In June, the World Tea Expo gave away three free trips to tea producing countries: India, Nepal and South Korea, to three Origins Tasting Tour Workshop attendees. The Origins Tasting Tour Workshop featured speakers who talked about and shared teas from: China, Sri Lanka, India, Japan, Nepal, Taiwan and Korea. The winners, Melissa Newman, Jordan Burke and Alina Gizatullina were randomly selected through drawings.
Melissa Newman, who won the trip to India, is a tea sommelier with a home-based tea business, Purple Cat Tea, in Fairplay, Colorado and shares her passion for tea by teaching classes at the Continental Divide Winery. It was Newman’s first time attending the World Tea Expo, where she went to further her tea education. She was thrilled to win the trip to India, “I’ve always wanted to go to India and study tea, so it was perfect.”
In March 2020, she will fly into Kolkata to begin her 12-day tour. First, she will visit the Glenburn Fine Tea Headquarters in Kolkata, where she will attend a talk about The Story of Tea, taste tea with a local expert and then attend a live tea auction.
Newman eventually wants to be a tea master and feels doing so requires going to tea producing countries and getting first-hand experience with growing and processing. “It will be a good learning experience,” she said.
At Khongea, she will pick tea in the fields and process it in the factory, and also visit the hospital, schools and communities on the property.
At the Glenburn Tea Estate, she will explore the tea fields, learn about different types of tea bushes and the Darjeeling style of growing and manufacturing.
The tea tour will then take her into Darjeeling Town, which is steeped in British Colonial history and has the Darjeeling Hill Railway, the Himalyan Mountaineering Institute and other attractions.
Newman looks forward to learning about all about tea and the tea communities. “I’ll have so much more knowledge for my tea tasting classes,” she said.
Jordan Burke was selected as the winner of the Nepal tour. She is currently creating her own Banff, Alberta, Canada-based e-commerce tea company, which will launch in November. “I’ve always been interested in tea as a hobby, so last year I decide I wanted to create my own brand,” said Burke, who attended the World Tea Expo this year for the first time to learn more about the business of tea.
Burke appreciated the expertise of the Origins Tasting Tour Workshop’s speakers, “It kickstarted a passion to look into these countries and perhaps offer some of their products in my tea line,” said Burke.
Jeni Dodd gave the presentation about Nepal and its tea industry. Burke, who was unfamiliar with Nepali tea, was intrigued and ended up being chosen. “I was in shock… I was so excited,” Burke said. “Winning this trip really solidified that I do want to be in the tea industry.”
The trip is sponsored by the Specialty Tea Association of Nepal (STAN) and will span seven days in April 2020, the time of year when tea production in Nepal is at its highest.
Burke will fly into Kathmandu and a member of STAN will escort her to her hotel. The next day, a local guide will take her to the Budhanath Stupa (a UNESCO World Heritage site), Pashupatinath Temple and Kathmandu Durbar Square. The third day, she will visit the ancient city of Bhaktapur in the Kathmandu Valley, about eight miles southeast of Kathmandu, and go to STAN’s headquarters where she will learn about Nepal’s small farmers.
On day 4, she will travel to Ilam to visit at least five tea estates and factories and learn about Nepal’s growing and production processes over the course of three days, tasting teas along the way.
On the seventh day of her trip, she will go to Jhapa to tour the recently completed STAN blending house, which will make it possible for Nepali farmers to compete in the tea industry on a global scale. Then she will return to Kathmandu for her return flight to Canada.
“I’m going to be exposed to where tea is actually coming from and how it’s produced first-hand,” said Burke. “I feel like the direction of my company is starting to take shape as I’ve started learning more and more about these teas.”
South Korea Tour
Alina Gizatullina, who is based in Russia and was unreachable for comment, won the trip to South Korea.
Sharyn Johnston, Founder and Director of Australian Tea Masters, who will host the tour, said, “The winner receiving the Korean and tea and culture immersion experience was so excited as this trip means she will have the opportunity to not only experience the beautiful tea fields and teas of Korea but also the amazing ceramics, actually process tea, understand and make tea food, and learn the art of incense and flower arrangement.”
The trip to South Korea will span seven days and six nights, one of which will be spent in a temple, in April 2020. Gizatullina will be immersed in Korean tea and culture. She will learn about the Korean tea ceremony and other traditions, and visit the Boseong Tea Museum.