I’m on a mission. You see, I teach tea classes here in Las Vegas. My partner, Ashanti, also loves to teach and the two of us could talk for hours about tea … if it weren’t for our very energetic offspring. Our tea classes range from informational Tea 101’s for new tea drinkers to formal tasting sessions, pairing sessions, tea cocktail-and-beer sessions, and cooking-with-tea demonstrations. In all, we currently have about 32 classes we are offering and/or working on constructing.
While brainstorming format and session ideas for 2013, we began talking about wild tea. Not wild herbs that are harvested and blended into herbal concoctions, but real, wild Camellia sinensis. We’ve all seen pictures of the expansive, emerald hills rife with perfectly groomed tea bushes. I’m the first to admit that I wouldn’t turn down that view for anything! But for an avid tea drinker like myself, the knowledge that tea is growing wild in a bamboo forest somewhere most definitely piques my interest! I’ve had the honor of trying a handful of wild teas and they have been an experience all their own.
On a whim, I attended a presentation at last year’s World Tea Expo that touched on the dying art of yellow tea in China. The video footage that was shown was moving and fascinating and showed a side of tea that is not commonly highlighted. It followed a very small tea farmer, tucked away in the mountains of China with very little connection to the outside world, where he harvested his tea – some wild, some cultivated in a traditional tea garden. I was mesmerized and began searching online, in print, and via connections for any wild tea information I could get my hands on.
That leads me to begging for your help! I want to share the “wild tea” experience with our burgeoning group of tea drinkers here in “wild” Las Vegas. Thus far, I have only managed to find information about wild tea being grown in China. Certainly, China cannot be the only place where tea is harvested in its wild form? Let’s hear from Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Thailand, and the rest of you tea-growing regions! Who’s growing wild tea, how do I get my hands on it, and what’s the backstory?