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!

Miss Melting Pot

I usually don’t pay attention to things like the Miss America Pageant. In fact, I usually avoid them. However, the pageant last night has really caught some attention  because of the winner. Nina Davuluri, Miss New York, is an Indian American, as in, her family is from India. She was born in New York, but her parents came to the US from India in the 80’s. She’s the first Indian American to win Miss America, and many American people were not ok with this apparently. Twitter exploded with rants and raves about a Muslim winning Miss America, one Tweeter even going as far as calling Nina a terrorist.  Tweeters whined about how a “person like this” shouldn’t be winning so soon after 9/11. And most tweeters just sounded ignorant- making 7-11 jokes, calling her Egyptian, and saying “This is America.” (Read all the tweets here.)

Do people forget that America was founded on immigration? Are most of the people upset about this Native Americans? My guess is no. My guess is their families came from another country too; it just may have been more generations ago. Why is it ok to be an immigrant if you’re white but not ok if you’re any other color? Why did so many people say that Theresa Vail, Miss Kansas, should have won? Just because she is blonde and likes to hunt instead of enjoying Bollywood dancing?  Is Miss Kansas more American than Miss New York? I wasn’t aware that skin color and interests made a person American.

In school, we were always taught that America is a melting pot, people from different countries and cultures came together in the US and became one country and one people. However, I believe more in the salad bowl theory, which says many people come to the US and become Americans,  yet they can still retain things from their home countries and home cultures. We are lettuce, and tomatoes, and cheese. We are in the salad bowl together, but we remain as separate items at the same time.  That is what allows people to be Indian American, or Mexican American, or Italian American, or whatever they may be. That is what makes American great; we aren’t homogeneous.  We eat Mexican food for lunch, then we have Chinese food for dinner. We share and learn from each other’s backgrounds or cultures.

I don’t know. She looks American to me.

Miss New York

Source: buzzfeed.com

I Got Threaded Today

My sister Katie, my friend Lisa, and I got threaded today.

Before we continue, please cast your vote about what you think threading is:
a) getting really high on prescription pills
b) being cut by an enemy with barbed wire
c) a beauty procedure

Ding, ding, ding! You win a prize if your answer was C. Oh the things we women will do for beauty! We get procedures preformed on us that sound like things that are done to you on your first night in prison.

My sister has been raving lately about having her eyebrows threaded, so Lisa and I wanted to give it a go. Threading seems to be fairly new, at least in this area. However, it has actually been around for quite some time.

Threading has been a preferred method for women in India and many Arab countries for centuries. It is a way to shape the eyebrows and remove unwanted hair. Thread is used to pluck the hair a line at a time. This method is faster than plucking individual hairs and is less irritating to the skin than waxing.

My sister had been to this particular threading joint several times before, so the owners were friendly enough to talk to us and let us take a few pictures.

Eyebrow Threading

Notice how the thread is anchored in her mouth. And it’s done so quickly! If you’re thinking about giving this a try, I will say it stings a bit. It hurts less than getting your eyebrows waxed though. The results last for about two weeks. It’s pretty inexpensive at $10, which is about the same price you’ll pay to get your eyebrows waxed.

Eyebrow Threading

Just like I enjoy trying food from other countries or listening to music from far away places, it’s also an adventure to try things from other countries you wouldn’t normally think about, like beauty procedures. I always like to do something different. This was my different for the week. :]

Have you ever tried threading? What did you think? If you haven’t, would you? Have you tried an even weirder beauty procedure while living abroad or even in your own country? I did have my eyelashes chemically, semi-permanently curled while I lived in China. But, that’s another story for another day…