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​Tea Traditions from Around the World

By Jasmine Dilmanian (In-House Writer) 11 months ago 4018 Views No comments

The team at Heavenly Tea Leaves only enjoys one thing as much as we do tea, and that's traveling. Through our adventures and research, we have discovered that in each part of the world, tea truly takes on a new meaning. From Tibet to Turkey, the types of tea that people drink and the way they drink it are much more diverse than you'd expect. What ties most of these deep-rooted traditions together is the respect for tea, the process by which it is made, and its ability to unite people.

Like other nature-derived beverages, teas and tisanes can come from different plants, be grown at different elevations, harvested and picked at different times, and processed to bring out certain properties over others. In each country, there is usually a preferred tea type. And what to pair with that tea? It depends where you are. Sugar, butter, cream, tamarind seeds, and lemon are just a few additions that are common around the world. You can serve tea hot, extremely hot, or iced. One of the most famous tea-time rituals is the ancient tea ceremony of Japan, which has made certain that in Far East culture, tea is much more than a beverage – it's a highly regarded tradition. By contrast, in the American South, people like their tea iced, super-sweet, and often on-the-go in a disposable cup.

But just because you live in one country, it doesn't mean you can't enjoy and adopt the time-honored tea traditions of another. We've rounded up some of the most interesting global tea traditions that you may want to make your own one day:

Mint in Morocco

Touareg tea, more commonly known as Moroccan mint tea, is a staple in the North African country. It's customary to drink three cups of this black tea, poured from a curved spout held high above the cup (same goes in Turkey), infused with fresh mint leaves and often sweetened with sugar. Moroccan mint tea is usually served as part of a celebration or accompanying a delicious breakfast.

Turkish Tea Time

Brew black tea for approximately ten minutes and slightly dilute the mixture with some piping-hot water for a traditional glass of Turkish tea. Turkish tea is similar to Persian tea in its composition and in the traditions around it – namely, the ultimate hospitality toward family, friends, and even strangers.

Iran - an Ancient Tea Tradition

Brewed with a samovar - a water heater-crockpot hybrid adopted from Russia which is filled with wood or charcoal (modern versions use a heating element), and a small pot filled with water and caravan of concentrated tea placed on top,the ideal Persian tea is strong and reddish-brown in color. Before serving, the preparer will pour a bit into a cup to check its color and warm up the cup. Pouring the small sample back into the pot helps to stir the ingredients and distribute them evenly. Out of the home, a common place to gather and enjoy tea is a chaikhaneh, or tea house.

Russian Samovar Style

The centerpiece of Russian tea-making (like in Persian tea-making) is the samovar. The result is a concentrated black tea brew called zavarka. To serve, a bit of zavarka is poured into each drinker's cup and flavored with lemon, fruit, herbs, sugar, honey, or jam. Sometimes, hot cups are placed in decorative, metal holders known as podstakannik ("the thing under the glass") to keep them from burning the fingers. In Russia, hospitality, warmth, friendship, and tea are intertwined, and it is still considered polite to offer guests a cup upon entering one's home.

Argen-tea-na

Yerba Mate is South America's chai and originates in Argentina. This tisane is served hot and unsweetened and drunk through a special straw called a bombilla. The rules: don't stir the tea with the bombilla and always refuse a cup upon the first offer as a polite gesture (Same goes in Iran!).

Better with Butter in Tibet

Tibet is home to butter tea, or Po cha, a potent concoction that keeps you warm, cleanses the body, and serves as a centerpiece for time with family, friends, and even total strangers. To prepare this unique beverage, pu-erh tea cakes are crumbled into hot water and boiled for several hours to create a strong brew called chaku, which is stored, then blended with salt and yak butter in a wooden churn called a chandong.

Ceremonial in China

Although tea is all over Chinese culture, one place the tea ceremony dominates is at weddings. As a way for the bride and groom to pay respect to their parents, it usually uses pu'erh or jasmine tea with lotus seeds and dates as symbols of fertility. The couple leans on red cushions and assume various symbolic positions as important family heirlooms are passed down.

Taiwanese Tapioca

Bubble tea – the worldwide phenomenon of iced milk teas (black, green, jasmine, or oolong) accompanied by tapioca pearls – originated in Taiwan. A cross between tea and dessert, it often includes powdered milk and a flavored syrup. Taiwanese bubble tea is a modern twist on the time-honored tea drinks of its close neighbor, China.

