After water, tea is the most consumed beverage worldwide. While tea comes from China, the country most associated with tea is England. And there is a good reason for that: The brits drink 62 billion cups per year or 165 million cups per day! That’s quite a lot, if you consider that the UK has a population of around 64 million people. Only Ireland consumes more tea per capita.
Herbal teas and many fruit teas are technically not teas but so called tisanes or infusions. You see, for something to be officially called tea, it has to contain the leaves of Camellia sinensis, the tea plant. There are an estimated 1,500 types of tea, in the six major varieties: oolong, black, post fermented, green, yellow and white. What we know as black tea is actually called red tea in China. The different flavors are all the result of different subspecies of the plant, the maturity of the leaves used and their treatment.
Tea bags were an accidental creation. In 1908 a merchant gave out tea samples in small silk bags, which were merely intended to be a packaging. The recipients misunderstood this and put the bags directly in the tea pot. The rest is history.