Saying you take a ‘tea class’ at Camellia Sinensis actually is not the precise flip of phrase. It’s actually extra of a ‘tea expertise’. Yes, there’s studying (fairly a bit), and sure there’s observe taking (at least for me, the obsessive observe taker). But this comes wrapped a calming sensory expertise, getting misplaced within the leaf. Hours fly by unnoticed when you odor, taste, and really feel the tea.
This is an intensive tea class, and I imply intense. As a bunch of 10 folks we tasted almost 60 teas over the course of two days, and a few had a number of infusions. I used to be stunned that the quantity of tea by no means grew to become overwhelming, nor did it make me too caffeinated or tea drunk. This most likely speaks to the calm ambiance of the category, and the standard of the teas (and the tasty snacks).
I’m not going to get into the specifics of all of the teas we had or curriculum we mentioned, that may simply be an excessive amount of for anybody to learn. But when you comply with my Instagram page, I pinned a ‘TeaSummerSchool’ spotlight, and I’ll even be posting pictures of many of the teas over the subsequent week or so with a bit extra info. I actually did not get that many pictures (at least for a photo-obsessive like me), I needed to attempt to concentrate on the expertise
|Kevin Gascoyne making the tea|
Over two days, the category was led by three of Camellia Sinensis’ greatest: Kevin, Sebastien, and Alexis. Each teacher introduced their distinctive data and perspective, and had their very own educating fashion. I really like that everybody was laid again, centered on the flavors and feeling of the teas whereas nonetheless conveying historical past, culture, terroir and processing (amongst different vital tidbits). They gave a superb basis on every tea, and I loved all of the tasting notes everybody within the class shared.
The Tastings- Day 1
The class consisted of differing kinds of tastings. We did group cuppings of a number of teas aspect by aspect, we sampled teas poured for us into small cups, and we infused others ourselves in gaiwans and gongfu pots.
We began the primary day with a brief group tasting of teas starting from mild to darker in taste and colour. The teas had a pure development from delicate to darkish and full bodied (they consisted of white, inexperienced, oolong, and black teas). When I requested Kevin why he put this diversified group collectively, he stated he selected them for the range of taste and texture, but in addition as teas that weren’t featured in the primary half of the category. I appreciated the chance to taste these teas which, as Kevin talked about, had a had a pure development; much like listening to songs rigorously compiled onto a ‘combine tape’ (sure, I’m sufficiently old to have made combine tapes. Many, many of them). They had been very totally different, however labored properly as an entire.
We then had a presentation on Darjeeling teas, Kevin’s specialty. We tasted a bunch of teas from totally different gardens and flushes, younger gardens vs. outdated, seeds vs. clonal. One of my favorites from the group was a primary flush from Singell, a backyard planted from seed within the 1860s. It’s an open, Chinese fashion backyard with leaves manufactured from every separate patch grown, to maintain the flavour profile intact. This tea was surprisingly complicated, energetic, and vibrant.
From Darjeeling we went to Japan, and Alexis guided us by means of an immense quantity of info with ease. We talked about cultivars, culture, serving kinds, rising, plucking, and processing. One fascinating tidbit I discovered was that gyokuro and matcha are ‘aged’ for a minimal of three months earlier than ending. We tasted some memorable teas, with the Gyokuro Shuin being the standout for me. It jogged my memory of slow-cooked kale, collards, and mustard greens, with none bitterness however all of the deep inexperienced taste and umami.
The Tastings- Day 2
We began the day analyzing Taiwanese and Chinese oolongs. We slurped down a line from mild to extra oxidized and roasted. I normally discover myself gravitating in the direction of darker oolongs, and that day was no exception. I appreciated the greener oolongs however discovered myself in love with a mucha tie guan yin that was roasted for 60 hours (slowly and thoroughly of course). My love for Wuyi yancha continued to be fueled by Bai Rui Xiang and Rou Gui Ma Tou. The Rou Gui stopped me in my tracks with its complexity. Spicy, candy, floral, so many various issues to really feel. ‘Ma Tou’ refers back to the particular rock formation the place this tea is grown- it seems like a horse’s head.
After the in-depth oolong dialogue we went to black teas. We had an opportunity to get arms on with brewing and in addition did a aspect by aspect cupping for a couple of of the teas. My favorites had been an excellent floral Chuan Hong that tasted as if it was scented with roses and peonies. It was candy and delicate. I additionally liked the Mei Zhan Zhen, which was complicated and stunning. I stored tasting all kinds of issues, from lemon to lavender, to chocolate. I introduced some of this tea residence and I hope I can replicate the expertise.
We completed the day with many steepings of darkish teas. Pu’er, Liu Bao, and different darkish teas are those I’ve the least expertise with. I used to be completely satisfied to pattern so many teas, and taste all of the complexities. By this level within the day, my notes are tremendous spotty, as I grew to become increasingly more relaxed with every sip of pu’er. We mentioned the place you are feeling the tea as you drink it relying on the age of the plant (mouth really feel, vs throat) and I used to be actually capable of discover the distinction. And of course, that lingering kick of sweetness after the tea is gone.
We delved into teas with totally different storage, varied ages, and of course totally different processing kinds. There had been many memorable teas however as I discussed, I did not observe a lot with my pen. I do keep in mind the Xiaguan 1986 as a standout, and it is a tea we got to brew ourselves with a yixing pot. A 1994 7542 was additionally pulled out for us, and all of us bought misplaced in a number of infusions, taking us to new ranges of taste.
Having the chance to get deeply into these teas was fairly a deal with. The three instructors all used a superb combine of enjoyable, training, and taste. They every had distinctive views and the educating was relaxed however very clear. I appreciated the steadiness of other ways of tasting the teas, from fast cuppings to extra in-depth infusions. My one criticism can be to have extra time with some of the teas. Since the category is barely two days lengthy, there’s a lot to get by means of. If it was attainable so as to add a half-day to the category, I believe it might enable for a bit extra respiratory room. But that additionally is not straightforward for folks to schedule.
A fast observe on Montreal- it is a fantastic metropolis that is very walkable, and tremendous approachable. Everyone is pleasant and most of the people converse each English and French. The meals can also be to not be missed.
Our tea group of 10 was an ideal measurement, we had been capable of get to know each other. I’m trying ahead to staying involved with many of my new tea buddies. If you’re interested by this program, be happy to ship me a observe and I’d be completely satisfied to speak extra about it. I’m already questioning after I can return!