Types of Korean Teas

types of Korean teas

Korean tea is mainly consumed as a hot beverage. It consists of boiled water that is infused with one of many different items including leaves from the tea plant Camellia sinensis. Other popular teas come from the use of flowers, fruit, grains, beans, seeds, roots, shoots and bark infused primarily in hot water, but also sometimes cold water.

Want to know more about Korean Tea? Then read on…

Table of Contents

History

Geographically, Korea rests between China and Japan. Both of these countries are considered the ‘tea giants’ in the world. Korean monks studying in China or Japan were introduced to tea and it is believed that they were responsible to taking the beverage back to their homeland.

Korea’s tea culture was firmly in place by the beginning of the Koryo dynasty (918-1392). At the time, a tea known as ‘uh cha’ was used as a gift to the military from the king. It was also a gift presented by Buddhist priests and monks to grieving families or those with illness.

Customs were developed where boxes of ‘new woun cha’ (mind origin tea) or ‘dae cha’ (great tea) were placed with the deceased during funeral ceremonies. At the end of the Koryo dynasty, the focus on tea shifted and ceremonies ceased. The emphasis on tea disappeared.

Over the centuries tea became a taxed item and Buddhist monasteries and tea fields were destroyed. By the 16th century there were few sources of tea in all of Korea. A return to Buddhism surfaced in the 18th century and traditional tea ceremonies were restored.

The Korean Tea Ceremony

The Korean people have followed a traditional tea ceremony for well over a thousand years. It is called ‘Darye’ which translates to mean ‘tea rite’ or ‘etiquette for tea.’ The focus of the ceremony is to naturally enjoy drinking tea in an easy, formal setting.

In contemporary times, the tea ceremony has become a way in which to find a relaxing moment in today’s fast-paced Korean culture. There are over 15 recognized different tea ceremonies followed in Korea and they include the following three historic types:

Day Tea Rite

This was the daily palace tea ceremony introduced during the Joseon dynasty (1392-1910).

Special Tea Rite

This was a special Joeseon dynasty ceremony used to welcome visiting foreigners. It was the tea ceremony also followed on trade and tribute missions and at royal weddings.

Queen Tea Ceremony

This tea ceremony was reserved for use only with family, servants and women friends of the Queen. It did not always include her but did often require the participation of the Crown Prince.

Types of Tea Used In Korean Tea Ceremonies

Heavily pressed cakes of black tea were the first type used in Korean tea ceremonies. The Buddhist monks who imported tea plants to Korea introduced a more delicate series of teas to the tradition. Green tea is most commonly used with others served at different times of the year.

Different Tastes of Korean Tea

There are five distinctive tastes that all Korean teas are categorized under. They are:

  • bitterness,
  • sweetness,
  • astringency,
  • saltiness, and
  • sourness.

Teas are not typically aged as freshness is favored. New harvests of tea leaves receive additional attention by drinkers.

There are also four kinds of thought that are evoked for Korean Buddhists. The teas that enhance these are valued more because of the qualities they possess. The four types of thought are:

  • respectfulness,
  • purity,
  • quietness, and
  • peacefulness.

Below we have a closer look at many of the different types of Korean teas that are available, including a few specific examples of some of our favorite teas:

Leaf Teas

These are teas that are an infusion of boiled water and leaves. The Korean tea culture uses far more than just tea leaves opting for the leaves of various other plants. Each leaf tea has a different flavor, and some are more popular than others and are used in ceremonies.

Baegyeop-cha (Pine Leaf Tea)

This is an herbal tea made from the leaves of the Korean pine tree. It is also known by the name jannip-cha. There are a few different varieties of pine trees that are used for different teas made from the leaves and needles.

Baeksan-cha (White Mountain tea)

The flowering Rhododendron plant is used to create an herbal tea that has many names including Labrador tea and White Mountain tea. It is believed to be beneficial as a remedy for puncture wounds and bites.

