Tea: Production

Dear reader,

My sincere apologies for not writing an article last December.  I was so busy at the end of last year that I couldn’t find enough time to post here…  😦

Anyway, this month I just wanted to post a very short article describing the current production of tea in the world. Can you guess how many countries actually produce and / or export tea these days?

Tea production and export around the world

I will not list here all the current tea producer countries in the world, but the largest ten tea producers countries are:

  1. China
  2. India
  3. Kenya
  4. Sri Lanka
  5. Turkey
  6. Indonesia
  7. Vietnam
  8. Japan
  9. Iran
  10. Argentina

I think the only countries above which I have already proved their tea so far are China, India, Sri Lanka and specially Japan since I current live here. What about you, dear reader, have you tasted tea from all the countries cited above?

In the next article about tea (scheduled for the first semester of this year) I intend to write about some different kinds of tea plants including their taste and how they are processed.

Until there let’s just enjoy a delicious cup of green tea…

Best Regards from The Land of Green Tea!  🙂

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Tea: Origins

Dear reader,

On last July ago I wrote a small article about the origin of coffee, the favourite drink of most Brazilians, like this amateur writer  😉 This time, however, I will try to write a short review about the origin of tea, definitely the most consumed drink in the world, after water of course! 🙂

Tea plants are native to East Asia. According to Wikipedia (Tea) “some studies indicate that likely a single place of origin exists for Camellia sinensis (a species of evergreen shrub or small tree whose leaves and leaf buds are used to produce tea), i.e., an area including the northern part of Burma, and southwest part of China (Yunnan and Sichuan provinces). Tea drinking may have begun in the Yunnan region during the Shang Dynasty in China, when it was used for medicinal purposes.” Also, “the earliest known physical evidence of tea was discovered in 2016 in the mausoleum of Emperor Jing of Han in Xi’an, indicating that tea was drunk by Han Dynasty emperors as early as the 2nd century BC. It was popularized as a recreational drink during the Chinese Tang dynasty, spread later to other East Asian countries. Portuguese priests and merchants introduced it to Europe during the 16th century. During the 17th century, drinking tea became fashionable among Britons, who started large-scale production and commercialization of the plant in India to bypass the Chinese monopoly.”

Tea plantation in Anshun city, Guizhou province in southwest China

Tea leaves (Camellia sinensis species)

Also, “the etymology of tea can be traced back to the various Chinese pronunciations of the word. Nearly all the words for tea worldwide, fall into three broad groups: te, cha and chai, which reflected the history of transmission of tea drinking culture and trade from China to countries around the world. The Chinese character for tea is 茶, originally written with an extra stroke as 荼 (pronounced , used as a word for a bitter herb), and acquired its current form during the Tang Dynasty. The word is pronounced differently in the different varieties of Chinese, such as chá in Mandarin, zo and dzo in Wu Chinese, and ta and te in Min Chinese. One suggestion is that the different pronunciations may have arisen from the different words for tea in ancient China, for example (荼) may have given rise to ; historical phonologists however argued that the cha, te and dzo all arose from the same root with a reconstructed pronunciation dra, which changed due to sound shift through the centuries. There were other ancient words for tea, though ming (茗) is the only other one still in common use” (Etymology of tea).

In my native country, Brazil, we say chá and here in Japan people say ocha ( or おちゃ).  😉

It’s worthwhile to mention here that the tea production in Brazil has strong roots due to the country’s origins in Portugal, the strong presence of Japanese immigrants and also because of the influences of their neighbour’s yerba mate culture. Brazil had a big tea production until the 80s, but it has weakened in the past decades. Right now, there’s only a few families trying to reorganize the tea production, facing strong competition against cheap prices from tea producers in Asia and also against coffee companies!  😦

On the other hand, here in Japan tea was brought in a very long time ago! As mentioned in another Wikipedia entry (History of tea), “tea became a drink of the religious classes when Japanese priests and envoys, sent to China to learn about its culture, brought tea to Japan. Ancient recordings indicate the first batch of tea seeds were brought by a priest named Saichō in 805 and then by another named Kūkai in 806. It became a drink of the royal classes when Emperor Saga, the Japanese emperor, encouraged the growth of tea plants. Seeds were imported from China, and cultivation in Japan began. In 1191, the famous Zen priest Eisai brought back tea seeds to Kyoto. The oldest tea speciality book in Japan, Kissa Yōjōki (in English its title would be “How to Stay Healthy by Drinking Tea”), was written by Eisai. The two-volume book was written in 1211 after his second and last visit to China. The first sentence states, “Tea is the ultimate mental and medical remedy and has the ability to make one’s life more full and complete.” Eisai was also instrumental in introducing tea consumption to the warrior class, which rose to political prominence after the Heian Period. Green tea became a staple among cultured people in Japan – a brew for the gentry and the Buddhist priesthood alike. Production grew and tea became increasingly accessible, though still a privilege enjoyed mostly by the upper classes. The tea ceremony of Japan was introduced from China in the 15th century by Buddhists as a semi-religious social custom. The modern tea ceremony was developed over several centuries by Zen Buddhist monks.”

