Butter Tea: The National Drink of Tibet

A creamy cup of butter tea - CC

Butter tea, or po cha, is considered by many the national drink of Tibet. This unique combination of black tea, yak butter, and salt give it a flavor that is closer to a soup than tea.

Origin

Butter tea is a drink that is common among the high-altitude regions of the Himalayas. It was invented sometime around the 7th century during the Tang Dynasty of China. The princess of China at the time married the king of Tibet. Soon after, trade routes were established that brought tea from China into Tibet. Tibetans use yak butter for a number of purposes so it is not surprising that it ended up being added to tea.

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Zavarka Brewing: How to Make Tea Russian Style

Tea is one of the more popular beverages in Russia with the average person drinking over 3 pounds a year! Russians consider it customary to always offer guests tea, and it is polite to accept tea if offered. They even have a saying — having a “sit by the samovar” — to describe tea served with a bit of food or a light meal.
 
If you’re just interested in how to brew tea Russian style, skip to preparation.

Russian samovar
Russian Samovar by Shou-Hui Wang – CC
The traditional process of preparing Russian style tea starts with heating water in a metal container called a samovar. When the water is boiling, some of it is transferred into a teacup that sits on top of the Samovar. The water in the teacup is mixed with a large quantity of tea and brewed for an extended period of time. This creates what is referred to as the zavarka tea concentrate.
 

Gyokuro: Shade-Grown Japanese Green Tea

Bright jade colored tea

The tea I’m going to be reviewing today is called Gyokuro (pronounced Gee-yo-ku-row), a green tea grown in Japan. The name means jade dew in Japanese which refers to the color of the tea after brewing. Most of the tea produced in Japan is green tea. There are three main types of Japanese green tea: Sencha, Gyokuro, and Matcha. They differ not in the variety of tea plant they’re grown from, but in the method of growing and post-production.

Sencha

Sencha is grown like most other green teas and is exposed to the sun up to the point of harvest. The first harvest of Sencha is called Shincha. During the winter, the tea plant stores it’s nutrients in the plant and this first harvest contains these concentrated nutrients. These young leaves result in a tea low in caffeine and catechins, and high in amino acids. Low grade Sencha leaves that are the last to be picked off the plant are called Bancha. This variety is a good daily tea that doesn’t break the bank.

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