SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— I just got back from the International Tea Forum at Xiamen, China and it was a remarkable experience. Xiamen is about 300 miles north of Hong Kong. We flew into Hong Kong near the tail-end of the pro-Democracy demonstrations, so we didn’t get to see much of that, but what I did see was impressive.

The sheer size of the exhibition center for the forum was one million square feet. The event was comprised of the tea fair as well as the Buddhist arts fair and a small Buddhist food center. San Francisco’s Moscone Center would fit into a small corner of this place.

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One of the event’s guest speakers was Professor Katharine Burnett, who specializes in Chinese art and material culture at UC Davis’s Art Department. It turns out there’s a lot to be learned about tea and I’m only just beginning.

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Tea preceded coffee by centuries as the main drink consumed in many cultures before the beloved bean’s discovery.

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I’m fascinated that people who specialize in coffee are now talking about roasting their brew at different temperatures since tea drinkers in China have been doing it for centuries. This experience really just goes to show that there’s so much I didn’t know about tea and that there’s plenty more to learn.