The best thing about starting up MinorOak has been the people I’ve connected with. MinorOak’s members are brilliant, and the other bricks and mortar business owners in Sneinton Market and Hockley are passionate people with great ideas, too – people who have each taken a risk and invested 100% in their dreams. One of those business owners is Estelle of August Moon Tea. Estelle and I are both immigrants, and while I share a native language with my adopted home, Estelle is from the one country where – dare I say it? – people are even more passionate about tea than Brits: China. Now Estelle is bringing Chinese tea ceremonies to Nottingham.
Tea in China and the UK
Tea was first cultivated in China over 5000 years ago. For many centuries, tea was a tonic – an herbal remedy used by monks in Chinese medicine. As tea cultivation became more sophisticated and increased in scope, tea drinking became an important part of Chinese culture. For thousands of years, different varieties of tea were grown, but they were enjoyed either fresh or sun-dried; green teas were the norm. Black tea became a popular Chinese export in the 1600s. It is made from fermented tea leaves and was developed to decrease drying time, increase shelf life and facilitate trade. It was black tea that reached the UK via the Silk Road in the 1600s, and black tea soon became an important part of British culture.
Chinese Tea Ceremonies
A mindful and measured approach to serving tea developed long ago in China, and that ancient practice is the source of the well-known Japanese tea ceremony as well as the modern Chinese tea ceremony. The belief that drinking tea promotes mindfulness and balance, bringing the drinker closer to nature and increasing vitality, originated with the ancient Chinese. Of course, mental balance, connectedness and health are still wonderfully valid reasons for drinking tea, as I’ve learned through Estelle’s tea ceremonies. The spirit of a Chinese tea ceremony is described as he, jing, yi, zhen: peace, tranquility, enjoyment, and truth. Although Chinese tea ceremonies require a certain amount of attention and mindfulness, they are not as formal as the Japanese tea ceremonies you may have seen in films or experienced while travelling. Chinese tea ceremonies are social events, and they’re an opportunity to chat with both friends and strangers while exploring the flavours and aromas of fine Chinese teas. Every detail of a Chinese tea ceremony is carefully considered: the quality and appearance of the teaware, the look of the table, and most importantly, the tea selection. The tea is steeped in clean, hot water, then enjoyed in tiny cups. Each time the tea is steeped, the flavour changes. Artisan Chinese teas are sipped like fine wine, and tea drinkers focus on the subtle changes in scent, flavour and colour as each round is shared.
August Moon Tea: Bringing Chinese Tea Ceremonies to Nottingham
The French have always kept their best wine for themselves, and similarly, the Chinese have reserved their finest and most interesting teas for their own enjoyment. If you’ve tried artisan chocolate from single sources, single malt Scotch whisky or coffee grown on small farms in South America and Africa, then you understand what Estelle is offering. She is sourcing fine Chinese teas from individual farmers, teas that are not usually available in the UK. They are sophisticated and delicious, and a Chinese tea ceremony is the perfect way to enjoy them.
Why Go to a Chinese Tea Ceremony?
Estelle’s tea ceremonies are a great way to find balance and connect with other people. The tea is lovely and unusual, and the ceremony itself is all about paying attention: to the tea, to your perceptions, and to the other people there. It’s a quiet moment in a chaotic world and a chance to enjoy beautiful flavours and good company in a way that will let you carry on with your day, renewed, and make you feel better next morning. Give it a try, and you’ll see what I mean!
Please contact me (Dee) through the Contact Form if you’d like to arrange an evening or weekend tea ceremony for six to 12 friends or coworkers at MinorOak. The cost is £8 per person.