England's Afternoon Addiction

England is the spot where afternoon tea has been a way of life since the early 1800s. Anna, 7th Duchess of Bedford, invented high tea, where black tea (customarily Assam) accompanied by a light meal was consumed with upper-class companions or family in the late afternoon in an era when lunch wasn't customary. The "high" in high tea simply recalls the tall tables at which the tea was consumed.

Japan's Chanoyu Tea Ceremony

Influenced by Zen Buddhism, the Japanese chanoyu tea ceremony involves the ritualized preparation, presentation, and consumption of powdered green tea, called matcha. Rooted in ideals of harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility, the chanoyu offers deep connection in a peaceful setting. From etiquette and flower arrangements to the proper use of tea-making equipment and kimono-wearing, each ritual has its place.

India's Chai Culture

Chai, India's national drink, stands on nearly every street corner. It's offered to guests, consumed during meals and breaks, or offered as a complimentary beverage in shops. Traditionally prepared using loose black tea, a generous helping of leaves is combined with water, milk, and spices (cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, and peppercorns). The resulting mixture is then strained to remove solids and sweetened with sugar.

Sweet Tea in the (American) South

Served in restaurants and at homes in the U.S. South, sweet tea is a regional favorite and an entertaining must. Strong black tea is brewed hot then chilled and accompanied by a lot of sugar and fresh lemon, plus a dash of baking soda to reduce cloudiness. For hot and humid weather, few drinks are more refreshing.

Trendy Thai Tea

In balmy Thailand, tea takes an icy approach. Brewed in a cotton tea sock using strong Ceylon tea, orange blossom water, licorice, crushed tamarind seed, star anise, and other flavorful ingredients, the beverage has a truly unique character and color. A "healthy" dose of sugar is blended with the mixture, which is then poured over ice, finished off with a splash of condensed milk, and served in tall glasses.


The common theme among these global tea traditions is the unification of family and friends. Whether enjoyed in the home, at a tea house, or at a special event, tea is the beverage that carries through from one memorable moment to the next.

​Tea as Alternative Medicine (Health Benefits of Tea)

By Jasmine Dilmanian (In-House Writer) 1 years ago 8165 Views No comments

For as long as tea has been around (millennia, that is), the drink has gone hand-in-hand with healing. Eastern medicine has prized various teas for their natural healing abilities.

Of course, while we love to take tea with a lump of sugar, we must also be careful to take its curative abilities with a grain of salt. Alternative medical remedies may help alleviate or even prevent certain conditions, but it may never act as a full replacement to scientifically validated Western medicine.

Holistic and integrative practitioners like Dr. Andrew Weil and Dr. Leigh Erin Connealy prefer to take a "whole person" approach to medicine – that is, never using exclusively one treatment or prevention method, but rather, using all of them. In establishing Heavenly Tea Leaves, our founder, Noushin Ebrani, has found that drinking tea on a regular basis is one of the many choices you can make to live a balanced and healthy lifestyle. While a number of studies have linked tea to preventative and even curative benefits, we simply see tea as a piece of the puzzle in healing.


Though no single method can work miracles, the powerful components in tea have been shown to help combat the first signs of bodily damage. Here are a few tea types to add into your regimen of a natural diet and frequent exercise:

Chamomile:

This tea is a famous bedtime relaxation remedy, but a secondary and equally important benefit is digestion. Chamomile has long been used to treat colic in infants and is also a common remedy to alleviate diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome along with upset stomach, ulcers, flatulence, and more. But the chief digestive benefit to chamomile seems to be for the relief of acid reflux and other gastroesophageal disorders. Because of its natural anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties, the tea (or the extract) serves as a natural antacid. In addition, chamomile's calming properties contribute to stress relief, which is a huge component in reducing acid reflux flare-ups.

Beyond digestive aid, chamomile is suggested to provide anti-inflammatory benefits. It has also been shown to help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression in certain cases. Try our Chamomile for the smooth, relaxing whole leaf tea you've been looking for.

Lavender:

In the realm of herbal teas, perhaps the best-known aid for relaxation and de-stressing is lavender. One whiff of its lovely floral scent will transport you to the rural lavender fields of France. Lavender has been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years thanks to its large amounts of vitamins and minerals not often found in a single plant. Because of those ingredients plus its phenolic compounds and terpenes, lavender packs a powerful punch. Whether in the form of a tea, an essential oil, a capsule, or otherwise, lavender's calming character is undeniable. The primary oil found in lavender, called lavandin, has been demonstrated to lend sedating and muscle relaxing effects. The flower has also been used to reduce muscle spasms and headaches, balance mood, aid sleep, treat anxiety by offsetting stress hormones, and suppress pain. No wonder it's known as a relaxant! Other benefits of drinking lavender include antibacterial and antifungal powers. Heavenly Tea Leaves' Chamomile Lavender is definitely a customer favorite!