Bakha-cha (Mint Tea)

Mint leaves infused in hot water produces mint tea. In Korea it is made with East Asian wild mint leaves. Essential oils, including menthol, are present in high concentrations in mint leaves. As a result, mint tea is used to treat digestive system issues and is considered an anti-inflammatory.

Daennip-cha (Bamboo Leaf Tea)

Bamboo leaves from the perennial flowering plant are used to create this herbal tea. It is used to assist with hair growth and contains several antioxidants. Bamboo leaf tea provides relief from inflammation and offers assistance in adding bone density.

Doncha (Money Tea)

Leaves from wild tea plants are steamed and pounded into a disc shape with a hole added. It resembles a coin and that is how it was named Money tea. A lump of about 8 grams is steeped in hot water for between five and ten minutes.

The doncha lump can be reused three to four times and the tea is believed to provide aid in dealing with stomach aches. It has also been used to treat fever, fight colds, reduce constipation and aid with detoxification.

Gamnip-cha (Persimmon Leaf Tea)

The leaves of the persimmon tree are infused with boiled water to create this herbal tea. Bitter to the taste, this caffeine-free beverage has health benefits due to the high concentration of vitamins and minerals contained in the leaves. It is used primarily to boost metabolism.

Persimmon Leaf Tea Bags, by Ssanggye Tea

Persimmon Leaf Tea
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Cultivated from Jiri Mountain in Korea, this package of Persimmon Leaf Tea contains a total of 40 1-gram tea bags. This tea will assist with weight loss as Persimmon halts the flow of fat within your body.

With high fiber content, lipid levels are reduced, and additional benefits come from the fact that persimmon leaves have ten times the Vitamin C of lemons. It also has more essential amino acids that most other fruits and vegetables.

Gamno-cha (Sweet Dew Tea)

The hydrangea plant is also known as sweet dew. Leaves from it are used to create this sweet-tasting herbal tea. The leaves are known to have an anti-bacterial effect and contain several anti-oxidants used in herbal medicine.

Hongcha (Red Tea)

Small black twisted leaves are used to create this ‘red’ tea. It steeps to a light amber color and is a very light, malty, creamy and fruity character. The tea tastes smooth with the flavor of raisins, eucalyptus and menthol.

Hwangcha (Yellow Tea)

Yellow tea is the term used to describe a number of fermented or lightly oxidized teas. In Korea, it is made in much the same manner as oolong tea or lightly oxidized black tea. Each tea master has a variation they use in the processing of the tea leaves for yellow tea. It gets its name from the color of the steeped beverage which results from a low level of oxidation.

Hwangsan-cha (Rosebay Tea)

A species of Rhododendron plant commonly called Lapland rosebay is used in the creation of this herbal tea. The leaves from the plant are infused with boiled water.

Iseul-cha (Dew Tea)

A species of the hydrangea flowering plant is used for this herbal tea. The leaves of the mountain hydrangea have high concentrations of a natural sweetener called phyllodulcin. It is what gives this tea a sweet taste.

Maegoe-cha (Rugose Rose Tea)

The leaves from the Rosa rugosa plant are used for this medicinal herbal tea. Rich levels of Vitamin C, antioxidants and flavonoids are present. This tea is beneficial in aiding digestion and is also good for heart and blood health.

Mulssuk-cha (Mugwort Tea)

Artemisia vulgaris, commonly called mugwort, is a plant that is used for medicinal purposes. The tea made from this herb is effective is fighting pain, treating fever and used as a diuretic agent.

Organic Mugwort Tea, by Buddha Teas

Mugwort Tea
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This package contains a total of 18 sealed tea bags of organic mugwort sold by a California-based company. This unique product is not available in any store making mugwort tea something special to enjoy at home.

Medicinal properties found in mugwort include improved dream quality for better sleep and protection at home or on the road from evil spirits.

Nokcha (Green Tea)

Green tea is a term used to describe a number of different teas that have not been processed in the same way that oolong and black teas are. In other words, green teas have not been subjected to the withering and oxidation process.

