Tea with Mary Kate is currently an enthusiastic amateur’s passion to further explore the world of tea, though at its heart is a more fundamental desire to provide the inspiration to connect with each other in a meaningful way that most days we are simply too rushed to do. The ceremony of tea represents an opportunity to pause, to breathe, to admire the aesthetic that evokes a way of living that is gentle and respectful, nurturing the mind, body & spirit.
Reading the Tea Leaves – The Future of Tea
It is far from every day that you have the opportunity to discuss your favourite subject with a real expert, so when the Executive Chairman of UK Tea Council, Bill Gorman, had a few spare moments in his busy schedule, Tea with Mary Kate was delighted to discuss Tea!
The UK Tea Council is an independent body, with a diverse membership that ranges from UK based firms like Northern Tea Merchants to the Tea Boards of Sri Lanka, India and Kenya. Its mission is to promote tea and its unique story for the benefit of those who produce, sell and enjoy tea. Bill Gorman’s extensive global experience and expertise over the last decade has provided him with some very unique insights to discuss the future exciting trends opportunities and possibilities for Tea.
There has been a Huge resurgence and Interest in Tea
Bill’s belief is that Tea is a both a wonderful product and a great business. Over the last 10 years, tea has developed a very high profile, from the rather dusty, old fashioned image in 1990s to a more interesting, even celebrity status. Now the consumer is able to access a huge selection of great quality tea from all over the world. Bill is rightly proud of the Tea Council’s influence in placing Tea in a very different place in the 21st century consumer’s minds.
Tea – As Nature Intended
Bill is passionate about Tea being a fabulous natural product. Grown in lovely places by lovely people, Tea has the added opportunity to be an ambassador for promoting both ethics and the environment. Bill’s view is there is nothing more natural, with both natural manufacture and natural production in taking moisture out and adding liquid back in when brewing.
Tea and Health
Originally sold as a medicine, Tea is still perceived as part of a repertoire of healthy living. Indeed, there is an increasing level of hard scientific evidence that would support the health benefits of Tea.
Tea has obvious hydration benefits but it also relaxes and bolsters the body’s defenses to help fight chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Even better, with zero calories ( and only 13 kcaL if you add semi skimmed milk), it meets the desire for a healthy diet, with the urban myth about excess caffeine levels being dispelled. With huge increases in consumer awareness of the benefits of flavonoids as antioxidants, abundant in Tea, this natural product continues to tick a number of important boxes. Bill’s view is that tea fulfils a need. Think of the archetypal builders – tea provides them with fluid and a proper break. Enthusiastic about gaining even more robust data, Bill is a strong advocate of conducting controlled clinical trials as the next step in demonstrating the benefits of Tea.
The UK Tea Council also supports an expert Tea advisory panel which boasts a vast breadth of experience in educational, private and public organisations. Its role is to provide both independent and objective information about the latest health benefits regarding black tea, and to answer nutrition and hydration questions about black tea. In short, it sets the record straight on the ‘science’ myths associated with black tea
Practicality and Quality of Tea
Bill believes there is a need to address both the convenience and practicality of Tea, and maintains that the invention and introduction of the Tea bag in the mid 1960s did nothing short of saving the Tea industry at that time. After all, there are those who want a great cup of Tea in really minimal time just before they rush out of the door first thing in the morning, and the more finely chopped tea will brew faster to achieve speed.
Bill challenges the current ethos of those he affectionately refers to as “Tea Snobs”, where loose leaf is good and Tea bags are not, and maintains the issue is the freshness and quality of the Tea production which makes all the difference. Any tea that is on the rolling table too long, or oxidised at too high a temperature, be in a tea bag or not, will not taste as great as it could. Bill’s view is that Tea quality now is better than 15 years ago, largely through better production, shorted times for packaging that give a fresher product, and the fact that economics are driving tea merchants to no longer store stock.
Tea Rooms that serve Gorgeous Afternoon Tea!
Bill is sincere in his view that making and serving tea is one of the most charming things you can do for your fellow man, although he concedes that it is hard work! Here, the UK Tea Council is also leading the way in setting and maintaining high standards for Tea Rooms, with its prestigious Tea Guild awards regarded as an extremely important badge of honour. Taking time for tea is a real treat, but also one that is very accessible, and becoming ever more popular.
Single Estate Teas
Heart warming tales of Small boutique Tea Estates like Margaret’s Hope and Dragon’s Well are putting Single Estate Tea’s on the map, with Bill being impressed with both the quality and imagination these single estate Teas are bringing.
Speaking with Bill, one thing he is confident about is that tea is a fabulous natural product, with health benefits that clearly support Teas continuing rise in popularity. Rediscovering the pleasure of taking time for Afternoon Tea is also setting Tea in a delightful new context, and continues to capture the imagination of an enthusiastic consumer. Improved access to the enchanting Single Estate Teas, with their amazing stories, bolster Bill’s confidence that the future of Tea in the UK is a good one. It is clear that Bill practises what he preaches, describing the real pleasure that his last evening cup of green tea brings him. Tea With Mary Kate is grateful for Bill’s time, and his unique views into the future trends of Tea.