Tea Time Treat

Tea is most probably the world’s most popular drink and the national drink in many Muslim countries. Muslims did not discover tea but they had a hand in its development and history. The story of tea began in ancient China over 5,000 years ago. In the fourth century tea was a popular drink there.

Via the caravan routes, tea penetrated all Mongol lands, Iran, the Muslim countries and Russia before reaching Europe. Europe got to know about tea relatively late when it was brought by an Arab trader by the name of Suleiman. Dutch settlers established tea plantations on the Muslim islands of Java Sumatra and Sulawesi (in Indonesia). By 1892, the majority of Dutch tea was imported from Java. Tea found its way to Iran from India and soon became the national drink.

Muslim Turkey has the highest per capita consumption in the world at 2.5 kg (in 2004), followed by the UK (2.1 kg) and Morocco (1.4 kg). Turkish tea is drunk by most people in Turkey, the Arab World and the Horn of Africa. Tea was introduced to Morocco in the 18th century through trade with Europe. Queen Elizabeth I of England sent many gifts to the king of Morocco, including delicate tea pots and cups. The palace quickly adopted the ceremony, and within a hundred years tea drinking became national. Tea is the national drink in Egypt. The world's largest producer of tea, India is a country where tea is popular all
over as a breakfast and evening drink. Tea is popular all over Pakistan.
Muslims took to tea, helped develop and grow it and passed it on.

Islamic Focus 45 May 2007