Wednesday, April 17, 2013

An American Tea Ceremony

In most countries around the world, there are special tea traditions and ceremonies.   
  • Japan has Chanoyu, Chado, or Sado ceremonies for preparing and serving Japanese matcha green tea.
  • Cha Dao is China's tea ceremony using the Gong Fu method.  It is the art of making tea in small Yixing [clay] teapots, with small narrow cups, usually with oolong tea. 
  • Taiwan has its Wu-Wo tea ceremony.
  • Darye is the Korean Tea Ceremony.
  • The Russian tea tradition uses samovars and podstakanniki [a special glass in a silver holder] to drink their strong black tea.
  • Chai has been a tradition in India for centuries.  Chai wallahs [tea vendors] can be found on almost every corner selling the Indian black tea with unique spices from their carts or stalls, served in unglazed, disposable, terra cotta cups.
  • Morocco enjoys its Moroccan mint tea.
  • Tea is served in tea houses from Iran to Syria and from Turkey to Egypt.  Turkey is one of the world's biggest consumers of tea.  Their strong, black Turkish tea is served piping hot in thin glasses.
  • The Tibetans like their yak butter tea.
  • The Republic of Ireland enjoys its robust, black tea, and are the largest per capita consumers of tea in the world.
  • The British have their Afternoon Tea ritual at 4:00 o'clock with their fine bone China teacups and teapots, and Brown Betty teapots for regular household use.
  • The French enjoy their tea with their world famous pastries.
No wonder tea is second only to water in world-wide consumption, and I'm sure I've left out countries that should have been included.

But what about the United States?  What are our traditions and ceremonies?   My first thought was the tea bag since it was a Boston tea merchant, Thomas Sullivan, who accidentally invented the tea bag.   A 2011 statistic revealed 65% of tea sold in the U.S. was in the form of tea bags. 

Then my thoughts turned to iced tea - another accidental "invention" the United States is credited with.  A man by the name of Richard Blechynden, was given oversight of the East Indian Tea Pavilion at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis.  His plan was to serve hot tea to the fairgoers, but the sweltering weather resulted in little interest.  So he revised his plan by icing his freshly brewed hot tea, and the spectators flocked to his pavilion for the thirst-quenching iced beverage, and took the idea back to their homes.  Of the 1.42 million pounds of tea consumed in the U.S. every day, almost 85% is in the form iced tea.

While tea bags and iced tea might be considered U.S. traditions, they're not a ceremony. Recently I received an E-mail from the American Tea Masters Association informing me they were officially launching an American Tea Ceremony.  They provided a YouTube link to the ceremony, and I have to say I really like it.  They have modeled it after tea ceremonies in China and Japan.  Click on the link below to watch it.

I have no affiliation with the American Tea Masters Association, and I haven't taken training from them, but I really like the concept behind the tea ceremony they've put together.   A little bit less of technical devices, and a little bit more of tea and conversation sounds like a winning plan to me!  The ceremony is a beautiful way of introducing people to tea.

If you watch the video, please tell me what you think.  


  1. I recall reading about Kroll elsewhere a while back ... will have to see if I can find that and send you a link!

  2. Interesting! I watched the video a couple days ago and wasn't sure I liked it. Can't say why, just still thinking about it.


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