When I started my studies with the World Tea Academy my teacher, Donna Fellmann, noted in one of her first comments to me: “I wonder what your niche will be…”. That question stuck with me throughout my studies. Once I graduated as a tea sommelier in 2016, I was on cloud nine, sharing my knowledge on my newly created tea blog ManwithaMug and life was good. Over the years, that question however came back, what value do I provide to the tea industry? What makes me unique compared to the hundreds of other tea blogs out there? I don’t just want to review countless teas and write about them, I want to create something new and special. So I went back to the drawing board and look at what my biggest passions during my tea studies have been. I remembered with a smile the segments about tea and water. I poured my heart into that month, as I find it fascinating how good quality (and the bad and ugly) water affects the taste of the final tea.
Fine Water Academy
When Martin Riese and Michael Mascha announced the opening of the Fine Water Academy a light bulb went off. I was following them since years as they stand for high quality and standards in the water industry in an informative, innovative and entertaining way. Learning more about water would mean more value for my contribution as a tea sommelier. I plunged into the journey and signed up to take the water sommelier course. What started has been an eye opening and liberating process to take my understanding of water to the highest level. Not only did I became more aware of my understanding of the capacity of the water industry in Myanmar, it opened up new avenues to explore amazing and talented staff in restaurants and driven owners of water brands who want to make a difference. I started to learn more about the use of social media to present and explore different aspects of the water industry. In the back of my mind has always been how this will help the tea industry. As I blogged about here many times, we spend a lot of time focusing on good quality tea but not on the other 95 percent of which tea is made of.
Fine Water journey
The number of water brands is quite limited in Myanmar and can be counted on one hand. It is still challenging to get clean drinking water and access is still limited. In order to accomplish the challenging assignments for the water sommelier course, I had to bring in suitcases of water from Bangkok! (Ms. Tea declared me officially insane!)
I started engaging with Addy, the owner of Birmanie, the only spring water in Myanmar and his brand has so much potential for the international market. My journey with the fine water academy created something I did not expected in this journey: a sincere appreciation for the complexity and challenges of the water industry. To this day I get blank stares from some people when I tell them that I am a water sommelier. Many of them have not heard of this term. Yet more then 60 percent of our body is water. Water can be an culinary and elevating experience in a restaurant besides just the jug of water we “wash” our food down with.
I did it!
Not in my wildest dreams would I have imagined, that I became the first graduate of the Fine Water Academy (Certificate 001!) and I am aware of the responsibility this comes with. I will support Martin and Michael in amplifying the message, that water is not just water and that there is place for fine water as a culinary experience and as an affordable luxury. I want to become a bridge ambassador between the water and tea industry to benefit them both.
I feel I regained new motivation and energy to take this blog (now a water and tea blog) to the next level and inspire and entertain you with my insights into both worlds. Please let me know your feedback what you would like me to focus on and what you would like to learn more about. In the meantime please check out my final project, where I explore the opportunities between water and tea.