Thursday, January 14, 2010

Tea?

In October I completed my Sommelier Certification through an organization called the Court of Masters. The Court is a wonderful group of highly educated wine experts and I am thankful to have completed their course. I aspire to continue with their education program eventually achieving the title of Master Sommelier. Currently there are 176 Master Sommeliers in the world, and I would love to be 177!

In my life I have been fortunate enough to attend a University system AND a trade education program. When I was in the University system I would get in to trouble for drinking. The school I attended was really strict due to the fact that it was a dry campus so drinking was discouraged.

After going to school for four years with no degree I learned about Sommelier school with the International Sommeliers Guild (ISG). The ISG is a state board certified wine education program. They rent space nation wide at venues like an Art Institute and then fly their instructors to the site to teach about wine. Now when I say I went to school to drink, I literally had to drink, it was part of my curriculum.

In all seriousness I am really fortunate to have been able to attend the ISG. I learned a lot and it was a great experience for me. What most people don't know about my degree is that I am classically trained in areas beyond wine. We were required to learn about Cheese, Cuisine, Beer, Spirits, Cigars and Tea. Yet no one ever wants to talk to me about tea. Many of the people I meet are too consumed with my wine & spirits knowledge to ask me about tea. Well here is my chance to shine. Let me give you a little run down about tea.

Tea, like many things, was accidently discovered in 2700ish BC. It is said that Emperor Shen Nung's servant was boiling water for the Emperor to drink. Some leaves from a near by tree dropped in to the boiling water. When the water was done boiling it was discolored. Curious, the Emperor tried it, liked it, and tea was born.

Today tea has become a major part of many cultures. Over the last roughly 4700 years it has been used for numerous purposes. From remedies to revolutions, tea is in some ways is as important to world history as wine.

In the last 5-10 years there has been increased attention in the US to the benefits of tea. Green tea, for example, has gained popularity due to its antioxidant qualities and its ability to cure many ailments. Black tea, the most popular tea in the world, is said to lower the risk of stroke. And White tea is said to possible be an anti-cancer agent.

There are a lot of benefits to tea. And more importantly there are many producers beyond commercial brands like Lipton. There are styles beyond Earl Grey and plenty of delicious examples on the market today. I have seen more and more coffee shops focusing on tea, carrying loose leaf and organic teas as opposed to bagged, big name brands.

So the next time you call me up, send me an email, write a comment on my blog or see me on the street would you do me a favor? Would you begin by asking me if I have had any good teas lately?
To all of you thanks for reading to my rediculous rants and thank you for all of your support.

Salut!

2 comments:

PianoGirlAnn said...

Nick, have you had any good teas lately? :D

I *love* to drink tea -- the next time I'm at the Veranda, if you're around, it would be great fun to chat with you about it. I've been a committed tea drinker for about 10 years now; and find that the big name, bagged varieties, in most cases, simply doesn't cut it.

What are your favorite black teas? Also, I really like to drink 'Iron Goddess of Mercy' (can't remember the Chinese name) -- do you know of any good retailers online with a nice selection of that?

Cheers!
Ann

Cru Wine Specialists said...

Thank you so much for your post. I really appreciate when people comment. As far as online tea companies I like SpecialTeas.com (get it!). They have a nice selection and fair pricing.
Locally in St. Cloud I like to support the Good Earth Co-op. They have loose leaf teas and plenty of Fair Trade Organics.
At work I drink Mighty Leaf. They are pretty good for a "semi-name brand". They have a Organic African Nectar that is really good. Plus the bag is 100% Biodegradable.
Thank you for your support and please keep following us. Talk to you soon!