Organic Green Tea Powder, by Zeda Tea

Nokcha (Green Tea)
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Hand-picked tea leaves from Korea’s Soa Dawon tea plantation are used for this tea powder. The tea farm is certified organic by the USDA and has received awards for the hygienic production processes and equipment used.

The package contains 50 grams of powder which results in a deep flavor when used to make a hot cup of tea.

Ppongnip-cha (Mulberry Leaf Tea)

The leaves of this fast-growing tree are used to make an herbal tea. The mulberry contains several medicinal qualities ranging from anti-bacterial properties useful in treating food poisoning to reducing symptoms encountered by many diabetics.

Mulberry Leaves Tea, by Ssanggye Teas

Mulberry Leaf Tea
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This wild mulberry leaf tea package contains a total of 40 1-gram individually-wrapped tea bags. It has been used by many online to combat blood sugar issues with varying degrees of success. Identified as a product of Korea, the taste may not be what you are accustomed to from a cup of tea.

Seombaengnihyang-cha (Thyme Tea)

The leaves of the thyme plant are used to make this herbal tea. It contains several health benefits including as a disinfectant, to assist with respiratory conditions and slow the aging process. Other benefits include aiding with digestive health, easing PMS symptoms and regulating blood pressure.

Sollip-cha (Pine Leaf Tea)

Pine trees provide leaves and needles that are used to produce various herbal teas in Korean. The leaves used from the Korean red pine or Manchurian red pine is used for this particular tea.

Tteokcha or byeongcha (Cake Tea)

A class of teas that have undergone microbial fermentation are known in Korea as cake tea. The tea leaves are exposed to humidity and oxygen in order for the fermentation to take place. The steeped tea is darker in color and becomes even darker depending on the amount of oxidation.

Yeonnip-cha (Lotus Leaf Tea)

The leaves of the lotus plant are used to produce this herbal tea. It is used to beat stress, improve cardiovascular health as well as for lowering blood sugar. It assists with mental function and weight control as well.

Flower Teas

In Korean tea culture, many teas come from the use of several different flowers. Dried flower pedals are infused with boiled water to create fragrant and flavorful hot beverages.

Dohwa-cha (Peach Flower Tea)

This traditional herbal tea is made from dried peach flowers which have had the stamens removed. This drink is believed to assist in the treatment of constipation and calculus.

Goehwa-cha (Pagoda Flower Tea)

Dried pagoda flowers are used to create this herbal tea. It has a bitter taste and is used to treat various health conditions including blood health and to regulate blood pressure.

Gujeolcho-cha (Dendranthema Tea)

Flowers from the white-lobe Korean dendranthema, a variety of chrysanthemum, are dried and infused with boiled water to produce this herbal tea.

Gukhwa-cha (Chrysanthemum Tea)

Young leaves and flowers from the chrysanthemum plant are dried in order to be used to create this popular herbal tea. It is used primarily as a sleeping aid.

Organic Chrysanthemum Floral Tea

Chrysanthemum Tea
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This box of Korean tea bags originates from the Jiri Mountain region. The organically-grown chrysanthemums are picked at their peak and dried for processing. This package contains a total of 40 0.5-gram tea bags.

This tea is known to be effective in eye health, as a sleeping aid and to combat fevers associated with cold and flu.

Gyehwa-cha (Cinnamon Flower Tea)

Boiling dried leaves or a cinnamon stick in water produces a spicy, sweet tasting tea. It has several health benefits due to the concentration of antioxidants it contains. It can assist in regulating cholesterol and blood sugar.

The tea can also be made with cinnamon ground into a powder and mixed with hot water.

Gyulhwa-cha (Citrus Flower Tea)

There are many types of citrus trees and the blossoms from them can be dried to make herbal tea. Just like the fruit that comes from these trees, the tea will have several health benefits related to the level of antioxidants and Vitamin C contained.

Maehwa-cha (Plum flower Tea)

Dried plum blossom flowers are used for this tea. It is considered to have several health benefits including the relief of thirst, coughing and nausea. It is also effective is calming nervousness and as a hangover remedy.

