A local tea tasting event took place in the McCarl Coverlet Gallery at Saint Vincent College. Fred Findley, owner of Fineline Teas, brought his wealth of knowledge and quality of teas and accessories to the event for guests to enjoy. The event brought people from all around the local community; seniors, families, and students, although no one could have predicted the large turnout of people that attended the evening event. What was an expected attendance of thirty to fifty people turned out to be close to one hundred attendees in all. When all the seating was filled people stood along the walls and seated themselves on any open floor space in order to observe the presentation.
Outline of Local Tea Tasting Event
The event began with an enriching lecture on the history of tea, given by Saint Vincent’s associate history professor, Karen Kehoe. The lecture touched on everything from the role of the East India Trading Company to the Boston Tea Party, which highlighted how teas contributed to the start of the Revolutionary War. Professor Karen also examined the craftsmanship of tea ware used and the symbolic roles they played in the household in terms of wealth and status.
From the lecture hall guests proceeded to the McCarl Coverlet Gallery to converse with family, friends, and strangers while enjoying a delicious cup of tea provided by FineLine Teas. Upon entering the gallery guests attention was immediately focused on the display of beautiful hand-crafted quilts that were hung on the walls throughout. The gallery curator, Lauren Churilla, was responsible for coordinating the display of quilts across the gallery. When asked how the quilts coincided with the evenings event she said, “The quilts were all hand crafted in the late 1700’s, right around when the Revolutionary War began. The lecture given by professor Kehoe was clear on how tea inevitably led to the war which declared our Independence. These quilts are a symbol that not only represent the time period but also the independent freedom won that has allowed the United States to grow into the great and powerful nation that it is today.”
Lauren’s statement had really surprised me as I would had never guessed how the quilts had anything to do with the event. Guests had similar surprised reactions and afterwards had a greater appreciation for the beautiful and tranquil presence that the quilted artwork brought to the gallery’s atmosphere that evening. Lauren also went on to say how surprised she was by the overwhelming turnout of people that evening, ” I don’t think anyone was prepared for this, but I am glad people are here and enjoying themselves,” she said. The line of people waiting to sample Fred’s wide variety of fine loose leaf teas stretched out the entrance of the gallery.
At the rear of the gallery was the Tea station which was what everyone was so anxiously standing in line for. Spread across the table were a multitude of different tea’s offered and two water heaters that were running continuously to keep up with the large demand. Guests were able to sample any tea of their choosing and then move freely about the gallery to examine or purchase additional teas and tea-ware offered by Fineline.
Guest Opinions of Local Tea Tasting Event
I had a chance to speak with some of the guests after the lecture. Ron Schwogl’s love for tea was the reason for him to drive all the way from the North side of Pittsburgh to be apart of the local tea tasting event. Ron informed me that he and his son are both very familiar with loose-leaf teas and spend a lot of their time bonding over a cup of their favorite blend. When I asked Ron what his favorite part about the event was he said, “the lecture on the history of tea was by far my favorite, I have always had a special place in my heart for history when I was in school and to couple a lesson with tea was the cherry on top the icing.” To my surprise there were a number of seniors who attended that shared the same opinion as Ron.
Students from Saint Vincent were also in attendance. Maria Jarvis, a junior international business major, told me that she will only drink loose-leaf tea and had been anxiously awaiting the tea tasting for weeks. Her favorite part of the event was the aroma of tea in the air upon entering the gallery. When I asked if she had a favorite she said, “The chocolate pu’erh by far was my favorite. At first my attention was captured by the rich smell of chocolate in the air which made me feel as if I was back in the Hershey factory, but when I took my first sip I completely fell in love.” Maria’s love for the chocolate pu’erh was evident as she left the event with two bags in hand; one to take on her trip to China and the other the get her through finals week.
Alexa Lee, a junior accounting major, was also in attendance. When I asked what her reason for attending was she told me, “I have never tried loose-leaf tea before and i’m always looking to try new things and I think I found myself a healthy habit to get into.” To my surprise many of the attendants had either little or no exposure to loose-leaf tea prior to the event. I was unable to find a single person who disliked the tea or the lecture, instead the only complaint people had was that they had wished the lecture was longer and that they could have enjoyed the tea during it as well.
In all the turnout was larger than expected and the demand was high, but everyone was happy with their decision to attend the local tea tasting event. Guests were enriched with a history lecture on tea and the role it played on revolutionizing world trade but most importantly how tea contributed to the founding of the United States of America. The atmosphere of the gallery was filled with good vibes and the pleasant aroma of teas. The event helped FineLine Teas gain exposure throughout the local community but more importantly it brought people together with a common interest for a night of fun, learning, and delicious teas to savor.