Tea Culture in Europe

The tea culture in Europe is quite unique and distinct. Not only is it about the way the tea is consumed, but it is also about how it is made as well as the social aspect of it.

In the Czech Republic the tea culture has been evolving and developing for centuries. Recently, the style of tea rooms has been a hot topic in this area as they differ from the more traditional British style tea rooms. The tea rooms in the Czech Republic are very diverse and offer a wide assortment of teas. The most exclusive tea rooms can have up to eighty different types of teas from multiple different countries. The most unique fact is that these different tea rooms have all developed their own style by creating different blends of the teas along with different ways of serving them.

Russia also has a unique tea culture. The method in which the tea is served usually involves an expensive tea glass that is made from silver as well as other alloys- sometimes the tea glasses are even gold plated. Russian tea culture dictates that the tea be brewed separately and then diluted with water that has just been boiled. The tea that is served is usually quite strong. In fact, it is thought that the strength of the tea is an indication of the hospitality of the host. In Russia drinking tea is an event that is traditionally for the whole family. The tea is generally served after a large meal along with things such as jams and pastries. It should be noted that in Russia black tea is the most common and traditional tea bags are not. A traditional Russian tea time consists of loose leaf black tea.

Though not as popular as other parts of Eastern Europe, there is a tea ritual in Slovakia. Interestingly enough, the tea culture in Slovakia is considered somewhat underground by the residents of this region. However, there are numerous tea rooms that have gained popularity in many mid-sized towns. The thing about these tea rooms that have made them popular is the fact that they offer a quiet environment that has relaxing music for the patrons. Of equal importance is the fact that they are almost all non-smoking establishments. This is in sharp contrast to the pubs that are located in the country.
In regard to tea culture in Germany, it is most popular in the eastern part of the country. The eastern region has a very strong to various tea traditions. In fact, tea is so popular hear that it is often drank at all hours of the day. The typical German tea will have three layers to it. The top layer is mostly cream, the middle layer is the tea itself and the bottom layer is a sugary candy that melts slowly. It is against tradition to mix all three of these elements together as it will ruin the ability to savor the tea in general. Tea in Germany is always served with cookies during the week and cakes during the weekend or special events. In addition, the German style tea is thought to cure headaches, upset stomachs as well as relieve stress.

Even though France is better known for its different types of coffee, afternoon tea drinking has long been part of the culture for the wealthy and elite. The most popular tea in France is black tea. However, other types such as green tea and Asian tea are becoming more mainstream.  Afternoon tea in France is usually served with sugar, milk or lemon. Furthermore, when drinking tea it will almost always be accompanied by a pastry. The interesting thing about the pastries is that they are usually of the non-sweet variety.
 Portugal has a growing tea culture that is most dominant on the Azores- a series of islands that are located to the west of the mainland. An interesting fact is that Portugal was the first European country to indulge in tea drinking as well as the being the country responsible for introducing tea to the rest of the continent. The production of tea in Portugal dates back to the mid 1750’s and is still being produced today. The tea production in Portugal is focused on an organic growing process where no pesticides or herbicides are allowed. However, the general production standards for tea in Portugal have not changed for the better part of two and a half centuries- neither has the way in which the population consumes it.

Vietnam Tea Customs

In the Medieval Ages one of the court healers gave his patients the following advice: "Drink one cup of tea in the morning and glass of wine in the evening and you will forget doctors forever." Instructive meaning of this parable is that moderate and timely use of tea and wine are really beneficial.

People have long known that tea is not just a drink to quench their thirst, but rather a magic drink for good health. Therefore, a tea party for most cultures and times is perceived as a ritual of compelling with a vital force of Nature.

Vietnamese tea ceremony is a pleasant sign of hospitality with deep social importance. As in many other traditional tea cultures, Vietnamese tradition suggests that the environment where the ceremony takes place should bring people together, contribute to a relaxed conversation and cultural communication: the recitation of poetry, discussion of literature and art. If the conversation goes on everyday topic or discussion of issues of mutual interest, the guests always leave the last word for the master of the house. The whole idea of Vietnamese ritual of tea drinking is a maximum spiritual rapprochement between the participants of the ceremony combined with the pleasure of drinking tea. In general, Vietnamese tea drinking tradition is a bridge that brings people together and helps to better understand each other.

