Taking A Shine To Tea 精品茶时光
Tea with milk and sugar? Sacrilege, declares gold-mining magnate and Newby Teas owner Nirmal Sethia, because a truly fine tea should be so good, it is drunk on its own 英国Newby茶庄经营高级精品茶，讲究 天然原味无添加，教育公众分辨劣等 茶和精品茶，振兴逐渐衰亡的 茶文化。
He owns gold mines in Russia and has multi-milliondollar interests in businesses worldwide. Two years ago, he threw a wedding for his son, where tycoons such as Lakshmi Mittal were on the guest list; American rapper Akon and Canadian troupe Cirque du Soleil were among the many artistes flown to Udaipur to perform at the four-day affair.
Chairmanships and directorships on several boards keep this man busy, but engage the Britain-based business magnate Nirmal Sethia in a chat and talk will lead inevitably to the humble pot of tea.
Correction: What Sethia wants you to know is that tea is not so humble a produce. At 73, his ambition is to restore glory and heritage back to the tea industry which he feels has been eroded in the last century.
“Fine tea is never judged by its appearance but by its character of the brew.” This is one of Sethia’s tea mantras, which have been brewing since he apprenticed at a tea company in London after leaving home and school at 14 to seek his independence.
The Anglo-Indian had stunned his family with his teenage decision and applauds his late father for indulging the rebel in him. “To survive, progress and learn, I was totally involved, disciplined and dedicated,” he recounts of his early years in the tea business, when his weekly wage of seven shillings was just enough to take him to and from work by train, as well as pay the rent for a small room next to the train station.
Sethia picked up enough knowledge to impress an Irish tea merchant, who suggested that he set up a company in India to purchase tea leaves on the man’s behalf. Again, Sethia got his father’s blessings to travel alone to Calcutta to set up the venture. He was only 16.
As Sethia’s reputation grew, more and more Irish merchants began to approach him for tea exports and his business prospered. He later acquired a tea plantation in Assam and spent 11 months on site to learn about tea cultivation and processing.
When his father died in 1965, 24-year-
old Sethia received an inheritance that he would use to found a company that is today the N. Sethia Group, a family-owned conglomerate widely invested in industries from finance and real estate to power supply and, more famously, gold mining. After decades away from his original passion, however, Sethia turned his eyes back to tea and bought over Newby Teas, a British brand, in 2000.
“Every single international brand of tea in the world was trying to promote ‘tea’ as ‘fine tea’. To me, this was criminal. There is no company in existence in the world which cares to put its efforts into preserving the history of tea. This was why I decided to establish Newby Teas in order to revitalise the culture of tea and to educate the public on the difference between quality and ordinary tea.”
He adds: “Fine tea does not require any add-ons because it has its own character, taste and unique subtlety and reactions on the palette. It is only when the tea has no character or those serving the tea do not know how to brew it that they will recommend adding milk, lemon, sugar or any other additives to mask the bad taste of the brew.
“A good tea becomes good only when you have dedicated the time of going through the rituals and knowing the art of brewing. A fantastic tea [makes the drinker go] ‘Wow, wow, wow’ for a prolonged time and not momentarily.”
It is this deeply held belief, among others, that led Sethia to pull Newby out of the British Guild of Fine Food’s Great Taste Awards in 2012, after winning 65 times since it started taking part in 2006. Why? Because Sethia did not believe that milk should be used in the tastings during judging.
His own preferred brew is natural, single-varietal teas such as Kan-Junga (a Himalayan black tea), darjeeling and jasmine.
Money No Object
Newby Teas ’ Singapore office was established last year as the first step in its expansion plans for Asia. HongKong , Shanghai and Beijing are next on the list this year.
As part of his personal tribute to tea, as well as to his l ate wife Chitra, Sethia created a collection of tea accessories called The Chitra Collection in 2011. Worth tens of millions of euros, it is what he deems “the biggest single private tea accessories collection in the world” and includes historical pieces.
Among his favourites are the Silver Gilt Monkey teapot from 1600s Germany and the Moon teapot, which is a modern enamelled pot studded with diamonds and pearls that he designed. Indeed, he has put his hand to several teapot designs, many of which are studded with diamonds, rubies and emeralds, and cast in gold, silver and enamel.
Sethia has obviously pumped millions into his new venture, to which he says: “Tea is my hobby, so I don't really care if I make no money out of Newby.”
