Thursday, August 23, 2018

Azorean Tea

Tea gardens of Cha Gorreana -- Photo: Kaizr
I teach several courses each year on coffee, but some while ago I offered a one-credit honors colloquium on tea -- more specifically on tea and climate change. I intended to do this just once, but we learned that it was a popular topic, so I have continued to offer it each semester. It has been a great way for me to keep meeting new honors students, whose curiosity and willingness to take intellectual risks is always invigorating.

The Azores are part of
Macronesia
It has also been a way for me to keep learning about tea, which remains a distant third behind coffee and chocolate in terms of my direct experience. Part of that learning came from the honors program itself, whose key staff person was an accomplished tea collector and hobbyist who would visit our class a couple of times each semester. She is still a consummate tea maven, but has recently moved on to another university.

As a sort of parting gift, she shared the article The Tea Capital of Europe Isn’t Where You Think It Is, recently published in the AFAR travel journal. I knew the answer right away because of her classroom visits -- which included first-hand accounts -- and samples -- from her visits to Azorean tea gardens. But from the article, I learned much more about the origins of tea in the archipelago.

The story reminds me of Sri Lanka -- in both cases, islands facing a blight on a major crop turned to tea.

I will eventually visit Chá Gorreana because of one of my hobbies -- rowing and sailing Azorean whaleboats. Maybe that's two hobbies...

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