What I learned on the tea champion course

At the end of May, I attended a two day ‘Tea Champion Course’ organised by the UK Tea Academy and taught by the renowned Jane Pettigrew. I loved every minute of it and learned so much which will be very helpful when I’m running my afternoon tea events. I can’t cover everything in this article but here are some of the three most interesting facts I learned on the course.

  1. How tea came to Europe

I knew that tea was made popular in the U.K in the 1660’s when King Charles II married Catherine of Braganza but I wasn’t aware of the long and historic journey of how tea came to our shores. In the early 17th century when the Dutch and Portuguese began trading in China and brought tea back to Europe. The first reference of tea being offered for sale in London was 1657/58.

  1. What is caffeine and why is it in tea

I never knew why caffeine was in tea but I was amused to learn that caffeine is produced in the tea plant to protect it from predators. The bitter tasting compounds act as a defence mechanism to keep away insects. The caffeine is like a drug to the insect and is makes it feel dizzy, you can see below the before and after of a spider with and without the effects of caffeine.

  1. Why tea bags aren’t your friend

Not only is the tea in teabags the cheapest cut, tea bags themselves aren’t the most ethical of inventions. They were popularised in the 1930s by America when they wanted to pack small particles of tea that broke off during processing. Tea bags were designed to be packed with smaller particles so they could be brewed quickly and gave good colour and strength. We saw in the class a range of different tea bags and found that most every day tea bags contain plastic particles and most are bleached!

The world of tea is so dense and varied I couldn’t cover everything in one article. I would highly recommend if you are interested in tea to check out this course!

Eileen Donaghey