Trailblazers are those who champion change and create new ways of approaching things - In which case, I’d say last weekend was a great success.
Kas, who started the incredible ‘Waterloo Tea' six years ago, had the feat of hosting the first of its kind - a Tea Brewers Cup competition in conjunction with the UK Brewers Cup last week. Now, those of you who know coffee competitions know the intricate planning, judging rubric, and preparation that go into these competitions. It was exciting to see the community of tea and coffee come together to collaborate, innovate, learn, and have a ball doing it!
It is a delicate place, the point where coffee and tea intersect. I have to say our coffee friends are laughing at how deceivingly simple tea brewing seems and in contrast, tea people think we coffee-folk take it all a bit too seriously with extractions, refracting our brews ‘tds', fancy spice grinders, roast profiles, etc. Without getting into this discussion, I am ecstatic to see how speciality coffee and tea were showcased side-by-side.
Discussions surrounding quality and the pursuit of more information and education in tea got great thoughts brewing, literally and figuratively. There are lots of similarities that we can draw from both commodities, but also they are so different in the trade, culture, and history. It was an eye-opening weekend, with a talks & Q&A's from Cory Bush at Falcon Coffees and Angela Pryce, a master tea buyer & expert who has been working with tea for nearly 15 years.
How the competition works:
1) the Heats (compulsory stage): the closed portion of the competition where competitors were provided three mystery teas and had to brew them accordingly.
The goal: to bring out the colour/appearance, aroma, and taste that are associated with the particular tea. There are specific times, temperatures, and some other parameters that one alters to get a tasty cup
2) the Finals (open service): there was an open competition where competitors were to present two teas to the judges and a 15-minute presentation on the teas
All in all, we had a great discussion on where tea industry can grow in transparency and absolute quality. I think the take-away was although there are similar challenges in both commodities (coffee & tea), they are incredibly different and can’t be approached in the same way.
If you were there last weekend, or would like to add to the chats about this event do give a shout below! We want to hear from you.