LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT INTERVIEW WITH KYM COOPER & TANIA STACEY TETSUBIN: CAST IRON TEAWARE FROM TV TO TEA COUNTRY PROFILE: INDIA GARDEN PARTY RECIPES
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Established in Quebec in 1998, the Camellia Sinensis Tea House specializes in superior quality teas from the regions of China, Taiwan, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Vietnam and Japan. The core of our company is a group of four professional tea-tasters, each specialising in a different tea-growing regions of Asia. Every Spring since 1998, they travel to the tea gardens to select the premium leaves that make up their World famous catalogue. For the first time in DAVIDsTEA’s history they’ve partnered with an artisanal tea company, Tea Horse, to co-develop a custom blend: Manoomin Maple. Tea Horse is a woman-led, Indigenousowned company founded in 2017 by Denise Atkinson, who is Anishinaabe ikwe (meaning Ojibwe woman), and her partner, Marc Bohémier. Located on the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe Peoples in Northwestern Ontario, Tea Horse focuses on bringing people together through high-quality teas featuring roasted manoomin.
Cat Kerr has worked with small cafe businesses as a public relations manager and barista since 2018. She is a full-time communications professional with a background in newswriting and a lifelong student of Japanese language and culture.
Michael Prini is the founder and president of Blink Tea and a certified TAC Tea Sommelier® Professional. Michael’s inspiration lies in the desire to bring artisanal, top quality teas and herbals to tea lovers and to entice new drinkers to look beyond the cup to unique and fun ways to incorporate exotic and delicious teas into their active lifestyle. Michael comes to tea from years as an award-winning producer of hit television shows seen around the globe.
Claudia Tse is a certified TAC Tea Sommelier® and the Cofounder of Teakan Tea Company, a women-owned boutique tea company based in Vancouver Canada, specialize in curating specialty tea and promoting tea experience. Claudia enjoys sharing her love of tea and tea stories, and can often be found carrying her travel tea set anywhere she goes.
VIVA is a tea-centric brand founded in Denmark in 2010, offering the most beautifully designed tea accessories direct to consumers. VIVA strives to modernize tea traditions and take them to new heights. Today, VIVA is headquartered in downtown Toronto with European subsidiary in Belgium and China.
In this Issue
Letter from the President
Country Profile: India
Interview with Kym Cooper & Tania Stacey
A Meeting with Mr. He: Tea Grower Our “Pony-Tale”
Tetsubin: Cast Iron Teaware Manoomin Maple The Evolution of Hong Kong Style Milk Tea
Smoked Gazpacho Toasty Couscous Salad From TV to Tea Manila's Rising SunPeach Salad with Earl Grey Candied Pecans Hibiscus Lamb How to Host a Tea Tasting Black Tea Strawberry Cheesecake Peach Oolong Punch
It's summer. Words Canadians rejoice hearing. And this year I think, it feels lighter and happier. Our first summer in a few where I hear people making plans, traveling, enteratining; generally feeling like life is perhaps becoming 'normal'. And that's what this issue feels like, people just getting on with things. Milk tea in Hong Kong, stories from tea people and my favourite teapots - tetsubin. I realise of course that we are foever affected by the past two years, but I think it's in these small moments of 'getting on with things' that we'll find our way out of trauma.
e h t m o fr t n e d i s e r p
It's time to get off Zoom and meet with people IRL! Dust off teasets and have a party. Being apart, I think, should have reminded us how important these human contacts are. It's also allowed us to pause and reflect on who we most want to spend our time with. Whoever that is for you, I hope you do it over a beautiful cup of tea, breathe in fresh air and savour the beauty of summer.
AN INTERVIEW WITH
Kym Cooper & Tania Stacey Kym Cooper has spent 7 years trading in tea, creating tea programs for hospitality, fostering tea networks (focus Japan and Australia). Tania Stacey, who entered the tea industry in 2013, has never left the rabbit hole of Taiwanese teas and returns regularly. Together, they have created an innovative tea beverage company called East Forged. A new style of iced tea – cold brew nitro tea with no added sugar/sweeteners. Meeting at a coffee expo in 2017, they bonded over an ambition to take tea to another place and find new social occasions for the tea drinker. Kym and Tania are proud of the numerous awards picked up along the way at Drinks/Spirit Business awards in the UK and Australia in the non-alcoholic categories, demonstrating tea can be the hero ingredient in a beverage sitting shoulder to shoulder with the world’s best social beverages.
What's your first memory involving tea? Kym: Making a pot of tea for Mum and Dad. The ritual involved a stainless-steel teapot
with a single black teabag, jiggled for a couple of seconds followed by a generous dash of milk in each of the mugs. Whilst not my cup of tea, one I proudly served to my parents because that is what they enjoyed. Tania: The day my Dad decided I needed to learn! I would have been about 13-years old. One of his duties when he was a young apprentice carpenter was to make the morning smoko (slang for stopping for a work break with a cigarette and tea). This involved boiling the water over a fire inside a 44 gallon drum. Adding black tea and sugar and letting it sit before pouring. He told me you measure the quantity of tea in the palm of your hand. For years, I didn’t know there was the measure of one teaspoon per person and one for the pot. Rest assure, I didn’t learn to boil the billy but he did teach me to warm the teapot and before pouring turn the pot anti clockwise three times. A well-made tea doesn’t require straining or so he informed me on that day. As you can tell my Dad was a story teller and he believed you never let facts get in the way of a good story. I will leave it with you to wonder how many facts are in this story. What does a typical workday in the tea industry consist of for you? Kym: There is no typical day, that is what I love about it! Most days though includes packing ecommerce orders and visiting my wholesale customers to top up tea supplies. Email, phone calls, Zoom conversations with customers and almost on the daily with my best business partner, Tania Stacey. On special days I might receive new season tea samples to try, visit our brewing partner to see the magic of EF come together and very occasionally I still get to teach or put on a tea event for my local Brisbane tea community.
Tania: I am not sure if there is such a thing as a typical workday in the tea industry. My days have always been focusing on drinking and tasting as many teas as possible. Taiwan teas have been my passion since I entered the industry nine years ago and I was taught by Thomas and Norman Shu the importance of keeping records of tea cupping. Creating a nice memory bank of flavours. However, the past few years I have been so fortunate to work closely with an incredible business partner, Kym Cooper. Together we have been industrially working on a new style of tea beverage that fits seamlessly in the modern lifestyle. My focus is the branding/marketing and major retail distribution of East Forged. I wish I was as good as Kym with running every morning at 5:30am but alas I stumble out of bed and turn the kettle on to make a strong black tea. My office is located 3 steps from the kitchen so I am on the computer early answering emails, scheduling social media and trying to work out Tik Tok! I live in regional Victoria, so when I need a break from the computer I head out the garden to rake some leaves, let the chooks out, collect the eggs, and play with our miniature goats -Toby and Reilly. I document some of this on Instagram @tania_stacey. How much tea do you drink in a day? Kym: A couple of litres! Tania: I would drink on average 7 large cups a day. I brew with a 5 infusion system that I picked up from Taiwan. Always get the best out of your leaves! The other two include one for breakfast and the last one is at night after dinner with a biscuit.
What are you seeing in the market that excites you for tea? Kym: Macro consumer trends have rolled out a red carpet to tea and herbs. Brands that are disruptive, innovative and putting up exciting formats for tea have a great opportunity to position tea as a real alternative in the adult drinks segment. And most excitingly the Gen-Z consumer sentiment and taste preferences are showing huge potential for the natural taste and provenance of tea. Tania: I LOVE International Tea Day. It feels like the first time the industry is using one voice to the world outside of the tea community. I have been restricted to Australia since it started but it appears to be well supported by tea people with a focus on showing the human impact of the industry. I have only seen one or two companies pushing a “sales” agenda. I hope that the focus will always be about the public education and not about % sales by the retail tea businesses. Let’s not make it another “sales opportunity”.
