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Tea history and traditions ...(page 3)

Moroccans blend Chinese gunpowder green tea with spearmint and other indigenous mints to create the popular Moroccan mint tea. Ample amounts of sugar are added to the infusion to create a delightfully sweet and refreshing beverage. Often, the eldest man of the household serves the tea with elegant motions that creates froth in the cup.

The samovar, a symbol of tradition, is used to brew tea in Russia. At the base of the samovar, a charcoal fire burns, and a metal pipe runs up inside the container to heat the water. Tea leaves are infused in a concentrated form in a small teapot that rests on top of the samovar. Water dispensed from the copper vessel is mixed with the strong tea to create a hearty drink that is often served with sugar cubes that are held in the mouth while drinking. In Iran and Turkey, the Russian samovar is used for special occasions and holidays.

As Portuguese and Spanish explorers settled parts of South America, they brought with them the budding European tradition of brewing tea; however, coffee drinking already had a firm stronghold in the culture. Yerba mat.ANi, an indigenous plant in many areas of South America, was already known and used by the native tribes. The leaves of this stimulating plant are infused and sipped through a tube with a strainer from a bottle-shaped gourd.

The practice of infusing tea leaves has endured in various forms throughout the world, with each new participant in the tradition of tea adding its own new modification. The method of infusing loose leaf in a small cup is still practiced in China, Japan, and Taiwan while only a dedicated minority in Japan practices the more rigid, traditional tea ceremonies. European modifications to tea include the popular English teapot and the samovar. Today, a return to fine, loose leaf tea in many regions of the world, including the United States, is adding yet another unique practice to the tradition of tea.

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