The traditional Vietnamese tea ceremony is a complex of all the preparations for it. Every element of the ceremony plays its meaningful importance in it:  where to drink tea, when and with whom, what kind of water to use, where in the house set the table for brewing tea, and which tea cups to use.

Tea has been cultivated in Vietnam from immemorial time. One of the most unique and exquisite Vietnamese tea customs is lotus flavored tea. During the Nguyen dynasty, tea drinking ritual was brought to the level of art. King Tu Duc who reigned during the Nguyen dynasty (1848-1883) is known for drinking tea flavored with lotus in a very special way. On moonlit nights, prior to his morning tea, King had his servants set their boats on the lake in the royal garden where the lotus flowers are in bloom and put a handful of tea into each blossom, then close them with ribbon. Tea leaves would absorb the living scent of the lotus petals. Then they will collect the dew from the lotus leaves due to belief that only water born between heaven and earth, can give the king strength for the day. Next morning the tea would be picked from the lotus lake and offered to the king as his morning refreshment. According to tea connoisseurs, tea grown on the hills of Thai Nguyen province is a signature of Vietnamese tea. It’s praised for its very unique taste and distinctive aroma.
Vietnamese custom of drinking tea in different provinces of the country was formed in different ways. For instance, South Vietnam region prefers green ice tea, flavored with flowers. For the population of the South, tea is, above all, a drink of refreshment. In central region of the country, where climate is mostly rainy, the most popular is tea made from fresh tea leaves slightly dried on the sun. This type of fresh brew unfolds a strong, natural taste and aroma. The north population prefers hot tea, brewed strong, natural green or flavored with flowers of jasmine, lotus, or chrysanthemum.

Tea flavored with freshly picked flowers mostly preferred by elderly, preparing such tea is a long process; older folks can always find time for that. Often rainwater gathered in mountain streams and waterfalls is used in this process. For special occasions some dew collected from lotus leaves can be used. Water is boiled in a copper vessel on the coals of palm tree. An earthenware teapot, tea cups and tea box are required for tea course. Fresh jasmine, lotus or rose petals are placed on a saucer and covered with a cup rinsed with hot water. This is a special way of flavoring tea with scent of freshly picked flowers. When tea is ready, it’s poured into a cup that absorbed a subtle fragrance of flowers.  Skillful tea connoisseurs always keep tea as a subject of conversation, comment and compliment it, just like some do at wine tasting.

Tea drinking is a customary signature practice at wedding and engagement ceremonies. Marrying couples use the ritual of drinking tea at the wedding ceremony to express their affection for each other.

Russian Tea Drinking Tradition

Russian tea drinking tradition, along with some other Russian customs, has long been a hallmark of the country. Nevertheless, to describe the attributes of Russian tea drinking: samovar (meaning "self-boiler" in Russian), loose leaf black tea, pancakes, jam, cubed sugar, sliced lemon, cups in cup holders, porcelain set… Unfortunately, very few people drink tea in accordance with this attributes, because almost no one these days uses a samovar.

This old Russian tea drinking tradition becomes history, but still lives and breathes in Russia and around the world where Russian emigrants make their homes. Russian literature often invokes the samovar to symbolize Russian hospitality. Gathering around the table by a samovar with family and friends evokes a sense of cosines and comfort, which is an important element in our busy lives. Let me just try to formulate some of the characteristics of tea drinking, which can be classified as specifically Russian.

A real Russian tea party requires a porcelain tea set; a classical Russian tea set is "Cobalt net" of the Imperial Lomonosov’s Porcelain Manufactory. These sets are often sold in duty free shops at the international airports of Russia and in numerous souvenir shops. Contrary to popular opinion, tea glasses even in the most exclusive holders are not the most accurate representation of the Russian tea drinking tradition. Since the 18th century, people who understood the sense in life and in tea-drinking, tried to get the porcelain set.