Mindeulle-cha (Dandelion Tea)

Dandelion roots and leaves have often been used for tea. The dried flowers are also used in this way. In addition to tasting good, the hot drink has been known to be an effective liver detoxifier.

Mongnyeon-cha (Magnolia Tea)

Magnolia buds and flowers are used to make herbal tea. It is effective when used to clear nasal passages and to fight off the first signs of cold symptoms.

Yeonhwa-cha or Yeonkkot-cha (Lotus Flower Tea)

The flower of the lotus plant is dried and infused with hot water to make this herbal tea. This tea is known to fight stress, regular blood sugar levels and to improve cardiovascular health.

Fruit Teas

In addition to leaves and flowers used to create tea, Korean tea culture also includes several different fruit teas. These are most often created with dried bits of the fruit from various different trees native to the region.

Daechu-cha (Jujube Tea)

Made from jujubes, this tea is high in iron, potassium and Vitamins B and C. The color ranges from deep ruby brown to a rich, dark maroon.

Traditional Jujube Serving Packets, by Damtuh

Jujube Tea
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Made from jujube extract and various nuts, this Korean tea comes in a powder form. The package contains a total of 15 single serving packets. The tea contains protein, sugar, organic acid, mucin, three vitamins and additional minerals.

This tea is effective in treating nervousness and to fight aging.

Gugija-cha (Goji Berry Tea)

Dry, roasted goji berries are used for this tea which is orange/pink in color. It has a sweet taste and is used for various health reasons. It fights fatigue, diabetes and back pain in addition to assisting with eyesight and skin conditions.

Goji Berry Gugija Tea, by the Ssangkye Tea Company

Goji Berry Tea
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This package contains 80 grams of little, loose, dried berries. Add to hot water until it turns reddish in color and enjoy. This is a mild but good tasting tea that is healthy for you.

Gyulpi-cha (Citrus Peel Tea)

You can use the peel of any citrus fruit for this tea. Dry it first then add to hot water. Each tea is fruity in flavor and light pale in color.

Hobak-cha (Pumpkin Tea)

This tea has a sweet aroma and a light, clean taste. It has health benefits such as reducing bloating and can provide you with a midday energy boost.

Maesil-cha (Plum Tea)

Plum syrup mixed with water is the common method of making this tea. It can also be made with the juicing of grated green plums to create an extract that is then dried in the sun.

Honey Plum Tea, by Ottogi

Plum Tea
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Available in a 35 ounce/1-kilogram size jar, this product of Korea is plum-flavored honey tea. Just add two or three scoops to hot or cold water to enjoy this sweet tasting tea.

Mogwa-cha (Quince Tea)

This remedy for sour throats is a tea made from quince skin and flesh that has been pickled in sugar and water over a period of a few months. Spoon some into a cup with boiling water to make into a tea.

Ogwa-cha (Five Fruit Tea)

This traditional Korean tea is made with a combination of ginkgo, jujube, walnut, chestnut and dried persimmon. All of these items are mashed with ginger, boiled in water and then strained.

Omae-cha (Smoked Plum Tea)

Smoked plums in this hot beverage bring many health benefits. They include improved energy through the fighting of fatigue and assistance with blood purification.

Omija-cha (Magnolia Berry Tea)

Called the five-flavor tea, this traditional beverage is made from dried magnolia berries. It is typically served on hot days and features the five flavors of sweetness, sourness, bitterness, saltiness and pungency.

Oriental Schandra Berry Tea, by Nokchawon

Magnolia Berry Tea
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This five-flavor fruity tonic tea comes in a box of 20 stick packages. Just add to hot or cold water for a unique drink. This specific bundle includes a black ink ballpoint pen. This drink is intended to assist men with their sexual function and contains an herbal blend known for this benefit.

Sansuyu-cha (Cornelian Cherry Tea)

Berries grown on this flowering plant are dried and used for this medicinal herbal remedy. The tea has a tart taste to it and is believed to be helpful in improving the circulatory system.

