Polish and Greek tea cultures

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Do you enjoy drinking tea at the beginning of the day, for dinner or evening supper? I do enjoy drinking tea almost every day and I am very surprised that not many people drink tea in Greece. In contrast to Greece, tea is very popular among Polish citizens and consumed at least once a day. This post will tackle the differences in Polish and Greek tea cultures.

Historically, Polish tea culture was not organically developed. It was brought to Poland when King Jan Kazimierz Waza II was the ruler. Due to his wife Maria Ludwika, he began drinking tea in their palace. During their time tea was even introduced into pharmacies, but it was enjoyed mostly by the royalty. In the XVIII century tea began to be appreciated by the royalty and nobility, during the reign of Augustaw Poniatowski. From the personal notes of the chamberlain to the king, Jan Duklan Ochocki, we can deduce that the nobility and royalty enjoyed drinking tea with wine, sugar and even ice creams, so much so that tea drank by them had a stronger and varied aroma than the Chinese tea.

However, for a very long time tea was not appreciated by the vast majority of Poles, because at the time they didn’t know how to prepare it. By the end of XVIII century over 470 tons of coffee was sold and just 19 tons of tea. Brewing tea in Poland started to become more popular during XIX century when Russian soldiers introduced the proper process of brewing tea to Poles on the Russian partition region. By the end of the century tea was just as popular as coffee among Poles.

According to Statista global tea consumption research, Poland was placed 8th on the ranking with 2,20 pounds (or 1 kilogram) of tea consumed annually. From my personal experience as a Pole, it is a habit for us to drink tea during almost every meal. We often add slices of lemon, sugar or honey into our tea. Also, a lot of Poles care about putting honey only in warm or lukewarm water. Thanks to that the honey does not loses its medicinal properties. In the past, it was common for Poles to purchase boxes with sugar cubes, but it faded away and now we use granulated sugar from bags instead. I remember my father and my aunt used to have those years ago.

Most Poles also don’t care about the quality of the tea and instead focus on the low prices. The most popular way of drinking in Poland is drinking hot black tea from a mug. There are different kinds of tea that you can purchase in stores, from the ones in bags to tea leaves. This includes white, green or the most common black tea brand available in Poland “Lipton”.

And on the other hand, Greece was place on 49th place with just 0.05 pounds (or 0.023 kilograms). Which is surprising considering that in Ancient Greece it was prevalent and used both as medicine and a refreshment. The Ancient Greeks believed that tea, the Greek Mountain Tea in particular, provided a surplus of health benefits to a body including supporting the respiratory and inflammatory systems. Contemporary studies showed that it also halt the development of cancer, osteoporosis or even cancer and has other positive effects as well.

So why do Greeks no longer drink tea as often. There are two simple reasons: Greeks treat tea as something akin to medicine and drink it when they are sick. Other than that they also drink it during winter, but still not as much. The other reason is that Greeks simply prefer to drink coffee, especially the cold “freddo” coffee. It is even more popular than the “frappe” that was actually invented in Thessaloniki in 1957.

Polish tea drinking habits did not originate in our country naturally and instead was brought from other cultures. Contemporarily, tea has became one of our important national drinks. In opposite to Poland, tea was already present in ancient Greece, but became less prominent as time went on and was relegated to used only as medicament of sort. It is surprising that tea culture grew exponentially in Poland in such a short time and still is present to this day, while tea culture in Greek is much less popular and niche, considering the historical context. It just shows how different and striking in contrast are Polish and Greek tea cultures.

What is your opinion about tea? How is the tea culture in your country? Leave a comment and share your experience. You can also read about Coffee drinking culture on our website here.

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