The Czech national beverage is unquestionably beer but, more and more Czechs are taking a fancy to quite a different liquid – tea. Not only does the Czech Republic have the highest number of tea rooms per person in Europe; Czechs have recently become the first Europeans to join the prestigious World Tea Union, an association joining tea experts from all over the world.
Květa Bílková and Jaromír Horák, tea masters from Prague, have just returned from an international tea competition in Korea, which was part of the annual meeting of the World Tea Union. There the new tea harvest is evaluated and new members invited to join – including, as the first ever Europeans, Jaromír and Květa.
“It was the 7th Tea conference and the main part was a competition where farmers send samples of their tea to the World Tea Union. A special committee tastes them and chooses the best ones. One part of this meeting was also to invite new members into the organization.”
Can anyone take part in the competition?
“You have to be invited by one of the WTU members. We were invited to the Korea conference by Mr Wang, one of the union’s founders, and we became new members of the organization. It was an evaluation of our five years’ work.”
Five years ago Jaromír Horák founded ‘Tea Comfort’, the first organization in the Czech Republic to specialize in the presentation of tea culture. Květa Bílková joined him a few years later, when she herself discovered the magic of tea. And what kind of services exactly does ‘Tea Comfort’ offer?
“We are focusing on spreading tea culture in the Czech Republic and presenting tea art for ordinary people as well as experts. We cooperate with music and film festivals, for example with the international film festival in Karlovy Vary or the Vize foundation of the ex-president Václav Havel.”
Does it mean that you have your own tea room?
“No, we don’t have a tea room. We are trying to bring tea to people so we are mobile.”
By being mobile, Květa means that ‘Tea Comfort’ offers tea master services at clients’ own homes. They also organise special workshops and tea tasting events, and offer advice on what kind of food should be combined with various teas to achieve the best taste.
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