If you could drink tea with anyone - living or dead - who would it be and what tea would you serve? Kym: That is easy. My Dad. No longer with me but I would love to have a cuppa with him. I would serve him the exact tea I mentioned in my first answer - the type of tea he enjoyed. The times sitting with Dad over a cuppa were formative for me. I would have profound youthful views on the world, and he would patiently and very kindly guide me to do something useful with that. After the first pot of tea, we might move on to a delicious bud-only black tea from Nepal. Tania: Easily it would be my Dad. He spent his last year living with me and I made him a lot of black tea and 2 sugars. Every night I would yell out “night Dad. Love you Dad” and he would return with the same. It was exhausting caring for him but it was super rewarding as well. It would be good to share a sweet black tea with him again. In lieu of that opportunity, it would be a bonus to have both of my adult children in
the same room. My son is living in South Korea and it has been a few years now. Yes my daughter and son are both tea drinkers and I may add my grandsons enjoy very expensive oolongs. It is interesting to watch their palates develop. If you weren't in tea, what would you be doing? Kym: I probably would have continued in my accounting career for a bit longer instead of becoming a business owner. I still don’t know though after having children whether I would have stayed the traditional accounting path. On my nightstand during my accounting career were many books about chasing or finding happiness. When I moved to tea, I can’t say I have ever looked at that genre of books again. Instead, it gave me a deep curiosity for learning across many topics. Tania: Well this usually surprises people. In my past life, I was part of the lighting industry and I still love lighting. It has a major effect on people’s mood, feelings of safety and the environment. Most of my immediate family were part of the lighting design industry. We are the people in a restaurant looking at the ceiling discussing how the architectural features are lit when everyone else are focused
on their meals. A favourite memory of an amazing lighting feature was with the lovely Jeni Dodd at MONA in Tasmania. We sat under an installation by James Turrell that plays with your perception of the sunset with a changing colour frame. We sat on heated concrete seats on a cold Tassie evening with only a couple of people around us and just watched the light play. That is what lighting does, the same as tea. It has the ability to connect and create emotional responses. What's your favourite fact about tea that surprises people? Kym: One thing that surprised me when I started to explore Japanese tea was the advanced mechanisation of tea production. It surprised me not because of the method or the reasons the tea industry has moved forward in this way, it challenged my romantic associations that I had about the best teas or that high quality teas only came from a manual process either plucking or processing. The image of smiling tea pickers in the field needs to leave the tea industry. It surprises people when I say that mechanisation plays a significant role in the future of the tea industry. Tania: Tea is grown in Australia. Tea plants were brought to Australia back in the 1800s
with the first commercial farm in North Queensland. Though Australia mainly produces black tea, there is a solid green tea production facilitated by Ito En in the state of Victoria. The tea farms in Victoria are located in the old tobacco growing areas. Brilliant to see a healthy crop replacement! How do you take your tea? Kym: I would like to say that I regularly sit and enjoy tea in my favourite way, small teapot brewing. Alas, here is the reality. The first tea of the day is either a homemade Chai Masala or a bold Assam with a splash of oat milk. After the morning brew I revert to stacked steeping the tea of choice. I brew about 500mL of tea and take my jug to the office. In Summer I crack open a can of EF most afternoons. It is all about convenient ways to enjoy the natural taste of tea these days. Tania: My “go to” tea that I gets me out of bed is a strong black with a drop of milk. It goes so well with local honey on toast! Once I am awake it is always Taiwanese teas – my favourite is Bai Hao or Hong Yu 21. These are the teas that I will infuse 5 times over the course of the day. What is the most interesting and unique experience you've had in your tea career? Kym: There was something very surreal about seeing our first production run of EF coming off the canning line. The road to creating and bringing to life a product with my tea-partnerin-crime, Tania, has been such a rewarding journey. It was not something I could ever have achieved on my own or without a career in tea. Working in a partnership to grow a bigger pie for tea has been a fulfilling experience of any career.
Tania: A tea brewing competition – World Tea Brewing Championships. In 2016, I was asked to participant as a judge. I was very interested as this was a competition that was pushing past the regular tea competitions that judge the leaf. It was about the brewing process and developing new areas for tea. It showcases the skills of a brewer and consequently helping the hospitality industry to work within solid guidelines to present better tea for the customer. As an avid tea drinker, I felt I could contribute to the conversation. The organisers had experience in the coffee world and if you have ever been to coffee barista competitions they are exciting to watch with the level of expertise in tasting, brew extractions and creating new drinking experiences. The following year, I decided to enter the competition. Go hard or go home is my motto! I needed to understand the feelings, study and creativity that goes into participating in the competition. Yes I won the Australian leg and went on to be placed 4th in Shanghai, China. The skill and creativity within the Asian participants was incredible. The Gen Z have simply outstanding ideas of where tea can go. It was very nerve racking and I have a much better appreciation for anyone that enters a competition. The outcomes of this experience set me on a path to take tea to a different place. It was during this time I met Kym who had the same belief in taking tea to another place.
CAST IRON TEAWARE
Photo: Akira Kikuchi, an ironware master at Oitomi, has 40 years of experience in the craft. Photo courtesy of Oitomi. By Cat Kerr Convenience hasn’t always dictated the art of making tea, but the popularity of teabags, infuser mugs, and electric kettles is evidence that convenience is now a priority for tea drinkers around the world. Quick and easy tea-brewing tools like these are certainly the norm for many people in Japan, where corporate employees might drink tea frequently throughout their long, fast-paced workdays. But there is also a long history of refined tea culture in Japan, in which value is placed on slowing down and appreciating a high-quality cup of tea without compromising on taste, health, or aesthetics.
Cast iron teaware is one art among many related to tea in Japan. The creation of iron teaware requires a substantial level of expertise, and its use requires special care and attention to detail, but a cast iron kettle or teapot can be a beautiful heirloom that is revered and passed down for generations. Centuries of tradition Cast ironware has been used to brew tea in Japan for about a thousand years, but the style known today as Nanbu-tekki — kettles with handles and spouts, used for heating water and brewing tea at home — first came
into fashion around the 17th century. The Tōhoku region of Japan, located in the northernmost part of the Honshu island, is famously known for its premier Nanbu-tekki producers. The exact origin of Nanbu-tekki is not completely clear; beliefs vary among historians. Some believe cast iron kettles became popular in the Edo era (1603 to 1867) because they were an easy solution for steeping whole-leaf tea, a method that became common around the same time. Others think iron teaware became common after Japan’s warring states period ended, when former weapon makers began using their ironworking skills to create teaware and cookware instead. A third theory is that iron teaware for home use evolved from the use of cast iron tetsugama for heating water in the tea ceremony. One proponent of this theory is Akira Kikuchi, an eighth-generation craftsman at Oitomi, a Nanbu-tekki facility in Tōhoku. “The iron kettle … was originally a result of innovation by attaching a handle and a spout to a traditional tea ceremony kettle,” Kikuchi said. Regardless of its origins, the popularization of Nanbu-tekki helped tea culture spread to the masses, whereas before the Edo era, tea was accessible only to privileged classes such as samurai and masters of the tea ceremony. The earliest iron teaware in Japan had simple designs, but by the 19th century, elaborate engravings were common. Toward the end of the 20th century, iron teaware
became more widely known and desired in the West. European and North American consumers preferred colorful, eye-catching designs, and Japanese craftspeople responded to those demands, so it is now common to see Nanbu-tekki in an array of colors and patterns. Nanbu-tekki is not considered fine art, but closer to folk art for the common people. But it still requires a significant level of skill and commitment to become a Nanbu-tekki craftsperson. Another prominent Nanbu-tekki producer in Tōhoku is Iwachu Casting Works, founded in 1902. Saya Iwashimizu, a member of the fifth Iwashimizu generation to lead the company, said to become a certified master of Nanbu-tekki, a craftsperson must first work under a teacher, and then pass a government-issued test. There are 68 steps in the process of creating each piece of Nanbu-tekki, and it often takes a craftsperson around 15 years to become an expert in that process. “It is not easy to pass [the test], but once they are qualified as a skilled maker, they can make the most of their abilities formally as successors of Japanese traditional artwork,” Iwashimizu said. Nanbu-tekki today Although they require special maintenance and nuance, there are numerous advantages of cast iron tea vessels that contribute to their continued use in Japan and elsewhere today. People who want to increase their iron intake for health reasons sometimes prefer Nanbu-tekki because water heated in ironware may absorb some iron from the kettle. The iron can also neutralize chlorine from tap water. Another benefit of ironware is that it retains heat more effectively than other materials such as ceramic or glass.
