Over the last few weeks, I’ve spent a lot of my time investigating what perspective attendees of a tea course want to achieve from such a course. You always get the “I want to learn everything there is to know about tea!” type answers. I suppose the answer to that is – “how many life times do you have to dedicate to this quest?” Then you have the person who just wants to understand the basics and enjoy a class with some likeminded people. You see that’s the nice thing about tea. It covers such a wide variety of people from every walk of life, which ensures you will always have a mix of individuals, from every point of the personality spectrum in your groups.
So I set about the task of putting together a course that attempts to cover a rich variety of topics and presenting them under the “Tea Appreciation” umbrella. Simple! No, you have to consider value for money, a suitable venue, duty of care to your attendees, insurance, operating costs etc etc etc……
Wow, but it’s just tea! There’s no such thing as just tea!
The result of my research, is a five week course presented each Tuesday evening, which will hopefully be informative, fun and somewhere wonderful to escape to once a week. The classes will cover a wide variety of subjects, and should be an eye opener for the “tea novice”, while at the same time be just as interesting to the “tea connoisseur”.
The 5 week course is presented as follows:
Wk 1. – Introduction to the course and what we hope to achieve. Find out the answer to “what actually is tea?” Discover white tea – a brief history, tastings, health aspects, its production and brewing. Compare original Chinese white teas to Indian white teas.
Wk 2. – Green tea – a look at the different styles, their production and brewing methods, a good look at the history of Chinese and Japanese green teas, and the development of green tea globally. Health aspects and tastings of a variety of green teas
Wk 3. – Oolong tea – discuss the development of oolong tea in Fujian Province, China and later in Taiwan. Are the health aspects of oolong really as precise as they seem? Taste some beautiful high mountain oolong and a new comer in the form of Vietnamese oolong. Understand how difficult it is to make this tea and how to show it respect in the way we serve it.
Wk 4. – Black tea – take a look at the colourful history of black tea and follow its path to world dominance (cue Star Wars theme music!). Discuss and taste, Chinese, Indian, Ceylon, African and Australian black teas. Take a look at, and try to understand the black tea grading system.
Wk 5. – Flavoured teas – have some fun with the fashionable flavoured teas of today. Taste flowery, fragrant, and fruity teas, understand how they are created, and their place in the tea world. Find out whether they are as new and trend as we think they are?
Then take an imaginary trip through the hustle and bustle of Kolkata streets, learn how to cook the iconic Indian sweet milky spiced tea – masala chai. Then relax and taste this most traditional of street teas. Learn about the spices, and which teas to use when creating your own masala chai blend at home.
The almost 15,000 word handbook that accompanies this course, should become a great source of reference to all attendees. Trust me, compiling it has had me trawling through the corridors of my tea knowledge and contains many hours of work.
You see presenting a tea course isn’t just about turning up with a few tins or bags of tea, making a few pots of the stuff and rumbling on about your tea point of view. I believe it’s about preparing a well presented, interesting and informative presentation. Taste some wonderful teas, have a bit of fun, some serious discussion, put the world to rights (because that’s what we do, over tea), and if you’re lucky make some new friends along the way. All of this doesn’t just happen from the whiff of a steaming cuppa, it takes time and preparation.
I hope that the people who attend my “Tea Appreciation” courses, enjoy coming on a journey into tea, with me. That my passion for the brew, ignites their imagination and encourages them to seek out more about this miraculous leaf, that has changed the world.