I am JING’s Senior Tea Buyer and longest-standing full-time employee. Joining JING nearly eight years ago I did not then appreciate the amazing diversity of tastes and richness of experience that tea creates, but I did have a sense of the special appeal that tea holds for many. My eyes had been opened by stints living and working in both China and India after graduating from university, cultures where tea can be at once everyday and also rarefied.

Tom at Hui Ming Temple Tea Garden

With responsibility for sourcing all JING’s teas and infusions, I naturally ponder what makes a tea good and where I can find these teas. In this role I meet people who have worked in tea all their lives, often devoting their lives to producing one type of tea to the best of their ability. For most this is an economic activity, a livelihood, but almost all appreciate something of the special nature of tea as a product. Almost all have understood the importance of how the environment affects their product and consequently have an ecological awareness that seems to me authentic and long-standing.

Tom inspect freshly picked tea leaves with local Chinese tea pickers

People and places imbue tea with character that enhances how it tastes and improves the drinking experience. An understanding of where a tea comes from and how it’s made is not the preserve of tea geeks and connoisseurs, but something all can enjoy. This is my revelation from almost a decade of immersion in the world of tea and one I would love to share with you.