But there is also a certain mindfulness and sense of calm that comes with the use of Nanbu-tekki, which can elevate someone’s experience as they prepare and sip their tea, Iwashimizu said. “Although we have many alternatives of electric appliances which allow us to make our housework easier, you can have a serene time with Nanbu-tekki,” Iwashimizu said. “We hope that we offer not just the [products], but also the richness of our customers’ spirits.” Some ironware masters in Japan still prefer to use traditional tools and practices, but others have adapted to newer technology and designs to meet the demands of modern customers. “[In the past], Nanbu teaware had traditional patterns, and the color was almost always black or brown,” Iwashimizu said. “But nowadays, we try to make new designs and new color models, which are not bound by a fixed concept.”
have also allowed more consumers than ever before to take interest in Nanbu-tekki, not only in Japan but around the world. For example, Oitomi produces a certain two-way swallow pot, suitable for both heating water and brewing tea, that was originally designed about 30 years ago. The design was not well-received back then, but it had a revival in 2020. Kikuchi’s son Kaito Kikuchi, who is also a Nanbu-tekki craftsman, posted photos of the swallow pot on social media and received an overwhelmingly positive response from followers worldwide. Oitomi then began reprinting the design and earned a Good Design Award for it last year. “It can be said that this product has a very modern story,” Akira Kikuchi said. Oitomi creates many more products that feature non-traditional designs. One kettle was inspired by Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”; another was modeled after the Godzilla character and won a prestigious award in 2020. These contemporary takes on the tradition of Nanbu-tekki have helped usher the craft into a new era.
Modern technology and export opportunities
The process of creating iron teaware involves more than 60 steps, including firing in the furnace. Photo courtesy of Oitomi.
The future of the craft Even with updates suited for the current era, the future of Nanbu-tekki is uncertain. Iwashimizu and Kikuchi both cited the shortage of new craftspeople committing to a lifetime in the industry as a primary challenge — a common issue not only for Nanbu-tekki, but for many other traditional arts in Japan, as well.
Tetsubin are placed over an open flame or gas stove and used only to heat the water. They are made of solid iron.
“It is similar to the case of Canada Goose, in which down jackets made outside of Canada are distributed all over the world named with their brand just because they are down jackets,” Kikuchi explained. “We will continue to tackle [the issue].” Kikuchi said another difficulty with producing Nanbu-tekki today is that the furnaces used to fire the products emit large volumes of carbon dioxide. He said it will require a significant investment to transition the production system to something more environmentally responsible.
Tetsu-kyusu are never applied directly to heat. Their exteriors are iron but their interiors are enamel. Tea leaves are placed inside; then water is poured from the tetsubin into the tetsu-kyusu to brew the tea.
But with creativity, resilience, and openness to new ways — while still paying homage to tradition — the masters believe they can sustain their craft through to the next generation. “The important thing is to imagine the person who uses [the ironware],” said Kikuchi, who has been in the industry for 40 years. “Traditional tools are constantly being innovated. 174 years of continuous innovation is the history of our workshop.”
Furo braziers and tetsugama kettles are used specifically in the practice of Japanese tea ceremony. Water in the tetsugama is heated by the furo, then ladled into individual bowls to prepare matcha.
Types of Nanbu-tekki
Another major challenge is the recent boom in counterfeit products. Around the world, cast iron teaware is sold under the label of “Nanbu” even though it is not made in Japan.
There are numerous types of traditional Japanese cast iron teaware, and they are used for different purposes
Caring for iron teaware Do not fill the kettle completely or it will boil over. It’s recommended to fill it about 75% and keep the lid ajar while boiling. Iron becomes very hot during use, so always use a pot holder or thick cloth to handle a kettle after boiling. You should also place the kettle on a hot pad or trivet. If the iron teaware is not dried completely after use, it might become rusty. To remove rust from the lid, spout, and handle, you can soak a cloth in black tea and use it to wipe the ironware. The tannins in the tea can permeate the rust. Do not place a dry kettle over heat, and do not fill a hot kettle with cold water. Both can cause damage. Use only water to clean the ironware. Detergent and rough brushes can damage it. It is recommended to use your iron teaware regularly to prevent rust. But if it must be stored for a long time without use, wrap it in newspaper and store it in a dry place.
References: “About Oitomi.” oitomi.com/pages/history Blair, Gavin. “Not Just Any Old Iron.” govonline.go.jp/eng/publicity/book/hlj/html/201203/201203_15.html “History of iron casting.” iwachu.co.jp/iron Iwashimizu, Saya. Interview. Kikushi, Akira. Interview. Walther, Anne. “What are Tetsubin? 10 Things to Know About Cast Iron Kettles.” japanobjects.com/features/tetsubin
MANOOMIN MAPLE DAVIDsTEA x TEA HORSE Introducing Manoomin Maple, a new give-back tea that supports Indigenous communities through the David Suzuki Institute.
For the first time in DAVIDsTEA’s history we’ve partnered with an artisanal tea company, Tea Horse, to co-develop a custom blend: Manoomin Maple. Tea Horse is a woman-led, Indigenous-owned tea company, and together we bring you this unique black tea blend featuring manoomin (meaning wild rice in Ojibwe)
that’s harvested in the lakes of Northern Canada. Manoomin Maple is a smooth and cozy black tea blend with toasty notes of roasted wild rice, complemented with a touch of maple, vanilla and berries.
Get to know Tea Horse Tea Horse is a woman-led, Indigenousowned company founded in 2017 by Denise Atkinson, who is Anishinaabe ikwe (meaning Ojibwe woman), and her partner, Marc Bohémier. Located on the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe Peoples in Northwestern Ontario, Tea Horse focuses on bringing people together through high-quality teas featuring roasted manoomin.
What is manoomin? Manoomin (pronounced muh-NOH-min) means “wild rice” in Ojibwe, while its literal translation is “the good seed.” Contrary to popular belief, this traditional, indigenous ingredient is an entirely different species from the rice many of us grew up eating. And unlike most wild rice found on the market, Tea Horse’s manoomin is not cultivated—it’s authentically harvested in the wild.
How is manoomin harvested? This ancestral grain grows wild with no human manipulation. It’s hand-harvested in the remote landscape of Northern Canada, where the wilderness and shallow waterways meet. “In Indigenous cultures, leaves, roots, flowers and grains are infused to make tea. As an Indigenous-owned tea company, our use of manoomin (wild rice) as a key ingredient in our tea blends honours and carries on the traditions of the Indigenous Peoples of North America.” -Tea Horse
We sip together We eagerly anticipated the launch of this joint custom blend. As a non-Indigenous brand and company, it’s important for us to share our tea love and amplify Indigenous voices and their businesses. This is part of what we call positivitea: doing what is right while supporting our local and global tea communities. In addition to partnering with a local business, it was essential for both of us that this tea give back to the Indigenous community. When it came time to decide how we could best contribute, we worked closely with Tea Horse, who consulted and received positive feedback from their elders about giving back through the David Suzuki Institute (DSI).
