Tea in Islamic Countries
The country with the highest per capita tea consumption is not England, China or India. It’s Turkey, where the average is over 3,000 cups per person per year, nine a day. Morocco is in second place, at five, followed by Ireland and the Independent Islamic Republic of Mauritania, and only then the UK, where tea drinking is down by two-thirds from thirty years ago.
Of the top 30 consumer countries, 15 are in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), which now accounts for a quarter of global tea drinking. The world’s center for tea bag production is Dubai. Tea is as much an Arabic as a European culture and as much influenced by Islam as Asia’s was by Buddhism.
This MENA surge was relatively sudden and late. While records point to trading in tea between Arabs and China as early as the 9th century, it had not become part of the social fabric of Islamic nations. It coexisted with coffee and alcohol.