The Jakarta Post
The Indonesia Tea Brewing Competition attracted tea masters from different provinces around the country. (Shutterstock/AL Ho)
Tea is often underestimated as many consider it to be old-fashioned and inflexible.
Ratna Soemantri, a public relations and tea specialist at the Indonesia Specialty Tea Association (AISTea), said there had been a decline in tea plantations and production in Indonesia.
“People have also shifted from tea [to other beverages] as they think it’s too complicated to be part of their modern lifestyle,” said Ratna during the SIAL Interfood exhibition on Saturday, Nov. 24, at JIEXpo Kemayoran, Central Jakarta. “Currently, the consumption of tea in Indonesia is around 350 to 360 grams per person in each year. It’s not really high compared to Malaysia.”
Nevertheless, Ratna, who is also the founder of the Indonesia Tea Institute, said that there had been an improvement in specialty tea consumption. Specialty tea often refers to a higher-quality tea that involves a special production process and is available in limited quantities.
Ratna said she refrained from viewing coffee as a competitor as both could complement each other. “People don’t always drink coffee, perhaps they’d have an ice tea in the afternoon,” she said. “We can learn from the coffee industry in how it has gained popularity among the youth and women.”
Adrianus Kurniawan competes in the Indonesia Tea Brewing Competition on Saturday, Nov. 24, at JIEXpo Kemayoran, Central Jakarta. (JP/Ni Nyoman Wira)
AISTea organized the Indonesia Tea Brewing Competition for two days from Nov. 23 to 24 at the same location. The first of its kind in the country, the competition attracted tea masters from different provinces in Indonesia. “As it’s our initial competition, the number of participants is limited to 12 people per day,” Ratna said. “We plan to hold provincial elimination rounds [in the future], so the finalists will then compete against each other in Jakarta.”
The competition was divided into two parts, Creative Tea Brewing and Tea Mixologist, with participants making creative tea concoctions. It showed that tea can be transformed into different beverages with diverse flavors – bubble tea was not included.
Jonathan Liman, one of the participants and part of Smoking Barrels coffee roasters in Jakarta, was inspired by the summer weather. He mixed pineapple into green tea and added osmanthus flower and rosemary in the ice cubes. “My tea creation is slightly bitter, so osmanthus flower will give it a sweeter taste,” Jonathan said.
His beverages were served in island-shaped swimming floats. “Plating, atmosphere, song, temperature and how I present myself highly influence the beverage that we’re about to drink, so it’s not only about drinking,” Jonathan said.
The Indonesia Tea Brewing Competition judges evaluate competitors' tea creations based on several criteria, including presentation, flavor and ability to maintain the original tea flavor. (JP/Ni Nyoman Wira)
Meanwhile, his partner from Smoking Barrels and fellow contestant Adrianus Kurniawan served snow-inspired tea creations. “I combined green tea with white peach aromatic foam, then I added ice cubes made out of a mixture of spices and fruits,” said Adri, adding that he colored the ice cubes using butterfly pea flower tea and red dragon fruit.
Coming from coffee backgrounds, Jonathan and Adri used coffee brewing tools in the competition. “I think tea is interesting. I find it relaxing despite its caffeine,” Adri said. “[The caffeine effect of tea] is different from coffee, though. Tea is slower and more stable, while coffee directly boosts your adrenaline.”
Both are in unison with Ratna when it comes to introducing tea to the younger generation, who mostly view the beverage as boring and consumed by older people. They aim to break this stereotype by offering quality tea but in a more relaxed manner and with creative presentations. “We'd like to show them that tea can also be part of the modern lifestyle,” said Ratna. (wng)