A local give-back with the David Suzuki Insitute We are thrilled to share that 10% of the proceeds of Manoomin Maple will go toward supporting Indigenous communities through the DSI’s Reconciling Ways of Knowing Program. This endorsement felt like a 360° approach for both Denise and Marc. Denise shared with us her fond memories of watching The Nature of Things with her Anishinaabe grandmother, and prior to meeting Denise, Marc’s introduction to Indigenous culture was through the book Wisdom of the Elders; both works of Dr. Suzuki. At DAVIDsTEA, many of us have also grown up with David Suzuki as a household name, being a prominent figure in the work of sustainability and Indigenous causes—and so this endorsement holds a special place in all our hearts.
More about Dr. David Suzuki Dr. Suzuki embraces an Indigenous perspective on the environment and fully supports Indigenous-led businesses such as Tea Horse as they pursue their unique connection to native ingredients. Dr. Suzuki has applauded DAVIDsTEA for our commitment to this partnership and for working together with the Indigenous community. “Partnerships are essential to build relationships and deepen our understanding of Indigenous knowledge, to work towards reconciliation.” -Dr. David Suzuki
More about the Reconciling Ways of Knowing This Indigenous-led program facilitates conversations between Indigenous Peoples (and their governments) and Canadians (and their governments) to work together to include Indigenous voices and knowledge.It recognizes that a nation-to-nation relationship is far more than a government-to-government relationship; it is a relationship between the Peoples and their ways of being and nowing, recognizing that each is different in its ways of being and
knowing; and that neither is superior or inferior to the other. “Being able to share with the Indigenous community through the David Suzuki Institute further strengthens our efforts to create a more inclusive and diverse tea community on a local level.” -Sarah Segal, CEO and CBO at DAVIDsTEA
Positivitea at DAVIDsTEA Our team’s decisions are fuelled by our desire to make the world a better place. From where we operate to where we source, we continue prioritizing diversity and inclusion, access to opportunity, and equal representation. Tea Horse’s emphasis on respecting and preserving the wild nature of their ingredients aligns with our core values: authenticity, sustainability and positivitea. And we couldn’t be more fortunate to have had this opportunity. “Working on this collaboration with Tea Horse has been such a rewarding experience, as we have been able to share our creativity, knowledge and passion for tea in Canada.” -Sarah Segal, CEO and CBO at DAVIDsTEA
THE EVOLUTION OF HONG KONG STYLE MILK TEA by Claudia Tse Certified TAC Tea Sommelier® Professional There is nothing better to representing Hong Kong than a good cup of Hong Kong style milk tea. A beverage loved by many, 2.5 million cups a day* in Hong Kong alone, it's no exaggeration that it's an addiction for many, for its unique rich and bold flavour as well as the unforgettable silky texture that reminds one of home. What’s more, it is also a drink that encapsulated its colonial era, Hong Kong milk tea condensed a century of evolution in a cup. While tea originated from China, it took Europe by storm in the 1800s, especially in England where the afternoon tea culture with milk in tea
developed. In 1843, Hong Kong became a crown colony of Britain and this milk tea culture got introduced to Hong Kong. It was around the 1940’s when the first version of Hong Kong milk tea appeared in local openair eateries (Dai Pai Dong ). Since the locals preferred a much stronger tea base while fresh milk was expensive and hard to obtain, the locals switched it up with evaporated milk and paired it with the more affordable broken Ceylon black tea. This full-bodied and creamy version of milk tea was born and has since taken off.
A well-balanced Hong Kong Style milk tea put a huge emphasis on its colour, aroma and flavour. Though mainly Ceylon black tea is used, it often consists of at least 3 gradings in the blend: BOP (Broken Orange Pekoe) – for an aromatic and lingering flavour BOPF (Broken Orange Pekoe Fanning) – for the amber colour and a balance between BOP and dust Dust – for the full-bodied and robust tea flavor
The way of preparing is also crucial for success. The keys to a perfect cup are said to be which takes years to master.
1. To brew - tea should be brewed with near boil water to avoid overcooking it. 2. To stew - cover the tea and let it sit to continue brewing with the remaining heat for about 10 min. This extracts more flavour without compromising the tea texture. 3. To aerate - this is an important step. Tea will be pulled or aerated between pots multiple times to achieve a rich and smooth texture. A unique cotton tea bag (which stained brown over time) is used as a strainer, which also led to Hong Kong milk tea being dubbed as pantyhose milk tea ( ). 4. To reheat - tea will then be reheated slightly and be ready to serve
Hong Kong milk tea peaked in the 1980s after decades of refinement. Many Hong Kong Style Café (Cha Chaan Teng ) had their secret blends, which sometimes consisted of up to 7-8 teas, that often became the deciding factor for repeat customers. A cup of milk tea cost HK$2-3 when the newspaper was selling for HK$0.5.
Unfortunately, this changed in the 1990s for different reasons. First, with the shift in the economy, working in a Cha Chaan Teng was not a popular career choice for the new generation. The gap in the mastery of this iconic drink further widened when many veteran milk tea masters migrated out of Hong Kong due to the uncertainties of the 1997 Handover. Moreover, with the rise of local fast food café chains, where efficiency and cost are the priorities, Hong Kong milk tea was no longer the star on the menu, but a complimentary drink that comes with a meal. After the turn of the century, Hong Kong milk tea crept back into the spotlight. After all, it is an iconic beverage that pulls the heartstrings of many, not to mention how this delicious beverage represents the taste of home. Many overseas Hong Kong people, myself included, would dash to a Cha Chaan Teng for a good cup of Hong Kong milk tea the moment they got off the plane when they travel home. The first official Hong Kong milk tea competition was held in 2019, which further re-ignited the passion for milk tea masters in showcasing their skills, and once again sparked the public’s curiosity for this beverage. In 2014, the technique of making Hong Kong-style milk tea has been chosen as a Hong Kong Intangible Cultural Heritage, further reinforcing its significance in representing Hong Kong. And with the rise of specialty coffee culture, the new generation started to examine the possibilities of transferring the skills and theories in making a better cup of Hong Kong milk tea. Hong Kong milk tea workshops are popping up around town, with home brewing kits becoming available for people to recreate this iconic drink at home. The future for Hong Kong milk tea has never been brighter. Have you had your Hong Kong milk tea yet? *Source: Hong Kong Intangible Cultural Heritage Database
TEA SOMMELIER COURSES
WHAT IS A
A trained and knowledgeable tea professional who has successfully completed the Tea and Herbal Association of Canada’s certification examination, as a result, is well versed on all aspects of tea as it affects the consumer. He or she will have a thorough understanding of tea and its history, processing methods and preparation and will be able to interact easily with anyone on the subject of tea and make recommendations based on their needs in an approachable and easy manner.
COURSES OFFERED? Students can take the program in person through Tea & Herbal Association of Canada (Toronto & Vancouver), through Cambridge Tea Academy (UK). As well, courses are available online through the Academy of Tea, L’École Française du Thé et des Tisanes in French, ProTea Academy in Italian and at Escuela Mexicana de Té in Spanish.
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TEA 102: Regions Of The World
This course will provide an introduction on the history of the origin of tea. You will learn how to differentiate the types of tea as well as the tea grading standards used in the industry.
Students will examine in detail the principal tea-growing regions of the world. Develop a fundamental understanding of tea – its evolution and its influence on culture and world events.
TEA 103: Tea Sensory Development
TEA 104: Tea Types
This course covers how we taste – what do we rely on – what errors should we be aware of. The tea taster’s vocabulary will be covered as well as tastings of various products such as chocolate, water, etc. to identify and fully understand the science of taste.
This course will cover the types of teas produced in different regions/countries in the world. Tasting and style comparisons will be a major component of this section.
TEA 105: From The Bush To The Cup
TEA 106: Preparation, Consumption & Health
This course is designed to introduce the student to advanced cultivation and processing practices used in the production of tea
This course provides the current information available as it relates to tea consumption. Use the skills gained in previous classes to prepare the perfect cup of tea.
