The world may be divided into two groups of people coffee drinkers and tea drinkers, but tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world, next to water. Over 2 billion cups of tea are consumed every day worldwide. While most of the tea plants are grown in China and India, the countries that drink the most tea are Turkey, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. Check our more tea facts below.
- It is believed tea plants, Camellia sinensis, originated in China, growing wild throughout the country before being cultivated.
- The popularity of tea spread from China to the rest of the world. Tea was taken to Japan by a Buddhist priest around 1200 and the Dutch brought tea to Europe in 1610.
- China supplied tea in the west for decades, but during the Opium Wars in the Mid-19th Century, Britain started cultivating the plants in India. Tea farming spread throughout the British Empire and beyond.
- China, India, Sri-Lanka, and Kenya are the main producers of tea.
- More than 60 countries grow tea plants commercially.
- Over 5 million metric tons of tea leaves are produced each year.
- There are about 60 farms in the United States that grow tea plants in 15 states.
- The first attempt at cultivating tea in the United States was in 1744. It was researched as a commercial crop in South Carolina in 1848. It was also planted in Hawaii in 1892.
- It was eventually determined that tea plants would not be economically viable as a commodity because of higher production costs.
- It wasn’t until the 1960s that tea grown as a specialty crop in the United States became a bigger discussion.
- These plants grow best in cooler climates with rainfall amounts of at least 40 inches per year.
- Tea plants prefer acidic soils.
- The plants can be cultivated at different altitudes. Most plants are grown anywhere between sea level and up to altitudes of 7,000 feet. Plants at higher elevations grow more slowly and develop more complex flavor profiles.
- It takes at least three years for the plants to mature to harvest.
- Tea is harvested mainly by hand to preserves the quality of the leaves. Machines were used previously, but tea growers found they were too rough and damaged the leaves.
- Typically harvests occur twice a year. The first harvest, or the 'first flush', and occurs in the spring, while the second harvest, or the 'second flush', takes place in the summer.
- A crop of 1,500 lbs. of tea per acre requires 1.5 to 2 workers per acre to pluck the tea shoots as well as other farm work.
- Tea leaves being oxidation as soon as they’re harvested, so processing centers are located near the field. Different levels of oxidation are what makes different types of true teas.
- India is famous for black tea varieties including Assam and Darjeeling.
- China and Japan are famous for green teas. Chinese green teas are roasted and tend to have a smokier flavor. Japanese green teas are steamed, giving the tea a more vegetal flavor.
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These facts are tea-riffic! Learn 20 fun tea facts to share with the tea lovers in your life!