September 21, 2019
by Cynthia Fazekas
The moments leading up to the Tea Master Cup competition are filled with pomp and circumstance. We meet with local government officials and get to share our thoughts on the teas of Huang Su Phi and what they have to offer. The desire of our hosts is to showcase all that the region has to offer and create more opportunities for their people. Between the deliciousness of the teas, the warmth of the people, and the cultural distinction, we are already smitten.
The morning brings the opening events of the competition including one of the most amazing tea presentations that I have seen: six Dao ladies in their traditional garb on stage, simultaneously brewing gong fu style in near perfect synchronization! Bravo! There are also live singers, a video presentation, ribbon cutting, and introductions of all dignitaries, including the judges.
The competition begins with the tea preparation competition, which had I believe sixteen competitors. They are expected to speak while they brew to explain what they are doing and engage the judges. Points are lost when going over time, and certain parameters must be met. It is fascinating to watch. The nerves of the participants, the seriousness of the judges (all of whom are hilariously playful when not attending such serious duties), and the spectacle of it all really is a sight to see. Huang Su Phi really knows how to put on a show.
Tea preparation takes up much of the first day, wrapped up with the ever fun Tea Mixology competition. The second day is the Tea Pairing, which is the one I get to help judge with Suzette and Florian, as international judges. We get to enjoy some amazing snacks and tea. A few pairings are absolutely sublime and one contestant begins tea from her own tea garden, and treats made from the fruits in her own yard. She is one of the Dao people and in her traditional costumer. She also prepares a video to accompany her presentation, and we all just adore what she has put together. Overall this event is just way more amazing than I would have imagined. As a long time tea professional and a lifetime tea lover, I'm in awe of the event, the contestants and the fellow judges. It is my good fortune to be here and experiencing all this.
The competition finishes with the Tea Tasting event which looks like a tea free for all in a way, as the contestants have to taste and identify a series of brew teas in a limited amount of time. Thanking my luck stars, that I didn't have to do that to earn my tea-wings!
The event wraps up with awards, closing ceremonies, and a big celebratory dinner. Read more on the competition here: https://masterstalk.online