The company that ignited my tea passion

Now this is not an attempt of hidden product placement, it is more an attempt to pay tribute and respect to the one tea company which ignited my tea passion and put me onto the road I am on right now (no worries – I am not getting any commission for writing this…).

8998416_teabagThe company I am referring to is tea retailer Twinings. When I was living in Germany, I was well before the point when I started my tea journey. Yes I admit, I was a tea bag dunker and certainly the shelves of supermarkets are full of all kinds of tea bag boxes. It was convenient and quick and I did not have anything to compare it to anyway as back then there was no ‘ loose leaf aisle’ for high quality teas.

Fast forward 10 years and after living in the New York area with practically no tea at all, Ms. Tea and myself (with a year delay for me, but that is another story), moved to Rome, Italy. And somehow in this land of espressos and cappuccinos, I started to become curious about tea.

I was thinking for some time about what actually triggered my interest and to best of my knowledge I can attribute this to the tea taster club of Twinings. I signed up for a 6 month period and every month I would receive a small package with one tea and a little brochure. In addition, a small YouTube video by a tea taster would be available online to describe the history of the tea, how to best brew it and what flavours and aromas to expect.

As months went by and I would learn about different types, I became more and more fascinated and would start reading books about tea; first a basic one, than another until I started reading every single book I could find on the subject. I started ordering loose leaf teas from different online retailers and was tasting white, green, yellow, oolong, black and dark teas. The possibilities seemed to be endless.

Ms. Tea noted that it must be one of my phases, normally lasting 6-8 months or so until I find something else. And for a moment she was right, as the tea taster club subscription expired, my interest in tea slowly went away and the focus went to other things.

But then there was a special trip. My American father-in law wanted to see London, so we arranged a family trip to visit this great city.

We did the usual sightseeing stops and had a great time. IMG-20140518-WA0022_strandAs Ms. Tea and myself went wondering through the city we suddenly crossed a street – Strand street.

Somehow I remembered that the Twinings main shop was on this street and somehow I convinced Ms. Tea to find number 216, the place were Twinings sold tea for over 300 years.

Our hotel was in Greenwich and there is no way not to notice a big cutty sarkship in front of the ferry station. It was the Cutty Sark. It was one of the last true tea clipper ships to be built and one of the fastest.

After touring the ship, we went to the Cafeteria under the hull of the ship and ordered a large pot of gunpowder green tea. And there it was, sitting there sipping my tea, it hit me. I want to become part of the tea journey. I want to see how far I can take this.

Fast forward from this pivotal moment, and after countless assignments, exams and hundreds of tea tasting cuppings, I am now a certified tea specialist and I just finished my education to become a certified tea sommelier.

And as destiny wants it, I am becoming the head of finance for the World Food Programme in Myanmar soon, close to the origins of tea. I can’t even possibly imagine what awaits me there, but I know there will be incredible moments and opportunities and I can’t wait to share them with you on ManwithaMug.com.MYR

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