The beauty and satisfaction to be found in a good pot of tea transcends borders and time zones as, across the world, tea, in all its many varieties, remains the most popular drink after water. The fragrances and flavours that are developed when tea is brewed are always delightful and give the true connoisseur a wonderful opportunity to pause and refresh in the midst of a busy and demanding day, but what are the most popular tea varieties around the world?
Each continent, country and region have their own unique cultures and climates and these all play a role in shaping the kinds of teas that are most popular, but there are some common threads and it is fair to say that some geographical areas definitely have a preference for a particular kind of tea.
Assam tea is one of the most popular teas in India, and one of the most widely drunk across the world over. Named after the region of its production (the second largest area of tea production after China), Assam tea is often characterised by its strong colour and bright, malty flavour, which serves as a wonderful base upon which to develop a number of aromatic blends, such as our purest Kakao Kreme or our Amour Épicé, which uses premium leaves to produce a refreshing drink. Masala chai, blended with herbs, cinnamon and cloves is also quite common in India. Many of these teas are taken with milk or cream, giving them a greater density and heavier texture, and are often augmented with sugars and other sweeteners in a way that would be unheard of in other cultures.
Africa is home to a wide variety of teas and many of them are incredibly popular the world over. You might associate rooibos and honey bush teas with South Africa and a wide range of white, green and fermented teas are very popular across the continent. Kenyan purple tea is increasingly popular and was recently developed by the Kenyan tea Research Foundation as a cultivar that can be used for making green or black teas. It’s purple due to the high levels of anthocyanin, has a higher level of free radicals than green tea and can help guard against degenerative diseases, so it is a potent and important new blend.
In China, green tea is by far the oldest and most popular type of tea, and not surprisingly so, as it has been grown and enjoyed there for several thousand years. Green tea can be traced back to 2737 B.C. and is commonly attributed to Chinese Emperor Shennong who, it is said, drank some water that had accidentally been boiled with a leaf and taken on a delicious flavour. The health properties of green tea have long been established, but more than this, green tea forms a core part of the culture and rituals of Chinese society.
Although for many years the popularity of fruit and herbal teas have been growing across Europe, the most popular type of tea across the continent remains black tea. Blends such as English Breakfast and Earl Grey, although less floral than some of the teas favoured in Asia, are the most popular, and offer the drinker a robust and flavourful drink.
This all goes to illustrate that despite regional, cultural and historically diverse tastes, the one constant that connects tea drinkers around the world is a love of the versatile tea leaf, whatever form it takes.