Little-Known Form of Tea Dying Out in Hong Kong

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Hakka Tea, as it is called, is a dying form of tea in Hong Kong. The tea consists of pounded tea leaves and a variety of other ingredients, such as peanuts, salt, puffed rice and sesame seeds. Other ingredients are also often added to give the tea different nutrients and flavours. By consuming Hakka tea, a person is able to both drink and eat at the same time, making it ideal for snacks.

Despite the tea having been around for centuries, it is currently in a slump. Only some members of the older generation continue to make it, and many of the Hong Kong locals do not know of its existence.

You can read more about Hakka tea here: http://rachanahkbu.wordpress.com/2014/05/18/hakka-tea-in-hong-kong-fades-into-oblivoi/comment-page-1/#comment-7

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The French and Their Tea

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An interesting article appeared on the BBC’s website in April; it was about France and French teas in comparison with Britain and their treatment of tea. As it turns out, France is reentering the tea market and is quickly becoming famous for their unique and beautiful blends.

The strange thing is, France once upon a time had a tea habit that seriously rivaled the English tea consumption rate. However, as time went on it eventually extinguished to the point where it was very difficult to find a good-quality cup. Only aristocrats and very unwell people drank it on any sort of regular basis, and good tea had to be almost exclusively self-imported.

You can read all about France’s tea story in the BBC article, here: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-26962095

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Steeping in Egypt

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Although one might first overlook tea having any importance in Egypt at all, when one actually looks at the facts, there is something very interesting indeed. Tea is Egypt’s national drink.

But when do you ever hear about Egyptian tea? Not much; most know that tea is celebrated all throughout South East Asia as well as certain parts of the Middle East, although the continent of Africa is rarely mentioned. The key, of course, lies in Egypt’s relative proximity to the Middle East; a near direct line of contact can be made between the Egyptian edge of Africa and the Asian mainland.

Known as “shai”, tea is considered in Egypt to be even greater than coffee. However, in spite of this much of the country’s tea intake is made up of imports; although it may be packed and sold in Egypt, often times it is grown in other countries, such as Sri Lanka and Kenya. Now, however, it is recognised as somewhat of a “cash crop”, and is being grown in larger batches around the country.

Aside from actual tea, Egypt has also shown to be particularly fond of mint teas, along with much of the Middle East.

A Pot Full of Memories

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Made from a special clay found only in the city of Yixing, China, this extraordinary teapot possesses the ability to absorb the flavours of the teas inside it over a number of years.

Those who have the privilege of owning and using one over many years are said to be able to brew tea simply by adding plain, boiling water to the pot.

Before the teapot is made, the mined-out clay is left in the sun in the form of large rocks after extraction to weather. This process will take in excess of a year before the clay is ready to be pounded into a powder and sieved to remove impurities. The clay is then placed in a large fresh water tank for three days, and is then allowed to dry out under sunlight. Finally, before it is ready to be sold, excess moisture is drawn out of the product using a vacuum processor.

Such preparation seems excessive, but it doesn’t end there. The potter artisan must make time for a further two days of processing, which involves pounding the clay with a wooden mallet while every so often adding some water, until there are no air pockets to be seen.

With such a lengthy process and renowned tea-brewing capabilities, Yixing teapots are not nearly as expensive as they might sound at first glance. The unfortunate truth, however, is that while commonplace in China, much of the Western World is unfamiliar with them.

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A History of Tea Drinking in Russia, Part 2

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Traditional Russian tea caravans began to die out in the 1880’s, after work on the Trans-Siberian Railway had begun and the first leg was complete. The Trans-Siberian Railway was a great asset to the ongoing tea trade between Russia and China, in which merchants would have to suffer through long treks that could take up to a year and a half. This reduced the overall importation time to under a fortnight in length, making it the prime method of transport.

Russian tea caravans were made completely defunct by the railway by 1925, and during Chinese tea’s decline in the 1900’s, alternate sources were sought out, including those from London and Odessa.

Much like in the British Isles, Russia gained a taste for drinking its tea with milk and sugar. A trend in the 1900’s was to hold a cube of sugar between one’s teeth and to drink the tea through it. Lemon is also commonly served with tea.

Despite centuries of traditionally using only black tea, recent statistics in Russia are showing an increase in the consumption of green tea, whilst black tea consumption remains stable.

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