Canada’s first Tea Masters Cup, an international competition that tests tasting, pairing, preparation and tea mixology skills, took place Sept. 22-23 at the Canadian Coffee & Tea Show in Toronto. Tea professionals Kate Kendall and Jean-François Desaulniers emerged victors.
The inaugural event was organized by the Tea and Herbal Association of Canada (THAC). Eight contestants prepared tea and blended multi-ingredient beverages featuring tea. Judges included Frank Weber, Pedro Villalon, Tao Wu, Shabnam Weber and Gail Gastelu. Kevin Gascoyne provided commentary as the master of ceremonies.
Kendall, who works at Camellia Sinensis in Montreal, told World Tea News “I’m really excited (and shocked at the same time!) I take this honor very seriously and I’ll do my best representing Canada in Tea Preparation for the first time in the country’s history! (Wow…!)”
“I didn’t think I would compete because I didn’t see myself as a “tea master”. I still don’t see myself as such, of course. I went to the first Tea Master’s Cup Canada with the idea of having fun drinking and preparing tea with a bunch of tea passionates. I was really impressed when I saw the contestants and I told myself: “wow, everybody is so serious about this! And good! And… Whoa….”
She adds that in her view, “Tea is so good by itself that it’s mainly its own master. And teacher. What I love about tea is the intimate contact you have with it while brewing it. If you know you can trust a good quality tea, you can do whatever you want to experiment with it and it’s going to be interesting. I don’t like rules. I don’t like the ‘if-you-don’t-brew-your-tea-at-exacty-that-temperature-the-tea-is-ruined,’” she said.
She acknowledged having occasionally
ruined good tea and added that there are boundaries, “Sometimes it’s not great
and then you drink it and play some more,” she said.
Jean-François Desaulniers, 34, attended a Tea Masters Cup in Melbourne, Australia but this is his first time as a competitor. His winning entry was Bitter Love, a red cocktail he described as “super flashy, super aromatic with slight bitterness.”
He said he will now begin intensive training for the international event. “I’m really happy and grateful for having the opportunity to represent Canada in the TMC finals,” he said. “It was such a great experience to compete not against but side-by-side with people who are friends and colleagues in our great tea industry.”
“Until the finals, my objective is to train for a level of competition, that I assume, will be pretty high. Always with the objective of bringing something more to the world of tea,” he said.
Tea Masters Cup (TMC) was started by the Russian Tea and Coffee Association in 2013 and has quickly expanded to 25 countries around the world. The competition attracts young, dynamic tea drinkers and this year’s competition in Canada was no exception, according to THAC President Shabnam Weber.
Weber explained the categories consist of two parts: the Masters portion and the Organizer’s portion.
“For the Masters portion, competitors bring their own equipment and product to prepare for the judges. Competitors are provided with equipment and product by the judges one hour prior to judging,” said Weber.
“The results were outstanding, and the judges were all blown away with the passion and creativity presented,” she said.
Winners will be sent to the International Tea Masters Cup competition. The 2018 finals took place Nov. 23-25, 2018 in Hue, Vietnam; the 2019 venue is still to be announced.
MASTERS CUP RULES
Tea Preparation – Winner Kate Kendall
A Master competing in this category must demonstrate the skill of tea preparation by brewing and presenting to each member of the judging panel two beverages.
- The Organizers’ Tea, a beverage prepared from a single tea sample chosen from a fixed set of samples, the same for all competitors, revealed by the competition organizers prior to the start of the competition;
- The Master’s Tea, a beverage prepared from any tea chosen by the Master or possibly from the set of tea samples provided by the competition organizers.
Tea Preparation Rules
Tea Mixology – Winner Jean-François Desaulniers,
A Master competing in this category must demonstrate the skill of preparing multi-ingredient tea-based beverages by preparing and presenting to each member of the judging panel two beverages.
- Organizers’ Mix, beverage prepared using a tea, in accordance with the conditions established by the organizer and using the required components, provided by the Organizer;
- The Master’s Mix, a beverage prepared according to the Master’s own recipe without any restrictions, provided that the beverage and its preparation do not violate these Rules and Regulations, or any other rules imposed by the competition organizers.
Tea Mixology Rules