Have Tea, Will Travel
Tea is gaining popularity in America, but across the globe it has been enjoyed for centuries. WorldAtlas recently published this list of the Top 10 tea producing countries. We reached out to our fellow tea lovers and travelers to find out the must-sees and dos when you travel far and wide for your tea fix.
This South American country is the perfect place to cultivate black tea, and the Argentinians recognize Mate (an herbal brew) as their national drink. Be sure to grab a cup while visiting these recommendations from our community:
- Evan (31): Head to La Boca neighborhood to catch a Boca Juniors soccer game and see some great street shows
- Sophie (37): Iguazu Falls - a giant waterfall on the border of Argentina and Brazil - is muddy and massive, surrounded by lush jungle. It’s a tough hike, but well worth it!
- Eli (34) & Kristi (29): Take the city tours and visit the major land marks. For some entertainment, go see a beautiful Tango Show. San Antonio De Areco is a great place to get a taste of Guacho culture and eat delicious BBQ. Lastly, Uco Valley is located in the Mendoza Valley a.k.a. wine country! Take the bike ride through the country and stop at the wineries for some of the most delicious wine you’ll ever taste!
9. The Islamic Republic of Iran
We don’t have any recommendations for you here, but we are hoping you can give us some! Tea overtook coffee in the last six centuries as the country’s hot beverage of choice, and now the country has thousands of acres of tea farms sprawling across its hills. If you get a chance to visit, let us know! We’d love to know what else to see and do.
The Japanese produce almost 100,000 tons of tea each year but export less than 2% of it! They obviously love their green tea, so while you enjoy a cup of that, make sure you also:
- Evan (31): Visit the Hiroshima memorial and museum, the Toji temple in Kyoto, and hike around Mt. Fuji.
- Stephanie (26): Visit Hiroshima and, if you get a chance, make paper cranes to lay at the Sadako memorial.
- Sophie (37): Stroll through the city parks and gardens. For such a bustling city, the gardens remain a peaceful refuge to take in lush, green, perfectly manicured landscapes. The Tokyo National Museum is great, too. It's small, yet impeccably curated.
- Stephanie (41): Walk through the Harajuku district for excellent people watching. In Okinawa, there is a kitschy place called Okinawa World with a huge cave, a wonderful snake show, and great examples of local crafts.
- Alec (18): In Owakudani, try the hard-boiled eggs cooked in natural sulfur springs, which makes them black! They taste pretty much just like regular eggs, they are said to have a number of life-extending powers.
This country has a great balance of large-scale companies using modern technology as well as small-scale, independent producers. The types of tea they produce are about as varied as the sites to enjoy when you visit!
- Evan (31): Take a tour of the Cu Chi tunnels, relax on the beaches in Nha Trang, and explore the My Son Sanctuary.
- Ashleigh: Do the 3-day boat tour to Halong Bay, which includes a stay on a private island, a bike ride through the country-side, and touring a hospital in a cave that was used during the Vietnam War. Nha-Trang Fun is the place to go for beaches, relaxing, parties, spa, etc. Spend an entire day at the spa and do the mud bath for less than $5! There is also great shopping in the area and tons of history. Make sure to check out the War Remnants Museum for a heartbreaking but eye-opening look at the Vietnam war from the Vietnamese point-of-view. Oh, and get some PHO! The street version is the cheapest and most delicious!
Although the Indonesians produce more black than green tea, their tea is most popular in blends. You may not recognize their crops, but hopefully you get a chance to check out:
- Sophie (37): Bali - full of smiling people, rice fields, and Hindu shrines and temples. The vibe in Bali alone is worth the trip. It is not uncommon to see a moped fly by with a family of 4 all on board. The beach is lovely, and it's a reasonably priced vacation spot full of low-priced luxuries.
Did you know that almost all of Turkey’s tea is produced near the small city of Rize? They produce mostly black tea and Rize tea, both of which rival the internationally famous drink: Turkish coffee.
- Stephanie (26): In Turkey, visit Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, and Ephesus. Ephesus is especially amazing with ancient ruins as well as the house where the Virgin Mary was believed to spend her last days. Make sure to bring lots of water to stay hydrated, as Turkey gets extremely hot!
4. Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan tea production has grown over 9000 times in the last 150 years, and it currently employs over a million Sri Lankan workers. Although we don’t have any personal recommendations for this country, we are envious of anyone who gets to visit “these beautiful beaches” in this bustling top tea country!
Rather than a country of large, commercial plantations, the majority of Kenya’s tea is produced on small farms less than one acre in size! This country is dedicated to innovation and are constantly working to develop stronger, more abundant varieties. Our tea family also recommends:
- Evan (31): Safari in the Maasai Mara National Reserve. Visit a Masaai village and travel to the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro (which is actually in Tanzania, but you can get great views from Kenya).
- Blair (39): Elephant Bedroom is glamping at its finest, and, true to its namesake, has a daily elephant visitor named Sam as well as no fences to keep out any other wildlife making it an amazing first-hand experience. Sweetwater Tented Camp is a bit larger, not as glamourous, but with more of a fence. There is also a watering hole where you can see tons of warthog, zebras, and giraffes. Sarova Lion Hill (a.k.a. Flamingo Lake) is a great place to see rhino and water buffalo. Lastly, in Masai Mara, stay at Mara Serena Safari Lodge overlooking the entire Valley. End your trip with a sunrise hot air balloon ride – you won’t regret it!
Although it is a top-tea producing nation, Indians actually drink over 70% of the tea produced in that country! India is most famous for the spicy chai blends popular with many Americans.
Consumed as a beverage and even a medicine, it is no surprise that this legendary tea-powerhouse produces over 1,000,000 tons each year! Not only do they produce lots of leaves, but the variety of teas is extensive with everything from the popular green to the lesser-known pu-erh.
Where have your tea travels taken you? Have you been to Sri Lanka or The Islamic Republic of Iran? Let us know where to go in the comments below!
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