100 Best Facts About Tea – The Ultimate List of Tea Facts!

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I’ve compiled the ultimate list of 100 Facts about Tea. From bits of Trivia and interesting stories about Tea peppered with a few wow moments! I hope you enjoy it and feel free to share!

1. Tea is the second most consumed beverage on the planet – after Water. It has even greater consumption than Coffee. Despite Coffee’s popularity in the West, much of the Middle East and Asia have tea drinking ingrained in their culture.

2. Many Tea Bags contain plastics. this is a result of trying to produce a better quality teabag and therefore a better quality experience. Check our list of makes that contain plastics to see if your favorites are among them.

picture of tea-bags-selection

3. Tea is a beverage derived from the leaves of a plant called Camellia Sinensis. There are different varieties of the plant – spread throughout a variety of countries. But all beverages called ‘tea’ specifically come from that one main plant.

4. The Lipton Tea Factory in Jebel Ali, Dubai, produces around 5 billion tea bags a year

5. If your tea doesn’t contain the leaves of Camellia Sinensis then it’s not actually tea. It’s known as Tisane. Tisanes are similar in their processing and consumption and still steeped by adding hot water. But they’re infused with a variety of herbs and/or spices from other flora and fauna instead.

6. The leaves from the Raspberry plant can be steeped to produce a Herbal Tea.

7. Globally, over 3 million tons of tea is produced every year.

8. There are four basic types of tea derived from the Camellia Sinensis plant. Possibly five or Six actually – as it has long been open for debate, but the main varieties are Black, White, Green, and Oolong. Each variety is then broken down into hundreds of other off-shoots of the main type.

9. More than 1.42 million pounds in weight of tea are consumed in the U.S. every single day.

10. Rooibos is a herbal tea grown in South Africa. Its leaves are shaped like needles and they’re fermented exactly the same as regular tea leaves.

11. It’s widely understood there are around 1500 known varieties of Tea. However, the exact possible number of variations is almost limitless.

12. It takes about three years before a new plant is ready to harvest. It takes between four and twelve years for a tea plant to mature enough to produce seed.

13. The Tea plant Camellia Sinensis needs at least 50 inches of rain a year

14. Traditional English Afternoon Tea is typically served from 3 pm to 6 pm. Any later and it becomes known as High tea, upon which more substantial food should be offered. Cream Tea is served in Devon and Cornwall

cream tea setting at table

15. Roasted Brown Rice and Green tea together are served as Genmaicha in Japan. This formed part of the staple diet when times were hard, to provide more of a meal.

16. Tea naturally absorbs moisture. If you intend to store tea, make sure it’s in a sealed container and follow the guidelines for storing or freezing tea. Unless it’s Pu-Erh. That particular blend ages with time and is often just wrapped in greaseproof paper.

17. Black tea is at one end of the strength spectrum as it undergoes the most oxidization process producing a more potent flavor. White tea is on the other end, being the least Oxidised.

18. Tea was allegedly discovered in 2737 BC. It’s believed Emperor Shennong of China had some leaves fall into his cup of boiling water. He drank the resulting liquid.

19. The Dutch East India Company introduced Tea into the West. It was called Tay or Cha, the former pronunciation later changed to Tea

20. During the 1700s, smugglers would increase profits on the tea they smuggled by bulking it out with dry leaves, bark, and other materials.

Quick Quiz
Black tea contains more caffeine than Green tea – True or False?
Find out the answer here plus more myths about Tea

21. Pouring milk into the cup first was originally the way to make tea. This was so the heat did not break the delicate china cup. However, that is not the case with modern-day cups.

22. Butter tea is a common Tea in Tibet. Made using black tea, Yak Butter, and Salt.

23. Tea is valuable, ranked 31st in the most valuable crop/livestock league table. According to stats compiled by Statista, the Tea global market is predicted to reach 44.3 Billion by 2021. With approximately $5.5bn dollars in sales generated from ready-to-drink Teas.

24. In 1901, two women name Roberta Lawson and Mary McLaren both submitted a patent for an invention that resembled the modern Teabag. This contradicts claims it was invented accidentally by Thomas Sullivan in 1908 as a means to transport tea samples. Upon which his customers promptly added them straight to the pot instead of emptying the contents.

25. It’s believed that the best green tea is produced during the first harvest of the year, which falls in early April to mid-May

26. It’s not true that Iced tea was invented in 1904 at the St Louis World Fair. Allegedly A merchant names Richard Black was struggling to sell his Tea, so he poured it over ice and it became a winner! The truth is it was around a long time before then as it has appeared in an 1877 Cookbook named ‘Housekeeping in Old Virginia’ by Marion Cabell Tyree.

cup of iced tea

27. Earl Get Tea was thought to have been named after Earl Charles Grey. At the time he was Prime Minister during the mid 19th Century. He requested a type of tea he had drunk from local merchants whilst visiting China.

