My Tea Life in Myanmar – One Year In
It is hard to believe that I have now been living almost one year in Myanmar. Time is really flying by! While my life at the moment is mostly focused on my mission with the World Food Programme and the well being of my family, I did experience pockets of tea life over the past year.
I know my blog has not been very active this past year, but that is about to change. Seeing the World Tea Expo happening in Las Vegas I felt a renewed commitment to be a more active part of the tea community. My passion for tea is as strong as ever and I need to share some of my observations more frequently.
Here are my Top 5 observations one year into my tea life in Myanmar:
1.) Tea is everywhere and a big part of life. I started taking it for granted that with every corner you turn, tea is part of the culture in so many aspects.This goes beyond the tea as a classic drink, but tea as part of food, cosmetics and sweets. I slowly built a life where tea is an essential part of it. I wake up in the morning and shower with green tea shower gel. I make it a special moment of my morning to pick a special tea for the day, which I will sip at work over and over. (More on this in a separate blog post.) I eat a wonderful pickled tea leaf salad and munch on green tea chocolate sticks and have a green tea desert for dinner. So many choices and little moments of tea joy in the day.
2.) Myanmar people are the most giving people on the planet. Giving gifts to each other and caring are an essential part of life and the culture. Once the word has been out that I like tea, I was flooded with kind little gifts from friends and colleagues. Some colleagues even brought me fresh tea leaves from the northern Shan region of the country, famous for outstanding tea.
3.) One word: Travel. We have been fortunate to travel the region to Thailand,Malaysia, Vietnam and Hong Kong so far. Every country brings a new dimension to tea around the region and I learned so many new things along the way. By biggest dream still remains but I hope to make it reality in the next year: travelling to the north of Myanmar, to the origins of tea and experience these amazing tea fields first hand.
4.) While my initial impression about traditional tea in Myanmar has been Indian Style, black with condensed milk and sugar, the tea life in Myanmar is much more complex. Green tea still makes up a big part of tea that is served and most amazingly, it is free in most restaurants and venues. Rangoon Tea House, which I came to like as an fascinating place for tea and food, serves traditional Myanmar tea in all shapes and forms. Traditional tea is served in tea houses across Yangon and are a great place for the community to come together and enjoy food and tea.
5.) I am even more relaxed with tea than I have been a year ago. I remember my initial days of tea study with my timer and thermometer. Now I am happy to throw some green tea into a glass vessel and go by the color I would like to see in this particular tea. I grab a few grams of loose leaf tea and put them into a tea sachet or cotton bag and go on with my day. I like the fact that while utmost respect of tea is important, an ease of handling it and working with the tea will make the experience ultimately better. And yes, I am still not a fan of the traditional tea bag and I am still a big advocate of high quality loose leave tea and good quality water to go along with it.
And there you have it. My top 5 observations from the past year. I made a renewed strong commitment to share more of my tea life on my blog and within the tea community. I would like to use this moment to thank my Facebook and Twitter fans as well. The interactions with you and the kind comments from the blog and posts/tweets have made all the difference in the world!