TEA 107: Menu Design, Food Pairing & Cooking With Tea
TEA 108: The Business of Tea
Explore the various nuances of using tea as an ingredient – cooking, baking, cocktails etc. In this course, you will understand the principals behind using tea beyond its traditional uses as well as how to pair tea with food and create the perfect tea menu.
Learn about the various layers that make up the tea industry – commodity trader and auctions, packers and retailers. Who are they, what do they do and what are the challenges faced in each sector.
TEA SOMMELIER COURSES
TEA 101: Introduction to Tea
Michael Film Fest Party
FROM TV TO TEA by Michael Prini Certified TAC Tea Sommelier® Professional & Owner of Blink Tea
Truth be told, I got into tea later in life than many who swear by their daily cuppa. I simply did not come from a family of tea drinkers. Rather, my parents and their peers regularly reached for an espresso maker burbling on the stove for their morning jolt. You’ve seen one I’m sure – cheap silver metal, wearing its charred bottom as a badge of honour. We were an espresso home all the way every day, with a shot of grappa for Sunday company. Tea was for when you were sick, plucked from a dangerously past expiry box of chamomile hiding in the dark recesses of a forgotten cupboard. Coffee by and large fueled a lifelong career in media, with only the rarest sidestep to tea. The brew I made tasted so terrible that I only ever enjoyed tea if someone else made it. As brutal was how my media life began, at the very bottom, as a struggling journalist babysitting a radio newsroom overnight. Eventually, with hard work and
Until one day I saw an episode of Martha Stewart’s television show. I was immediately drawn in by her exacting creativity and style; recipes and decorative projects that to me were the pinnacle of elegant simplicity. Who doesn’t remember the colour of her chickens’ eggs? While Martha’s world was steeped in reality; this is how to sauté this or fold that, her world looked, tasted, and likely smelled better than a news conference, and her chickens’ eggs were turquoise. I wanted to do what Martha was doing, maybe even better.
Savoir Faire Nik Tray, Photo by Tim Leyes.
I left an okay paying job and launched my own television production company. It was scary to leave a regular pay cheque behind,
Sarah Richardson Sarah's House Photo by Brandon Barre.
a bit of luck I eventually started reporting and even anchoring TV and radio newscasts. My passion for storytelling and a need to make ends meet had me freelance writing for magazines across North America. Years later I landed as a writer and producer with Canada’s network newscasts, working alongside some of the most esteemed personalities of Canadian broadcasting.
but many failed attempts combined with a lick of fate ended up dropping me in the right place at the right time. HGTV in Canada was about to go on the air and they needed TV shows. I handed the network a demo tape for a new show, and they said yes. Savoir Faire, a show on home entertaining with Nik Manojlovich, was born. I hope some of you remember it, as it seems like a lifetime ago. Nik and the show were immensely popular, which made the hours and unending cups of coffee worth every drop. We had Sarah Richardson as a guest on the show with Nik for several episodes, and HGTV ended up asking for a show with her. That turned into an illustrious team up with Sarah that spanned series like Room Service, Design Inc and Sarah’s House to name a few. Our show Dirty Business dropped into the quirky workings of a landscape design firm. Critical Listing helped extract homeowners from sticky financial situations. The years flew by until eventually time came for me to “change the channel”. It wasn’t that I didn’t like working in media. It’s just that I had done so forever, and it had a way of being all consuming. I had met some amazing people, had won the awards,
partied in places like Cannes, Los Angeles and New York until the wee hours, after very long days. I solved major issues on a dime, my favourite being coming up with TV show names while getting my teeth cleaned. I depended on people, and they depended on me. Not that I wouldn’t entertain the idea of diving in again, it would just have to be from a different vantage point, one that allows for a bit more life balance. As I deep dove into new directions and ideas, I remembered those punishing cups of tea I steeped for myself and their contrast to the delightful cups brewed for me. I took it as a sign, one that dovetailed nicely with my wish list for a new business “adventure”. Whatever I offered had to be a consumable, as I wanted to contribute as little as possible to a landfill. A product would have to bring pleasure, provide customers with a journey of their own, and be accessibly priced in doing so. As if by magic, it started to all come together. Thankfully before I stumbled ahead of myself into the world of tea, I took an important step to learn as much as humanly possible about this soon-to-me delightful beverage. I enrolled in the Tea & Herbal Association of Canada’s Tea Sommelier® program. Still wistful for my life in TV, of all things I fixated on the production values of the videos in each course module. Gradually, like an infusing cup of Keemun, the many quirks and delicious intricacies of tea started to take over and draw me in.
Critical Listing Group 2014, Photo by Stacey Brandford.
Dirty Business Hosts, Photo by Brandon Barre.
How could they not? Tea has 5000-years of history behind it, originally discovered by a Buddhist monk when tea leaves fell into his hot water as he meditated. Tea played a starring role in the Opium Wars and the American Revolution. Images of Clipper ships Sarah Richardson SH 3, Photo by Brandon Barre.
plying windswept oceans, trunks of tea being trekked across ancient pan-Asian spice routes. Monks and Queens and Kings and tons of adventure. Tea belonged on Netflix as much as it did in my cup. The tea sommelier modules flew past. We dove into the history of teas from around the world, their cultivation and processing. How to taste tea, tea auctions, the health benefits of tea, pairing teas with foods, the business of tea. So much information. And each module included even more tasting beyond what I was doing on my own. Then one day, Blink Tea’s story quite literally popped into my mind.
I decided to turn tea on its side. Rather than categorize teas by type, I was going to offer them by experience. Bold, Medium and Mild, with a curated range of tastes in each vertical. With everything I was learning about tea, I wanted to take people by the hand through their own tea experience. At that point the name Blink Tea was a no-brainer: a fresh, new way to consider tea. Not revolutionary, but just the right amount of different, and hopefully a little twist my customers could easily understand. I also wanted to find ways to keep tea front and centre in people lives, and hot hidden in a dark cupboard like in my parents’ home.
How many ways could tea be enjoyed cold, in cocktails or mocktails? Could tea be used in smoothies or provide benefits for fitness routines? And what about savoury dishes like soups and barbecue rubs? Yes, teas can be used in all these ways and more, which has in turn given me a tasty opportunity to devise recipes. I couldn’t have picked a better vehicle to pique both my curiosity and sweet tooth at the same time! Like the eventual luck that helped to greenlight my first TV show, the cards seemed to easily fall into place in terms of a company direction. Getting it from my mind into an actual salable product was where the heavy lifting came in. It involved a vastly different cast of characters than I was used to working with in television. In fact, it like I was kind of like landing on a new planet. To produce a television show requires a bunch of talented people to focus their skills on one product – a tv show. The act of launching a tea, or pretty much any other company, requires pulling expertise to you for a whole bunch of products, not just one. Which teas, how are the brand and website going to look, how will product descriptions and messaging be written in two languages, exterior and interior packaging, labels and even shipping tape. Not to mention social media and marketing. Each task seemed like a journey without a map, taking as much perseverance love of chance as introducing tea around the world hundreds of years ago. Yet, in spite of the many challenges, nothing quite prepared me for the delight of going live with the Blink Tea website and finally serving actual customers. Each online order is an adrenaline jump, with me wondering who exactly the tea is going to, why these teas, and how do they enjoy them? With or without milk and or sugar? What does their
mug look like? What other beverages do they enjoy? Do they ride a bike? Like flowers? Any hobbies? I am truly the victim of my own overactive imagination. It’s a bit of a script flip with Blink Tea’s wholesale customers; restaurants, cafes, and shops where we’re gratefully on the menu. It’s personal but in a different way. When orders are delivered, we get to meet the company owners and the very people who serve the teas. We hear how their business is going, and what their customers think of the tea. As a television producer it was rare to meet an actual viewer, making these oneon-one connections such a treat. So here I am with a tea company, and the promise of a journey that can go as far as I like. The future holds more teas and ways to use them of course. Maybe become a healthy drinks expert? Write a book? Every little pivot, having our teas used in chocolate truffles, gin or jams, barbecue sauces, breads and more presents an opportunity to learn and to meet even more people. Instead of creating a TV show to send out to the world, I am bringing that world, and those who love it, to me. For that I am grateful.
