greater the variety. As a result, some of the best-known types of Oolong tea are Dongding Oolong, Alishan Oolong and Pouchong.
Over the centuries, tea has become an important part of many cultures’ consciousness. Apart from being one of the most consumed beverages in the world, it has gained an important status in the society as it gave birth to events such as the classical afternoon tea or the tea party. Some cultures like the Chinese or the Japanese, have embraced the tea ceremony, an event which implies the use of a ritual, a very stiff protocol related strictly to the preparation and the serving of tea. The stiffness which characterizes this ritual gives tea almost a sacred connotation. All in all, the above tea growing areas have formed significant philosophies concerning this beverage, which were absorbed, later on, into other cultures’ mindsets.
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