A very specific feature of Russian tea-drinking is samovar, a vessel with boiling water. In Russian tradition, tea leaves brewed in the porcelain pot, which is placed on the top of the samovar keeping the brew hot. In most major tea drinking cultures, Chinese, Japanese and English, tea leaves steep, a brew is poured in a cup and drunk. In Russia, a brew is diluted with hot water directly in a cup, that’s why besides the standard tea set, tea party in Russia involves a samovar with boiling water.

Another important part of Russian tea-drinking tradition is a simple and obvious lemon, cut in thin slices, not wedges, since circles look beautiful on a plate and in a cup. In fact, the whole world believes that tea with lemon is a Russian invention, often called "Russian tea". 

However, the most important feature of a Russian tea party is tea itself. Of course, it should be black tea. Historically, it was Chinese tea, such as Keemun or a blend based on it "Russian Caravan" or “Russian Samovar”. Chinese tea was drunk in Russia for three centuries, and only in the 20th century adjusted traditionally established tea preferences. Nowadays, most Russians prefer a rich aroma and strong taste of Ceylon tea over subtle taste of Chinese teas. Often, both teas are served at the party, Chinese in respect to century’s old tradition and Ceylon in respect to modern tea taste.

When at the table served with samovar full of boiling water, porcelain tea set, two teapots (with Chinese and Ceylon tea), a plate with a stack of pancakes, a few fresh baked pies (with apples, cherries, cheese, cabbage and all sorts of fillings…), several kinds of jam (strawberry, cherry, blueberry, lingoberry, cloudberry, raspberry…), honey, condensed sweet milk, sliced lemon and cubed sugar, one will understand what is a true Russian made happiness. Laughing

Traditional Japanese Tea Pavilion

The Tea Pavilion is one of the most interesting monuments in the world of architecture. Which is unparalleled, not only in the West, but also in the Land of the Rising Sun. 
According to legend, a tea pavilion as a separate building, invented by Rikyu, the greatest of all Japanese tea ceremony masters, who in the XVI century determined its ritual. 
Formally, the tea pavilion (sukiya) is nothing more than a simple thatched hut. It consists of the tea room accommodating up to five people, ante-room (Mizuya) where all supplies for the ritual are washed and arranged before taking in the main room, awning (Matia) under which guests usually expect an invitation to enter, and a garden path (Rhodes) that is connecting the awning and the tea room. 
The Tea Pavilion is a very small building, but every detail in it is carefully chosen. Its construction is more expensive than the construction of a mansion, and the builders carrying out an order of a master of tea ceremony are very respectable caste. 
The style of the tea pavilion is very simple. The situation should help to forget the bustle of the material world, and not to compel attention to its transient luxury. 
Semantic center of the tea pavilion is Tokonoma, a kind of "red corner” of the tea room. During the tea ceremony, a painting, a scroll or an object that specifies a certain mood of the guests of the ceremony is placed in Tokonoma. Flowers - one of the most common attributes of the ritual, traditionally, placed inside. 
Hieroglyph for a tea pavilion (茶室), can be deciphered as "shelter of imagination", "shelter of emptiness" or "shelter asymmetry”. Tea Pavilion, being sparingly decorated, allows to activate the human imagination, which should complete the asymmetry of the place. 
Each tea pavilion is different and, indeed, is unique, as it is created for a specific master at his own request and according to his tastes. The Tea Pavilion is not inherited: when the master dies, the building dies. The Tea Pavilion is an attempt to feel the joy of individually experienced moments of life, rather than enduring symbol of eternity. 
In contrast to the lush of western interior, the interior of the Tea house is extremly simple. Only one piece of art, which is placed in Tokonoma, specifies a certain mindset. According to that piece of art, most often it is flowers or a special type and color of glassware, then the rest of accessories are selected.
No subject in the tea pavilion looks like any other by color or shape. Flowers are never combined with their images, a black bowl is not used in combinations with a black box for storing tea leaves, and even wooden objects are made of different types of trees. The awareness of imperfection and incompleteness is a way to comprehend the world around by trying to find one’s place in it and coming to harmony with it. 
Like everything else in the Japanese culture of tea, the pavilion is a symbol of a certain philosophy of life. A "man" is called to the consonance with the world, harmony, and gain in active spiritual poetic action, not passive contemplation of the surrounding reality, and even more so than merging with it in a wild dance of everyday life.