How to Host a Tea Tasting
We’ve gathered some tips for sipping, pairing and planning your next tea tasting, whether virtual or IRL. Tea parties and tea tastings are always a fun way to gather with friends and explore new teas. Hosting a Virtual Tasting: What to consider: How many guests will attend? What platform will you use: Google Meets or Zoom? What teas will you drink? What food will you pair with your tea? A virtual tea tasting poses some hurdles. For instance how will everyone have the same teas or food? But that can be solved.
Discuss with your guests where to purchase the tea and food so everyone has access. Most tea companies have become digitally savvy over the past couple years due to COVID-19 and moved their business online so there are a range of options available. This way everyone can order the same teas.
food is invaluable and the best time to discover something new about your senses. If you’re still following physical distancing guidelines, an outdoor tea tasting (with properly spaced seating) on a balmy afternoon is a delight. How to Pair:
If it’s too challenging to source the items individually because you and your friends live in different cities — or even if you’re pressed for time! — you might want to consider asking everyone to purchase a complete tea tasting kit. It’s already curated with teas and treats making it a simple and efficient option. Hosting an In-Person Tasting: What to consider: Where will you host the tasting? How many guests will attend? The number will help determine how much space you need (outdoors or indoors), the amount of tea and food needed, and the right about of tea accoutrements. What teas will you drink? What food will you pair with your tea? An in-person tea tasting is a treat. Time spent with loved ones over good tea and
VIVA Scandanavia Alexander™ Tea Set
Pairing is important to consider when planning your tea tasting, but don’t overthink it. Often it’s about experimenting with different flavors. And it’s more fun with friends! A good pairing brings out the best traits in both tea and food. Tea Sommelier: A StepBy-Step Guide by Francois-Xavier Delmas and Mathias Minet suggests three primary approaches for pairing tea and food: A ‘tone on tone’ approach looks to point out the similarities of both tea and food. For example, a grassy Japanese sencha paired with a soft fresh goat cheese and crackers. The freshness of the cheese highlights the summery grassy tones of the sencha. The ‘contrast’approach aims to pair two distinct flavors. For example, pair a Taiwanese Oolong with chocolate. The woodsy notes of the tea provide a powerful
counterpoint to the chocolate’s sweet notes. ‘Fusion’ is obtained by blending two distinct flavors to build a harmony with one another. For example, take a bite of a buttery croissant and layer it with a sip of the smoothness of a Darjeeling. At the end of the day the idea is to combine contrasting or harmonizing qualities that are ultimately compatible with one another. You may find you enjoy one pairing while someone else may not. What matters most is that you experiment and try new combinations that expand your pallet. Recommended Teas: Once you’ve decided how to host your tea tasting, discuss with your guests the kind of tasting experience they’d like to experience. Think about some of your favourite teas and consider which dishes could bring out their best qualities. Since we’re celebrating the arrival of spring, consider Japanese green teas like sencha and genmaicha are light and earthy. Think bright and uplifting notes. Maybe a floral herbal iced tea. SENCHA Sencha, a Japanese green tea, has a fresh profile with vegetal and umami notes like spring greens, grass, kale, and edamame; and features a medium green liquor. Keep it bright with a green salad or find harmony with a creamy goat cheese. GENMAICHA Genmaicha is a Japanese green tea that has been flavored with puffed brown rice kernels giving the tea a popcorn-like aroma and mild nutty flavor. The liquor is vibrant light green yet touched slightly brown from the rice. This Japanese green tea is a perfect match for sushi or a slice of rosemary focaccia.
VIVA Scandanavia Minima™ Balance Glass Tea Mug
DARJEELING The ‘champagne of tea,’ Darjeeling is a black tea that is usually light to medium-bodied with fruity and floral notes. The steeped liquor usually appears light golden to a darker bronze color with a strong fruity aroma. Try it with a delicate pastry or fresh cut peaches. HIBISCUS Hibiscus herbal tea is made up of the hibiscus flower petals and steeps into a deep red herbal infusion with a tart finish. Hibiscus is a natural source of vitamin C and antioxidants. Consider serving this iced for an extra refreshing and hydrating experience. Herbal teas pair well with greasy food and are the perfect beverage after a meal. Hibiscus herbal tea might even be a great match for an astringent, citrus arugula salad.
Plan the Tasting: START WITH THREE We suggest to start with three courses and work your way up from there. You may find more combinations by the end of your tasting than expected. Don’t forget to take into consideration food sensitivities, allergies, and preferences of your guests. Remember to have some water ready to cleanse your palette in between tasting! If you want a fruit flavouring in your water, add a some thin slices of lemon or cucumber. REMEMBER TO TAKE NOTES Have a paper and pen ready to jot down your thoughts. Consider the appearance, color, aromas, flavor, and mouthfeel of the tea. Some vocabulary to keep in mind when describing what your senses experience: acidic bitter salty sweet umami silky creamy mellow rough velvety smooth robust astringent full-bodied
Encourage silence while everyone acquaints themselves with the tea for each course. This way you can form your own opinion first before comparing notes. Begin by studying and smelling the dry tea leaves. Take notes of the look and feel. Then close your eyes to focus on the scent. Next, steep your tea. Examine the infused tea leaves; observe the liquor’s color and aroma. Finally, sip and analyze its texture, flavors and mouth feel. Next try the food. Take a bite. Note the smell, taste, texture, and flavors. Then introduce the tea with the food. Take a bite followed by a sip. Layer the pairing together. What do you notice? Did they enhance or take away from each other? Share your notes with one another. Repeat this process through each course. Take your time savoring each flavor and discuss your thoughts with your guests. Some people like to take notes in between each sense while others write everything
THE MAIN EVENT Make sure you have enough space and accoutrements to explore the tea both dry and steeped. Nothing fancy is required, but find a vessel where you can place the dry tea leaves to examine them and a bowl or teacup to drink from. And bring whatever else you might need for food.
VIVA Scandanavia Pure™ Senses™ Tea Jar
down after a pairing has completed. Move at your own pace. If this is your first tasting, start by jotting your thoughts down after each part of the tasting. And make sure to leave room for conversation. This is a socializing event after all! Sample Menu: For an appetizer, pair a creamy goat cheese and crackers with sencha. Alternate with genmaicha for a comparison. It’s always a good idea to keep the tasting menu fluid so guests can experiment with tasting combinations. Second course: pair a tall glass of hibiscus iced tea alongside an arugula citrus salad topped with grilled chicken. The tangy, citrus of the salad might combine with the fruity flavors of the iced tea for a full-bodied pairing experience.
For the third course, most likely dessert, try a pastry (a chocolate or plain croissant for example) with a smooth Darjeeling tea. The sweet notes of the pastry might be the perfect match for the subtle muscat flavors of the Darjeeling. The Discussion: What were everyone’s favorite parings? What did not go well together? Is there another tea you would like to introduce in the future? Start a Google Doc where everyone can add their observations to track their tea tasting notes. Solicit suggestions for the next tasting! However you decide to host your tea tasting, we hope you find some unexpected favorites and expand your pallet with good company.
VIVA Scandanavia Pure™ Classic™ Party for 6
Garden Party by Shabnam Weber
Setting the mood I think the most important element of any good party is setting the mood. And there is no correct answer here of which mood is the right one for a garden party. Ask yourself how you want your guests to feel and then figure out how you can achieve that. It can be elegant and formal or casual and bohemian. Whatever you choose though, stick with that theme. From napkins to flowers, drinks and food, even the music should be consistent with your theme. You may not want candles and crystal for a family barbecue. Or maybe you do, and that in itself is a theme as well! The theme for the garden party I've chosen to share is boho-elegant. A theme which happens to be quite on trend for interior decor at the moment, so get onto pinterest if you need some inspiration. The beauty of boho-elegant is that it's simple in nature, elegant in spirit yet quite comfortable all at the same time. Flowers are wild, linens are unironed and a string of fairy lights can really go anywhere. Your menu can be fancy, your plates can be mismatched, the mood is quite simply put - free spirit. Whether you have a large garden, a small city one or even a balcony, get outside and enjoy some outdoor enteratining with tea.
