Where to Learn About Tea?
You're most likely reading this either on the Best Coffee website or on the app, so, you're probably a fan of a good cup of coffee. However, that doesn't mean you can't appreciate a good cup of tea, too. Phil Wain explores how to educate yourself.
Where to Learn About Tea
Tea is a complex and beguiling subject. There are just so many names for a start…often several different names for exactly the same tea. Fortunately, they all boil down (see what I did there) to variations on white, green, oolong, black and pu-er. When it comes to learning about tea, going beyond tea bag teas there is a wealth of information out there and a wealth of flavours to discover.
That’s why we recommend exploring the world of tea. There’s so much in terms of history and a tremendous variety of flavours. It helps that most teas are much more forgiving when it comes to brewing mistakes. If you make an over-extracted brew, you can just tip the water out and brew again with the same leaves. That’s hardly true of coffee.
Essentially, tea brewing comes down to experimenting with a number of variables: amount of tea leaves, amount of water, time of steep, temperature of water. The darker the tea, the hotter the water (with some exceptions). Even expensive loose leaf tea can be great value as most leaves will stand a fair few infusions before you throw them away, and it keeps for ages.
So, where to learn…
Postcard rightly have a high reputation for tea quality. You can pop in any day to taste tea but on Saturday mornings, they host their tea school. Every week, a different type of tea is featured so that the program is covered and repeated each month. Classes are £20 each or £70 for 4. Book at http://www.postcardteas.com/site/school/
Postcard Teas, Dering Street, New Bond Street, London W1S 1AG
Ying is a veritable tea master and her workshops focus on the history and preparation of Chinese teas. As well as quality Chinese teas, Tea Life also have a wonderful range of ceramics from Jingdezhen, China. The workshops are free of charge and advertised in Tea Life as well as on their Facebook and Instagram.
Tea Life, 21 Museum Street, London WC1A 1JN
This Warwick based tea company arranges tea classes for a maximum of eight people that last around three hours. Each class costs a total of £115. http://www.goldenmonkeyteacompany.co.uk
Golden Monkey, 64 Smith Street, Warwick, CV34 4HU
Tregothnan Tea School Masterclasses (Cornwall)
These classes take place every month. They are all-day experiences from the UK tea grower and retail at £145. For more information, visit their website.
The Woodyard, Tresillian, Truro TR2 4AJ
Lalani and Co
Look out for some upcoming events featuring Lalani’s seasonal, premium, small batch teas and read their journal online https://www.lalaniandco.com/tea-journal/
Jing are rightly proud of their extensive information on their website: https://jingtea.com - it has excellent guides to tea making, tea types, tea geography and their regularly updated blog.
August Moon Tea
This Nottingham teashop offers monthly workshops on subjects such as the Tao Te Ching and Tea, or the Chinese Tea Ceremony. Information is via their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/AugustMoonTea/
3rd Floor, 60 Goose Gate, Nottingham, NG1 1FF
Waterloo do not run regular workshops but are happy to talk tea with you when you visit any of their Cardiff and Penarth locations.
UK Tea Academy
Jane Pettigrew, one of tea’s leading names, is Director of Studies at the UKs main certified tea school. It’s the only UK body to currently offer a professional tea sommelier certification programme. Most courses are taught at Westminster Kingsway’s Victoria centre. Its courses are renowned.
London School of Tea
This is a newer school offering certified tea training for professionals and home enthusiasts.
Tea & Glory
The Camden teashop hold regular workshops.
29 Chalk Farm Road, Camden, London, NW1 8AJ
Nowadays, Twinings might be better known for teabags but they have a long history and their historic teashop on the Strand has some interesting historical themed events such as ‘Women in Tea’ – these are priced at £40. https://www.twinings.co.uk/about-twinings/tea-masterclass-with-twinings-a-tea-tasting-expe . They also run private masterclasses.
216, The Strand, London, WC2R 1AP
Also, many places serving great tea are happy to answer questions about it. Try Curators, Prufrock or TAB XTAB.
Recommended Tea Books
Jameel of Lalani & Co recommends:
Tea: History, Terroirs, Varieties by the Camellia Sinensis Teahouse owners
Timothy D’Offay of Postcard Teas has written:
Easy Leaf Tea: Tea House Recipes to Make at Home
Other books to consider are:
The New Tea Companion by Jane Pettigrew & Bruce Richardson
The Social History of Tea by Jane Pettigrew & Bruce Richardson
For All the Tea in China by Sarah Rose
The Story of Tea by Mary Lou Heiss & Robert J. Heiss
The Book of Tea by Okakura Kakuzo
The Tea Book by Linda Gaylard
The True History of Tea by Erling Hoh and Victor H. Mair