Last week I took my tea obsession one step further. I spent a whole day learning about its history, how to harvest it, how to brew it, watching it being prepared and the best bit of all- drinking it.
I had been to a tea tasting event before, but last time I did not actually walk in. Last time, not being able to see past a haze of blue rise and mobility aids, I decided the event was perhaps a bit beyond my age range. This time, I was pleasantly surprised. There was one girl who even looked to be my junior, or perhaps daily doses of white tea afforded her with a deceptively juvenile glow.
She had traveled from France especially for the day, as had a Greek man who was keen to take tea to coffeephile Athens. We really were a mixed bunch- two quintissentially genteel Japanese mothers who loved their green tea just as much as their families, one lady keen to break from the army with a passion to make tea, not war and a finance guy who knew as much about complex algorithm as he did about how to calculate perfect brewing times.
I arrived hungry- the class stared at 9.30am and as a morningphobe coming from the opposite side of London, I had yet to have breakfast. And thank goodness I arrived hungry, because I left anything but. I had not realised that lunch would be followed only a few hours afterwards by full afternoon tea.
Jane Pettigrew is a tea consultant and she delivered the sessions along with a fellow tea taster, Tim. As human wikipedias on the subject of tea, there was no question which had them fazed. Whilst they were incredibly well informed, amazingly there was no snobbery that you might see in other gourmet circles, like wine.
Whilst a couple of students picked up subtleties in aroma immediately, it took me a little longer.
'Ooh, I'm getting base notes of roast lamb here...' cried one. 'Ahh, wood shavings!' shrieked another. It became quite competitive at one point, with each contestant vying to encapsulate aromas in words before proud school masters Jane and Tim.
My only complaint of the entire day was being tempted into uber indulgence. I was assured that green tea could actively fight obesity, helping to break down fats. I doubt that even the greenest of teas could shift the scones that I had that day, however. I left, feeling slightly queezy from cake overload and couldn't face a thing for dinner that night. Apart from a cup of tea...
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