SMOKED GAZPACHO What you'll need: 2 lbs ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped 1 small cucumber, peeled and seeded 1 bell pepper, cored 1/2 small red onion, peeled 2 tbsp chopped parsley 1 small garlic cloves, peeled 2 tsp sherry vinegar 1 thick slice of white bread, soaked, crusts removed (make sure the bread is old/stale 2 tsp lapsang soushong tea salt and pepper GARNISH small onion finely chopped small cucumber finely chopped drizzle of olive oil and/or sherry vinegar croutons What you'll do: MAKE AHEAD: Steep tea in 4 cups of water for 5 minutes. Remove tea. Soak stale bread in steeped tea for 30 minutes. Remove bread from steeped tea. Combine with all ingredients in a blender. Season with salt and peper to taste. Chill well before serving. Serve gazpacho topped with your favourite garnishes.
TOASTY COUSCOUS SALAD What you'll need: 3 tsp genmaicha tea 2 cups couscous 1 cucumber chopped and seeded 3 plum tomatoes chopped and seeded 2 cups chopped parsley 1 cup chopped dill 1/2 cup chopped spring onion DRESSING 4 tbsp freshley squeezed lemon juice 2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar 1/2 cup olive oil salt and pepper to taste
What you'll do: Steep tea in 2 cups boiled water for 5 minutes. Remove tea and pour over couscous. Cover and allow couscous to become tender, fluff up with a fork. Add a little water if needed. Combine couscous with herbs and vegetables in a bowl. Combine ingredients for dressing and pour over couscous. Mix well and allow to sit at room temperature for an hour before serving.
PEACH SALAD WITH EARL GREY CANDIED PECANS What you'll need: 5 cups spring mix 3 peaches sliced 1/4 cup pecans 2 tsp or 2 teabags Earl Grey tea 1 tbsp honey 1 tbsp olive oil DRESSING 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar 1 tsp honey 1 tbsp olive oil salt and pepper to taste
What you'll do: MAKE AHEAD: Steep tea in 1 cup boiled water for 10 minutes. Remove tea. Soak pecans in tea overnight. In a saucepan heat olive oil, add honey and soaked pecans. Stir constantly so nothing burns. Remove from pan. Toss spring mix in a bowl with peaches and pecans. Drizzle on dressing.
What you'll need: 5 lb leg of lamb 10 gr hibiscus 2 cloves garlic 1 bunch mint 3 tsp lemon juice 1/4 cup olive oil salt and pepper What you'll do: MAKE AHEAD: Grind tea with mortar and pestle until powdered. Combine in a blender with garlic, mint, lemon juice, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper. Pour in olive oil until an emulsified mixture forms. Rub all over lamb and allow to marinate at least 24 hours in refrigerator. Heat oven to 350F. Roast lamb for 1 1/2 - 1 3/4 hours or until internal temperature is 135F. Remove from oven and rest for 15 minutes before carving.
Black Tea Strawberry Cheesecake What you'll need: CRUST 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1 tablespoon sugar CHEESE LAYER 1 8 ounce cream cheese softened 1 8 ounce ricotta cheese 1/4 cup sugar 1 teaspoon lemon zest STRAWBERRY LAYER 1/2 cup strawberry jam 3 tsp or 3 teabags strong black tea 2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced into 1/4" chunks whole strawberries, slided for serving
What you'll do: MAKE AHEAD: Steep tea in 4 cups boiled water for 15 mi nutes. Soak 2 cups strawberries in tea mixture overnight. CRUST: Crush graham crackers either in a food processor or place in bag and pound with rolling pin. Combine cinnamon and sugar. Pat 1/4 cup graham mixture into bottom of mason jars. CHEESE LAYER: Combine ingrdients in a blener, combine well.
STRAWBERRY LAYER: Remove strawberries from steeped tea holding back 1 tsp of tea. Place strawberry jam in a saucepan over medium heat with 1tsp of reserved tea to loosen up the jam. Add in soaked strawberries and toss until strawberries are well coated. ASSEMBLE: Layer cheese and strawberry mixture ontop of crust in mason jars how you like it. Top with fresh strawberries before serving.
PEACH OOLONG PUNCH What you'll need: 4 tsp or 4 teabags Oolong tea 1 liter Peach juice 1/2 liter club soda or sparkling wine 4 peaches sliced What you'll do: Steep tea in 1 liter water at 80C for 10 minutes. Strain tea. Combine steeped tea in a pitcher or bowl with peach juice and either club soda or sparkling wine. Slice peaches and mix with punch. Serve chilled.
India COUNTRY PROFILE: India is one of the top countries that comes to mind when you think about where tea comes from. This is for good reason, as it is one of the largest tea producers in the world. In 2021, Tea Board India reported that the country produced 1,329.04 million kilograms and of that, 175.39 million kilograms was exported. The first known recording of tea in India is in the ancient epic poem Ramayana (750-500BC). In the poem, a god
BY ADI BAKER
The next recorded mention of tea in India was by a Dutch merchant named Jan Hughen van Linschoten. In 1598 he recorded people in India eating tea as a vegetable by brewing it in boiling water. Then, a couple centuries later in 1788 a British botanist named Joseph Banks reported that northeastern India had an ideal climate for tea cultivation. However, he did not make any mention of tea plants in the area. It was not until several decades later that indigenous tea trees were "discovered" by a Scottish adventurer named Robert Bruce (he is said to have been show the plants by a local nobleman, Maniram Dewan). After the discovery, Bruce reported his findings to his brother who then sent seed samples to Kolkata. These seeds were confirmed to be tea plants, but of the Camellia sinensis var. assamica varietal. Soon after this discovery the British East India Company began cultivating tea in Assam (northeastern India). It should be noted that the British were looking to obtain tea from other countries besides China. The first shipment of tea from a non-Chinese country to Britain was in 1838. Due to the colonial influence of British tea consumption in/on India, tea consumption in India grew. Today, the majority of the tea produced in India is for internal consumption.
named Hanuman is sent to the Himalayas to obtain tea for medicinal use. This account of tea being sought after for its medicinal use aligns with the history of the beverage in other countries. Tea from its first discovery has been revered for its waking abilities.
As a geographically large country, with variance in geographic conditions, there are distinct tea growing regions that impart distinct terroirs. The following descriptions are from Tea Board India and the Tea & Herbal Association of Canada's tea.ca. ASSAM: The strong tea, grown on the rolling plains by the Brahmaputra river that weaves her way through vales and hills, is famous for its smooth malty flavour. A taste crafted by the region’s rich loamy soil, unique climate and liberal rainfall. DARJEELING: First planted in the early 1800s, the incomparable quality of Darjeeling Teas is the result of its locational climate, soil conditions, altitude and meticulous processing. About 10 million kilograms are grown every year, spread over 17,500 hectares of land. The tea has its own special aroma, that rare fragrance that fills the senses. Darjeeling Tea cannot be grown or manufactured anywhere else in the world. Just as Champagne is indigenous to the Champagne district of France, so is Darjeeling Tea to Darjeeling. The Darjeeling tea when brewed gives a colour of pale lemon to rich amber. The brew is said to have remarkable varying degrees of visual brightness, depth and body. The flavour emanating from the brew is a fragrance with a complex and pleasing taste and aftertaste with attributes of aroma, bouquet and point. The organoleptic characteristics of the Darjeeling tea brew are commonly referred to as mellow, smooth, round, delicate, mature, sweet, lively, dry and brisk.
