Kōrero Tōku / My Story
Ko Pukenuioraho Te Maunga, Ko Waiotahe Te Awa, Ko Mataatua Te Waka, Ko Tūhoe, Ko Te Whanau Apanui, Ko Whākatohea ngā iwi o oku tī Puna, Ko Upokorere Te Hapu, Ko Maromahue Te Marae, Ko Annette Eggers Ahau
Tēnā koe / Greetings
My first memory with tea was in our family farm shed, late 70's, I would have been about 5 years old. My parents owned a hop farm in Upper Moutere and employed 20 or so people each harvest season. My job was to help my mother make the cuppa tea for staff. The loose tea arrived in Choysa branded wooden boxes, lids nailed down. (These boxes were always reused, at one stage in my life, 80's and 90's, I stored my tape collections in them but mostly they were used as toolboxes for nuts and bolts on the farm).
When opening the box for the first time, little did I know this would be an everlasting fond memory. Being the first to get a whiff of the sweet Earl Grey was exciting. I'd scoop the tea into the large metal teapots then my mother would pour hot water from the urns into them, we'd let it sit. We’d set all of the different shaped teacups on the Formica tables and pour tea for all of the workers. It was a pleasant experience and I enjoyed watching the workers choose their cup.
As I grew up I’d spend much of our time hunting or fishing with whanau and friends, with this bought the real taste of nature. Ngahere Tī / Bushmans tea was the most common for me in the South Island however when I'd visit whanau in Opotiki it was always a different plant from the Whenua, I didn’t know what the plants were, I never asked but eventually I did start asking questions. I learned the importance of Papatūānuku (mother earth) and why we should treat her with care.
While working in Auckland city for several years I would spend every weekend possible exploring the Waitakere Rangers. I hiked every track and would sit for hours examining the plants, this is the most amazing sub-tropical rain forest we have in Aotearoa. I would take my identification books and my modern Jetboil for heating water to drink tea from the bush. I would take plants home and match with my various books, taking care new plants were correctly identified often amazed at what I’d found. When the Waitakere Ranges closed, I was heartbroken but grateful I learned so much from this beautiful forest.
I've travelled to various countries learning new cultures and experiencing teas in places like the Amazon, throughout South America and India. I had booked for a 4-week trip to China’s tea estates but due to Covid19 my plans have been put on hold. I cannot wait to hear their stories and to be inspired by the masters of tea making.
I have moved back to Te Waipounamu where the ngahere is bold and beautiful, plants are different, new plants to identify and new understandings of how careful we need to be as we are endangering our ngahere. I study Te Reo Māori, giving me a deeper understanding of my culture (and other cultures for that matter).
I've shared many wild harvested teas with friends and whanau, I enjoy teas from around the world and listening to the stories. It was inevitable that I'd start Tī Ani (Annie's Tea).
Ngā Mihi Nui