TEA TRAVEL STORIES
Travel and first hand experience has certainly been at the center of my passion for tea and I needed to discover as much as I could about this refreshingly simple brew of tiny leaves floating in my tea strainer or teapot. It is imbued with well over 3,000 years of history, technique, botany, geography, trade routes, and of course world cultures. Teatime has found itself to be a unique pause in the daily routine to be served or to be taken for many reasons, such as an expression of hospitality, or as a part of a business transaction, or as a reflective respite.
Roadways to some of the best tea plantations coursed up through steep mountains. It is terraces and hillside planting which help contain the run-off of frequent rain, and the rain, which mists the tea plants for multiple flushes.
It was on the Dewata Tea Estate where our tour included the processing facility, and the tea taste testing facility where we donned white suits and booties to ensure each facility met the highest quality standards. Our host extended the greatest hospitality and included a picnic near the plantation’s spring water facility, and where trees are planted in honor of guests, both contributing to the environmental conservation mission of Dewata.
It was in this pursuit of my passion that I quite logically began to purvey the fine teas in China, the country where the first tea trees blossomed into tea experiences. Partaking of tea in the Chinese manner opens the way for chatting and socializing to learn more about the tea plants, types, seasons, trade, preservation techniques and the beliefs of natural health benefits for tea drinkers.
China is considered by most to be the cradle of tea culture, tea travel. Could there be any better place to begin than on the Tea Horse Road? My Chinese-speaking cousin joined in as a travelling partner and the journeys began.
Steeped in precision is one way to describe a Japanese tea ceremony. It takes the highest attention to detail for the preparation of ceremonial foods, the dress attire, and for the actual event itself. Japan offers picture perfect photo ops.
Plan for a lengthier afternoon if a Japanese ceremony is in order. One of the valleys a bit outside of Nagoya features some exquisitely earthy signature hand thrown pottery and tea bowls fired in family run kilns.
Our search for tea cups took a house-to-house route in Korea. In the back of some kitchens, artists make and fire their own tea cups with pottery strainers fitting into the rim. Finding these few of a kind teacups for Chariteas was a reward unto itself.
Food and specialty items encompass teatime in so many countries, extremely so in Sri Lanka. Beautiful hills and climate nurture tea plants at the Matakellie Tea Plantation sets the tour on course with an in-factory guided tea tasting, all the while enveloped in the aroma of freshly harvested, pan fired and roasted black teas.
Once a crown colony, tea purchases here are coursed through an elaborate auction system. The auction house features rooms for tea grades, plantation lots (batches) by name for quick sales/purchases/distribution. Famous estate names here include Kenilworth and John Keels.