Tea Time With Jane PettigrewInternational Expert | 0 Comments
RENOWNED TEA GURU JANE PETTIGREW TELLS US HER STORY
In 1983, I gave up my career in language and communications training and opened a tearoom in Clapham in South West London, knowing little of what a fascinating journey I was embarking on. The year 1983 seems to have marked the beginning of a worldwide renaissance of interest in tea and, as I immersed myself each day in baking (at 4am every day), organizing, training staff, serving lunches, traditional afternoon teas, freshly-baked scones and indulgent pastries, I began to realize that other people were also caught up in this new tea trend and were opening tea stores, tearooms, tea lounges, and exploring the culture and history of Britain’s favourite beverage. Our Clapham tearoom, Tea-Time, was often visited by Japanese, American and French customers as well as by a cross-section of local residents and other British tea-lovers from round the country and they too seemed to be fascinated by the way we Brits serve and drink tea.
Having published language teaching books before my life at Tea-Time, I was asked by my editor to write a book on tea and so my research began in earnest. The first book started to take shape with tried and tested family recipes and historical background and, as I delved into libraries and record offices, I discovered that tea was part of a fascinating web of connections to historical trade routes, rituals, porcelain and silver table wares, fashion, music, literature, parliamentary acts and taxation, and social history - not just in Britain but in all the countries around the globe where tea is drunk.
More books were commissioned and written, presentations on tea were prepared and given at events with clubs and societies in London and beyond. The French Tea Club invited me to Paris for a weekend of special tea events; John Harney, founder and president of Harney & Sons Fine Tea Blenders invited me to the US to attend the first conference that he was organizing. Gradually I met other members of the every-growing tea family and was asked to write more articles for magazines and journals and to present at events around the world.
Since those early tentative steps into an unknown world, I have travelled to most of the major tea producing countries, including South Korea, Vietnam, China, Japan, India, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, etc., and to some of less well-known tea regions in Italy, Hawaii, Georgia, the UK, Argentina, Guatemala and Malaysia. I’ve also been lucky enough to have been invited to tea consuming countries to speak at events and conferences, train staff in hotels and tea rooms, and discover more about different tea cultures. Those trips have taken me to Brazil, Holland, Spain, Germany, Russia, Canada, the US, Norway, Poland, Hong Kong, Singapore, France and South Africa.
Today my life in tea continues to take me all over the world to explore, learn, train and write. Every day is different. Sometimes I may spend the day in a library or work quietly at home on an article, preparing for an event or tasting teas for a client. Or I may be teaching tea at a tea masterclass in London or in the offices of a tea company somewhere in the UK or abroad, or hosting a tea tasting at a corporate event or a charity fund raiser. Or I might be speaking to a group of (hopefully) interested people about the history of tea drinking in the UK, or about tea cultivation, tea production, tea manufacture, tea fashions, tea brewing or pairing tea with foods. Or I may be en route for yet another tea growing region of the world.
Every day I learn something new about tea, about its cultivation or manufacture, about the different ways in which it is prepared around the world, about the bowls, cups, pots and water boilers that are used to brew and serve it. There is always more to know, more to discover and more to pass on to others who simply love tea!