Tea Masters Cup is the place where a lot of people who are in love with tea meet each other to share ideas and knowledge. They inspire each other and fall in love with tea culture even more. But sometimes beautiful stories happen when people who are in love with tea fall in love with each other.
We want to tell you a story that started in 2016 in Korea and is still going on with George and Milan changing their lives and tea world.
Georgy’s tea story
Georgy is from Georgia – a beautiful country which western part is covered with mountains and tea plantations. And the story of this country is closely related to tea, at least the last hundred years. Even though after the collapse of Soviet Union many tea plantations were abandoned and turned into other agricultural areas there are tea enthusiasts who want to develop tea culture and make Georgian tea really special and famous. Shota Bitadze is one of such tea enthusiasts who was one of the first to bring good quality Chines teas to Georgia and step by step inspired his son with tea culture. This is how in natural manner Georgy learned about good tea and tea culture from his father Shota. In 2013 they went to China to study tea culture in tea college. China impressed Georgy a lot with the variety and scale of tea culture and inspired him to learn more about tea. He realized this can become a serious business in his country.
He started to learn about technology, tea ceremony, tea tasting. And in 2015 he took part in the first national competition, very small event with some participants but very important for him. Georgy was the winner and this gave him a chance to attend TMC international in Korea in 2016.
There he met a lot of people from different countries who impressed him with their passion for tea. During the event he noticed one good-looking Korean girl and approached her to know her name. But she didn’t speak English. So he tried to ask her in Chinese and that was the language they both understood. With a smile she answered that her name was Milan Lee.
Milan studied pedagogics in Korea. Tea came into her life when she was looking for the ways to reduce stress in her life. In Korea one can learn about tea ceremony only in temples where monks teach it together with buddist meditations. It worked so well for her.
When she was invited to take part in national TMC she was very surprised as tea culture 5 years ago was not so popular in Korea in comparison to coffee. But she agreed. And after her victory at national TMC she took part in International one.
TMC in Seoul impressed her so much with the tea education of participants so she decided to continue her tea studies and went to Taiwan and also contacted Georgy to ask him more questions about tea. He was eager to help. Funny thing is that in Seoul since both of them competed in the same category at TMC they didn’t see the performance of each other as while Georgy was performing Milan was preparing and then when she was performing, he was cleaning. So that was how the story began.
5 years together
The first four years they kept their long distance relationship through messaging, meeting each other 2-3 times a year and always sharing a lot about tea. Both being busy with their own careers they didn’t mean to make serious decisions at that time. Georgy was finishing his university studies and was very much inspired to learn more about tea and make tea his main business. Korean TMC inspired him with tea mixology – how to combine tea with herbs. So he started to learn more about tea plantations, was teaching tea at school and established contacts with other countries, especially Korea. He had a lot of ideas for tea business and when he shared them with Milan she supported them.
When in 2020 he was planning to come to Korea to meet Milan’s parents to make a proposal, the pandemic started. They changed the plans and Milan came to Georgia. Her plane to Tbilisi was the last one from Asia to Tbilisi. After that no connection between the countries. They were lucky to get together. One year in Georgia has passed and they became a real tea team strong with the combined abilities of both.
Together they can speak 5 languages fluently: English, Korean, Georgian, Russian and Chinese. It means they can read and translate almost any literature about tea and this is really valuable. They have started to fulfil the dream of Georgy that has become their common dream – to make a real tea garden in Tbilisi where tourists may come, pluck tea leaves, make own tea, go to visit Korean tea ceremony in traditional Korean tea house and pick up flowers and herbs that they can add to tea. Such kind of tea paradise. They want to bring Korean tea cultivars to this tea garden and make it really international. “Georgian and Korean climate are very similar, subtropical, so we hope it will work well,” – says Georgy.
They have started cooperation with some Korean companies to sell Georgian tea there and they use some of Korean tea technologies hints to make better green tea in Georgia.
In October 2020 they travelled around West Gerogia and Milan learned a lot of practical things about tea and fell in love with Georgia even more. She says she loves her new place of living. First time she came to Georgia in 2017 and was inspired by everything: people, food, tradition and she believes Korea and Georgia have much in common.
“Georgia is a peaceful place and people are very warm and open which reminds me of Korean times from my childhood when things were different from now. I also see a lot of opportunities in Georgia for developing in so many directions.”
Now they plan to continue developing tea school where people will learn all kinds of tea traditions. Milan plans to teach there Korean tea ceremony. Asian culture is becoming rather popular in Georgia. As well as tea.
Georgy with his father have started to introduce to restaurants a new way of brewing tea – in wine decantor. This way of brewing is very good for the white Georgian tea they make.
Georgy and Milan seriously started thinking of making tea cosmetics and even have made their first tea seed oil. They have plans to start business in Korea and unite both countries with many joint tea projects.
They both learn languages of each other and have noticed that languages reflect very well their own characters. Georgian language is straightforward and so is Georgian character – straight, emotional and loud. Korean language and character is opposite – not straight and far from being loud. “I have hot hands and she has cold hands, I am adventurous and she is more of an observing type. But our mindset and ideology are very similar. We are like yin and yang energies,” – smiles Georgy and she doubles his smile with her own. They believe they complement each other so well and together they can do so much more to change the world and make it a better place, also for tea.
Aliona Velichko, especially for Masterstalk