It would be fair to say that I have always carried a fondness for tea and wine, but only recently has this fondness had the potential to turn into a true and educated appreciation.
My godfather taught me many years ago that if you are interested in something and find that you have a passion for it, get involved in it, learn the industry, volunteer if you need to, to gain the knowledge you need to take things further. Well, after reading a very special review a couple of months ago on three of our premium loose leaf SHE-TEA blends by Ben Knight (well-known Melbourne wine reviewer and sommelier), a spark was ignited in me that I am please to report has turned into a small glowing flame.
When you’re part of something as established as the Australian tea market, you always want to be doing something that’s a little bit different to everyone else, and this means that you need to think differently to everyone else. I believe this is why I was especially thrilled to read Ben’s article. It was a fresh and interesting perspective on tea from someone placed completely outside the tea world. Wonderful.
I love the parallels that are drawn between tea and wine in this article, the tannins reference, and the fact that grape varieties and tea varieties can both be so broad and subjectively appreciated. While the similarities between the two had occurred to me previously, I didn’t have the knowledge base to be able to put them together convincingly. This has now started to change.
As often happens in life, when you let it, I was considering my options for education in wine tasting and while talking about this to a friend at a party, found out that there would be a position opening up at a local Musk Vineyard’s New Cellar Door in the next couple of months. BINGO! Here was my opportunity to learn about wine from the ground up, to learn about growing the grapes, picking techniques, fermenting, barrelling, bottling, and of course (my favoutire bit) … tasting!
As another example of wonderful things that happen when you’ve made a tree-change, the next thing I know I am off to the winery to meet my potential new boss, Cameron. He’s a lovely guy with an obvious passion for wine as well as teaching, and we discuss my potential role in the cellar door, my background in sales and marketing, and also my business She-Tea, with a reference to the She-Tea article also. I let him know that I am available once a week (every Saturday) and after a few weeks wait, I start my first day at the cellar door.
What a great day to begin! Spectacular blue skies scattered with passing clouds (very apt), warm friendly customers, and a new boss who is keen to teach me as much as I want to learn about wine. I was also treated to a local tasting plate to seal the deal. Heaven.
During my first education session in tasting I learnt about Sparkling Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Shiraz Cabernet and a very special blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot (yum) called “The Angel”. We discussed the aromas of each wine (also important with tea), the colour of each wine (also important with tea), and of course the taste (…also very important with tea).
I guess what surprised me the most about wine-tasting is the amount of concentration you need to use to be able to give a truly considered analysis of your individual experience with each wine. So many of the aromas and flavours are familiar, but the descriptive terms can be very elusive (and no I was not swallowing the wine so this was not due to an over-appreciation).
This descriptive process, I am assured, becomes easier with time and practice.
Although I am only at the beginning of my journey into the world of wine appreciation, I already realise that both wine and tea are an equally subjective experience, and whether or not someone is going to enjoy a certain blend depends entirely on that individual’s palate, personal preferences and often their life experiences. There really is no right or wrong and the beauty of it is that it’s entirely up to you.
Just as an incredible glass of wine can make you feel like you’re taking a long walk through an ancient forest, tea can also transport you thousands of miles in a single sip. The more I learn about both of these wonderful luxuries, the more I love them, and while I’m not sure where this new journey will take me, I am enjoying the ride regardless.