About a month ago, eight content creators from all around UK gathered in Harrogate to start a 15-month creative collaboration called Extraordinary Journey. I was one of them.
Creating for Good
Extraordinary Journey is a campaign organised by Taylors of Harrogate together with Creating for Good, a London-based collective of creatives that I am very proud to be part of. I wrote a post about CFG earlier this year, you can read it here.
At Creating for Good we organise events (workshops, panel discussions, auctions, parties) to raise money, which we donate 100% to organisations that address inequality and offer opportunity to women, men and families who are affected by war, political discord and poverty.
An Extraordinary Journey
Taylors of Harrogate approached Creating for Good in May with a proposal to develop a series of creative workshops using their teas and coffees. They proposed to take eight content creators on a journey starting in England and ending in Rwanda, one of the countries their source their products from.
Not only is Rwanda home to some of the greatest emerging teas and coffees in the world, it is also home to one of Creating for Good’s chosen charities. Since 1997, Women for Women International has served more than 75,000 in Rwanda through their year-long programme.
I am thrilled to be part of this project and to meet Taylors’ farmers first hand in Rwanda as well as visit Women for Women workshops.
As an introduction to this journey, Taylors sent out a vintage suitcase containing my Extraordinary Journey passport (designed by the incredibly talented London-based artist Britt Fabello), some of Taylors’ speciality teas and coffees, a Rwanda travel guide, a notebook and a Polaroid camera to document my experience.
Taylors of Harrogate
Last month, the project officially kicked off at Taylors’ home in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. We gathered for two days in the gorgeous Yorkshire countryside to learn about tea, coffee and storytelling.
Day one was spent at Taylors headquarters. I love coffee and tea, so learning about how different varieties and different methods of processing them (in the origin country and at the factory) was very interesting.
After the factory tour, we moved to the tasting rooms where Taylors’ tea and coffee buyers explained to us how different varieties of teas and coffees are tasted and evaluated, in order to then create the blends that are part of the Taylors of Harrogate range.
Tasting (or cupping, in the case of coffee) is the practice of sampling teas and coffees from different farms (known as single origins) in order to understand their basic taste and create successful blends.
Blends are created to achieve a unique and consistent flavour profile. When you buy your favourite tea or coffee, you want it to taste exactly the same as the last time you drank it right?
Naturally, flavours of single origin teas and coffees vary depending on weather conditions each season. To achieve consistent results, the tea and coffee experts at Taylors spend hours every week tasting samples from all over the world.
The beans are roasted lightly a few days before the cupping, then ground coarsely and brewed with hot water for around 3-4 minutes. Light roasting brings up all the natural flavours of the coffee, such as sweetness, acidity, fragrance, body, aroma and aftertaste.
I have done cupping many times before. I always find it fascinating and a great way to learn more about my own taste and preferences.
After our visit to Taylors Headquarters, we checked into Rudding Park Hotel, a luxury hotel and spa housed in a Georgian manor house, surrounded by 300 acres of gorgeous parkland. I took advantage of a few hours of free time to visit the spa and have an invigorating swim and a relaxing sauna.
Dinner was a 9-course tasting menu with wine pairing prepared especially for us by the wonderful chefs at Norse, a Nordic influenced restaurant in Harrogate.
Norse recently opened a permanent restaurant in the city, after years of running a successful pop-up. They serve locally sourced, fresh ingredients with a focus on Scandinavian techniques such as curing, pickling and fermenting.
It was a stunning meal and we were really spoilt by the Norse chefs. I particularly enjoyed the refreshing Kombucha created with Taylors Rose Lemonade tea.
Storytelling Like The Masters
Storytelling is a huge part of my job as writer and photographer. I would say it is the most important part, actually.
Jess and Jessica helped us understand the importance of telling our stories with a unique tone of voice and style, taking inspiration from masters such as Annie Leibovitz, Massimo Vitali, David Attenborough, Bruce Springsteen and Christiane Amanpour.
We also had time to take to create our own content using beautiful props and Taylor’s tea and coffee. Of course, I chose to style a food and coffee flatlay, adding a few special items to the table: my Extraordinary Journey passport, my leather notebook and a little basket weaved by the women at Women for Women’s Rwandan workshop.
After the workshop and a lovely Italian lunch at Stuzzi in Harrogate, it was time to catch my train back to London. I took the long way to the station to walk by Betty’s of Harrogate and stop at Montpellier Mews for some photos. Even though I had been to Harrogate a few times before, the town charmed me again with its historic buildings and pretty streets. I hope to be back soon.
I am looking forward to the next gatherings with Creating for Good and Taylors of Harrogate. The five workshops will focus on Taylors of Harrogate passion points (travel, craftsmanship, food and nature).
Our next workshop will take place this week in London and it will be a cooking masterclass taught by Jessica Bride and me. Yes, for one time only, I will be both the teacher and the student!
Follow @CreatingforGood and #CFGExtraordinaryJourney on Instagram to see photos and cinemagraphs created by our talented content creators.
Disclaimer: this campaign is in partnership with Taylors of Harrogate. All opinions are my own.