When the Royal Tea Taster Met The Royal Tea Maker

Tea fever has struck Year 4 and 5 this term. Using ‘The Cloud Tea Monkeys’ (by Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham) as our inspiration, we are creating our own production, to be performed on stage after half-term. To help forge concrete connections between the children, their characters and the business of tea picking, we invited Ringtons to come and share their knowledge.
Entering the classroom, we encountered a display of tea samples to touch and smell and sort; a timeline of tea packaging, and finally, tea making paraphernalia that only the best of Royal Tea Tasters would have at his disposal. Patiently waiting alongside his range of transparent tea pots, tea tasting cups and rare tea samples, was Mr Smith the Royal Tea Taster himself (he does indeed supply the Queen).
The morning involved learning a variety of tea facts, including the striking difference in value between tea: from a powder worth 90 pence a kilo to a more sought after leaf worth over £100 for the same weight. We learned that Tashi, our protagonist, is right to be afraid of big, rare cats in the mountains, and that height is an important part of tea making. The tea bushes that grow at the highest point, in the right climate, receive the first fall of the freshest rain, producing the purest, freshest buds.
The finale? Of course: the tea tasting itself. Having been taught to allow the leaves or pearls to soak up the water for five minutes (imperative for your future tea tasting pleasure not to keep re-boiling, or to drink too soon) the sniffing, slurping, rolling and spitting began. Mowden’s Royal Tea-Taster, Fen, and his assistants, enjoyed learning their trade under the practised eye of the expert.
Many thanks to Mr Smith, Katy Worral and Ringtons for sharing their time, experience and expertise with us.

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