Seongnyu-cha (Pomegranate Tea)

The pomegranate is considered a ‘super’ fruit in many cultures. The tea made from it provides many health benefits as the fruit contains high concentrations of antioxidants.

Taengja-cha (Hardy Orange Tea)

A hardy orange preserve is used to make this traditional tea. Sliced hardy oranges are preserved in honey then after a period of time they are infused with hot water to make tea.

Yuja-cha (Yuja Tea)

Peeled, de-pulped and thinly sliced yuja is preserved in honey. After the process is completed, the mixture is in the form of marmalade. This is spooned into hot water and mixed to make tea.

Honey Citron Tea, by Ottogi

Yuja Tea
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This jar of citron fruit in honey is ready for use. Just spoon out two or three teaspoons and mix with hot or cold water. The tea has a sweet taste and is a good source of Vitamin C which is good for cold relief. The container will provide 50 servings.

Grain, Bean, and Seed Tea

Korean tea culture uses more that leaves, flowers and fruit for tea. There are many different types of teas that are made with various grains, beans and seeds.

Bon-Cha (Barley Tea)

Roasted barley tea is very likely the most popular drink in Korea. It is often found served in glasses alongside water. Health benefits of this tea include assisting with digestion, relieving stress and as a body detoxifier.

Gyeolmyeongja-cha (Sicklepod Tea)

Dried cassia seeds from the sicklepod plant are used to make this tea that is enjoyed hot or cold. It is used to treat liver issues and eyesight.

Roasted Cassia Tea, by Ssandkye Tea Company

Gyeolmyeongja-cha (Sicklepod Tea)
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This package of loose-leaf tea contains 100 grams of the dried cassia seeds. Just steep in hot water and strain to a mug or cup to drink.

Hyeonmi-cha (Brown Rice Tea)

This tea is made with toasted brown rice added to the steeping process. The beverage, enjoyed hot or cold, has a strong, nutty flavor.

Memil-cha (Buckwheat Tea)

Roasted buckwheat is used to make this popular Korean tea which is enjoyed hot or cold. It is also frequently consumed instead of water.

Traditional Buckwheat Tea, by Damtuh

Memil-cha (Buckwheat Tea)
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This box contains a total of 40 tea bags of traditional tartary Korean buckwheat which is loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The tea has a rich, nutty flavor and is used to increase energy.

Misu-cha (Rice Tea)

The flavonoids, antioxidants, trace minerals and vitamins found in brown rice make this tea a favorite for medicinal purposes.

Nokdu-cha (Mung Bean Tea)

Roasted mung beans are steeped in water to make this tea. It has a nutty flavor and is known to improve metabolism.

Oksusu-cha (Corn Tea)

A mild, light tea results from infusing corn silk in water. This is a popular Korean tea.

Traditional Com Silk Tea, by Damtah

Corn Tea
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Considered a good source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, this package contains 40 tea bags of Korean corn silk tea. The beverage is aromatic and has a soft flavor.

Yulma-cha (Job’s Tears Tea)

This slightly sweet tea is wonderfully creamy to taste. It is often used to treat stomach ulcers and for any other stomach condition.

Root, Shoot, and Bark Tea

Many different plant forms are used in Korean tea culture. Plant roots, shoots and bark produce different and flavorful teas that differ from those made by using the leaves and fruit of the same sources. Other root, shoot and bark teas provide for new plants to be used to expand the choice of teas available.

Chikcha / Galgeun-cha (Arrow Root Tea)

Sliced or powdered arrow root is used to make this tea which is known to provide headache relief.

Danggwi-cha (Angelica Root Tea)

Dried angelica root is boiled in water to make this tea. It is believed to assist with regulating hormones.

Doraji-cha (Balloon Flower Root Tea)

Dried or powdered root is used to make a tea that is effective in treating respiratory issues.

Dunggulle-cha (Solomon’s Seal Tea)

Tea made from this root is considered a good remedy for various heart ailments.

