If I divide my life into segments, then broadly speaking I can categorize the first twenty years for education, the second twenty for growing tea, the third twenty for selling tea and now the fourth twenty for tea culture. And, as most of my life was a series of accidents, this last phase came out of a coincidence when Prof Su of Zhejiang Agriculture & Forestry University invited me to speak at their tea culture institute conference on the 11th of December 2015 in Hangzhou.
Wikipedia documents Indian Tea Culture as an assimilation of Indian spices with malty-strong Assam teas to make milk masala chai, which my tea tourism friend Dan Robertson also propagates. And it made so much sense in China too when many top beverage companies extended their shelf space to carry brands like Wahaha, Sheng Piao Piao, and Yu Le Mei Indian milk tea to their existing green and black Chinese teas and they were readily accepted.
World tea culture inculcates the use of tea as a staple drink. Its medicinal value, as well as its food value, makes it the second most important beverage after water, which has been carried around the world in different ways for centuries. Now it’s invading the coffee and wine drinking segments in America, Australia and Europe.
Tea culture, as such in India, is making its debut now that its value is raising it above its cheap drink image, and the Western tea boutique culture on the lines of Starbucks and Teavana is forcing the society to cater to the youth segment with modern and traditional food pairings.
The internet has helped create a seamless world tea culture by spreading the word of tea in ways never tried before, and Lu Yu must be impressed when his tea book “Chajing” is circulating more than when it was written centuries ago.
Prof Wang Xufeng, the author of the 300 minute CCTV documentary “The Story of a Leaf” and Dean of the Tea Culture School of Zhejiang Agriculture University, is being honored during the Delhi International Book Fair today in India, and a new bridge will be made between these two great ancient civilizations.
Hanban is an organization in China which is responsible for the spread of Chinese language and culture the world over by the establishment of the Confucius Institutes and the ZAF University’s Tea Culture School. It is the biggest of its kind in the world, and I was so honoured to be a speaker there, a place that is the realm of scholars.