Exciting news! Our website for our upcoming event in October is now up! Please check it out and read all about our event. You can now purchase tickets, book into classes, register as an exhibitor, submit an entry into the Golden Leaf Awards and lots more! http://www.australianteaexpo.com.au
Wishing to exhibit at the Melbourne Tea Fair but haven’t yet secured a space? It’s not too late! Although main submissions are now closed, we are still accepting submissions to our wait list, and we will see if we can make room for you.
Please send firstname.lastname@example.org your exhibitor registration forms by July 31. First in first served!
You can download a copy of the exhibitor registration form from http://australianteamasters.com.au/melbourne-tea-fair , at the bottom of the page.
In our last post we went through the necessary skills and traits a qualified and well-respected tea taster should possess. In this post, we will be covering how a tea taster conducts their job.
Firstly however it is important to note that tea is a beverage that has been around for many thousands of years, and has survived all sorts of economic slumps, collapses, and the falls of entire civilisations. As such, a job in the tea industry has a bit more permanence than many other jobs, with job security generally being quite high. Tea has proven to be something that will always be in demand, and its relatively flexible expense ensures its survivability.
Actually performing their job, however, is an interesting and highly technical process. Using a very particular and specialised spoon, the tea taster takes in the tea by slurping it so that it accelerates to exactly 125 miles per hour. This causes a fine mist to form inside the mouth which helps both the olfactory and gustatory senses absorb every aspect of the taste and scent. After thoroughly tasting the tea, it is spat back out into a special pan. The tea taster can then move on to the next cup.
A tea taster will use a stringent methodology under which they will evaluate teas, and also has a standard reference with which to compare them.
Today, tea tasting is a combination of age-old tried and tested methods and scientific methods and understanding unearthed in the modern world. This has both harmonised and standardised tea tasting around the globe.
Tea has long been known as a sort of meditative drink.
Focus and attention span are very relevant topics in our currently busy days and lives; often we bustle about so much that we are doomed to forget the simple joys of just sitting and thinking, perhaps, yes indeed, with a cup of tea in hand. Tea is neither a boisterous nor abrasive drink, but instead is good at promoting alertness, a sense of calm and relaxation.
Perhaps we could stress a little less if we all took that ten minutes, every so often, to sit down, close our eyes, and drink up that warm, beautiful taste.
In any case, I’d like to take a moment to talk about a hormone called cortisol. As many of you may already know (especially those of you involved in sciences to do with the human brain and body, or who have suffered from an anxiety disorder), cortisol is the body’s stress hormone. Your body releases cortisol in stressful situations to help you deal with the problem; for instance, it will cause a function called gluconeogenesis, which increases your current blood sugar so that you have more energy to work with than in normal situations. It also gives you the typical “stressful” mental state.
However, our current lives are a breeding ground for cortisol, and as anyone with an anxiety disorder will tell you, too much stress is never any fun. Excess anxiety can both be caused by and result in cortisol release, and once in this state even small events can cause distress. Many Westerners who have no such disorder still present higher levels of stress than they should, simply because of the current complexity and speed of the western lifestyle.
Now, here’s something interesting; several studies have shown that tea, both green and black, can help reduce cortisol production in stressful situations. Although the affect is minimal, every bit of reduced cortisol production can benefit those that suffer from having too much of the hormone, and should be considered.
This affect, however, may not even be tea’s greatest asset towards stress reduction. As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, tea is a meditative, zen-like drink. Meditation, or at the very least quiet reflection, has shown to be helpful in people suffering from anxiety, and tea is the perfect drink to promote both of these. The caffeine in tea helps keep the mind alert, while the action of drinking keeps you from annoying, distracting actions like fidgeting.
Maybe it’s time you sat down and took a step back from life?
The humble herbal tea, as many of you have already discovered, is indeed not a tea at all.
This distinction can be traced back to how the word “tea” was originally used. That is, tea is a plant that is steeped in water to produce the drink we know as tea – the catch being, that plant can only be a variety of camellia sinensis.
So what does that leave our humble little herbal ‘tea’ with? Not much? Not so! Herbal teas actually have a proper name, which is ’tisane’ (pronounced tis-aine). This name helps distinguish them as not containing any trace of the plant camellia sinensis, and also distinguishes them from herbal tea blends, which contain both tea and herbs to create a finished product.
Although the word tisane is still relatively unknown, it is gradually being uncovered by the tea drinking community and we are all too happy to facilitate and spread its use.
Exciting news regarding the 2014 Melbourne Tea Fair – Exhibitor Registration is now open! You can download your Exhibitor Registration Form and Exhibitor Information Package from our website, at http://australianteamasters.com.au/blog/melbourne-tea-fair
Don’t miss out on this wonderful opportunity! Exhibitor registration closes on July 18, 2014.
If you are lucky enough to explore the world, why not explore the world of tea? There are so many different types of teas you can try. I don’t mean just black, green, puerh, oolongs or white teas (or even yellow, blue or red teas). Try a first or second flush Darjeeling from India, a high grown tea from Ceylon, silver tips from China or an oolong from Taiwan.
Try to avoid flavoured teas as they don’t allow you to taste the real essence of tea you are trying. Each tea has it’s own natural flavour profile. Next time you go for something new, close your eyes and inhale the smell of the dry leaf, and then the wet. Drink in the aroma of the steaming cup of choice before you taste it. What can you smell? Do you notice any stone fruits or a nutty roasted flavour? Is it sweet or savoury? Now taste it. Does it taste the same as it smells?
If you are feeling adventurous, try a tea type you have never tried. On a recent trip to Europe I discovered a white Darjeeling – the flavour was so delicate with hints of peach and the leaves were downy and soft. It was so refreshing and light but full-bodied at the same time if that could be possible. It was wonderful to try something new. Discover your own new favourites. Or if you’d prefer to stick to something similar to what you are used too, perhaps just go for another type of black tea. How about a Keemun, Assam, Nilgiri or Yunnan?
Having discovered several new teas on my travels, it was even more delightful to come home to my usual daily cup.
Hint: Next time when you are out and about I encourage you to try something different. Ask for a loose leaf, and go for something you wouldn’t normally have. It makes your favourite cup of tea at home all the more special.
Words and image contributed by Tea Master, Suzi van Middelkoop from Tea by the Sea.