Time to visit with another person who has been in the “tea trenches” for many years. Another dedicatee to the Camellia Sinensis plant (the tea bush) and to processing it for a variety of tastes. Someone who contributes daily to the enjoyment of tea by people the world over. Another unsung hero, a veteran in the world of tea: Nigel Melican.
An almost iconic photo of Melican stares back from a multitude of Websites. He looks a bit like the grandfather in Heidi, but instead of goats and cheese in the snowy Alps, Melican is into tea and tea machines in the UK.
Melican has probably done more than anyone living to advance the quality of tea during his career and to debunk myths about such issues as how to decaffeinate tea. Where Jane Pettigrew has focused on writing books and giving tea seminars and speeches, Melican founded the company Teacraft after spending 27 years as a top researcher at Colworth House and simultaneously as a Project Manager at Unilever Research. Teacraft is dedicated to taking tea knowledge and processing to new heights.
During the last 10 of his 27 years at Unilever, Melican was involved with their beverage sector. He worked to optimize processes in Unilever tea factories (Brooke Bond, Lipton, and vendor companies) around the world with the goal of improving product quality.
A few facts gleaned from an interview posted on Teageek.net:
- His fave tea — Yorkshire Gold by Taylors of Harrogate
- His start in tea — In 1980 after a trip to Papua New Guinea regarding an agricultural issue that turned out to be in the factory, not the field, and that launched an intensive self-education program in tea.
- His fave advanced tea resource — Tea: Cultivation to Consumption, Ken Willson and Mike Clifford, eds., ISBN 0-412-33850-5, 1992.
- A pet peeve he has about tea — He calls people narrow minded who prefer loose leaf teas to dust-in-bag teas just because of their shape not their quality. He wants to see people strive for the best quality whether it’s dust in a bag or loose leaf.
The area in which Melican seems to have done the most to improve teas has been his scientific approach. The saying “If you can’t measure it then just how are you going to control it?” seems to guide Teacraft in helping their clients (tea growers and processors around the globe).
Melican was a speaker at the 2009 World Tea Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada, and is scheduled to speak at the 1st African Tea Convention & Exhibition taking place on 20-22 July 2011, in Mombasa, Kenya. I, for one, hope he continues to focus on improving tea and does not get sidetracked into the many political issues currently affecting the industry.
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