The Most Unique Ways People Drink Tea Around The World

By Erika Robertson

Do you ever think about breaking the rules when you make tea? For you, tea is about precision and exactness — the right temperature, the perfect amount of tea leaves — but sometimes the rules of tea are supposed to be broken.

Would you ever steep green tea for long periods of time in scalding hot water? Would you ever steep your tea leaves for 12 hours? How do you feel about adding butter or salt to your tea? 

These three countries go out of their way to make tea according to their own rules — according to their own traditions and ceremonies. From lush pink tea sprinkled with pistachios and rose petals to thick-as-oil hearty blends, these unique tea practices are sure to challenge your perception of the everyday tea routine.

  1. Morocco - Maghreb Tea

If you ever find yourself traveling to North West Africa — the Maghreb — chances are you will experience their way of taking tea. In Morocco, Maghreb tea is made with a combination of roasted green tea mixed with sugar and spearmint leaves. Tea is prepared and served before guests — typically by the head male of the family — in a ceremony that’s a symbol of hospitality and friendship. 

How is Maghreb Tea Made?

Locally grown green tea is used as the base, but you’ll notice that scalding hot water is used to steep the tea. Yes, as a tea enthusiast, you know that steeping green tea in hot water can burn the leaves and release bitter flavors — but in Morocco, this is a part of the experience that should be embraced. The bitter flavor is an important part of the tea ceremony. 

What is the Moroccan Tea Ritual?

When in Morocco, you’ll find their tea ceremony fascinating and maybe very different from what you’re accustomed to. For instance, tea is poured high, which creates a long stream of water and allows a frothiness to form in the tea cups. This also might be a way to add oxygen back into the water that is lost during boiling, and it might help cool your cup of tea down just a bit. 

The tea leaves are left in the teapot for the duration of the ceremony and spearmint leaves and sugar are added to the pot of tea as the ceremony unfolds. You will be served exactly three cups of tea — each cup of tea will take on a unique flavor that ranges from delicate and sweet to strong and bitter. It’s polite to accept all three cups of tea — it’s impolite to drink less than three cups or to ask for more than three.

But why are you served exactly three cups of tea? The three cups are a reflection of the Maghreb proverb about tea: 

The first glass is as gentle as life,

the second is as strong as love,

the third is as bitter as death. 

  1. Kashmir - Noon Chai

The name “Noon Chai” means “salt tea” in the Kashmiri language. In Kashmir, it’s called Sheer Chai, but it’s also known as Kashmir Tea or pink tea — this is because of its gorgeous pink hue. This milky-rich tea is traditionally served on special occasions, but it’s recently become more popular as it’s been appropriated in society, especially in cold weather. You may find mock and instant versions of this tea made with sugar and sweetener at cafes — but this watered-down version is far from what Noon Chai is meant to be.

How is Noon Chai Made?

Kashmir tea enthusiasts agree that it’s not true Noon Chai unless it’s made with Kashmir tea — a green tea that has a pronounced and unique flavor. This particular tea also creates a stronger natural pink hue that is so signature to the look of Noon Chai.

Tea leaves are added to hot water and oxygen is added back into the mixture by stirring the tea for long periods of time. This aeration in the water and a pinch of baking soda makes the tea turn dark maroon. Whole-fat milk and salt are added to the tea, which creates the beautiful light pink hue of noon chai.

How Can You Serve Noon Chai?

The buttery tea is a time-consuming process when made properly, but well worth the effort. It’s no wonder that in Pakistan it’s usually set aside for special events — or enjoyed more in the winter — and served alongside sugar and nuts or sweets. But in Kashmir, Noon Chai is a delightful staple that’s enjoyed during breakfast and served alongside bread. 

Noon Chai may look dainty and sweet, but no sugar is added to the tea — in fact, it’s quite savory and delicate. Spices may be added, but these are subtle and usually consist of cinnamon or cardamom. Kashmir tea may be garnished with chopped almonds or pistachios, or even rose petals.

  1. Tibet - Butter Tea

If you find yourself in Tibet, you’ll quickly see that butter tea is a necessary everyday staple. This creamy, rich tea is traditionally made with yak butter, and it’s churned with a hint of salt. Butter tea is thick and rich in calories, which fuels the hard-working lifestyle of many natives who must combat cold temperatures in high altitudes. 

Butter tea goes by many names — like po-cha, bho jah, and gur gur cha to name a few — and there isn’t an official ceremony for preparing it. Ceramic pots are widely used for serving and creating butter tea. Bronze or copper teaware may be used by families who are more well-to-do in society. 

How is Butter Tea Made?

Dark, aged, fermented pu-erh tea leaves boil for up to half of the day and make a deep rich tea base. Butter and salt are added to the tea, and it can be shaken, churned, or mixed well before being stored or served. The consistency of butter tea is like thick stew or oil and it’s exceptionally rich and hearty. 

What’s the Etiquette for Drinking Butter Tea?

Butter tea has a huge presence in Tibetan ceremonies and celebrations. During the New Year, monks participate in three long days of afternoon prayer. They fuel themselves in the mornings with butter tea and eat sweet rice. 

Like many serious tea-drinking countries, tea is also used as a means of tradition and hospitality. If you find yourself being served butter tea in Tibet, be prepared to have your cup continuously filled.

You should always drink butter tea in small sips and never drain your small tea cup. After you sip your tea, it’s customary for the host to fill your cup to the brim, over and over again. If you are finished with your tea all you have to do is simply stop drinking the tea. Once you are ready to leave, you should drink the remaining tea completely. In this way, you honor your host and maintain appropriate etiquette. 

Quality Teaware for Your Daily Ritual

Are you ready to expand your tea palate and bend the rules of tea? Explore exciting new flavors that you’ve never tasted before. If you always drink black tea, try an oolong tea or a green tea instead — or if you enjoy green tea, maybe try white tea. You might discover a flavor that’s even more satisfying than your favorite. 

Regardless of where your taste buds take you, be sure to make the most of every sip with teaware that makes tea taste better. Explore health-conscious teaware made of revolutionary, pure, and tasteless borosilicate glass, and take your tea experience to a whole new level.

Teabloom offers the largest selection of beautifully handcrafted borosilicate glass teaware and it’s made with your health and wellness in mind. From the start, they’ve been on a mission to clean up the tea industry one glass tea cup at a time. Find the perfect new tea cup or teapot for your tea needs today, with Teabloom.