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Tea history and traditions ... (page 2)

India’s tea customs include the tradition of blending cardamom seeds, fennel, sugar, and milk to make chai. On tea gardens in the districts of Assam and Darjeeling, a good cup fresh tea can almost always be found. There is some debate as to whether the Indians originally learned of tea through British conquest or from experimentation with native plants.

England was not the only country to learn from China’s tea traditions, however, and other countries that were in close contact with China developed their own unique infusion methods. Morocco, Russia, Spain, and Portugal also modified Chinese tea methods to suit their own distinctive regional tastes and preferences. The Japanese combined tea drinking with their own Taoist ideals, and the popular tea preparation of Cha-no-yu emerged. In Cha-no-yu, the ceremony focuses on the beauty of the tea preparation and the ability of the teamaker. The tradition of Sencha became popular as a countermovement among humanists and the Chinese elite. Praise of cultural sophistication -- imitation of Chinese values -- and refinement are embodied in the Sencha tradition, which was once more popular than Cha-no-yu.

From Japan, Korea and the Netherlands learned to enjoy tea, but once again, unique traditions were incorporated into the brewing methods. Freshly boiling water is used to infuse a strong cup for five to six minutes, and tea from China, Java, India, or Ceylon are preferred in the Netherlands. In Korea, the way of tea was modified even more to include the habit of sipping raw egg in between hot cups of tea.

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