Besides water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world. Every day it is drunk by people all over the globe. For some it is simply an invigorating drink that quenches the thirst, whereas for others it represents an entire philosophy linked to precisely defined preparation methods and even sophisticated ceremonies.
The word tea comes from Chinese and is in common usage today in various languages. In countries where tea was historically imported by ship, the name resembles the English noun tea: in German it is Tee, in French thé, and in Italian té. As for nations where tea was brought in across a land mass, the word given over to it is more akin to the Chinese čcha: in India, Arabian and Slavic countries the name is chai.
For the sake of accuracy, only infusions from the leaves of a tea plant should be called tea. However, infusions from other plants are often called tea too, so maybe these should really be called something along the lines of ‘tea-like drinks’.
Pure tea comes from the bushes of tea plants, which are mostly grown in Asia, Africa, South America and Australia. In Europe, tea is only commercially grown in the Azores. According to the method of manufacture, teas are divided into categories such as green, black, white, oolong, Pu Erh and yellow, the last of these being a speciality of the Chinese provinces of Anhui, Sichuan and Hunan.
Therefore, across all the continents, tea represents a popular beverage - an accessible curative and invigorating stimulant. At the same time, it is an important part of the culture and history of many nations. In China tea plants have been grown for approximately two and a half thousand years and are considered some of the oldest plants to be grown in the world.