Gaby Prieto, founder of Teascopia is the curator of the lovely Barcelona: All About Tea minimap, illustrated by the talented Valentina Alvarado (have a look here, you will love it!) And since we loved the route she created for us and we were curious about this passion of hers, we decided to ask her some questions about tea, travel and life in general. Hope you enjoy our little interview!
Tea. What’s tea for you? Think of me as an alien that just landed on the planet and it’s interested in understanding why is this thing so wonderful to you and why should I give it a try?
If you were an alien I would make you a very special tasting where you would try teas from every corner of the world so you could see how tea is also a way to travel, learn about cultures, explore traditions and be in touch with nature. For me it is also very personal and intimate, kind of my own world of dreams and fantasies…
When did you decide becoming a tea sommelier? And how did you transform this passion for tea into a career?
I always drank and loved tea but I didn’t know there was more to it than having tea. I used to do it with some sort of ritual though, let’s say in a mindful way, but just because I felt it like that. But it was one day while I was living in Buenos Aires, that I was looking for a course on perfumery that I came across the course of Tea Sommelier and it just clicked! I enrolled without thinking it twice, that same day.
From then on I wanted to learn more and I started researching, reading about tea, buying books, tasting new teas and that was how my blog Teascopia started. I thought a blog would make me keep up with the tea world and also would allow me to share something that I loved, in my own personal way. So I started the blog with no big expectations and little by little it started growing and expanding. After some time, you realise that you have a project that stands on its own and that is very exciting. During this time, I have also had the opportunity to meet people from the tea world like Alex Probyn, from whom I have learned so much and still do, other bloggers and entrepreneurs, as well as people outside the tea community that is interested in what I do and support me in any way possible. All this together makes you keep on going!
I always find really inspiring the stories of people that half-way through life decide to follow their hearts and be true to their passions. You’ve done it, what would you say to the people that is still struggling?
It is funny that you ask me, I don’t see myself on the other side but I actually think about it a lot…
I used to read biographies of people that I admire and their stories to see what was in it that made them “successful” in their lives or careers until one day I realised that I was not going to find the answers there. It is so easy to see things in retrospective and say: oh, that was a clever decision or, there was this mentor who helped achieve this or, this is how she or he made it. But even though I don’t have the answer I am convinced that you need to do things your way and trust your intuition. We all have something unique that is worth showing and doing. But it requires patience, especially not being too hard on yourself, respect your own rhythm, allow mistakes to happen and think about your project as a platform to experiment. In my case I didn’t want to have any expectations of where this path would take me because I might put so much pressure on myself that I would not enjoy it at all. So I said, the only thing that matters is to do it, the best way possible, and to keep on going. Once you dare to start whatever that is with love, conviction and discipline, nothing will stop you.
Like the old English ships that travelled all the way to China looking for tea, have you planned a trip motivated just by this passion of yours? What would be an ideal tea-destination or tea-tour?
I have a soft spot for Japanese tea and its traditions so I would start the tea route in Japan, but the list is long. Asia-Pacific is a tea paradise: China, Taiwan, Korea, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh, Japan, just to name a few. Imagine how many places to visit!
About traveling traditions, superstitions, tips, clichés. What’s that thing that you cannot not do when you travel? (Hope using a minimap is now one!)
I have been thinking about this question and I think I now have an answer…
I cannot travel without my perfume. I love how it smells in another city with another air. Somehow your nose resets and you can smell your clothes and all your things from a different perspective. And the same when you come back, I love opening the luggage after a trip. So I always take my perfume and, on my return, I try to bring something like a soap, a sachet, a cream or a shower gel, that reminds me of that trip or that city.
What would be the ideal minimap that you would like to have? Maybe someone reading this will be inspired to make it happen! (:
I would like to have a Minimap about gardens and parks in any city. But the truth of the matter is that if you like something in particular and you can connect it to a city or a route, then you can have a Minimap. Ideas and interest are endless and I am sure everyone has a unique point of view that will be interesting to others and worth sharing!
Gaby’s new tasting will be the Wednesday 27th of May at 19hrs in Cuchara Club (Avenir 29 local Barcelona 08021). If you are interested you can write to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. And for up-to-date information about the tea world in Barcelona you can always have a look at Teascopia.