As most of you know, I teach a lot of tea classes…and give a lot of talks on tea. The one thing I premise all my talks with is the following: ‘I do not know everything about tea. Nobody does. Remember that humility’. And today, I think, every single person that was a part of our events, was reminded of that.
I led an afternoon session today in Malawi, hosted by the Tea Association of Malawi, attended by Managing Directors, Buyers and Growers of the tea estates – on cupping (tasting tea) as well as food pairing. What could teagirl possibly teach people who have been in the industry far longer than I have?? That, I am certain, was the thought on everyone’s mind as they came to the event.
Our afternoon started with a cupping – as you see in the picture above. Not a cupping of teas from Malawi, as was perhaps expected. But a cupping of the large variety of teas we enjoy in the North American market – white, green, oolong, black, jasmine, lapsang soughong, pu-erh. With some skepticism and a lot of curiosity, everyone, smelled and tasted – and enjoyed. Full of questions about teas they are not normally exposed to.
We followed the cupping with another new approach to tea – tea and food pairing. This time with teas from Malawi. Explaining the principals behind flavour and pairings, I took my audience through options and ideas and combinations. Were there raised eyebrows at this new approach? Yes. Were they however eager to try it and be open to it? Again…yes!
The afternoon then took a turn, it was the turn of the Tea Association of Malawi to feature the teas of Malawi – preparing a cupping (tea tasting) of what they had to offer. And teagirl tasted – and teagirl was full of questions…and teagirl learned. I am richer for it.
That is the humility I want all of us to remember. This industry is so rich and so vibrant – and it remains that way so long as we remember that we all have something to learn from eachother.