Top 5 Countries for Coffee and Tea Drinking

by Mark Wiens on January 21, 2014 · 9 comments

Chai in India

Chai in India

Along with eating, another thing I thoroughly enjoy when I travel, is sipping on the favorite local hot beverage.

Sitting at my laptop, typing articles or editing videos, I continually need to be fueled by something warm, preferably full of caffeine, and constantly available.

Sometimes I travel with my own coffee and tea, but I normally like to explore and then purchase a stock of whatever is available locally.

Also, enjoying a hot beverage on the street-side, after a tummy full of delicious food, is a great way to top off a meal and let the food digest.

Here are 5 hot beverages I thoroughly enjoyed, in countries that I have visited.

1. Tea in China

After polishing off a greasy and delicious Chinese feast, or while sitting at my laptop, any variety of Chinese tea is one of the finest things to sip on.

Tea plays a major part in the Chinese culture, and there are some serious connoisseurs. You can even have a tea ceremony or a tea tasting session, where you’ll get to see the tea master steeping and preparing aromatic natural teas to perfection.

One thing I love about Chinese tea is that all you have to do is pour hot water over the dry leaves, let them steep for a few minutes in a mug, and you’re good to go. It’s easy to prepare in a hotel room.

2. Chai in India

Another one of the world’s most tempting hot beverages is Indian chai.

Black tea is steeped until strong with flavor, then toned down with thick, full-fat milk, and sweetened up with generous amounts of sugar.

Chai on the streets of India is often poured into a cup from high above, so it bubbles up and has a little bit of frothy foam on top.

Always served in small clay cups, that you smash on the ground after you’re finished drinking, Kolkata was my favorite place in India to drink chai.

Yerba mate

Yerba mate

3. Yerba Mate in Argentina and Uruguay

After arriving in Argentina or Uruguay, it won’t take long for you to be curious about a peculiar beverage, sucked out of a metal straw from a small gourd cup.

A few days of traveling around, and I was presented with my first opportunity, under the supervision of a couple Argentinians I had befriended, to sample a beverage known as yerba mate – and I fell in love from my first sip!

The leafy dry herb is filled into a gourd cup, steeped in hot water, and sucked out of a metal straw. I soon purchased my own gourd, a thermos for hot water, and carried my mate everywhere I went.

Note: Yerba mate is also popular in Paraguay, Brazil, and Bolivia, but I have only had a chance to visit Argentina and Uruguay so far.

Coffee in Ethiopia

Coffee in Ethiopia

4. Coffee in Ethiopia

Going to Ethiopia, I was overjoyed to begin drinking the coffee. It didn’t take longer than about 5 minutes, just after arriving to my hotel, when I got a full whiff of roasting coffee, and stepped into a tiny shack for a cup. It was awesome.

My entire trip to Ethiopia was fueled by probably the most amount of coffee I’ve consumed each and every day of my life.

It was affordable and so good every single time. In Ethiopia, both European and traditional Ethiopian style coffee is available.

5. Coffee in Vietnam

Coffee in Vietnam is very different from coffee in Ethiopia. In Vietnam, they have an amazing and flourishing coffee scene, influenced originally by the French, but transformed the Vietnamese way.

Pop a squat at a Vietnamese coffee shop, and you can either get a hot or cold strong black coffee infused with sweetened condensed milk. It’s chocolatey, creamy, and sweet, and offers that power shot of energy you need to walk around or get work done.

This is just a sampling of all the wonderful hot beverages available when we travel.

Just about every single country in the world has their own version of a hot beverage, so if you have a favorite, please feel free to leave a comment below!

About the Author:

is the author of 154 posts on Go Backpacking.

Mark was raised in central Africa before migrating back to the US for University. After graduating, he decided to continue traveling the world. On Migrationology, he shares the cultural side of travel from a slow paced local perspective that often revolves around his love for eating all forms of food. Join him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter @migrationology, and add him on Google Plus.

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9 Comments

Saroj January 21, 2014 at 9:28 am

In India, Chai is not served using a small clay cups. Small clay cups may be used in some area s of Kolkata. The Small Clay Cup concept was also introduced into Indian Railways for serving chai for reducing the use of plastic cups, but was scrapped later.

Chai is mostly served by small glasses, small cups in almost every part of india.

Reply

Dave January 21, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Thanks for the correction, perhaps “always” should’ve been omitted from Mark’s comment. Most of my chai teas on the street and in trains were served in the little plastic cups.

Reply

Jennifer Kolbuc January 21, 2014 at 10:46 am

Have checked two off the list – coffee in Vietnam and Yerba Mate in Argentina! Huge part of the culture there. Had my first iced coffee in Vietnam and it’s been hard to give it up ever since.

Just published an article on Farm to Cup Coffee as well in Colombia, pretty much tied for 3rd spot for coffee production with Vietnam. http://girlgonegallivanting.com/from-bean-to-cup-in-the-coffee-fields-of-colombia/

Great article!

Jen Kolbuc
@GoGallivanting

Reply

Sarah January 21, 2014 at 6:07 pm

Mint tea in Morocco is amazing, but so sugary takes getting used to. We went on a trek in the Atlas Mountains and was a real refreshing boost halfway through the day. Also fantastic bit of showmanship watching our chef make the tea (and seeing put a ‘slab’ of sugar into the pot). Haven’t been able to recreate the flavour at home

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Londoner Kate January 26, 2014 at 4:28 pm

You forgot London with all of its incredible quirky cafes. Completely taken over the tea culture :-P

Reply

Corinne January 28, 2014 at 1:47 am

Love this post…always, always on the lookout for good coffee!

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Laura @ RoamFarAndWide February 5, 2014 at 12:23 am

Best coffee I ever had was in Cambodia. Sweetened condensed milk makes it so delicious.

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Tim February 16, 2014 at 6:41 pm

Great post.. I am a big espresso and coffee fan.. not a huge tea fan, but I am interested in Yerba Mate – is it more of a coffee or more of a tea? I have heard in can be prepared in a french press or a tea infuser.. Never had it, but would love to give it a try!

Reply

Dave February 17, 2014 at 8:25 am

Yerba Mate is a tea, and tastes like one. Sugar is often added, as it can be quite bitter without it, unlike many other types of tea (green, white, black).

Reply

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