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 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! 😉