A masterclass exclusively on tea. 2018 is surely off to a good start for me. Connecting with the tea-loving community in the U.A.E. has been something which has been on top of my list. Dubai Jiggy and Teaeli orchestrated the Artisan tea tasting experience in Dubai on 25th January at NEST Coworking Space, Tryp Hotel. The event was hosted by Mr. Dushyantha De Silva, tea master and founder of Teaeli.
Teaeli is a homegrown venture with the founder Mr. Dushyantha’s vision to bring to the world the best quality Ceylon tea. For this, they stay true to a ‘single estate tea’ principle and source their tea from various plantations in Sri Lanka.
Terrain and tea
The tea master began by providing an outline of his country, SriLanka. It is the fourth largest producer of tea in the world. He talked about how the varying temperature, rainfall, and humidity of the country’s high altitude areas on one hand and low-elevation areas on the other have a significant impact on the quality of tea produced in each area. Ceylon teas have a slight sharpness to its flavor owing to citrus notes. The climatic and geographical conditions and the kind of soil, therefore play the biggest role in the keynotes that you taste in your tea.
Processing of tea
We were briefly guided on the five different types of tea; white, green, oolong, black, and Pu-erh tea. All tea originates from the same plant, Camellia Sinensis. The varying taste profile of tea boils down to the way the picked leaves are treated. – withering, bruising, oxidizing, fixing, drying, and in some cases fermentation.
It was an interactive session with Mr. Dushyantha who was happy to clear any queries.
Mr. Dushyantha first started by demonstrating how a professional tea taster tastes the tea. A slightly loud and quick slurp of the tea.
There are two ways of slurping tea. One is the cup to the mouth and then slurp. The second is practiced a lot in China wherein once the tea hits the mouth it is vaporized in a quick slurp.
Each of the attendees was provided with tea brewing supplies like the teacups, tea filters and the right temperature of water. We were to choose our favorite blend from the selection of over 8-10 of Teaeli’s premium blends of tea. Once that was done we had to time the steeping as per the specified brewing time.
My pick was Teaeli’s Luscious Soursop. Soursop is a large acidic custard apple with white fibrous flesh. (dictionary)
I shared the soursop blend with another tea drinker. We scooped the same amount of tea and steeped it for the same time but we ended up with two completely different cups of tea in terms of color and flavor of the blend. My counterpart actually got the blend spot on in terms of flavor while mine was a much lighter version. What was interesting was how each person who tried it had a preference towards one or the other.
The tea experience is a unique one. Palettes differ and taste preferences differ which in turn make tea a topic of conversation.
The most rewarding part of the evening was meeting so many other people who share a passion for tea. Early last year Instagram had got me talking to a fellow tea lover based in Dubai who takes her tastings very seriously. We finally got to meet and get talking. And it makes me thrilled that we aren’t just two unknown faces anymore. She goes by the handle @t3a_mo. Do follow her for her lovely photographs and regular tea reviews.
It was a pleasure meeting with Narmeen from Dubai Jiggy. I think it’s a great thing that they do, connecting people from fields ranging from arts to music to tea.
Let’s keep the conversation going.