Green Tea:

Perhaps the most lauded tea in terms of health benefits is the vegetal, antioxidant-rich green tea. The tea's bioactive compounds help reduce inflammation, which in turn may contribute to cancer prevention. Green tea contains about 30% polyphenols (specifically catechins like EGCG), which makes it a very rich source of powerful antioxidants. While these antioxidants fight free radical formation in the body, they also help ward off many diseases, including the most pernicious, like cancer. Further, a number of studies that have specifically focused on breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers have shown that drinking more green tea was inversely related to the development of cancer cells in participants. This is not to say that green tea alone is a prevention or a cure, but it may certainly contribute. But remember: Always choose a high quality green tea. Lower quality green teas often contain excessive fluoride, and possibly other additives, making it likely more harmful than helpful. Our vast line of green teas gives you plenty of options for a range of flavor profiles and blends.

Oolong Tea:

While many teas have been attributed to helping drinkers lose weight, oolong is king. Consumption of natural oolong tea has been linked in studies to both weight loss and body fat loss according to the LiveStrong foundation; this comes with the caveat that the oolong tea replaces higher calorie beverages and is part of a healthy diet. The specific compounds in oolong tea, polyphenols (and again, catechins), are responsible for this weight and fat loss property, even effective in high-sugar diets in some instances. Not to mention, oolong contains caffeine, a metabolic stimulant and possible weight loss aid and appetite suppressant. A note: One 2013 study showed that drinking tea hot contributes to higher levels of weight loss than having it on ice. Tea for thought!

Pu-erh Tea:

Last but not least on our list of suggested medicinal teas, there is pu-erh. Because it is the most oxidized type of tea, it doesn't pack the antioxidant punch of some of its counterparts, but it instead has been viewed as extremely heart-healthy. In addition to a general cardiovascular benefit, pu-erh has been credited for the reduction of serum cholesterol. Because pu-erh is aged and goes through a fermentation process before it is dried, it not only delivers a rich taste, but it is also high in micro-organisms that in turn produce lovastatin, a naturally occuring statin (yes, like the drugs we take to reduce bad cholesterol). So, if keeping your heart super healthy is on your mind, pu-erh is likely a great choice. Our simple, mild, and earthy Royal Pu-erh tastes and feels divine. Why not give it a try?


So, holistic lesson learned – while tea is delicious, it's also a true health food and a powerful form of alternative or integrative medicine. Adding various teas in your daily routine can help you start taking the "whole-person" approach in order to treat or prevent certain ailments and contribute to overall well-being. Health is simply a collection of habits. One day at a time, including tea can be one simple and life-altering habit. Make it yours!



**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

The Wonders of Green Tea: Everything You Need To Know

By Jasmine Dilmanian (In-House Writer) 2 years ago 16513 Views 1 comment

When it comes to wellness, you can't go wrong with a cup of green tea. Year after year, studies emerge suggesting that this drink, along with a healthy diet and lifestyle, have some serious superpowers. Drinking green tea has been clinically shown to help with everything from cholesterol and weight management to bone health and even free radical delay. (It is thought that free radical proteins in the brain are what lead to diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.)

Wellbeing of the mind and body starts with daily habits. Incorporating a couple of servings of green tea in your everyday regimen can make you start feeling healthier and more vibrant almost immediately. If you're already a heavy coffee drinker and concerned about your caffeine intake, try replacing one of your coffees with green tea. This is a clean alternative at a comparable price and with an awakening result. Why not experiment?

The benefits of green tea seem endless; studies have been conducted for years and scientists continue to examine its role in supporting a balanced lifestyle. A recent Today Show segment dubbed green tea a superfood, rating it an amazing 4 on a 1-5 scale. The hosts pointed out that catechins (EGCG), a type of antioxidant found in green tea, have been shown to 'relax blood vessels' and therefore ease blood pressure. Plus, increased blood flow to the brain means improved overall brain and body function. This is based on just two cups a day!

