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Ceremonies and Traditions

Tea is an integral part of the culture of entire nations, and in many places traditions and ceremonies have developed around this millennial drink. From Morocco to Russia, let's discover some of them.

tea traditions around the world

If you consider the simple fact that tea is the most consumed beverage in the world after plain water, you will soon realize that it is only logical that different people have develop specific preferences and even complex rituals to celebrate this fine liquor.

In this section we offer you a bird's eye view of some of the most interesting traditions as they have developed in specific parts of the globe.


Tea arrived in Morocco in the 19th century with the English. The most popular beverage at the time was an infusion of sweet mint leaves (Nanah); tea was introduced in the blend to sweeten the mint leaves and had a great success all over the North African countries.

The tea used by the Moroccans is Gunpowder green tea, well know for its freshness and its quenching qualities.

Tea is typically served at the end of the meal but it is offered to the guest at any time of the day. The utensils used are very beautiful and typical of this Country: ornate silver teapots and small glasses, often decorated with gold or silver designs for the tea.

To prepare the liquor, tea is added first and rinsed briefly with hot water. Then a handful of fresh mint leaves and a good amount of sugar are added into the teapot. The tea is left to infure and then poured into the small glasses lifting the teapot high so that the tea takes as much oxygen and taste as possible. The liquid resulting will have developed a characteristic foam.

Serving this tea also regulates good manners for the guest when making a visit to a friend's house, as he/she is normally expected to thank the host and leave after the third infusion is finished.

A Touareg proverb describes the three infusions as: the first is strong like life, the second is good like love, and the last is sweet like death.


venditore di chai India is almost continent on its own, so it is only natural that a lot of different ways to drink tea have developed ove the centuries.

One of the better known and most popular in Western countries is the so-called Chai (which actually is simply the Indian word for tea).

To prepare this infusion black tea is prepared and then enriched with milk and different spices like cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, ginger. The concoction is boiled for a while longer and then sweetened with plenty of sugar.

It is so common that it is drunk in every moment of the day and it is sold at seemingly every corner of the streets in as many different variants troughout the Country.

In China people drink green tea everyday and every moment of the day. They usually do not use teapots but they use small cups where some tealeaves are placed and then they simply ask for hot water and re-infuse several times during the day. The cups have a special lid that allows drinking loose tea without having to swallow the leaves.

cerimonia cinese There is also a ceremonial way of preparing the infusion, called Gong Fu Cha. In China and Taiwan it is used in many teahouses where people go to taste very high quality tea (normally Oolong tea) in a cozy ambient. The teapot and cups used are the famous clay wares from Yi Xing and the accessories needed are: a kettle, a tea boat (a carved wooden or bamboo box with holes on the top used to collect overpouring water), a spare pot, smelling cups and tasting cup.

The Gong Fu Cha ceremony varies according to the specific area of the Country, but in general the basic steps are as follows:

  • The teapot and the cups are placed on the "boat" (a bamboo draining tray)
  • Hot water is poured into the teapot and then is emptied in the spare pot
  • Enough leaves are put in the teapot to fill it halfway and then they are rinsed with hot water that is immediately transferred into the spare pot
  • The content of the spare pot is then poured in the boat
  • The teapot is filled to the top (actually slightly overfilled to eliminate any residual impurity), and the leaves are left to infuse for around one minute, after which the liquor is transferred to the spare pot
  • The smelling cups are filled from the teapot and then the content is transferred, this time by the guest himself, into the tasting cup

The reason why the liqour is served into the smelling cup first, is to give the guest a chance to enjoy the perfume of the residual liquor after it has been poured into the tasting cup. This step is considered to be the heart of the ceremony by many tea tasters, as it allows one to recognise very subtle notes that are not easily picked up by simply drinking the liquor.The tasting cups are used to savor slowly the liquor with little sips. The infusion resulting is quite strong.

In Russia tea became a popular commodity in the 17th century, but for nearly 200 years it could be purchased only in Moscow. Traditionally in Russia tea is prepared using the hot water of the Samovar, a typical water boiler borrowed from the mongolian tradition and famously manufactured in the city of Tula..

samovar Initially water was heated by way placing hot coal from the fire inside a tube that was immersed inside the cup of the samovar.

Today electric samovares are quite common, and they can become very finely decorated pieces of art made of different materials from ceramic to silver.

On top of the samovar is usually placed a teapot with a concentrated tea liquor. The tea is then poured into a cup and diluted with the hot water coming from the tap of the samovar.

A sugar cube is placed directly in the mouth to sweeten the tea as it is sipped.


Tea in Japan is not just a beverage, at times it transcends into a social and cultural event.

The famous ceremony developed in this Country during the XV century was founded on the adoration of Beauty amidst the banality of everyday existence and has been influenced by Zen Buddhism.

cerimonia giapponese The ceremony is called Cha No Yu, which means "hot water for tea", and it is based on 4 principles: harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility.

The strictly codified ceremony is very complex and normally is performed by a Geisha in an ascetic environment for a maximum of 5 persons. Every single detail of the ceremony is controlled masterfully by the host, and nothing, from the beautifully decorated teawares, to the food offered, the decoration of the place, the flower arrangement, and even the subject of the conversation is left to chance.

At first a light meal is served, followed by a brief pause. Next the main part of the ceremony starts and two different types of teas, a strong tea (Koicha) and a light tea (Usucha) are prepared.

During the main ceremony the host performes some striclty codified gestures and exchanges some pleasentries with the guests until the she hits a gong five times. At this point she prepares the thick tea by placing 3 teaspoons of Matcha for each guests in a bowl, pouring hot water, and beating the liquid with a special bamboo wisk until frothy.

The host places the bowl next to the heart and offers it to the guest of honour, who will come closer on his knees, take one sip, offer his compliments on the tea to the host, and then take two more sips. He will then dry the bowl where he drank with a piece of paper (Kaishi ), and pass it to the next guest that acts the same way and so forth. The last guest will pass the bowl back to the guest of honour, who will be the one to hand it over to the host.

This tea ceremony has had a great influence on Japanese culture and has even influenced seemingly unrelated aspects of life such as architecture, gardening, landscaping and even social conduct. In fact, it can be argued that understanding the underlying grace, elegance, sense of effortless control and harmony that enshrines this ceremony, is key to understanding the Japanese people.