World Tea Expo offers a rare opportunity for students to process tea leaves themselves with the guidance of an award-winning tea grower and blender, and a former Nutritional Sciences faculty member. The new in-depth tea processing course, Making Tea from Leaf to Cup: An Experiential Tea Processing Workshop, takes place during two four-hour sessions on June 12 and 13. It will be a valuable hands-on experience for anyone who wants to get a feel for tea leaf processing—from beginners to experts.
Jason McDonald (Owner of the Great Mississippi Tea Company), Timothy Gipson (Founding Member of the Hawaii Medicinal Tea & Herb) and Virginia Utermohlen Lovelace (retired faculty member of Cornell University’s Division of Nutritional Sciences) will teach the course.
“We believe that in order to understand tea at a deep level, you should have the experience of processing leaves to create tea, and, through this experience, an understanding of how processing steps affect the ultimate flavors of the teas,” said Utermohlen Lovelace. “Many attendees aren’t able to go to a place where processing occurs, and where they can actually carry out the processing themselves rather than just witness it.”
Traditional and innovative processing techniques will be covered. Attendees will learn how to process eight green teas using four different kill-green methods: pan firing (the Chinese method), steaming (the Japanese method), blanching/boiling (which is of unknown origin), and sous vide (a new technology). “Kill-green” is the de-enzyming step that prevents oxidation of the tea leaf and each step influences the final taste and aroma, noted McDonald.
Every step of each process and its impact on the tea leaf’s chemistry will be explained and demonstrated by the instructors. They will also go over what not to do in each tea processing category.
Students will be divided into small groups and each group will produce two teas.
“I hope that attendees will learn that processing has more to do with final flavor than geographic terroir does,” McDonald said. “It seems skewed in the other direction at the moment.”
Utermohlen Lovelace added, “I am deeply grateful to World Tea Expo for giving me the opportunity to bring to attendees what I know and understand and love. I am particularly grateful to Jason McDonald and Timmy Gipson and The Great Mississippi Tea Company for the opportunity to explore and explain the reasons why their ways of processing create award-winning teas.”