28. Earl Grey differs in that it is flavored with an orange extract called Bergamot. Around that time, Bergamot was added to make the cheaper teas more palatable for the masses.

29. Only the top 1 to 2 inches of a mature plant, referred to as the new ‘flushes’ of the plant are picked. A new flush grows within 7 to 14 days during the growing season

30. The most expensive teapot according to the Guinness World Records, is one commissioned by a Charity in London. The ‘Egoist’ has amongst other features, a stunning inlay of 1658  diamonds, and 386 Rubies, with a mammoth ivory handle and a base of 18c gold.

31. You should in theory at least, always use fresh water, and avoid boiling the kettle twice before making tea. Oxygen is lost from the water during the second boil which can give your tea a flat taste.
Or, you could use the FISH EYE method to boil water

32. Karkade is a common tea consumed in Egypt, made from hibiscus flowers and lots of added sugar.

33. Sir Thomas Lipton lived in Glasgow during the late 19th century. He imported tea from Sri Lanka (then called Ceylon), he then packaged it and sold it as Lipton Tea. He sold the company which was subsequently moved to a new headquarters in New Jersey.

34. Pu-Erh Tea is compressed into a number of different forms. Each shape is given a different name. Bing, Beeng, Cake, or Disc is the most common. Tuocha, Bowl, or Nest is a ball-shaped form. Dragon Pearl is also round in shape, as is Melon, or gold melon. Others include Brick, square, and Mushroom.

35. In some areas of the world, up until the early 20th Century, Tea, in particular, Pu-Erh Tea, has been used as a form of currency. Discs or other molds were widely used throughout  Asian countries and beyond, in particular, China, Mongolia, Tibet, Russia, and Siberia.

36. The famous tea road that ran between Tibet and China was renowned for attacks by bandits who also liked the idea of using Tea as currency on the black market.

By ralph repo [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

37. Pirates also liked to plunder Tea carrying ships in the south China sea. The most famous of which was Black Bart, who actually preferred Tea to Rum – figure that one out!

38. More often than not, tea producing plantations are between 3,000 and 7,000 feet above sea level.

39. Countries that produce the most tea – include China, Taiwan, Japan, India, Sri Lanka, and Kenya. Plus there are emerging and less well-known tea-growing regions, such as Colombia, Nepal, Georgia, the US, and the UK.
See the FULL list of the top 62 Tea Growing Nations here

40. Originally, Root Beer was called root Tea. It was created in the late 19th century by a pharmacist called Charles Elmer Hires who lived in Pennsylvania. Although in truth, he got the idea whilst staying at a hotel in New Jersey where he was served ‘Root Tea’. It was served ready steeped – much like Tea was.

41. Originally Charles Elmer Hires had difficulty selling his ‘Root Tea’ as most of his local customers were coal miners and not accustomed to buying Tea! It’s at this point he named it ‘Root Beer’ and it’s popularity soared.

42. In the Middle East, a common tea is Moroccan Mint Tea. Simply add spearmint to Black tea during steeping.

43. Matcha Tea is a green tea that comes in powder form, used extensively in Japanese Tea ceremonies.

44. The art of reading Tea leaves is known as Tasseography. This word originated in France. Tasse means cup. This extended to reading coffee grains and wine too. No one knows the exact origin of Tasseography. You can find out more here, along with how to do it!

45. Afternoon Tea has also been referred to as ‘Low tea’, often served in the drawing room. Afternoon Tea, or ‘Low Tea’ and ‘High tea’ refers to the height of the table it is served at and has nothing to do with the time of day.

46. The First Book devoted specifically to Tea was published in China in A.D. 780. Written by a renowned author and tea connoisseur Lu Yu. The book was written specifically at the request of tea merchants. Called the ‘Ch’a Ching’ (Tea Book).

47. Tea became heavily taxed in 18th Century England, so much so that smuggling tea became big business. In 1747 the Hawkhurst Gang and their ship had its contraband of tea confiscated by customs officials. Two weeks later the gang stole their tea back from the custom house building – leaving behind all the alcohol. This goes to show just how much tea was worth then.

48. Olive leaf tea is native to Italy where tea is made from Mission Olive Trees and Manzanillo.

49. Afternoon Tea in English Tea Gardens was the first place that women could socialize freely in public with men present – without it being seen as scandalous.

