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Tea and Culture: How Different World Regions’ Consumption of Tea Provide Insight to Their Culture

This class is “Food and Culture” and this assignment is to write an essay about a food item, how it came to be, and how it tells us about different cultures that eat/drink that item. This paper will be about the origins of, the historical significance of, and a modern cross-cultural comparison of tea. The paper should start by examining where tea first originated, how it was cultivated, and its many uses throughout ancient and imperial East Asian history. From there, it can begin discussing the ways in which the rest of the world gradually became exposed to tea through increasingly interdependent trade networks and colonization. Teas historical influences can be discussed, such as the Boston Tea Party, British opium war in China, the East India trading company, etc. This will be followed by discussing how in the 18th and 19th centuries, tea became such a significant part of Western culture in Europe and the Americas. The paper will finish by comparing practices of tea around the world in Japan, the United Kingdom, and the Southern United States. The paper will examine each of these practices culturally and explain how details from each nations practice can be used to gain insights into its peoples values, beliefs, and cultural identity.