Ayurveda is a Doctrine Of Life, Health, Endurance, and Equilibrium Part 2

Three doshas

As already mentioned, Ayurveda is also the doctrine of the three doshas - Vata, Pitta and Kapha that can be summarized as temperaments (energies). These doshas affect the five elements - ether, air, fire, water and earth. It is not surprising that the term "dosha" is often translated as "influencing factor". Everyone is characterized by individual structure and individual influence of the five defining elements.

Every organism is built from the same "building blocks". Vata is the energy that provides all the movement in the body and is affected by ether and the air. Pitta is the energy that is responsible for the body's metabolism and determined by fire and water. Water and earth form Kapha - the energy that is responsible for the body shape.

There are all three doshas in every person from birth in varying combinations, they interact and change. The combination of doshas determines the shape of the body and temperament of the person. In every person there are all types of doshas, but typically dominating one of them. Along with the "pure" type there are so-called mixed types with two or even three predominant doshas, where all are equal.

Vata - the principle of motion

Responsible for the change in the position of everything in the universe. This energy is accountable for the nervous system, respiration, secretion, blood circulation, the movement of muscles and tissues. In general, Vata is in charge for all motor processes in the body. When this Dosha is presented in the body in the right combination, it brings energy, creativity, enthusiasm and cheerfulness. Quality of Vata characterized with ether and air: dry, light, cool, lively, sharp and clear.

Pitta - the principle of alteration substances

Controls the metabolic processes. Predominant element in Pitta is fire: heat contributes to changing the forms and states. In the human body, Pitta is responsible for the transformation of substances and changes in body temperature. Pitta is also accountable for the flexibility, intelligence, warmth and cheerfulness. Pitta transforms and moves everything, whether it is food or experiences. Quality of Pitta characterized by fire and water: light, hot, oily, sharp, burning, free, changing and sour.

Kapha - the principle of constitution

Is under the influence of water and earth. Through water this dosha carries a connecting function. When there is no water, then there would be only dry.  Water keeps the matters together and makes possible the emergence of new compounds and promotes growth. Kapha gives a person strength, balance, body structure and flexibility. Kapha is responsible for fluid balance, and also provides the body with energy. When Kapha is in the right balance, it gives strength, endurance, good immunity, patience and calm. Quality Kapha can be characterized by the following: heavy, oily, cold, hard, durable, soft and sweet.

How to follow Ayurveda

Ayurveda recommends a balanced diet. This means that the diet should be made of all six tastes - sweet, sour, salty, spicy, bitter and astringent - in accordance with the rhythms of nature and the fact what person would prefer at this time. To do so, one needs to know what dosha predominates in a person and should be strengthened, and which, conversely, should be weakened.

Final words

Of course, you cannot tell you about all the variety of teaching Ayurveda in such a small article. Those who are interested in this topic may learn more about it from many books on Ayurveda. We hope that this article was able to brief you on the principles of Ayurveda.
You will find the perfect balance for your energy in Ayurvedic teas. In these herb tea blends, you will find the ideal symbiosis from the Ayurvedic teaching and the Western imagination along with a expectation of taste. The Ayurvedic varieties generally do not consist of any orthodox teas, therefore, are caffeine free. Since the components such as pepper, cardamom, coriander, ginger root, cloves, etc. yield a natural strength and spiciness in the infusion, we suggest to add warm milk. These mixtures are also especially recommended for children and the elderly. Apart from this, you should try the blends pure, sweetened and hot or cold. Perhaps, enjoying "your" dosha tea, you will notice that little things can make a big difference!