Tea, Chai, Cha, Te,

Do you prefer tea or coffee? I favor tea. However,  I am in the minority in the US for having that opinion. 75% of Americans favor coffee, while only 25% would rather have tea.

tea and coffee around the world

If you go to the actual link, you can interact with the infographic and see the percentages in each country.

Tea is overwhelmingly embedded into cultures.  It speaks of hospitality, of tradition, of history. The tea ceremonies of Japan, high tea in England, the offering of spicy chai in India when a neighbor visits.

It is said that tea was first discovered in China in the Yunnan Province probably before 1000 BC, so tea has been around for quite some time. The legend is that Emperor  Shen Nong was boiling water to drink when some leaves fell into his water from a nearby bush, and he decided he liked this new drink. Tea traveled from China into other areas of Asia, then to Europe, and then on to America.

Did you know that tea is grown on a bush? If left untended, the bushes turn into tea trees, which can grow to be 50 feet tall. The tea fields are beautiful because of the arrangements of the rows.

I had the chance to visit the Longjing (Dragon Well) tea fields in my Chinese hometown of Hangzhou. It was amazing to see the beginnings of a beverage I love so much- the picking of the leaves, the roasting.

Longjing Tea

Chinese Woman Picking Tea in Tea Field

American drinking green tea in China

Tea was constantly offered to me in China- at meetings, in people’s homes, from complete strangers! It is a way to connect with people, a way to show hospitality, and a way to socialize with friends. While bars are the most common places to consume a beverage in the West, most Eastern countries spend their time in teashops. I wish America was more of a tea culture still like it was in the revolutionary days. I need more people who can understand my need for a good cup of black tea with milk and sugar in the morning! I’ve even had my girl friends over to my house in the US for tea parties, and we really had a lot of fun. I am trying to single-handedly bring back the tea culture to the US!

American girls drinking tea

Iced tea was invented at the 1904 World’s Fair when a tea plantation owner couldn’t sell his hot tea to fair-goers because of the high temps, so he dumped a bunch of ice in his tea, and it became a craze. And now southerns can’t live without it! I have an IV of sweet tea that is pumped into my bloodstream daily. Southerns in America use sweet iced tea to show hospitality to their guests, much like the hot tea traditions around the world. In fact, 80% of tea consumed in the US is served cold.

Tea is thought to have quite a few health benefits, especially green tea. Cancer prevention is one of the greatest of these benefits. Tea may help cardiovascular health, improve metabolism, and help fight viruses. Drink tea for your health!

As a language teacher, I’ve always wondered about the word “tea” and its origins.  I’ve always heard that tea comes from the Chinese word, but I know the Chinese word is cha, which sounds nothing like tea. So, one day my boss and I, the language nerds we are, looked it up online. Apparently, it comes from a southern China dialect in which it is “teh” or “te”, which is how we have the English word tea. The word  probably traveled out of a port in Xiamen and moved on to Europe.  However, many languages follow suit with the more Chinese-sounding cha, while many middle eastern or western Asian countries stick with a variant of chai.

German- tee                    Spanish- te               Swedish- te

French- the                      Italian- te                 Indonesia- teh


Korean-cha                      Persian- cha            Tibetan- ja

Japanese- cha                  Thai- cha                  Punjabi- chah


Aramaic- chai                Ukrainian- chai        Turkish- cay


Only an English teacher would make a chart about the etymology of the word tea! Please don’t tell anyone I did this! I’ll never admit it. :] 

Tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world after water. Now can you tell me if you prefer tea or coffee?

Please share on your social media if you think someone you know might enjoy reading about tea!

Instawalking Blennerhassett Island

There’s an island in the middle of the Ohio River called Blennerhassett Island. The Blennerhassett family used to live in a mansion there, and now visitors can tour the old buildings and walk around the island. Today’s weather was predicted to be beautiful, so my friend Zach and I hopped on the boat that takes you to the island!

















The Queen of, like, Everywhere

I was sitting around chatting with some friends when somehow we started talking about Australia and its government. I said something about the Queen and everyone was like, “Huh?!” I mentioned that the Queen of England is also the Queen of Australia technically. She’s also the Queen of Canada, New Zealand, and on and on. No one believed me. Why do I know these random facts anyway? Haha. So here is some info on how the Queen is the queen of everywhere!

Queen of England meme

Image from memegenerator.co

The Queen is currently sovereign over 15 commonwealths. The Commonwealth has existed for more than 60 years and is made up of 54 independent countries, which used to be under British rule. In 1949, India became the first country to become independent, yet want to stay tied to the Commonwealth group. The London Declaration declared King George the VI as the King of these countries, and then Queen Elizabeth the II after King George’s death. Some other countries that are a part of the Commonwealth are South Africa, Belize, Pakistan, Singapore, Ghana, Bangladesh, and so many more.

So while there are 54 independent countries, there are still 15 that are controlled by royalty. What does that mean exactly? Just like England, Canada has a prime minister instead of a president. Have you ever wondered why? Well, now you know. Countries with royalty usually have a King or Queen who is just a figure-head, while the prime minister is the one with the political power.

The same is true for the 15 Commonwealth realms in addition to the UK-Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Papua New Guinea, St Christopher and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Tuvalu, Barbados, Grenada, Solomon Islands, St Lucia and The Bahamas.

Many of these are islands, some of which we may not have even heard of, but I think many people will be shocked to hear that Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Jamaica have a queen.
Check out this website for more info on any of this. Did you already know this? Do you know any more crazy facts like this that none of your friends knew or even believed you? And, as always, please share on your social media sites if you want your friends to read this too!