50. Alcohol can be a great accompaniment to tea. Known as a hot toddy. Various forms of liquor like Brandy, Rum, and Bourbon to name a few – can be added to create a delicious liquored tea.

51. Black Tea is a short-term cosmetic remedy for puffy eyes. Use two recently used tea bags, squeeze any remaining moisture from them and once cooled place them over the eyes for around 10-15 minutes.

52. Legend has it that in ancient China monkeys were trained to pick tea leaves. Even today there is a mystery surrounding this idea. Whilst Monkeys are used to collect other harvests like coconuts, it’s unlikely that even lower-grade teas could be sufficiently picked by Monkeys. However, you can still buy tea that is labeled as monkey-picked – even though it actually isn’t now of course! But it makes for good marketing!

53. In 2016 researchers discovered the oldest tea in the world in a Chinese tomb. The tea caddies contained tea leaves left in the tomb of the Han Dynasty Emperor Jing who was buried around 141 BC.

54. As you would expect, ginger tea has many benefits. Made using either ground or fresh ginger. Believed to aid in fighting cold symptoms, as well as morning sickness.

55. When tea was introduced to England in 1662 for the marriage of Charles II and Portugal’s Catherine of Braganza. The Dowry included chests of tea, oh and the regions of Bombay and Tangier!

56. For almost 320 years, from 1679 to June 29th, 1998. The London Tea Auction was the central place for the international tea trade. These ‘highest bidder’ type Auctions were held once a quarter in Leadenhall Street, London. Later moving to Mincing Lane following the demise of the East India Company. By the 1950s a third of all tea sold in the entire world went through the London Tea Auction.

57. Loose-leaf black tea can, in theory, be kept indefinitely, however, most black teas tend to lose their effect after a maximum of two years. So they’re often not stored for more than a year.

58. During afternoon Tea, the person nearest the teapot is expected to pour the tea, not the person of higher authority. So if you don’t like pouring tea, try not to sit nearest the teapot.

59. Bubble tea extends back to the 1980s when it was a staple drink in Taiwan. Made with Black Tea, Tapioca pearls, honey, and condensed milk.

60. The British Standards Institute regularly releases a guide on how to prepare and serve tea. Last released in 2016, the report extended to six pages long and includes all the specifications for making the perfect cup of tea. Oh, and the Steeping time should be six minutes!

61. According to the BSI, the pot should be made of porcelain, between 74mm to 78mm wide, and 83mm to 87mm tall. Using at least two grams of tea for every 100ml of water, so would equate to around two tea bags or four for a large pot. The temperature should be above 60 degrees, but not more than 85 degrees for maximum flavor output.

62. British tank battle tank FV4034 challenger 2 includes in the manufacture a means to make tea on board

63. Tea is known to be a natural source of fluoride. It helps protect against both tooth decay and gum disease.

64. Oolong tea can be steeped up three times, each time providing a different layer of flavor.

65. By the mid-18th century. tea had replaced both ale and gin as the most popular drink among the masses. Also, see the most popular tea in England

66. Tea, as well as coffee, may appear to have a different taste when served on planes. The boiling point of water is 18-20 degrees lower when at higher altitudes due to air pressure.

67. One particular blend of Oolong and Darjeeling is known as ‘Sherpa Tea’. This is because it’s made at high altitudes due to the water boiling at a lower temperature.

68. In the 1840s, the Duchess of Bedford Anna Maria Russell unwittingly developed the concept of Afternoon Tea after ordering that the kitchen bring food and tea to her room from the kitchen. In an attempt to stave off hunger till teatime, which was typically 8-9 pm.

69. It was when Queen Victoria began to hold Afternoon Tea parties that popularity really soared. Often there would be up to 200 invited guests.

70. In the 19th Century, due to its valuable price tag, tea would typically be kept in the parlor under lock and key. Often in a box called a Tea Caddy. The Lady of the house was responsible for it and would often be the only person with a key.

71. When making tea, steeping time is critical. Steeping time also varies depending on the type of Tea. Typically Black tea requires 3-5 minutes of steeping time. Delicate Oolongs and green teas require only about 2 minutes of steeping time. Possible 3 if you want to make a stronger cup.

72. Before pouring tea, you should pour hot water into the pot to warm it beforehand. A ‘slop bowl’ was included in the original tea sets to empty this water into. See also, How to make Green tea correctly!

