Interview – Edward Eisler
Edward Eisler, founder of JING Tea, shares with us the inspiration behind JING as well as discussing how to make the perfect cup of tea.
Founded in 2004, Edward created JING to connect people all around the world with the true value of ancient, authentic tea. JING is more than just great tea; by sourcing the finest tea producers and sharing their knowledge and passion JING has created an inspired tea culture. This adoration for tea has seen JING be embraced by prestigious hotels and exceptional restaurants across the globe, including Aviator?s own award-winning Brasserie and Sky Bar
What was the inspiration behind starting JING tea?
The desire to make the pleasures of Chinese tea culture accessible to modern society was my main inspiration. It all started when I discovered an ancient tea culture in a Prague tea house at the age of 15. I become interested in learning more about tea and spent a great deal of time travelling around Asia, specifically China, Taiwan, Japan and India from the age of 19. I studied Mandarin, qualified in Chinese Medicine and spent 4 years learning and practicing Chinese Martial arts intensively. During my travels I started finding and working with master tea makers, learning the art of Gong Fu tea, and felt the tea culture in the UK was missing out on its full potential.
China has an amazing tea culture, the values of which are extremely relevant to the needs of people in the modern world ? quality of taste, wellness, sharing, and a way to focus and relax.
In today?s fast moving, rapidly changing society, preserving these ancient traditions is more important than ever before.
How does JING tea differentiate from other tea brands?
With our quality taste derived from our authentic sourcing, tasting expertise and the way we pack our tea to ensure something many other brands forget: freshness. We?re the choice of many of the world?s top palates: over 70 Michelin starred Chefs choose JING for their Restaurants around the world as well as many of the best five star hotels. We design beautiful tea ware and accessories to help people at home get the very best taste and experience out of our tea.
What’s the most enjoyable part of working at JING?
Creating an inspired tea culture and sharing the values of Asia?s ancient tea traditions with the West. Travelling, as much as I have done, has given me the opportunity to meet some incredible people ? gaining insight from tea masters who, for generations, have been practising their craft and having a thorough understanding of the Asian tea culture is a real privilege. In today?s fast moving, rapidly changing society, preserving these ancient traditions is more important than ever before.
JING sells teas from a variety of locations around the world. How do you go about sourcing the tea?
In sourcing we don?t compromise on cost or convenience ? we are willing to go the extra mile, even travelling to the hardest to reach corners of China, India, Japan and mountains of Taiwan, to find the best conditions and artistry. We work exclusively and closely with the highly skilled makers in each chosen region. These true artisans only sell their produce to those they feel will best represent their teas ? it is a mutually beneficial relationship and we feel lucky to work so closely together.
How has the English tea culture changed over the recent years?
Consumption of black tea (builder?s tea) is on the decline. People are becoming more interested and knowledgeable in the area of speciality teas, exploring its growth more and more.
What are some of the biggest challenges currently facing the tea industry?
Economic, social and environmental changes. Less people are committing to a rural lifestyle that support high quality tea making and instead aspire to live in the city. Fewer people are committing to the traditions that underpin quality tea. Fewer sons and daughters of accomplished tea makers want to take over from family traditions and business.
Seasonal changes have become more unpredictable making tea seasons harder to manage for producers. Crop variation then increases and prices can fluctuate more.
To support the tea industry long term, I believe people need to recognise the amazing value of tea ? it has become viewed as too much of a commodity and it?s incredible qualities as a natural, healthy and sociable part of our lives, is going under the radar. The big financial change needed is for big tea brands to buy and sell their tea for a lot more if the producers are to get a fair share of the profits and if tea is to be valued correctly and sustainably.
You?ve launched the new Tea Master what was the main inspiration behind this project?
The Tea Master is inspired by ceremony, but designed for modern life. As the true home of tea, no country has influenced us more than China. Traditional Chinese ?Gong Fu Cha? tea ceremonies place huge emphasis on achieving the best flavours by using small vessels and short brewing times to create quick, full flavoured infusions. Using less water and more tea with a quick infusion is the secret ? it really gets the best out of high quality tea.
With each infusion, all the tea is decanted into matching capacity cups or pitchers to avoid the tea stewing and becoming too strong. In today?s hyper-connected world, tea is a way for people to enjoy a moment of calm focus amidst all the distraction. We hope the Tea Master helps makes this a reality for people all over the world; a stimulating and engaging ritual to enjoy every day.
How would you ensure that you make the perfect cup of tea?
Firstly you need to have the right tea in the right quantity for the teapot with the right amount of water, and it should be infused for the right amount of time. It?s best enjoyed in a beautiful atmosphere. We?re very passionate about all of these things and all of our teas come with infusion guidelines, we also have a bespoke range of glass teaware, which has been designed to ensure making the perfect cup of tea is possible with utmost ease.
Although it will differ according to the teapot, the tea and the water you have, I recommend using around 5g of tea per 250ml of water and infuse for 3 minutes.
Tea in general is a good source of antioxidants, the very high quality green teas contained the highest levels.
Do you have any facts about tea that people would be surprised to hear?
A common misconception is that green tea contains less caffeine than black. Tea in general is a good source of antioxidants?white and green tea does not necessarily contain more, though in the test we have commissioned, the very high quality green teas contained the highest levels.
An aged Puerh tea, which is quite unusual as it is the only type of tea to be aged, has been a niche collector?s item in China for a long time. Some of the older varieties are worth huge amounts of money, for example a kilo of 100-year-old Puerh tea could fetch up to £120,000.
What?s your favourite tea from the JING range?
I like to drink Oolong, specifically Traditional Iron Buddha, Wuyi Oolong and aged raw puerh.
JING tea is sold in over 75 locations worldwide and in some of the best hotels in the world. Do you find that certain countries favour a particular type of tea?
China is the home of all tea styles: it invented Green, White, Oolong, Puerh, Yellow and Black tea production. Most of the tea drunk in China is green, with certain regions being crazy about Oolong tea, and others loving Puerh.
Taiwan favours Oolongs, and produces some of the best in the world like Lishan Oolong.
India is the home to Assam, Darjeeling and Nilgiri.
You?ve travelled all over Asia sourcing tea. Is there a particular country that you love to visit?
Nepal, for its mixture of cultures, traditions and religions. The depth of culture and range of relics is astonishing. A truly special place.
Who would you most like to share a cup of tea with?
A great Buddhist Sage, for instance the Seventeenth Karmapa.
Are there any exciting upcoming plans for the brand that you can tell us about?
We are embarking on our first retail partnership with The White Company, which we are thrilled about ? it?s a fantastic opportunity for us to increase our visibility to the general public. We will be in a selection of stores from the end of January. Also coming very soon is the launch of a brand new website, which we are really excited about.
Visit JING to find out more, and purchase a variety of teas and tea accessories.
To sample the delights of JING tea yourself, why not treat yourself with Afternoon Tea at Aviator. For those looking to detox, JING?s Jasmine Silver Needle Cold Tea can be enjoyed with our Charge package.
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