Tea Time with Sara: A Lifelong Pastime
Q: What's your background in the tea industry?
A: First, I’m a life-long tea drinker. I grew up having tea with my parents and grandparents. In the afternoon, a cup of tea and a nibble of something sweet was a lovely way to gather together and relax. I have fond memories of sitting at the table with the grown-ups, feeling like my input was just as important as theirs.
Second, I love working in tea! Both tea professionals and clients have been extremely warm and friendly. I’ve been blogging about tea since 2010. Expressing my passion for tea through my writing has been a priceless experience. I review teas, conduct interviews, write about tea history and my tea adventures at tea-happiness.com. I also give Tea 101 classes to both adults and children. I love spreading tea love and knowledge. I have recently done some consulting work as well.
Finally, I am almost finished with a tea sommelier certification course that has taken nearly 2 years to complete. Tea courses vary greatly in terms of quality and curriculum, and I’m grateful to have found an informative and challenging program.
Q: What do you appreciate about tea?
A: Tea is an integral part of my day. Every morning I look forward to taking a moment to pause, reflect on the day ahead and sip a cup or two. It’s a simple ritual that keeps me grounded. Tea helps me slow down and appreciate the moment. A well-crafted tea has layers of nuanced flavors. It’s always amazing to me how many steps the mighty leaves have gone through just to get to my teapot. A good cup of tea will bring a smile to my face, and peace in my heart. I love that there is always something new to learn about tea. We are all perpetual tea students.
Q: What do you enjoy doing while drinking tea?
A: If I had a choice, I’d be either reading a good book, or doing a crossword puzzle with my tea. I like enjoying quiet moments, which are few and far between these days. But I also love sharing tea with friends. Sharing a few cups with others means there will be convivial conversation and kinship. Sometimes the tea acts as a salve, to soothe a tough conversation, or bring comfort.
Q: What are some of your favorite tea brands/sellers?
A: I like to purchase tea from smaller vendors when possible, so I know the teas are being carefully sourced, and in many cases sourced from the individual selling them. A few of my many favorites are:
Q: How would you encourage someone to start drinking tea?
A: Find a local shop and get tasting! Taste as much as you possibly can. Order lots of samples online and at local shops. Samples are a great way to taste teas without spending a ton of money. Once you find a few varieties you like, try as many as you can of that variety, to get a real feel for the tea. Also, learn how to prepare the tea properly! If you’re not using the right amount of leaf, or if you have the wrong water temperature, you can ruin the flavor of a beautiful tea.
Q: What health benefits have you experienced from your tea routine?
A: I honestly don’t drink tea for physical health benefits. I think it’s difficult to tout health benefits without extensive research. For me, tea has helped calm and soothe me when I’m stressed, and given me a boost when I’m exhausted. So for me, it has powerful effects on my mental health. Just sitting with a cup of tea does wonders for the soul.
Q: Five years from now, what direction do you see the tea industry headed?
A: I think tea drinkers are becoming more discerning. The tea industry needs to be more transparent in where they source teas. Tea drinkers prefer to know where the tea is sourced, right down to the individuals growing and processing the tea. This is a common thing to note in wine production, and should be in tea as well. Another fun trend is tea cocktails, which is a fun way to incorporate tea into social situations. Also, tea and food pairings is a huge trend that I’m a big fan of. Tea and cheese? Tea and chocolate? Tea and a savory meal? Yes to any and all of it! I think tea is becoming more popular in the US in general, and interest will only continue to grow.