Korean Tea Bags Solomon’s Seal, by Dong Suh

Solomon’s Seal Tea
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This box of 50 tea bags produces a delicate tea that can easily replace water in your drinking habits. This product of Korea can be enjoyed hot or cold for the same heart health benefits.

Gyepi-cha (Cinnamon Tea)

Cassia cinnamon bark is used to make a tea that is often mixed with ginger tea. The bark is either used whole or ground up into a powder.

Hongsam-cha (Red Ginseng Tea)

The red ginseng plant root is decocted over low heat for several hours to create this drink. When served, honey and pine nuts are added.

Insam-cha (Ginseng Tea)

This tea is made in the same manner as red ginseng tea is in Korea.

Instant Ginseng Tea, by Prince of Peace

Ginseng Tea
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This package contains 10 boxes of 10 tea bags each of instant Korean ginseng tea. This tea is known to relief stress and fatigue and contains antioxidants that improve immunity and metabolism.

Macha (Yam Tea)

Powdered wild yam root is used to make this tea that is good for regulating blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

Saenggang-cha (Ginger Tea)

Sliced ginger root added to boiled water produces this sweet and tasty tea that is effective in soothing sore throats and treating other respiratory conditions.

Ueong-cha (Burdock Tea)

Dried, roasted burdock root makes a tea known for its medicinal benefits that focus primarily on blood and the circulatory system.

Natural Roasted Burdock Tea, by Prince Herb

Burdock Tea
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This package contains 20 nylon pyramid tea bags of burdock root tea. Steep in hot water and drink for many health benefits from the high concentration of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals in each serving.

Yeongeum-cha (Lotus Root Tea)

A sweet tasting tea is produced from the root of this plant. The medicinal benefits are centered on the respiratory system.

Combination and Other Teas

The final type of Korean teas on our list falls under the category of combinations of ingredients and those that do not fall under any of the previous distinctions.

Beoseot-cha (Mushroom Tea)

Made by infusing mushrooms in water. The health benefits of this tea include regulating blood pressure and aiding liver health.

Dried Wood Ears Mushroom, by ChoripDong

Mushroom Tea
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This package contains just over 2 ounces of dried wood’s ear mushrooms that can be used for cooking, soups as well as in tea.

Dasima-cha (Kelp Tea)

Infusing kelp in water is what you do in order to make this Korean tea. The health benefits that come from it include increased metabolism, boosting immunity and the regulation of the thyroid gland.

Donga-cha (Wintermelon Tea)

Prepared from the wintermelon fruit, this tea is said to be effective in eliminating excess water from the body.

Giguk-cha (Goji Chrysanthemum Tea)

A mixture of chrysanthemum flowers and goji berries are used to create this flavorful tea. It is used to improve eyesight.

Gyulgang-cha (Citrus Ginger Tea)

The combination of a tart citrus fruit and the zing of ginger make a great tasting tea that is effective in treating respiratory concerns.

Hyeonmi-nokcha (Brown Rice Green Tea)

This is actually a blend of brown rice tea and green tea.

Dong Korean Brown Rice Green

Brown Rice Green Tea
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This box features 50 x 1.5-gram tea bags of Korean brown rice green tea. It has a mild taste with the distinctive brown rice aroma.

Jeho-tang

Made with honey and several other ingredients, this is a cold drink that is used in Korean medicine.

Podo-cha (Grape Tea)

This is a tea made with a mixture of grapes, Korean pear, ginger and honey.

Ssanghwa-tang (Root Tea)

Tea made from the combination of white woodland peony root, rehmannia root, Mongolian milkvetch root, Korean angelica root, lovage root, Chinese cinnamon bark and Chinese licorice.

Sunchae-cha (Watershield Tea)

The mixture of watershield leaves, magnolia berry-infused water, pine nuts and honey is used to create this tea.

Conclusion

With well over 70 different types of tea drinks, Koreans clearly love their tea and also enjoy exploring different ways to make that tasty, often healthy, beverage.

This list is not complete, but it does give you a good idea of the many different ways tea can be made and how it is connected to the culture of the region.

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