When asked what was it about tea that got him into this business, Nigel Melican simply shrugged his shoulders and shook his head, “Well, as you know tea is a beguiling mistress and she gets to you…” He spoke in a way that assumed we had all been seduced by the charmed elixir and did not regret it.
Melican was on the phone being interviewed for a position of lead instructor with our upcoming India Tea Tour that we were organizing for the spring. Over the last 37 years, his name has become synonymous with the industry where he has dedicated his life and work. His consulting business, Teacraft, has worked on projects on all continents, minus Antarctica, and his expertise ranges from the growing and processing of tea, to the science behind its transformation and creation. Assisting clients in 28 countries - from green tea plantations in Australia to tea extracts in Zimbabwe - Melican is widely considered to be responsible for shaping what we know of the specialty tea industry today.
Young Mountain Tea and International Tea Importers (ITI), both tea companies with Indian roots, were collaborating to create a 2-week experiential study of India Tea for the spring of 2018. The idea for this trip came from a shared desire to provide a hands-on learning experience in India that would help demystify the cup of tea. “We realized many trips offered immersion into Indian culture, including several through the lens of tea, but few were explicitly focused on the Indian tea trade.” Says ITI Chief Financial Officer Bhavin Shah. “We saw an opportunity to provide an educational service to the tea industry by connecting our tea customers with our Indian tea partners.”
Aimed at tea professionals – this trip would take the classroom to both the field and factory, covering tea from all angles. Young Mountain Tea, who has long been leading trips to origin (primarily Kumaon where the heart of the company is based), would be the trip organizers and guides. The traveling curriculum would include everything ranging from cultivation, production, tasting and evaluation, and biochemistry. Now we were just looking for someone to create the syllabus and deliver the material.
“The real value of getting out there and experiencing tea where it actually grows is that all those things you have read about come together and make sense – it’s the way I learned, now I am passionate about introducing others to that experience,” Melican continued. A few weeks later when offered the position, Melican accepted.
Over the next few months, Melican worked to develop a comprehensive tea curriculum that he would deliver over the two-week trip. Since then the trip was an overwhelming success, and participants marveled at Melican’s ability to distill complex material and make it interesting and accessible to the students. “Here is someone who has worked around the world, and he is still patient, knowledgeable, and could simplify the science in ways we could understand, ” said Danielle Hochsetter who participated on the trip.
Melican has already expressed interest in accompanying the trip next year. If you are interested in reserving a spot or learning more about India Tea Tour 2018, you can email Raj at firstname.lastname@example.org