Through the wonders of social media, I was invited to attend a very special event, a tea education seminar called the Friday Tea Club. The Friday Tea Club is a collaboration between T-Licious at Southbank and May King Tsang, founder of MayKingTea.
As a lover of tea myself, and being responsible for converting L from a coffee drinker into an appreciative tea drinker, you can imagine I was pretty excited to attend.
The Friday Tea Club is running three sessions, the first of which we attended:
11th May: Gong Fu Tea Ceremony: observe and participate in a traditional Chinese tea ceremony
25th May: Oolong tea
8th June: Herbal Infusions
May King is wonderful lady with an incredible passion for tea. She is actually one of the top 50 Specialty Tea Institute’s globally recommended certified speakers of tea. May King has moved to Brisbane from the UK and makes it her life’s work to spread the word about tea.
Generally most people’s experience of tea involves chucking a teabag (usually something like Liptons or Bushells) in a mug, leaving it brew for too long and then drowning it in milk and/or sugar. Good quality tea is so much more than that, which is just exactly what May King wishes to spread the word about. We learnt there are 6 types of tea; black, white, yellow, green, oolong and pu’erh. There is also the herbal infusion category, however these do not include any actual tea leaves (Camellia sinensis plant). Its amazing that these different types of teas can be produced all from the one plant, with different outcomes dependent on processing and levels of oxidation of the leaves.
May King doesn’t discriminate, she loves each and every type of tea, and in fact has about 300 different teas at home in her designated tea cupboard. I secretly make it my mission to convince L to have a designated tea cupboard at our house (we already have a lot of bench space dedicated to tea).
The Gong Fu Tea Ceremony is all about the proper brewing and appreciation at all steps of the quality, flavours and aroma of the tea. We share in two different types of oolong teas. The first is Tie Guan Yin (a Chinese tea, meaning Iron Goddess of mercy), and the second is Li Shan Xi, a superior Taiwanese tea.
May King passes around the tea leaves so we can appreciate the appearance of the rolled leaves, the colour and the aromas arising from the leaves.
The first part of the ceremony involves warming and ‘awakening’ the teapot and cups. They are washed with hot water and the water is then thrown away. The leaves are washed and the the first infusion is discarded. We experience 3 infusions with the Taiwanese tea, and appreciate the different flavours arising from each brew. Oolong tea can typically be brewed multiple times, dependent on its quality.
May King invites us to contribute with any images that pop into our heads when experiencing the tea, and any flavours or aromas that we can detect. Someone mentions a beautiful pink sunset, and buttered popcorn. Who knew that tea could awaken so many senses? Tea tastings can definitely be likened to wine tastings.
May King can talk for literally hours about tea, and I found everything she said fascinating. Its wonderful to see someone who is so passionate about what they do! May King’s knowledge seems endless, however she says according to Chinese folklore, it takes three lifetimes to know all there is to know about tea.
I highly recommend attending one of the future Friday Tea Club gatherings. Rather than being formal, its an interactive and educational experience.
These tea education seminars are hosted by T-Licious at South bank. To book, please phone T-Licious on 3844 3305 (cost is $25 per person). T-licious is a fantastic retail store, selling a huge range of different teas and tea-wares. If you are interested in purchasing any teas, head there and they will be happy to help with any questions you have.
*C attended this event as a guest of MayKing tea and T-licious*MayKing Tea Facebook: www.facebook.com/maykingt Twitter: @MayKingTea T-Licious Shop 9, 176-178 Grey St Southbank Ph 3844 3305 Open 7 days www.tlicious.com.au