品茶不以外表，而以内涵来品论。” “ 精
英国Newby精品茶公司创办人兼主席 Nirmal Sethia经常把这句话挂在嘴上。“品茶是 我的爱好，就算公司不赚钱，我也不在乎。”由 此可见这名73岁的富商对茶有多么痴狂。
Nirmal出生于一个知名的印度家族，世代从 商，是第三代英籍印度人。14岁时，叛逆的他做 出了一个惊人的决定——放弃升学，离开家族的 荫护，在外自力更生。通过朋友的帮忙，Nirmal 在一家伦敦茶叶贸易公司当学徒，工资是一个星 期7先令，虽然薪资微薄，但足够让他搭火车上 班及在车站旁租一个小房间。
“父亲是一个有智慧的人，喜欢我叛逆的性 格，允许我离家在外独自闯荡。为了生存，我把 全副心思放在工作上。刚开始，所有茶叶看起来 都一样，不过后来，我学到不以外表而是要以茶 性来品论它们。”
16岁时，Nirmal获得幸运之神的眷顾。一 名爱尔兰茶商问他有没有兴趣到印度设立公司， 帮他代买茶叶。与父亲商量后，Nirmal决定单 枪匹马到印度的加尔各答开公司。由于口碑良 好，其他爱尔兰茶商随后也找上Nirmal帮忙，让 他的生意渐渐上轨道。之后，Nirmal在阿萨姆 （Assam）买下一个茶庄，并在那里住了11个 月，细心钻研茶叶种植和加工。
1965年，Nirmal的父亲过世。24岁的他把 印度的茶庄交给下属管理，回到英国继承一部分 遗产，并创立了N Sethia集团，经营金融、房产 投资、电力供应等生意。2000年，Nirmal再次把 心思投入茶业，创立了Newby精品茶公司。
他说：“我当时看到每个国际品牌都通过 宣传，把自家的次 等茶当精品茶来 卖。对我而言， 这是欺骗消费 者，是有罪的。我于 是决定创建Newby，旨 在振兴逐渐衰亡的茶文 化，教育公众分辨精品茶与 普通茶的不同。”
他在盛产茶叶的加尔各答造 了一座保鲜和包装厂，具备先进的温 湿度调控及空气净化系统。Newby 是茶业界唯一拥有这类设备的茶公 司。
Nirmal对茶叶品质的执着获 得业界肯定。2006年以来， Newby茶叶屡次在英国“超 级美味奖”、“北美茶叶冠 军评比大赛”等国际茶叶比赛 中脱颖而出，至今已赢得了超过80 个奖项。与此同时，Newby也成为瑞典王室、 Vacheron Constantin名表贵宾室、迪拜七星级帆 船酒店等的指定茶叶供应商。
在欧美取得耀眼成绩后，Newby开始把目 光聚焦亚洲，并于去年在新加坡设立分公司。 Nirmal说：“亚洲人发明了茶文化。茶是大自然 给予东方的一个礼物。对任何想在东方开展业务 的茶公司而言，新加坡和香港是正确选择。我计 划在今年于香港、上海和北京建立据点，这不但 能帮助我们在该市场推介上等黑茶，也有助于我 们学习更多关于绿茶、白茶和乌龙茶的知识。”
品茶自然需要茶具，茶具自古以来是茶文化 的重要组成部分。有鉴于此，Nirmal在2011年决 定成立“The Chitra Collection”，专门收集世界 各地的精品古董茶具，这也是目前世界最大的私 人茶具收藏，价值数千万欧元。
Nirmal喜欢喝纯天然茶，不喜欢掺杂不同茶 叶，Kan-Junga、大吉岭及茉莉花茶都是他的最 爱。“精品茶是不需要任何添加物的，因为它有 自己的个性、味道，会带来独特与微妙的味蕾感 受。只有次等茶或不会泡茶的人才会添加牛奶、 柠檬、白糖等来掩盖难喝的茶味。只有当你花时 间遵守泡茶步骤，了解泡茶艺术，方能泡出一壶 好茶。一杯好茶会让你惊叹许久……”
Moon Teapot (2013)
Dresden Silver-Glit Mounted Rubinglas Teapot (the glass 1713-1718)
Silver Gilt Monkey Pot (1600)
Elephant Teapot (2012)
Malachite Horse Teapot (2012)
Mr Sethia (Photo: Gulf Connoisseur)