The air of the AC Hub filled with steam and the smell of a light, fresh white tea, as a workshop on March 15 had students captivated by the mystical drink.
Tea importer and host, Daniel Tremblay, offered his expansive knowledge of the world of tea and opened a door to students that they never even knew existed.
“You are really drinking an art, like red wine,” said Tremblay.
Students learned about important topics concerning tea, including its origin, culture, cultivation methods, types, brewing methods and health benefits.
“Understanding the different perspective of how it’s supposed to be enjoyed is enlightening,” said diagnostic medical sonography student Hari Gopalan.
Tremblay furthered his comparison to wine. He explained tea can be paired with food and some variations of the plant get better with age. Fermented teas are a true delicacy in China and other parts of Asia, some extremely expensive. Tremblay recounted a time he was in China and was treated to a cup aged more than 50 years, the cost of the pot brewed? thousands of dollars.
A series of tea was served throughout the hour. First, Bai Mu Dan, a fresh and light white tea. Second, southern Japanese Sencha Kanayamidori, a refreshing green tea. And finally – the favourite of the night – Da Hong Pao, a rich oolong tea. “This is the best tea I’ve ever had” could be heard being murmured between friends. Students were asking for and being poured second and third glasses.
According to Tremblay, tea is something that people are generally misinformed about. So, he chooses to spread his knowledge in order to share his passion with others.
“When you know more about something you can appreciate it more,” he said.
“I really enjoyed it, I generally don’t drink tea so this was a new experience for me,” said Nabila Jariya, a bachelor of supply chain management student.
Tremblay’s hope is for Algonquin students who attended the workshop to adopt tea into their daily routine. Many students approached Tremblay at the end of the hour to assure him they’ll do just that.
“It was more about learning about different types of tea because I was really thinking about starting to drink (tea) rather than coffee because of the health benefits so being here taught me a lot,” said Jariya. “And I think I’ll visit his shop also.”
Tremblay’s shop, Cha Yi Maison du The, is home to the teas he retrieves from Asia.
Every spring —because it’s the best and most rich harvest—Tremblay travels to China, among other Asian countries, to meet with tea farmers and buy their product, but he sees it as more than just business. He has built strong relationships over his career, they keep in touch as friends.
“Tea makers are not farmers, they are tea-passionate people and when I meet those people I need to feel that passion like the one I have,” said Tremblay. “It’s not product they’re selling, they’re selling their soul. It’s their craft, their art.”
“What I’m selling is peace undercover,” said Tremblay. “I hope tea people are learning to calm down and create silence within them.”