Finally, the picture below shows the best regions in the world to plant and harvest tea. Not surprisingly most of places are located in Asia, especially in China, with some exceptions like Argentina and South Africa:

The world’s best places for tea cultivation

I hope you have enjoyed this introductory article about tea. In a near future I will definitely write about production and types of tea as well, so stay tuned!  😉

Works Cited

  • “Tea” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 28 November 2017. Web. 30 November 2017.
  • “History of tea” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 16 November 2017. Web. 30 November 2017.
  • “Etymology of tea” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 24 September 2017. Web. 30 November 2017.

Coffee: Production

Dear reader,

This month I just wanted to write a very short article describing the current production of coffee in the world. Can you guess how many countries actually produce and / or export coffee these days? Yes, more than 50 countries in the world are coffee producers! 😉

                     The map above shows areas of coffee cultivation by type of coffee:
r:  coffea canephora (also known as robusta)
m: both coffea canephora (robusta) and coffea arabica (arabica)
a:  coffea arabica

I will not list here all the current coffee producer countries in the world, but accordingly to ICO (International Coffee Organization) the largest ten coffee producers countries are:

  1. Brazil (YES, it’s my home country!  🙂 ),
  2. Vietnam,
  3. Colombia,
  4. Indonesia,
  5. Ethiopia,
  6. Honduras,
  7. India,
  8. Uganda,
  9. Mexico, and
  10. Guatemala.

I think the only countries above which I still haven’t proved their coffee are India, Uganda and Mexico. What about you, dear reader, have you tasted coffee from all the countries cited above?

In the next article about coffee (scheduled for the end of this year) I intend to write about some different kinds of coffee plants including their taste and quantity of caffeine present in each variety.

Until there let’s just enjoy a delicious cup of coffee…

Best Regards from this blogger coffee lover!  😉

Coffee: Origins

Dear reader,

Four months ago I wrote a short article about coffee and tea, where I just commented how popular they’re in my native country, Brazil, and here in Japan where I’ve been living for almost twenty years..

Now I intend to write a short review describing the origins of coffee, basically where it came from and when it was introduced in Brazil, Japan and other parts of the world (I also intend to write a similar article related to tea in a near future).

According to the Wikipedia “coffee dates back to the 10th century, and possibly earlier with a number of reports and legends surrounding its first use. The native (undomesticated) origin of coffee is thought to have been Ethiopia. The earliest substantiated evidence of either coffee drinking or knowledge of the coffee tree is from the 15th century, in the Sufi monasteries of Yemen. Coffee was primarily consumed in the Islamic world where it originated and was directly related to religious practices. By the 16th century, it had reached the rest of the Middle East, South India, Persia, Turkey, and Africa. It then spread to the Balkans, Italy and to the rest of Europe, to South East Asia and then to America.”

Sufi monasteries of Yemen: the first evidence of coffee drinking!

It’s also very interesting to understand the its meaning: “The word “coffee” entered the English language in 1582 via the Dutch koffie, borrowed from the Turkish kahve, in turn borrowed from the Arabic qahwah ( قهوة). The word qahwah originally referred to a type of wine, whose etymology is given by Arab lexicographers as deriving from the verb qahā (قها, “to lack hunger”) in reference to the drink’s reputation as an appetite suppressant. The word qahwah is sometimes alternatively traced to the Arabic quwwa (“power, energy”), or to Kaffa, a medieval kingdom in Ethiopia whence the plant was exported to Arabia.”

Made in Ethiopia: probably the first origin of coffee!

The first coffee bush in my native country, Brazil,  was planted by Francisco de Melo Palheta, a Portuguese military man, in the state of Pará (north of Brazil) in 1727. According to the Wikipedia, “the Portuguese were looking for a cut of the coffee market, but could not obtain seeds from bordering French Guiana due to the governor’s unwillingness to export the seeds. Palheta was sent to French Guiana on a diplomatic mission to resolve a border dispute. On his way back home, he managed to smuggle the seeds into Brazil by seducing the governor’s wife who secretly gave him a bouquet spiked with seeds!”  😉

Here in Japan “coffee was introduced by Dutch people in the 17th century, but didn’t become popular due to the trade restrictions that were lifted only in 1858. However, during the early 1930s there were over 30,000 coffee houses across the country; availability in the wartime and immediate postwar period dropped to nearly zero, then rapidly increased as import barriers were removed.”

