In college, the amount of coffee you drink can quickly turn into a competition between you and your classmates. At times it can feel that if you're not bragging about burning the midnight oil with a thermos full of coffee in your hand, you're doing something wrong.

Tea is coffee's mellow counterpart; it's the acoustic cover of coffee's dance anthem. I personally love to drink black tea with almond milk and occasionally a splash of honey. Nothing too ceremonious but always satisfyingly cozy.

coffee, milk, tea, espresso, cream, cappuccino, sweet
Photo by Rosalind Chang

In other parts of the world, tea is steeped in tradition and carries a lot more cultural significance than just a low-key caffeine buzz. You can find it almost everywhere, practically every country has a corresponding beverage in the tea family. 


tea, coffee
Photo by Alex Wiley

After brewing the Maghreb—the country's traditional combo of mint-green tea—the server adds a hefty amount of sugar and pours the drink from up high to create a foamy top layer in each cup. Each person is served three cups of tea: the first is gentle, the second sweet, and the third cup (from the dregs of the pot) bitter. Drink yours with one of these traditional Moroccan dishes.


coffee, milk, dairy product, cream, bread, sweet, espresso
Photo by Huanan Wu

In a harsh environment like Tibet, it's no surprise that people fortify their tea with some more substantial ingredients to keep themselves energized and warm. Traditionally, Tibetans mix black tea with yak butter and salt to form a soup-like consistency. It kind of reminds me of bulletproof coffee.


beer, tea, coffee
Photo by Vi Tran

If you walk down the street in pretty much any city in the U.S. you'll find cafés selling bubble tea. This trendy and delicious drink was born in Taiwan in the 1980s. Usually bubble tea consists of a sweetened, milky tea mixed with fruit and chewy tapioca pearls (aka bubbles).


tea, herb, black tea, green tea, relish, herbal tea
Photo by Tiffany Zau
There are two types of traditional Japanese tea ceremonies: chakai and chaji. A chakai is informal, with the host serving some treats and maybe a small meal with green tea. A chaji can take several hours and is usually accompanied by a very formal meal, two styles of tea, and desserts.


cake, tea
Rebecca Poole

Tea was first introduced to Britain from China in the 1600s. Anna the Seventh Duchess of Bedford started the "tea time" tradition of having finger sandwiches, cakes, and tea in 1840. And after 170 years, it seems the Brits have their tea down to a tee.

The American South

tea, ice, cocktail, mint, lemon, juice, rum, liquor
Photo by Hannah Lin

Sweet tea started out as a luxury item in the 1800s because ice, tea, and sugar were all very expensive. Now the saccharine drink is an iconic staple throughout the South. Sweet tea typically consists of iced black tea (although sometimes people use other types of iced tea) and a lot of sweetener, such as sorghum syrup or sugar.


coffee, milk, cappuccino, espresso, cream
Photo courtesy of Zomato

The most popular tea in India is chai tea served with milk and sugar. Technically, chai is the Hindi word for tea, so the actual name for what everyone's drinking in India is masala chai.

Street vendors sell this type of tea in clay pots, and some people think that the clay dust actually adds to the flavor of the chai. Try asking the barista at your local coffee shop for a chai latte with clay dust, or make your own.


Kelda Baljon

Noon chai is the drink of choice in the Kashmir region of Pakistan. It consists of milk, pistachios, almonds, and spices that all combine to give the drink its creamy, pink color. Usually, noon chai is served only on special occasions.


If you've ever walked down a street in Argentina, you've probably seen at least a dozen people with a thermos tucked under their arm sipping out of a metal straw stuck in a gourd. The tea they're drinking is called yerba mate. Typically, mate is served in a dried calabaza gourd and sipped through a metal straw called a bombilla. Mate has a bitter taste but is almost always served unsweetened.

Next time you make yourself a cuppa, try branching out and adding an international twist to your teatime.