Berkeley Coffee and Tea Festival
We had a great time this weekend at the Berkeley Coffee and Tea Festival. Wow, if there was ever was a whole lotta love for Red Circle Tea, it was there! Thank you East Bay! And we were among great company too: Peets, Silk Road Teas, Far Leaves Tea, some of the greats in the industry and I was proud to present along side them.
We sampled three teas: Taiwan Red Jade # 18, the Tribute tea that was hand processed by Buddhist monks, that went over extremely well. Everyone commented on how aromatic and full bodied it was "Oh! This aroma is like roses," and this is a two year old tea. I think it might even be an age-able tea at this point, it's held up so well... wouldn't that be an interesting experiment to take this tea to the next level. I might just do that. The second tea we served was the 1984 Ti Kuan Yin. Every time I make this tea I am more and more impressed, it is truly an unshakable tea. Oolong doubters, lovers of light-roast, green-tea-exclusives, beware- this tea will woo you, and she means business. This tea has swagger and all the top notes and nuance to back it up. We had several people whose eyes got a little wider and took a silent moment to revisit the aroma of this tea before deciding just how good this tea was to drink. And I gave them a knowing smile before they even opened their lips to compliment her. "I know right?" and they would reply "This is a great tea." "I sourced that on the farm from Mr Wong. Great guy. Serious tea farmer." And the last tea was the 2007 Liu Bao, "Oh, Puerh" they said knowingly. "No, guess again..." "Oh, not puerh? What tea is this?" And I explained the basic similarities between the three fermented teas Liu An, Liu Bao and Puerh. All oxidized and fermented, these are the true "black" teas (see how dark this tea is?) of China. They all taste earthy and smooth, but are processed slightly differently and all come from different growing areas.
And the highlight of the morning was at 11 am when we all assembled for the "Tea 101" talk. Eliot Jordan from Peets, Donna Lee from Far Leaves Tea and Ned Haggerty from Silk Road Teas. All folks with probably 100+ years combined experience in the tea industry and me. And I admittedly felt like a bit of a fake up there, how did I make it onto this panel discussing some of the finest teas in the world with some of the most respected people in the industry? I could only come up with one answer: no one else had said yes. Maybe it was luck, or fate, or chance, but anyhow, there I was. Norwood, (James Norwood Pratt, author, speaker, amazing man and a True Southern Gentleman- ascot and all) was moderating and he tossed out some basic questions about steeping times, temperatures, we fielded some questions from the audience too. We talked about water, Ph, and brewing methods. It was only an hour, but it flew by, and we could have talked for the entire afternoon. One thing I wish we has chatted about was our collective first experiences in China. I really wanted people to hear first hand the adventure stories, the passionate thrill of seeing tea fields at dawn, walking into a processing facility and being hugged by the aroma of a fine tea being processed by a master's hands. To me these are the joys of my business, and I wish we could have shared them with you. I'll make that my next tea post. My first time on a tea farm.