It’s interesting to mention that “the introduction of freeze-dried instant coffee, canned coffee, and franchises such as Starbucks and Doutor Coffee in the late 20th century” increased the coffee popularity here at this side of the world to the point that Japan is now one of the leading per capita coffee consumers in the world! 🙂

Finally, the picture below shows how coffee was also spread to other parts of the world. It’s interesting to see the distribution pattern across the continents:

Historic distribution of coffee around the world

If you don’t mind I will take a cup of instant coffee with some powder milk right now since it’s still early in the morning and I’m very tired (slept only five hours last night!)  😉

See you around next month!  🙂

Works Cited

“History of Coffee.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 23 July 2017. Web. 30 June 2017.

Coffee or Tea (or both)?

Dear reader,

As a Brazilian I have been drinking coffee since I was a little boy!  🙂  In all these years I haven’t met a single Brazilian that doesn’t like to drink coffee! It’s not coincidence that my country is one of the largest producers of coffee in the world.

On the other hand I’m a vivid appreciator of tea too! When I lived in Brazil I used to drink tea most of time due to some health problems such as constipation, cold, stomachache, etc. My country has a rich variety of 100% natural tea leaves used for medicinal purposes, so a lot of Brazilians drink some kind of tea instead of taking a traditional synthetic medicine.

And when I came to Japan for the first time almost thirty years ago, I was immediately attracted by the taste of the authentic green tea!  😉  Here on this side of the world people drink more tea than coffee due to cultural reasons and also because there is a huge variety of tea in this country.

The purpose of this article is not to ask you to make a choice between coffee or tea, but on the contrary: is to explore further the benefits of these two wonderful drinks that have been part of my life for a long time. Therefore I intend, in a near future, to write an article exclusively about coffee and another one only about tea, where I will describe the main types and flavors of each one around the world, especially in Brazil and Japan where I have lived for decades.

Now if you allow me I’m going to fill my mug with instant coffee and powder milk because I have some serious work to do, OK?  😉

Meanwhile enjoy the photographs below and stay tuned, please!  🙂

Typical cup of coffee in Brazil. Known as "cafezinho" (small coffee), is extremely popular among Brazilians.

Typical cup of coffee in Brazil. Known as “cafezinho” (small coffee), is extremely popular among Brazilians. It’s consumed everywhere and anytime around the country: at home, work, restaurants and bars.

 

Green tea is the most popular drink in Japan and is part of Japanese culture.

Green tea is the most popular drink in Japan and has been part of Japanese culture and cuisine for centuries.

Until next month! 😉

Japanese Cuisine

Dear reader,

Are you hungry? I am, since it’s almost lunch time… 😉

In this page, Japanese Cuisine, I intend to introduce some delicious Japanese dishes from a foreigner’s perspective. Although my Japanese knowledge is a basic one, the fact of being living in this wonderful country for almost twenty years and being married to a Japanese woman makes me feel relaxed when talking or writing about most popular Japanese food! 🙂

Therefore if you like some famous Japanese food as sushi, sashimi and tofu you have come to the right place, i.e., the right page! 😉

As Japanese people say before starting eating: いただきます! (Itadakimasu !)

In other words,  Let’s eat!

Brazilian Cuisine

Dear reader,

Are you hungry? I am, since it’s almost lunch time… 😉

In this page, Brazilian Cuisine, I intend to introduce some delicious Brazilian dishes, desserts and drinks to you. By the way, if you’re a foreigner, i.e. a non-Brazilian, you’ll be surprised with the variety of Brazilian food!

Let me make a brief introduction about this delicious (no pun intended) topic: the Brazilian cuisine has a large influence of Amerindian, European and African meals (recently some influence of Asian food too). Due to the country transcontinental size and the miscegenation between native and immigrants, each region has its own variety of local cuisine.

For example, many popular dishes at the North region of Brazil originated from native Indians meals while the local food at the South region (where this humble writer came from 😉 ) has a strong influence from German and Italian cuisine.

Therefore in a near future I intend to write about some very typical Brazilian dishes, desserts and drinks including pictures (some of my own collection) and, if I’m successful, recipes too! 😉

Bom apetite! (in Portuguese from the famous French expression, bon appétit!)

BrazilianCuisine

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