Coffee Bean's Tea Buyer David De Candia on The Art of Tea

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De Candia Picking Tea Leaves

UCLA's Fowler Museum is currently exhibiting Steeped in History: The Art of Tea, which looks at the global history of tea drinking through antiques and artwork. Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf's master brewer and tea buyer, David De Candia, will be spending some time there over the next few weeks for assorted demonstrations and chats. De Candia is very passionate about tea and eager to share what he knows, so we spent a few minutes reasoning about his favorite subject and asked for a little advice on how to get straight on our own tea deals, without resorting to a Skype course.

GS: What kind of tea do you drink the most, David?

DD: On average, I drink ten to fifteen cups of tea a day. Mostly, I love Oolong tea. Oolongs have been my passion for the last 12 years.

GS: What is the most common misperception people seem to have when talking tea?

DD: Caffeine. This differs greatly from the U.S. versus other countries. The thought in the U.S. is that 'I want a strong caffeinated tea in the morning,' and there is a paranoia, that in the evening, a cup of tea will keep you awake all night. In contrast, other tea drinking countries do not fixate on caffeine. In fact there is no decaf tea to speak of. So the misconception in my opinion is that tea should be enjoyed for the taste, aroma, and overall benefit. Not for the caffeine fix. We can leave that for coffee.

GS: What do you recommend to novices who want to step into the world of tea?

DD: Use the internet wisely. Only take internet info. from the people or companies you know, not opinions expressed by Joe the tea drinker. Also, sign up for certified tea classes at tea expos, and attend my classes if you're in the area (David laughs).

GS: Is L.A. a tea town?

DD: L.A. is social, spiritual, health conscious, and above all, a melting pot of many people from around the globe. Tea is what makes Los Angeles a tea town.

GS: Who do you think will enjoy the exhibit at The Fowler?

DD: If you're a serious tea drinker with a strong passion for tea, then the Fowler exhibit is the place to be. I felt very much at home while touring the exhibit and I'm looking forward to my presentation tomorrow and on Oct 3rd.