73. Darjeeling tea is more expensive. Largely as it’s only grown in a 70 square-mile area at the foot of the Himalayas. Because of this, it is referred to as the ‘Champagne of teas’

74. Do not use milk and lemon in the same cup of tea. Lemon will curdle the milk

75. Japanese Zen Buddhist tea ceremonies have been a feature of Japanese Culture since the 16th century. Similar to the early days of Afternoon Tea in England, there’s a specified dress code and a specific way to prepare tea

76. High levels of antioxidants in tea slow the absorption of caffeine, this results in a more gradual increase of caffeine in the body’s system. It also means we are alert for a longer period and there is no resulting Caffeine crash at the end.

77. The practice of tea breaks has been around for around 200 years. This is also famous amongst the tradesmen in England, where the tea they drink is known as ‘Builders Tea

builders tea break

78. Chrysanthemum tea is a herbal tea consumed in both China and Korea. It’s a medicinal herbal tea believed to reduce headaches and fevers.

79. It was 3000 years before tea was drunk for pleasure and not just for medicinal purposes.

80. The country with the most tea consumption per capita is Turkey, followed by the likes of Morocco, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Australia, and way down the list is the United States at around 69th place – but rising fast!

81. In the United States, around 85% of tea sales are predominantly iced tea – with added sugar!

82. In 1773, about 92 thousand pounds of tea were dumped into the Harbour by the Boston Tea Party. Predominantly made up of merchants and political change activists called Sons of Liberty. Protesting against changes in tea tax laws and prices enabled the British to directly undercut US merchants.

83. When tasting tea you are supposed to slurp. This is especially true when drinking Pu-Erh tea as this aerates the tea, provides better contact with taste buds, and intensifies the flavors.

84. Normally served on a tray, a formal tea service would include; a teapot – plus an additional hot water pot, sugar bowl, milk jug, slow bowl, and as many teacups and saucers were required.

85. Tea is the national drink of both Iran and Afghanistan. There, they drink Green tea to quench their thirst and black tea as a hot beverage.

86. Green and in particular White tea leaves are not fermented, they are simply steamed and heated to remove any moisture.

87. The ‘Agony of the Leaves’ was the phrase coined to describe the curling of the tea leaves when hot water is poured over them.

88. If you have a spare £22,000 British Pounds, you could buy the world’s most expensive tea, which has actually been fertilized via the poop of the Panda Bear. The creator Anyang said the tea had additional nutrients that the Panda Bears had not taken advantage of!

89. Tea has numerous health benefits, in particular, the less oxidized version of tea. Benefits such as lower risks of stroke, lower risk of depression, reduced chance of heart disease, or lower risk of diabetes – the list goes on. See how tea is made.

90. Tea Sommeliers or other courses or classes are actually a thing. You can take a class at the Palais de Tay in Paris or perhaps you prefer the Academy of Tea in the UK. Sommeliers help restaurants and hoteliers understand what food to offer and pair it with specific tea blends.

91. In the 1600s, the Chinese embassy gifted tea to Tsar Alexis. This was the introduction of Tea into Russia.

92. Tea provides a better flavor when tea leaves are allowed to expand. This is why all tea infusers allow space around the tea contained within them.

93. The more fermentation that takes place in tea leaves, the more black they become. Hence, black tea is the most fermented of all teas.

94. It takes around 2000 small tea plant leaves to create one pound of finished black tea.

95. Tea contains “polyphenols”. These are the antioxidants that repair cells and are said to aid our immune system and bodies to help against cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes, osteoporosis, and other potential ailments.

96. There are some tea plantations in the United States. Off the Coast of South Carolina, there is an island plantation, and it’s also grown in Hawaii.

97. To celebrate its 75th Birthday, PG Tips commissioned the most expensive tea bag in the world to auction off for charity. Worth £7000 GBP, it has a diamond-encrusted bag and was created by Boodles Jewellers.

98. Tea is not only classified by type, but also by size, there are five main size classifications. From smallest to largest… Dust, Fanning, Broken Orange Pekoe, Orange Pekoe and Flowering Orange Pekoe. There are additions to these which are ‘Golden’ and ‘Tippy’.

99. Since 2000, all dealers in Darjeeling tea must obtain a license directly from the Tea Board of India. They must then supply information on the production and manufacture of their tea. 

100. The oldest Camellia Sinensis tea plant is in China. It’s thought to be 3,200 years old.

Wow, so that’s it, I hope this has been both fun and informative. I also have an article on 25 myths about tea, and there are plenty more facts and things about tea I could add but maybe we’ll save that for another time. Also if I got something wrong then simply let me know and I’ll change it.

Don’t forget to check out my other posts, and there’s also a link in the top menu to find lots of wonderful and perfect tea equipment and gifts

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