National Hot Tea Month: Ask an International Etiquette Expert

01/19/2017 11:28 am ET Updated Jan 19, 2017
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As the cold weather continues, our thoughts turn to a nice, hot cup of tea. With January’s chilly weather comes National Hot Tea Month, so prepare your favorite brew and curl up with these facts about this perfect cold weather beverage.

Question: When did hot tea became popular?

Answer: Thousands of years ago. Although there is no known date for the discovery of tea, a popular legend attributes hot tea to Chinese Emperor Shen Nung. He discovered that boiling water made the water safe to drink. As the legend goes, some leaves from a tree fell into the Emperor’s hot water that he was waiting to boil. He drank the water with the leaves, finding it very appealing. Upon further investigation, he found that the leaves came from the Camellia Sinensis tree. And the love of tea was born.

Question: Where does tea rank in liquid consumption worldwide?

Answer: Tea is the second most consumed drink on the planet, second only to water.

Question: Where is most of our tea grown?

Answer: Over half of the tea grown today comes from Sri Lanka and India.

Question: Do we grow tea in the U.S.A?

Answer: Yes; Hawaii, South Carolina, Alabama, Washington, Oregon, Mississippi and New York are the only states that grow, process and market black tea.

Question: What are the primary teas?

Answer: There are 3 primary types of tea:

  • Black tea, which is fermented
  • Oolong tea, which is partially fermented,
  • Green tea, which is unfermented

Question: What about other teas?

Answer: These include:

  • White teas, are rare and the least fermented. White teas fall between Oolong and Green teas.
  • Herbal teas, are not produced from the tea plant. They are herb blends that are often processed and flavored before packaging.
  • Flavored teas, made by blending black tea with other natural ingredients; such as spearmint leaves or sprayed with essences.

Question: What other countries, besides India and Sri Lanka previously mentioned, grow tea?

Answer: China, Japan, Indonesia, Kenya, Taiwan, Turkey, Iran, Brazil, Russia, Mozambique, Uganda, Malawi, Bangladesh, Tanzania, Zaire, Vietnam and Argentina.

Question: Is each tea prepared and enjoyed the same way?

Answer: No. Each type of tea is enjoyed differently. For example, Black teas may be enjoyed with milk, sugar or lemon. Oolong and green teas are typically enjoyed without any additions.

Question: What are the different types of tea services?

Answer: There are many different types of tea service. We summarize 3 below and will discuss more in part II of the blog.

Afternoon Tea:

Served between 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. Three courses:

  • tiny sandwiches to blunt the appetite
  • scones
  • pastries

Cream Tea:

  • Light repast, or a small meal eaten with tea
  • Scones, jams, and clotted cream

Light Tea:

  • Lighter version of Afternoon Tea
  • Scones and sweets

Celebrate Hot Tea Month by sipping on your favorite brew, and add some variety to your cup by trying a new blend or style of tea. Stay tuned for our next Tea blog, where we will share three more types of Tea Service in National Hot Tea Month Part II. In the meantime, stay warm and tweet us your questions to @austinprotocol, or post a question on Facebook.

Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, an international protocol expert and the founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management with the HOFSTEDE center, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial and Banquet Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People and NTD Television Canada. She is the resident etiquette expert for popular morning lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, Fortune, National Business Journal, Reader’s Digest and Stylecaster. Her international award-winning, best-selling book Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its second printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. Sharon is the winner of the British Airways International Trade, Investment & Expansion Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards.

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