Tea: the nation’s favourite beverage and a drink synonymous with British culture.
As one of the 40 million Britons who enjoy a cup a day, “Science of Tea” immediately caught my eye in the festival programme – ‘an evening dedicated to the chemistry and pharmacology behind the nation’s favourite beverage’ – what better way to spend a Friday night in Cheltenham?
The venue was packed; not a single free seat in the house. Festival favourites Mark Miodownik and Andrea Sella have clearly garnered quite a crowd following the success of last year’s ‘Science of Honey’! The event kicked off with Simon Hill, a tea buyer from Taylors of Harrogate (the masterminds behind ‘Yorkshire Tea’).
Simon essentially drinks tea for a living, making him one of the luckiest men in Britain. He took the whole audience on a journey from leaf to brew, and offered a fascinating and unique insight into the tea trade. Simon also brought along several delicious teas with him, which we got to try for ourselves.
We were under strict instructions to ‘slurp’ the teas, to really intensify the flavours of the leaf. The entire audience dutifully obliged, and the room slowly filled with a sound akin to a blocked drain. Tea-licious!
Holly Holmes is a PhD student at the UCL Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging, and is supervised by Cheltenham Festival Director Professor Mark Lythgoe. Holly’s research involves the study of Alzheimer’s disease using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).