By Graham Chalmers
A Harrogate cafe owner’s skills with tea have brought her success in the ‘Masterchef’ of tea brewing.
Ruth Hampson, co-owner of popular independent cafe Bean & Bud, was competing in Cardiff at the first-ever UK Tea Brewers Cup competition.
In the face of competition from fellow tea experts from all over the UK and further afield - and a live audience - trained barista Ruth successfully flew the flag for the north.
An excited Ruth said: “The announcement of the winners was nail-biting but I couldn’t have been happier at being the third place winner. It was a great experience to meet like-minded people from the world of tea.”
Although Ruth and partner Hayden Howells have already gained a great reputation for their expertise in coffee and tea in the five years Bean & Bud has been open in Commercial Street, the contest was a more complex affair than might be imagined.
The final round on Sunday saw the remaining contestants final brewing two teas of their choice which had to match the theme of a 15-minute presentation they’d just given.
Earlier Ruth and her rivals had had to compete in a blind brewing round.
Ruth said: “We all had to open the bags, look at and smell the leaves to decide which of thousands of teas we’d been given, and then decide how to brew them in terms of dry leaf dose, water temperature, amount of water and infusion time.
“Our brews were then sent to the judges in another room who judge all the brews blind on the basis of appearance, temperature, aroma, flavour and harmony.”
For the record, Ruth’s winning teas were two Fujian oolong teas, Ti Guan Yin (Iron Goddess of Mercy) and Rou Gui (also known as Cassia, which means cinnamon).