The top 10 countries that serve the world's best tea

1 MOROCCO

Prepared by men, poured from a height into a glass to create a foam, and traditionally served to guests three times (getting stronger as it goes), Moroccan tea is ubiquitous and infused with sugar and mint leaves. It's often sweeter in the south. Pellets of green Chinese gunpowder tea are used; in winter lemon verbena is sometimes added. Tea always accompanies meals and is also enjoyed at any time in teahouses. See visitmorocco.com

2 SRI LANKA

The island's shockingly green central highlands around the towns of Kandy, Dimbula and Nuwara Eliya (which has especially fine teas) are contoured with tea plantations, which you can tour to learn about tea production before indulging in a tasting; the higher the altitude, the lighter but subtler the flavour and colour. You can also experience a private tasting at Dilmah's headquarters in Colombo. The Ceylon Tea Museum is in Kandy. See srilanka.travel

3 INDIA

One of the world's biggest producers and consumers of tea is most famous for its masala chai, which combines black tea with milk, sugar, ginger and cardamom. Other spices may also be added depending on region and family recipe. It is sold on every street corner by chai wallahs in small clay cups. You can tour or stay on plantations in iconic tea destination Darjeeling, surrounded by Himalayan peaks. See incredibleindia.org

4 CHINA

China's tea culture is the world's oldest, and tea ceremonies, elegant teahouses and vastly expensive teas – whether yellow, green or black (or red, as the Chinese say) – are having quite the revival. Sichuan Province is especially renowned for its teahouses, which are sociable venues for gossip, mah-jong and light entertainment. The China National Tea Museum is in Hangzhou, a city surrounded by famous longjing tea plantations. See cnto.org

5 JAPAN

Tea is delicious in Japan, especially blended with jasmine or roasted rice. But you haven't "done" Japanese culture until you've enjoyed (or endured) a tea ceremony in which a lacquered lady in a kimono choreographs an age-old ritual involving matcha or powdered green tea whose bitter, grassy flavour many find unpleasant. Fortunately, small sweets are on hand as a counterbalance. Teahouse settings are inspired, often with glimpses onto immaculate traditional gardens. See jnto.org.au

6 UNITED KINGDOM

To the relief of many a foot-sore tourist, nobody does afternoon tea better than the British. The four o'clock tradition was instituted by Anna Duchess of Bedford in 1840 (being an aristocrat is apparently exhausting) and retains its posh associations, especially if devoured in one of London's top hotels. Expect cucumber sandwiches, scones and cakes. Not to be confused with high tea, essentially a light evening meal. See visitbritain.com

7 TURKEY

The hideous apple tea (neither tea nor containing apple) served up in carpet shops is a travesty designated for foreigners. Real Turkish tea, which is grown on its Black Sea coast, is strong, dark and delicious. An important offering of local hospitality, it's produced in a special two-level metal pot and served without milk, boiling hot, in small tulip-shaped glass on a saucer, and accompanied by either sweet or salty biscuits. See goturkeytourism.com

8 KENYA

After China and India, Kenya is the largest tea producer in the world, and Mombasa has the second-largest tea auction centre. Kenyan tea is lively and refreshing, with a bright copper colouration. Tea plantations stretch around the southwest town of Kericho, where the 1950s Tea Hotel – built by then-British tea company Brooke Bond – offers plantation tours and the option to get picking with the locals amid the broad-leafed Assam tea bushes. See magicalkenya.com

9 ARGENTINA

Indigenous, high-caffeine yerba mate isn't technically tea, but has as much ritual and ceremony attached to it as any Japanese tea – errors by the uninitiated make locals wince. It's drunk from a gourd through a straw, constantly refilled with hot water, and often passed around between friends. British influences have also provided Argentina a fondness for afternoon tea with scones and cake; black tea is widely grown in the country's northeast. See argentina.travel

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10 RUSSIA

Whether you're in a fancy restaurant, private house or even on a train you won't be far from a bubbling samovar in Russia. The large kettle-like container is used for boiling water, which is then added to zavarka tea concentrate which has been brewed in a teapot. Tea keeps you warm at any time in winter but is especially served after meals and mid-afternoon, always accompanied by nibbles and without sugar or milk. See visitrussia.org.uk

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