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Interview with Jane Pettigrew

We are honored to present one of the special speakers of the Italian Tea Festival 2019: Jane Pettigrew, tea historian, writer, consultant and educator. Jane took part in the Italian Tea Festival 2019 with two masterclasses about the British Afternoon Tea and Current Trends in the Tea Worlds.

Where does your passion for tea come from?

I grew up in the 1950s when all British families drank tea throughout the day and had afternoon tea on Saturday and Sunday afternoons with all the family – around the re in the drawing room in winter and in the garden in summer. To me then it was just a part of British life. When I opened my tea shop in 1983 with 2 friends, we just thought it would be fun to serve tea in the traditional way. I had no idea that people from Japan and France and the US would come to the shop, Tea-Time, in Clapham to enjoy our tea ritual and I was surprised that they wanted to understand everything about our tea drinking history and afternoon tea ‘ceremony’. When I started researching the history (so that I could answer their questions) I realised that there was so much to know, and so my interest grew into a passion for the amazing story of tea throughout the centuries. Since then I have, of course discovered so much unexpected information about tea’s history, culture, connections, benets that, like so many other people who discover tea, it has taken over my life. IT has become my life.

You are a tea writer, consultant and educator. You have been travelled a lot in the Uk and around the world studying and sharing your enthusiasm. Which is the best part of your job?

I think the best part of my job is sharing tea, tea knowledge, tea culture, tea stories with other people.

Jane Pettigrew’s World of Tea is your latest book. What is it about?

The new book is an overview of all the tea growing regions in the world, including the less well-known ones such as Vietnam, Laos, South Korea, Brazil, etc as well as Japan, China, India, Sri Lanka, etc. It’s a very exciting time for speciality tea and I wanted readers to become more familiar with all the dierent areas and all the dierent types of tea grown in so many countries. There are also many new growers today who are cultivating and making tea in very unusual and unexpected places such as Italy, Switzerland, Jersey, Scotland, Wales, England, Canada, the US, and so I tried to include all of them too. And there are more new growers who have started cultivating since I nished working on the book. The rst part of the book discusses manufacturing methods, terroir, brewing etc., and the main body of the book gives details of each region and, in some countries, of each individual grower, with information about altitude, the area of land planted, the amount of tea made each year, the varietals or cultivars planted, the types of tea made and their avor proles. It is designed to provide quick access details as well as running text with more background to each region.

During the festival 2019 we are honored to have this interesting book, but also two masterclasses with you. The rst one is about the beloved British Afternoon Tea. Our fans love it! What is the secret of the success of this tradition all around the world?

Afternoon Tea has its origins in the Chinese tea drinking ritual that was copied by the English when tea rst arrived in London in the middle of the 17th century. Because tea was unknown in England before that, all the porcelain bowls, saucers, dishes, teapots and tea arrived from China and gradually we made that ritual our own, adapting it over the centuries to our way of eating and drinking. It therefore has a very long history and people today seem to love the elegance and charm of something that we British have been enjoying for almost 370 years. It has changed somewhat over the years of course but it still has its connections to ne houses, beautiful surroundings, elegant manners, etc and it is very adaptable to dierent themes, occasions, budgets, diets, etc., so it suits everyone.

British Afternoon Tea tells us tea pairs perfectly with sweet recipes but also with savouries. Do you have a favourite tea and food-pairing or do you remember a special match that have really surprised you?

There are so many wonderful pairings that I have enjoyed over the years and I think white teas are the most dicult to marry with foods. A surprisingly good pairing is White Peony (Bai Mu Dan) with roasted nuts, especially almonds. Chinese white teas often have a hint of almonds – the sort of taste you get from almonds before the brown skin is removed – and roasted nuts can enhance that natural, subtle nuttiness in the tea.

The second topic is tea trends. Could you please reveal just one in advance; the funniest one, for example?

Some people in Asia at the moment are drinking something called ‘cheese tea’ which was invented in Taiwan about 8 or 9 years ago and is made with cold green or black tea topped with a frothy layer of milk, cream, cream cheese, a little salt, and sometimes a little sugar, all whisked together. I have not tried it!

When we talk about tea we talk about deep historical roots, but also about the future. Considering it’s a constantly evolving world, could it oer interesting opportunities for young people according to you?

We are seeing all over the world that tea is becoming more and more trendy and popular amongst younger people. They seem to love the enormous range of avours tea oers, they are interested in the dierent ways of brewing and serving dierent teas. They love Asian brewing vessels and glass teapots and bowls, and are interested in all the background information about where the teas are from and how they are made – often with such skill and care. I think too that many people are turning away from coee to the gentler benets of tea. And anyone who realizes that too many people are living their lives too fast and with too ‘noise’ recognises the wonderful way in which tea calms us and creates those quieter, more meditative moments that we all need in our everyday lives.

www.janepettigrew.com (http://www.janepettigrew.com) www.ukteaacademy.co.uk (https://www.ukteaacademy.co.uk/)

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