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Clare: New to Tea - My tea journey

Six months ago my normal response to being asked if I would like a cup of tea would have been "milk and no sugar, thank you". All that changed when a friend of mine asked if I would like to become involved with the Wan Ling Tea House. After careful consideration I agreed and so opened the door to the intriguing and spectacular world of award winning loose leaf teas.

I have to admit I was not aware of the huge range of teas that was out there to be discovered and understood. My partner was a Green Tea drinker but of the supermarket, teabag, mass produced type, he I think was far more excited by the prospect. After a few discussions with James about the nuts and bolts of the business and how I would fit in he declared "tomorrow we will begin tasting the teas with Wan Ling!". The following day Wan Ling arrived with her fantastic tea ceremony paraphernalia and proceeded to take us through an amazing journey of discovery.

From the beautifully subtle "Mao Feng" green tea picked fresh from the Yellow Mountain of China's An Hui Province. Through to the deep, strong, rich amber PuEr's the teas were fantastic. As I tasted each I could begin to understand why people become so passionate about not just tea but about each individual type. Which was my favourite? That's easy, the Hong Xin Te Chun Guan Yin Wang (try saying that after a bottle of red!). It was simply stunning and left my taste buds demanding more. It came as no surprise when James proudly announced that this tea had won Three Gold Stars in the 2011 Great Taste Awards.

There will still always be a place in my life for a good honest cup of builders tea. However my shelf is now full of teas from places I had never heard of and names I struggle to pronounce. I love them all and look forward to James and Wan Ling sending the new season teas (Season's, who would have thought!) for me to try and for our customers to enjoy.

To my friends I say, be very careful asking if I would like a cup of tea!

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