Latvia is not a tea country. Rather - coffee. We start drink coffee almost from a kindergarten age. Andrei is exaption. "A long time ago, like many others, I liked to have a cup of coffee with a cigarette at lunchtime. Such a everyday ritual. But since I tried the real Chinese tea I never drank coffee again. Yes, it smells nice but the taste is too harsh and aggressive. Tea much more noble drink, more refined and it has a lot of flavoring nuances. Not to mention his beneficial effects on the body. By the way tea helped me quit smoking. In general it helps to get rid of any addictions whether it is addiction to nicotine, alcohol or excessive food. The body itself, without any violence, begins to lead healthy lifestyle. But you have to come to tea, grow to it - I mean, of course, real tea, not this rubbish what they put in teabags in supermarkets. If an unprepared person will try Chinese Puer tea for the first time he will make unhappy face like "What is this!" But this is like with any art it is necessary to dig into, to study, to try, to compare.
Digging into was very necessary step to become the champion of Latvia and six years later - the world champion between tea masters from all over the world! It happened on October 2017 in China in the city of Enshi (Hebei Province), where the greatest Lu Yu was born, who wrote the first book in history about this drink - the "The Classic of Tea". "Andrei, please tell me more about how it all happened." - "Championships are held in huge rooms: spectators, judges, camera flashes. In addition, during the performance, you do everything standing up, not sitting, as usual. It makes tea ceremony very hard. It all depends on how you are prepared, both professional and moral. For me, this championship was the third one and I already knew how and what I am going to do. Brew tea according to all the rules, skillfully pour it - this is not enough. You need a creative approach. The category Tea Pairing ("Tea Composition"), where I took the first place, provides not only brewing tea, but also the provision of an appropriate snack. This is a small show. "
The tea ceremony, what led Ivanov to the title, was dedicated to Latvia. Andrew brewed shen pu-erh tea that had coniferous notes in taste, made snack of mandarin with slices of chili and ginger pepper poured with Latvian honey, and finally invited the judges to hold in their hands a pebble stone from the Baltic Sea aromatized with pine oil. All this was accompanied by Latvian, ethnic music and stylized national clothes. Even his teaware were Latvian created by ceramist Laima Grigone. This is tea patriotism. I think that in 15 minutes of his performance both the judge and the Chinese public learned about Latvia more than in all their previous lives. By the way, besides the first place in the category of Tea Pairing, Andrew won two second places in the categories “Tea Preparation” and “Tea Testing”, collecting the largest number of awards.
"Tea people" (as they call themselves) look pretty colorful - unusual clothes, hairstyles, accessories. "Previously this extravagance frightened me," says Andrei. - It seemed like people just show off. And now I take it as something completely natural. Sometimes digging into the depths of Chinese philosophy changes your worldview, lifestyle and at the same time and appearance. "
Oh well. Tea. Art. Philosophy. And how does he make money? "Actually, I'm a musician," says Andrei. He composed music for many years worked with record companies. But like anywhere else it is not enough so I have to do a lot in my life. Some years ago I decided to completely concentrate on tea. I have my own small tea business called “izpodnebesnoj.com”. From time to time, I hold tea ceremonies as they becomes more popular. Soon my online store will start working where it will be possible to purchase high quality tea and handmade teaware. I hope that sooner or later I will have my own tea house. It’s just the matter of time. I have no goal of making this mega business. Yes it is impossible: the business is done on the mass market, not on exclusivity. I just want our people to have access to a real tea culture. After all, 90 percent of the tea that is offered in our market in reality is a fake. Even me, who buys tea directly from Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese farmers, am being fooled from time to time. What can be said about ordinary people."
Andrei perfectly understands that tea culture is not for everyone. It is difficult to explain to an ignorant person why 15 milligrams of tea can cost 15 euros or tiny handmade teapot - 500. All authentic, rare, truly quality cannot cost three cents. People are tired of thoughtless consumption and the dominance of faceless products, are increasingly looking for themselves something special, unique, what brings them unusual emotions. Perhaps, to someone the taste of tea will help restore the taste for life.
Written by Elena Vlasova (Pastaiga.Ru journal)