Friday, 11 February 2011
I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking of how to make tea more accessible for people new to it. I don't want to minimize the importance of knowing how long to steep certain tea or the particular idiosyncrasies of certain types of tea. Those things are certainly crucial and the trial and error that I've gone through discovering these things is part of what I enjoy about tea.
But having said all that, I do attempt to simplify the whole process when I know someone is curious. That's not so hard to fathom. Someone finds out about my tea fascination, and they're curious what it's all about. They ask a simple question, and I go off on a windbag tangent about water quality...well, that's no good. Few people are going to walk away from that situation eager to be a cock-eyed fanatic like me. I don't think it's such a stretch to say that that would even put some people entirely off of tea. Maybe even assume that the tea had done some sort of lasting damage to my synapses.
So, I had some pretty good fortune with all of this during the week. One of my colleagues had shown more and more interest in my brewing, and asked about Oolong. We set aside a bit of time and brewed multiple infusions of a Bao Zhong Imperial Oolong. He quickly admitted that he rarely drank tea without milk and sugar, but was eager to get the full Oolong experience.
And here's the part I liked the most: we talked a lot about tea, but the best part of our conversation had absolutely nothing to do with infusions and tea processing and the like. While the tea coursed through our blood streams, the conversation took all sorts of completely unexpected turns. I'm not saying that doesn't happen with other beverages. But there's something different that goes on when it happens around a teapot. I don't know exactly what it is. Suppose I don't really need to know either.