DOOARS: Nestling just below Darjeeling, with elevations ranging from 90 to 1750 metres above sea level. Although tea cultivation in Dooars was primarily engineered by the British planters through their agency enterprises, there was significant contribution of Indian entrepreneurs who set up considerable number of new plantations with the issuance of grants of lands in a phased manner. The Dooars-Terai tea is characterized by a bright, smooth and full-bodied liquor that’s a wee bit lighter than Assam tea. KANGRA: The climate, the characteristic terrain and soil conditions, and the coolness of the snow clad mountains in Himachal’s famous Kangra region; all play a role in crafting a delightfully distinct cup of quality tea. Particularly the first flush with an aroma and flavour that has an unmistakable tinge of fruitiness. Being one of India’s smallest tea regions makes Kangra green and black tea all the more exclusive. While the black tea has a sweet lingering after taste, the green tea has a delicate woody aroma. NILGIRI: These teas are grown at elevations ranging from 1000 to 2500 metres above sea level. The Nilgiri Hills aka the ‘Blue Mountains’ come under the influence of both southwest and north-east monsoons; a reason why the tea leaves grown here are plucked around the year. A deliciously fragrant and exquisitely aromatic tea, with high tones of delicate floral notes and a golden yellow liquor. Crisply brisk and bright. Lingering notes of dusk flowers with an undercurrent of briskness. Creamy mouth feel.
INFUSIONS Whether pursuing a career in the retail or hospitality industry or enhancing your enjoyment of tea, this program looks at the historical origin of herbs and spices as they are used in tea. HI-101: INTRODUCTION TO HERBS & INFUSIONS (4 WEEK COURSE) HI-102: HERBAL PROCESSING & COMMON HERBS IN TEA (5 WEEK COURSE)
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A MEETING WITH MR. HE TEA GROWER From the Camellia Sinensis Blog
Mr. He works for the Office of Agricultural Research, where he develops new teas. He has also been a tea grower since 1991. How did you get to where you are today in the world of tea? My family has been producing tea for several generations,I forget how many exactly, but we grew it only for our own use. When we had too much we gave it away. Tea is part of my family heritage. From 1987 to 1991, I studied tea at theAgricultural University of Zhejiang, and since thenI have always worked in this field. At first I worked for the Department of Agriculture, whose main function was to teach farmers how to cultivate tea trees and the techniques for processing the leaves. Now I work for the Office of Agricultural Research on the development of new teas.
How big is your tea garden? My garden covers approximately 2 mous (1 mou =1/6 acre or 1/15 ha). I also rent a tea garden covering 580 mous. How much tea do you produce every year? Do you have employees? I produce more than 1,500 kilos [3,300 pounds] of high-quality tea every year. About 20 people work with me on the plantations and in the factory. In addition, in harvest season, I employ roughly 300 pickers. Do you have a store where you sell your tea? I am both a producer and a trader. I own two tea stores, and eight others help me sell my tea.
To whom do you sell your tea? The local or international market?
considerably because of the increase in salaries, I want to continue to produce highquality teas.
I produce mainly for the local market. What kind of tea do you produce? When I started out, purchasing power was low in China, so I produced low-grade teas using machinery for picking. Now that purchasing power has increased, I produce high-quality teas from handpicked leaves. I produce less tea now than I did when I started. Even if production costs have risen
Photo by Camellia Sinensis
Have you noticed changes in the industry and in your clientele since you started? At the moment, the Chinese appreciate tea for the way it looks, and that limits the development of the industry. I try to educate consumers so they will learn to better appreciate the taste and the nutritive values of tea and not just the way it looks.
OUR "PONY-TALE" Indi Khanna's life has been tea. He has lived and breathed tea for 45 years. To say he is a fascinating treasure trove of stories, would be a gross understatement. Indi has been writing his thoughts and memories for the past few months, and we thought we would share one with you. If you don't know Indi Khanna, make sure you visit Tea'N'Teas, explore not only his stories but also the beautiful teas of the Tea Studio (teanteas.com and teastudio.info).
This being during the time while I was on Dhoedaam estate in-charge of the Pabbojan Division, Madhav was all of three years of age. Himmat Singh, a very senior planter and the manager of Tara Estate, despite the huge gap in our seniority level and our respective ages, having befriended my family, we had in course of time become very close friends and were very regularly dropping in to each other’s bungalows. Himmat and his wife Krishna, having no child of their own, loved our little Madhav with a passion. A weakness which Madhav, very innocently and naturally as children are wont to do and obviously not even knowing that he was doing so, took full advantage of. The Tara bungalow having a swimming pool in the compound, we’ve spent many a Sunday lazing around the pool with a plenty of beer at hand to stave of the heat and humidity watching Himmat in the water playing and generally fooling around with Madhav who would be in peals of laughter.
Besides his many other passions, Himmat was the proud owner of a very handsome thoroughbred. Fateh Jung was a recently retired race horse who stood at a majestic 16 hands. Instead of the usual jeep which all managers used for estate work, Himmat would do the rounds astride Fateh Jung. Whenever we visited Tara, Madhav sitting in front of Himmat and clutching on to Fateh Jung’s mane, would be taken out on a long ride to come back to the bungalow flushed and bubbling with sheer excitement. With him being very possessive about his steed, it was always after a lot of pleading with him that Himmat would allow me to take his horse for a ride. The approach road to Tara was through an Assamese basti (village). Every single time we’d head to Himmat’s place we’d see a small brown pony munching grass on the side of the road. Whenever we headed that way, in anticipation of seeing that fellow, Madhav his eyes wide open, would be half hanging out of the car window. The moment the pony was spotted he’d make us stop and wait
while he walked across to touch and caress the fellows flank and had to be literally pulled away so that we could move on. Aware of Himmat’s passion for horses, on reaching the bungalow Madhav would run up the stairs to share with him graphic details of the encounter. For months altogether it was always the same modus operandi that we all went through. And then that morning of 30th June which is Madhav’s birthday. Very early, well before dawn, a tractor rolls up to our bungalow gate with a trailer in tow. On the trailer was a bed of hay on which stood the ‘enroute to Tara pony’ with a hat on its head and a placard around its neck which read “Happy birthday Madhav, I am Ramu”. Madhav, needless to say, was over the moon with excitement and spent that whole day fussing around Ramu, making sure that HIS horse was comfortable in the garage. Me, I was dumbstruck. This was way over the top. That evening following evening muster we made a bee-line to Tara. My concern was
only one, that we confront Himmat and explain to him that there was no way that we could accept such an expensive gift from him. Enroute we stopped at the basti and after asking around got to the house of the erstwhile owner of Ramu to learn from the gentleman that he had sold the pony to Himmat for five thousand rupees. Back in the day that was a princely sum. It was just not right. Much as I argued with Himmat, he would not have a word of it. Finally suggested to him that would he at least accept half of the cost and was in the choicest words told to go take a walk. Needless to say that the words my friend actually used were rather different! Finally, having been forced to put up my hands, we did what was our standard procedure whenever we got together. We hit Himmat’s bar. And so Ramu, who every now and then when excited was not averse to taking a chomp at one, stayed on to become a member of our animal farm. Constantly horsing around with Phantom, our black Labrador.
It was five years later by when I had been transferred to Rajah Ali that Phantom managed to contract dumb rabies. How that happened has always remained a mystery. By the time we could figure out what the problem was, he had died. A few days later sitting in the bungalow jali kamra waiting for Madhav to get back from school, I saw Ramu who was standing close to the bungalow gate, just keel over. By the time gardener and I rushed across to try and help Ramu back on his feet, we just couldn’t get close to him because his legs were flaying and he was thrashing around violently. While we watched, in a matter of minutes he went stock still and his eyes just rolled over. Knowing that Madhav would be traumatised if he were to see his beloved Ramu dead, we had the car bringing Madhav back from school, drive in through the rear gate. Quickly had a large pit dug to bury the pony. While he never saw Ramu dead, when he learnt about it, that Madhav was devastated would be a gross understatement. Life – Always full of ups & downs!