While Alison has always loved tea, it was actually her passion for champagne that sparked her professional tea journey.
“My weak spot for champagne coupled with a family connection to viticulture led me to learn more than my fair share about wine making. I came to understand how things like terroir, growing conditions, processing, innovation, tradition, skill and effort all combine to impact taste and quality.”
It was these concepts – provenance, craftsmanship and seasonality – that got Alison thinking about how this might apply to tea.
“I wanted to know why Darjeeling tasted and looked so different to English Breakfast. Why is a black tea black and not green? What’s an oolong and why are there so many? How can some tea be worth upwards of $1000 for just a few grams?”
It was difficult to find answers. There were conflicting stories. Most tea merchants knew very little about what they were selling.
These unanswered questions, Alison’s incurable curiosity and a penchant for perfection sparked Cup Above.
Ali embarked on her official tea training journey, completed her formal tea studies and headed abroad to more deeply immerse herself in processing, production and culture at tea gardens around the world.
“The more I learned, the faster I realised our palates have been putting up with inferior, mass produced tea for far too long. In the liquid world, we readily appreciate and understand the vast quality spectrum that differentiates a cask wine and a vintage bottle of aged red, or instant coffee and single origin fresh-roasted beans. There’s a tea spectrum too. But most of us are languishing at the wrong end of it.”
In 2013, Alison founded Cup Above to change that.
Since then she’s been busy curating a signature tea library that sits firmly at the top of that quality scale, so those of us with discerning palates and an appreciation of excellent craftsmanship can easily access and experience extraordinary tea.
“Cup Above is my way of introducing incredible artisan tea to those of us who want a more sophisticated drinking experience. Cup Above is about enjoying little moments of luxury and indulging in the finest of the fine.”