Ah, who doesn’t love to curl up with a cup of hot, steaming tea during a cold winter’s day? Even in the warmer months, an afternoon tea with friends and family can help to break up the work day and infuse some much needed relaxation into your daily routine. You don’t need to be British to enjoy tea time; heck, you don’t even need to be a tea enthusiast to find this list extremely interesting. Here we have 10 Hot Tea Facts No One Could Make Up. From the root plant of the teas we all drink and enjoy, to the many different varieties, to how to care for and harvest those precious tea plants, we have everything you want to know about the world’s favorite beverage.

And yes, tea is the most popular drink in the world; recognized by just about every culture on Earth and enjoyed in countless ways. Whether you like yours hot or iced, you will love reading all about tea and its origins. These tidbits span the knowledge of where tea plants grow, the ancient art of tasseology, and how much some populations drink in just one year. It turns out that tea has been enjoyed for a super long time, and it is still a drink of choice for many folks around the globe.

We hope that you enjoy reading all about hot tea, and you might even want to brew yourself a cup or two as you read through these crunchy nuggets. Whether you enjoy your tea in a samovar, a ceramic cup, fine china, or just a take-out cup, you will love this list.

10 It was Too Hot to Handle

Tea Facts
Via wordpress.com

Back in the day, a guy named Richard Blechynden was trying to sell hot tea to patrons of the 1904 World’s Fair, but the beverage was just too dang hot for a summer’s day. So Richard, being the resourceful guy that he was, poured ice into the tea and sold the drink as “iced tea.” It was a hit, and the rest as they say, is history. Yet 1904 was not the first time that people sipped on iced tea. In fact, back in 1877, there was a publication called Housekeeping in Old Virginia, in which a recipe for iced tea was shared.

9 Take Your Pick

Tea Facts
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If you are the indecisive type, then you might want someone to choose for you, because there are some 1,500 different varieties of tea. Seriously. Everything from fruity and fragrant, to herbal, bitter, and everything in between, there is a tea for everyone. Most people know at least the basics of tea: white, green, black, and oolong are some of the most popular types of tea. But there is also jasmine tea, masala tea, earl grey, pomegranate, chamomile, mint, peppermint, lavender…the list goes on and on. Plus, different teas have different medicinal properties, so the fun never ends.

8 Savor the Flavor

Tea Facts
Via pastryartbakerycafe.com

Be sure not to gulp down your next cup of tea because it turns out that a whole lot of effort went into making that small bit of tea. The average pound of tea requires some 2,000 individual tea leaves. The leaves themselves are usually harvested in destinations such as Asia (although tea leaves can be harvested all over the world.) The thing with these leaves is that they do well in higher elevations, where they grow in the wild, and harvesters should pick the tea leaves by hand for best results and flavor. It’s a lot of effort, but it pays off when you sip some stellar tea.

7 Use Tea to Tell the Future

Tea Facts
Via wikimedia.org

Okay, so this one is a bit hokey, but depending on where you’re from, you may have a high level of respect for those who decipher tea leaves. It turns out that this is an ancient trade, and many tea leaf readers in Asia are regarded as experts on Astrology and the like. How it works is they pour just a tiny bit of tea into a cup, along with a handful of tea leaves. You give the leaves a twirl around the cup exactly three times, and the ensuing pattern that the leaves make on the bottom of the cup will tell you your future.

6 Tea Bags Were an Accident

Tea Facts
Via wikimedia.org

Oh, we love the convenience of those tiny tea bags; they make steeping a cup of soothing tea so much easier. Yet back in the day, people had to use loose leaves. It wasn’t until a certain snafu that people started using the tea bags we know and love today. As it turns out, Thomas Sullivan packaged tea leaves in small silk bags for his customers back in 1908. The customers thought they were supposed to just drop the silk bags into their piping hot mug of water to steep the tea. That wasn’t the original intent, but it worked!

5 Tea Around the World

Tea Facts
Via wordpress.com

In Iran and Afghanistan, tea is the national drink. Green tea is used to whet your whistle, while black tea is for warmer months. The British, experts at afternoon tea, consume some 62 billion cups of tea each year. In Russia, tea is brewed and kept in a hot metal container, similar to a thermos (except theirs is called a samovar.) If you go to Morocco, the man will always pour the tea; it is a masculine duty. And the war over largest tea producer is between India and China. China wins with 1,359,000 tons per year (India makes 979,000 tons annually.)

4 Battle of the Beverages

Tea Facts
Via quickanddirtytips.com

If you happen to drink both coffee and tea, then you should be sure to store the beverages in different areas of the kitchen. If you store your coffee grounds right next to your tea bags or tea leaves, there will be a battle of aromas and you will end up with less aromatic and flavorful coffees and teas. Also, remember that in order to achieve the perfect flavor and aroma, you should steep tea for a specified amount of time. Most teas call for a steeping period of 3 to 5 minutes, but it’s best to do your research!

3 A Common Denominator

Tea Facts
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Even though there are hundreds upon hundreds of varieties of teas, they all originate from one single type of plant: the Camellia sinensis. This plant is an evergreen shrub, and it splits into two distinct types: Chinese teas (sinensis variation) and Indian teas (assamica variation.) Depending on the way the plant’s tea leaves are handled and treated during harvesting, it will produce a different type of tea: black, green, white, oolong, etc. While the Camellia sinensis is native to India, Southeast Asia, and parts of China, it can now be farmed and harvested all over the world, albeit with less distinction.

2 There’s a Special Tea for Higher Altitudes

Tea Facts
Via zizira.com

As most of us know, water has a slightly altered boiling point up in the mountains, which can make cooking and baking a bit tricky, as well as the process of brewing some tea! To the rescue comes “Sherpa tea,” which is the tea of choice for making a hot steaming cup at higher elevations. Named for the Sherpas that assist climbers up Mount Everest, Sherpa tea, is a unique combination of oolong and Darjeeling teas, and boils at the lower temperature as required at higher elevations. It makes a great beverage when climbing the mountains in Nepal or Tibet.

1 Tea Plants are Needy

Tea Facts
Via blogspot.com

We told you about the Camellia sinensis, but now let’s talk a bit about its needy nature. This plant should be harvested at higher elevations (usually in India or China.) Not only that, but the plant needs a whopping 4 to 12 years to completely flourish and produce seed, and the plant’s seeds require about 50 inches of rainfall a year, which means that they can’t be planted just anywhere in the world. Most of the Camellia sinensis plants are grown between the Tropics of Capricorn and Cancer, at elevations between 3,000 and 7,000 feet above sea level.