At any given time over the course of a normal day, over 150 million Americans enjoy a cup of tea for reasons as diverse as pleasure, thirst, and the beverage’s stunning array of purported health benefits. Around the globe, the numbers get even more impressive with roughly 2 billion people starting each morning with at least one cup. For much of human civilization, drinking tea has been associated with the good life — especially where tea has a long history and is held in high regard. If you love tea and you’re looking for an adventure, here are some of the best places in the world to sit back, relax, and enjoy a spot of tea.
1) London, England:
Drinking tea in London is almost unavoidable, as it almost seems as though each day’s activities revolve around the drink. It was during the mid-17th century that Englanders first began drinking tea, and ironically, it was London coffeehouses that were responsible for popularizing the drink, but it wasn’t until the early- to mid-19th century that afternoon tea became a staple of daily life throughout the United Kingdom. For an experience in drinking tea backed by the riches of British history and culture, take a cup with a few locals one rainy afternoon in someone’s kitchen table, or, if you’d like a more high-end experience, enjoy afternoon tea at The Ritz — one of London’s finest hotels with some of the world’s finest teas and a scrumptious spread of pastries.
2) Uji, Japan:
Known as the tea capital of Japan, Uji is teeming with temples and green tea. From soba noodles to ice cream, green tea is abundantly available. However, it’s in the experience of the chanoyu —the traditional tea ceremony— that you’ll fully be able to appreciate how much the culture loves and depends on green tea, readily available from Buddha Teas. Polite women in kimonos serve the tea in small, tatami-matted rooms with in a formal ceremony that is truly beautiful. In fact, the experience of the ceremony is every bit as delicious as the tea itself.
3) Yueyang, China:
One place to check out is the land that started it all — China. Tea has been one of China’s most popular drinks for almost 5,000 years, ever since Emperor Shennong — as legend has it — boiled some water that a few tea leaves fell into, creating the world’s very first tea infusion. Yueyang not only looks and feels the part of a tea haven, but it’s also where a valuable yellow tea grows, and drinking it in its own backyard is a rare treat. For a local tea experience that is exhilarating and exotic, travel to Yueyang.
4) The Sahara Desert:
Sahara desert nomads live life within one of the most extreme environments on earth, but that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy refined niceties or the pleasures of hospitality. Annual travel takes them from the desert to pastures in the Atlas Mountains, and the experience of drinking tea is a common and much-loved ritual. After long, difficult days herding animals and traveling many miles, the experience of a meal is unparalleled. Add to that the three rounds of tea drinking — each with a distinct flavor and pace — and you’ll understand why tea drinking is one of the ways that nomads forge friendships.
5) The Trans-Siberian Railway:
This well-known train journey lasts six days and takes you from Moscow to Beijing. Whether your car mates are monks, businessmen, or students, indulging together in the samovar’s never ending supply of hot tea will not only help you keep the cold at bay, but it will also help keep fascinating conversation rolling. A strange and lovely train ride that’s made even more magical by the tea, traveling the Trans-Siberian Railway will ensure you never taste a cup of tea the same way again.
6) The Southern United States:
It doesn’t much matter whether you’re in Georgia or Alabama because all across the South, sweet tea is abundant, plentiful, sweet, and refreshing. From afternoon porch-sitting and late-night card games to church potlucks and political rallies, iced sweet tea is present, and as a part of Southern hospitality tradition, you can be that wherever you go, you’ll be offered plenty of it.
Drinking tea is one of the most reliable pleasures throughout the world, regardless of whether you’re traveling to Beijing or you’re in Mississippi. If you love tea, and your wanderlust is currently in flame, head to one of these tea-centered places, and experience the world’s most popular beverage anew.