Garrett Johnson hates sweet tea. Johnson, who works as development director for a Shreveport non-profit and has blogged for 20×49.com about cycling in Shreveport-Bossier, is aware that a hatred for sweet iced tea is not something to broadcast too loudly in Louisiana. “I usually get some dirty looks when I say that,” he told me. His aversion to sweet tea makes it all the more interesting that Johnson knows more about tea than any person I’ve ever met. His 10-part tea tasting and lecture series at Cohabitat continues this Thursday, Jan. 30, with a program called “Exploring the Teas of Darjeeling.” Thursday’s program is sold out, but four more programs are planned in the near future. While these events are fun, they aren’t tea parties.
“This is learning about the history of tea. This is learning about each individual tea that you’re having – which has its own unique history – and how it fits into the theme of the night,” Johnson said. “To me, that’s the most interesting part.”
So far, the series has examined subjects like oolong teas, Japanese green teas and “The 10 Famous Teas of China.” Johnson only uses full leaf teas – no powders – and imports the teas tasted during each program from all over the world. The teas selected for tasting this Thursday have intriguing names like Puttabong Estate – Moondrops and Risheehat Estate – Wiry Musk.
I attended one of Johnson’s tea tasting lectures in 2013, and it was one of the most enlightening cultural experiences that I had all year. I went into the experience – which lasts about 90 minutes – largely ignorant of the different kinds of tea, their significance in international cultures and economies, etc. While I’m still no tea expert, it was an incredibly eye-opening evening. At a cost of just $5 per person (suggested donation), these programs are also a great bargain.
To find out when tea series events are posted, follow CoHabitat on Facebook. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos for this post were borrowed from Garrett Johnson’s Facebook page, with permission.