And then there's the taste. Green tea differs from other teas in its grassy, herbal, earthy flavor profile. It is also unique in that, when mixed with other flavors, it yields a whole new, complex profile that is very different from, say, a black or white–plus herbal concoction. Green tea is far from muted or neutral. Though calming, its taste is distinct and bold. It's a beverage that will make you pause to enjoy each sip. When combined with a drop of honey, it's simply divine.

What most people are surprised to learn is that all green teas come from the same plant, Camellia Sinensis. The processing will make each of these nine distinct types of green tea from Japan different from one another. Elements such as what part of the plant is used, whether the plant is mostly exposed to shade or sun, when the leaf is picked, and how the tea is exposed to heat will affect the taste and characteristic of the tea. Japanese green teas including Gyokuro are very well know for having a mild, sweet, vegetal flavor.

The other famous tea nation – China – has been cultivating tea trees for more than 2,000 years, incorporating it into medicine and cultural practices that remain engrained in the society today. While China grows all types of tea, some of the most famous green teas are Dragonwell, Bi Luo Chun, Chun Mee, Mao Jian.

Of all the green tea varieties and blends to choose from, each has a new character, but all contain the same essential benefits.

To focus the spotlight on green tea's calming properties and richness of flavor, try out Zen Super Green from Kagoshima, Japan. This is a mixture of high-grade sencha tea with its powdered, concentrated cousin, matcha. The combination results in a velvety, umami taste as a result of farming methods that delay the matcha plant growth.

Finally, we suggest another premium grade green tea that provides the energy boost that the beverage is famous for. Mao Feng is a single bud variety grown at high altitudes in the tea-specializing region of Hunan, China. With a well-rounded, straightforward flavor, you can drink this tea with breakfast to cleanse your palette and perk you up for the day!

Once you choose the green tea of your liking, you can bask in some more of its unexpected upsides, like its anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties. Jazz up your cup with other superfoods like fresh ginger, or add a natural sweetener like agave to mitigate a strong herbaceous flavor.

Which green tea adventure awaits you?

​History of the Tea Trade: The Silk Road

By Jasmine Dilmanian (In-House Writer) 3 years ago 43934 Views 1 comment

This month, Heavenly Tea Leaves pays homage to the famous historical path from East to West that made it possible for the whole world to unite over tea as we do today.

The Silk Road was an ancient 7,000-kilometer trade route spanning from China to the Mediterranean Sea that lasted from about 100 B.C. until the Middle ages. In addition to the silk for which it was named, the various peoples of Asia transported all types of commodities and other goods along the route, from jewelry and spices to rice and ivory. One of the most important introductions to the West, thanks to the Silk Road, was a newly steeped beverage popular in China called tea!

The origin of tea growth and consumption is disputed, but it is likely in China's Tang or Western Han Dynasty, possibly more than 2,000 years ago. Around the year 400 C.E., farmers started harvesting tea as opposed to picking leaves from wild trees, which led to vaster production, then demand, then trade.

Initially, in China, tea leaves would be condensed and mixed with spices and fruit essences, then boiled with water in traditional porcelain pots (much like the teas we offer today!). Methods of brewing, though, varied from culture to culture. The tea trade slowly expanded west from China and Mongolia to India and Turkey and beyond. Tea was exchanged for everything from ponies to jewels, dried herbs, and spices. In addition to the Silk Road, another, smaller path, containing a caravan network, called the Tea Horse Road also became important in facilitating the tea trade in China and Tibet.

Tea eventually gained prestige and status, sometimes being given as elaborate gifts to royalty and nobility. Even after the Silk Road fell out of use for more modern forms of trade and transport, the global tea trade boomed.

By the early 1900s, tea was being grown in new places like Indonesia, Sumatra, Kenya, and other parts of Africa; tea bags and sachets emerged as the easier way for individuals to brew tea, and this comforting drink was being consumed just about everywhere. Tea began to be commercially distributed by pioneer tea companies like Twinings, which paved the way for today's worldwide tea industry.

Last year, the life of tea merchants on the revered Silk Road was commemorated. Convoys of camels and horses travelled through China and Kazakhstan, mimicking what the experience would have been like millennia ago.

At Heavenly Tea Leaves, we honor the legacy of the Silk Road with our mission of returning to gourmet, hand-selected blends that put quality first. This holiday season, we commemorate the epic Silk Road and the gifts it has brought to us from the Orient. We are thankful for the opportunity to sit around our tables with family and friends and enjoy a meal, laughter, and a nice, warm cup of Heavenly Tea.