You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.C.S. Lewis
That’s about the perfect sentiment we can think of for a nice cup of tea! Tea is a wonderful drink that comes in a wide variety of different flavors, each of them having a distinct personality and character. It has been used for everything from a simple morning libation to the central element of certain social and religious rituals.
This amazing drink is so important that taxing it was the final straw that ignited a fledgling country to declare a revolution! National Tea Day celebrates this fantastic beverage and the seemingly endless list of things it can do.
History of National Tea Day
The History of National Tea Day reaches far back into the world’s history but can be narrowed down to a place of origin that is surprisingly precise.
This place sits at the intersection of Latitude 29N and Longitude 98E, notable as the joining of NE India, Burma, China, and Tibet. Many mythological origins for tea also exist as well, some of them merely interesting and others quite gruesome.
In one period in China, the Emperor had ordered that all people of his nation would boil their water before drinking it. So it came to pass that the Emperor was sitting and drinking a simple cup of boiled water when leaves from a nearby tree blew into it, creating the first tea.
In another tale, a man sat meditating in front of a wall (for 9 whole years!) when he accidentally fell asleep. On waking, he was so disgusted with his inability to stay awake, which he considered to be a weakness, that he severed his eyelids and threw them to the ground where they sprouted into the first tea bushes. A little disturbing, perhaps, but utterly Asian in its style.
Regardless of its origins (which may be in dispute) the importance of tea cannot be understated. And anyone is strongly encouraged to research it since it would be impossible to cover it’s entire history here.
Now, it’s time to take a look at what tea is–and what it is not. Officially speaking tea is an infusion of the leaves of Camellia Sinensis, an unassuming evergreen plant that hails from Asia. Technically, what tea is not is anything that does not contain these leaves.
That means that, while infusions of herbs not containing these leaves may be referred to as ‘Herbal Teas’, they are not in fact teas at all. Only those infusions which contain the Camellia Sinensis leaves can properly be called tea. Considering tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world, second only to water, it seems that a little accuracy is in order.
On the other hand, as words and traditions evolve, many things have become known as tea, which so many people around the world enjoy, that it doesn’t hurt to be a little generous with the definition. And generosity is what National Tea Day is all about. Drinking, and sharing, a generous cup of tea.
Because it spans a variety of sources and cultures, a couple of different dates have been recognized as National Tea Day. April 21 is National Tea Day in the UK. The UN has put National Tea Day a month later, and another National Tea Day falls in the middle of December. There are even days for Iced Tea, Bubble Tea and Chai. Not to mention a whole month for Earl Grey Tea and Iced Tea.
It seems that celebrating Tea is a festivity that should be happening all throughout the year! And since tea is the most consumed drink in the world (after water) no one is even going to complain.
How to Celebrate National Tea Day
Drink a Cup (or Glass or Mug) of Tea
Literally hundreds of varieties of tea are in existence, from those that are gently dried and cured to those that go through complex processes that can include long stays in caves. So many varieties of tea exist that it almost defies the imagination! National Tea Day is the perfect time to try a few new ones.
Grab a Glass of Iced Tea
In some countries, tea is only considered to be authentic if it is enjoyed hot. However, other cultures have taken the idea of tea and turned it into a cold beverage. For instance, in the United States, iced tea is a common beverage that is served in a large, tall glass. It is often sold by the gallon in stores and, in the south (but almost never in the north!), it is made very sweet.
Whatever the case, the first order of business for National Tea Day is sitting down to enjoy a sip in whatever form is preferred.
Attend the Fest-Tea-Val in UK
Celebrated all throughout the United Kingdom, Fest-Tea-Val (festival!) Tea rooms, hotels, cafes and pubs all around the nation host special events, promotions and activities that are centered around the country’s favorite drink: tea. These events are often paired with worthy charities in order to provide financial support for them.
Host a Fest-Tea-Val
Those outside of the UK certainly don’t need to be excluded from all of the fun! Consider hosting a National Tea Day celebration at home, at work, or in the community. Simply gather friends or coworkers together and put on a spread of different varieties of tea that can be tried. This would also be a great time to call that friend who has the eclectic collection of teapots!
Take the Sustainable Tea Challenge
Since most tea bags are made of plastic, which isn’t great for the earth, many people are moving in the direction of using loose leaf tea or at least compostable tea bags. Some companies try to promote sustainability and eco-friendliness in the production of their tea, including:
- Numi. Fair-trade, organic, and offsetting carbon emissions.
- Yogi. Organic, recyclable/compostable packaging and gives back.
- Pukka. Organic and donates profits to help the planet.