This is a question that I am often asked, especially from those who know my family background, as I am a third generation tea taster. My father and grandfather were commodity importers, of which tea was the most important.
As a youngster, on Sunday morning I would travel with Dad (Jack) to his office. We would stop off at the Auckland Central Post Office in Queen St to clear the mail boxes. My job was to empty out Box 1012 which was usually filled with large packages of tea samples. These packages were covered with a variety of bright colourful postage stamps. From countries like Sri Lanka, India , Kenya and Indonesia. My all time favourite was Malawi with its big colourful pictures of fish and birds (this love of philatelics led me to help design the postage stamp on the bag).
Once we reached Dad’s office he would give me a box full of unwanted tea samples. My next job was to empty them into a large blender, where I would blend and then pack them into 1lb bags. These were for family, neighbours and friends. Because the tea was so fresh the smell was amazing. It is one of my most memorable sensory experiences.
Who would have thought that 10 years later I would start work as a trainee tea taster with Choysa Tea (Quality Packers). A job that I would remain in for 10 years!
Quality Packers was also involved in coffee with the brands Old Mill and Tass and in the early 80s the coffee buyer retired and I was given the added role of learning the art of coffee buying, blending, tasting and... ROASTING.
Once I got my taste buds around coffee, there was no looking back.
Stay tuned for more exciting stories in my love affair with coffee.
Chief Roaster - Jack's Coffee