“Those” kinds of teas

Posted on January 30 2010


Some people talk about remembering where they were when Kennedy was shot, when Elvis died or when they met someone special. I remember where I was the first time I tasted “that” kind of tea. Mum was British and we grew up on milky Tetley tea. Seven years ago when we decided that we would trade our life in Marine Biology for a life in tea we tried to fill the gaps in our tea education by signing up for classes, talking to the very generous tea merchant veterans and going to the World Tea Expo in Las Vegas.

An incredible, fragrant, colorful and delicious world opened up. We walked the corridors of the trade show in a daze looking at blending ingredients, tea accessories, brewers, packaging machines, tins and above all, tea! Frequent bathroom stops allowed us to keep taking sips from each tea vendor, each type of tea, each estate.

Josh’s booth was half sized and in the less prominent section of the show and could easily be passed by. I immediately noticed because he looked so out of place (no suit, no tie, no fancy set-up) and more than a little uncomfortable looking. He asked if we’d like a taste of his tea and we, of course, said yes. It was towards the end of the first day and I was grateful to just sit for a minute and put my bag full of info down. Josh prepared a fresh batch “gongfu style” I took a sip and everything slowed down and then came to focus.

It seemed impossible that so much could be contained in a single sip. I had a flash back to Douglas Adams’ of tea in “Restaurant at the end of the Universe”: “No,” he said, “look, it’s very, very simple … all I want … is a cup of tea. You are going to make one for me. Keep quiet and listen.”
And he sat. He told the Nutri-Matic about India, he told it about China, he told it about Ceylon. He told it about broad leaves drying in the sun. He told it about silver teapots. He told it about summer afternoons on the lawn. He told it about putting in the milk before the tea so it wouldn’t get scalded. He even told it (briefly) about the history of the East India Company.
“So that’s it, is it?” said the Nutri-Matic when he had finished.
“Yes,” said Arthur, “that is what I want.”

The drying leaves, the wind, the rain, the rocky hills, the spoil, the clouds and the suns’s contribution to the cup as well as the hands of the pickers, the song of the children and the watchful eye of the garden master all in the elegant little cup under Josh’s glinting eye. I asked how much it was and, to my credit, didn’t spit up my tea when he told me. I thanked him and we went back to the hotel where I spent all night dreaming about the tea. In the morning, first in line, I bought my first 2 pounds of “that” kind of tea.

I’m sure I’ve had better teas since, teas that nearly brought tears to my eyes or teas that practically made me purr, several of them from Josh, but that was the first. Each time he sends me samples I remember that tea and this past week he sent some again. In tomorrows blog you will be my notes on the tasting of Josh’s incredible teas.


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