A Journey Through Three Countries Helped Me Discover My Love For Tea…


  • 07 March 2017

My friends always ask me what I like more: coffee or tea? In different stages of my life, I would answer differently. As a child growing up in Russia, I preferred tea, when I went to university I preferred coffee… But now I want to say that I love both equally. And this balance occurred quite accidentally.

Image courtesy: Core Focus

 

Tea has been a part of my life for a long time. During my childhood in Russia, every morning started with cup of tea.

 

I would also prefer to drink tea at lunch and then in the evening when everyone got together during for our family tea-party to share our news of the day. I think I drank more tea than water. In fact, I don’t think I considered tea as a “tea”. It was so usual for us to go to kitchen, take a tea bag, put it in the cup and add hot water. Easy. Back then, I did not pause to consider the quality of the tea or whether I made it right. All that mattered was having the drink at hand, out of habit.

 

More than 95% of the tea consumed in Russia is bought from tea auctions at the place of cultivation (in Sri Lanka, India, China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Kenya), and imported as industrial raw material. 95% of the population in Russia drink tea every day and 70% of adults drink 2–5 cups per day. This is a huge number! But the problem is that we don’t give much thought to what we drink… It can’t be named “tea”.

 

This is why I cannot say that I enjoyed tea at the time.

 

It was just a matter of time before I discovered coffee when I joined college. A completely different and delicious brew that I had never tried before. I fell in love with coffee. From that day, I tried to drink as much coffee as I could. Since the start, coffee triumphed against tea in keeping me company through the long preparation for exams and the many sleepless nights. Coffee and I were bonded for life, so it seemed.

 

Just when it seemed that I was quite sorted in my love for brew, I was surprised to find it tested when I visited Bosnia and Herzegovina. Upon arriving in Sarajevo, I discovered that people don’t drink tea as much as we do in Russia. They do not keep tea pots handy and the only tea I found in my visits to the supermarket was green herbal tea in tea bags.

 

Since I was already pretty much in love with coffee, I drank just that through my first month there — in the morning, at lunch, for coffee-breaks, and even in the evening. Although refreshing, I still missed tea. One day my friend showed me a café in Sarajevo that is known to sell good tea. That was my introduction to the Franz & Sofie café. Right after my first visit, I became a fan of the place and I visited almost every day to drink my favourite Earl Grey Black Tea. The café offered a nice atmosphere and good company. It was here that I tried various kinds of tea and started to understand the difference in quality. And I liked it. I realized how much I missed tea and how I did not need to give up loving coffee. I just enjoy my cup of tea… nothing more.

 

After two years, life took me from Bosnia and Herzegovina to India and I joined a tea company… this changed my attitude to tea forever. With my new-found access to different types of high quality tea, I have found a new passion. First I smell leaves, then try to brew it correctly. I now take tea without any additions to savour all the notes that our tea expert mentions. What I can say? Sometimes I succeed. I have time at hand now to better understand tea and its many twists and twirls.

 

This will help me with my mission here.

Image courtesy: Beyond Travel

 

Back home, the tea trends are seeing a change as well. More and more people are looking for premium teas to savour through the day. Black tea is the most popular variety on the market, with 86% of people still taking their tea this way. While coffee is also starting to gain ground, the first half of 2015 saw a total import of 68,076 tonnes of tea costing up to $256.7 million. The numbers for tea has risen considerably since.

 

The tea-drinking tradition is clearly going to stay and while my inner debate over tea or coffee has abated, I hope my fellow Russians get a taste of premium teas and can savour their samovars.

 

I can now see difference between what I drank in Russia and what I drink here in India. I want to show this difference to my family and friends back home so that they understand the value of tea. It motivates me to do my job well.

Dordzhi Tazaev

Vahdam Teas

Write to him at

dordzhi@vahdamteas.com