Friday, 16 September 2011

Must one study tea to really appreciate it?

Have been up on the mountain most of the day, and here's a photo of my trusty orange flask as proof:

As much as I enjoy drinking tea at the top of the mountain after the most strenuous part of the hike, one of the things I like most is the time I have up there to ponder things.

Today I had exactly just such an opportunity, and some of that time I spent considering how to answer a question that was posed to me by a relatively new reader to this blog. I've mentioned Cara in Cleveland before, but in reference to what tea would best to mask the anti-allergy medication she wanted to give a phlegmy coworker.  My regular readers will concede that this topic is exactly the sort of contribution we need to the world of teablogging.

Now to be pedantic about this, we can't call Cara in Cleveland a newcomer to tea.  She's drunk tea for years and has a favourite brand that her grandmother drinks.  This Red Rose tea is one I'd not heard of, but supposedly it's rather well-known and widely available.  So this isn't someone who's never had tea.  She's not approaching tea drinking for the first time.  

I'm not going to quote her question directly, but essentially she asked if one really needed to become a tea obsessive to enjoy tea.  Do you need to learn about leaves, flavours, steepings, and whatever else to fully get the experience?  Must one practically study tea to really appreciate it?

I think it's a fair question, and I'll tell you exactly how I responded.  I said, 'Not at all. I know tons of Brits who'd rather not think about it at all. Depends on what you want to do.'

What I meant was that many people simply want to drink the tea that they've always drunk and not over-think it.  They don't want fancy tea gear. They're not interested in Asian tea ceremony.  Tea is tea.  It's a daily enjoyment but it needn't be anything more.

And you might think that a teablogger would be against that.  Would have some sort of snotty elitest position on such people.  Other teabloggers might, but not this one.  If you want to enjoy your tea and not be bothered with all the other stuff, then you have my support and even my blessing.

But that begs the question:  What are you doing here Mr Lahikmajoe?  Why all the Sturm und Drang?  Why the obsessive questions and contemplations and strongly-held opinions?

Those are questions for another time.  They too are quite interesting and deserve my full attention.  For now though, I'm going to brew a pot of Choice Formosa Oolong and rest my well-hiked legs.


  1. What I have found with many of my crew,once they have a finer tea they want more education about tea. Though extensive education is not necessary to enjoy a simple relaxing cup. This is what makes tea so lovely it's based on personal preferance in all aspects.

  2. I don't think one has to study anything to really appreciate it. For example, I really appreciate noodle, chicken wing and fruit tarts, but I don't study them :-p

  3. Besides, I would hate it if some one comments that I don't "really" and "fully" appreciate my chicken wings just because I don't study them :-p

  4. When I was drinking only tea bags, I never once considered where my tea was grown or how it was processed. But, once I started drinking loose tea, I wanted to know more. However, I never felt that I had to study tea, it was more of a desire to learn. I appreciated tea for many years without knowing anything except that I could purchase it at my local grocery store. Even today, I try not to over think it too much because then I can’t fully enjoy the cup of tea in my hands. In fact, I’ve discovered that being mindful and totally in the moment of each sip is one of the best ways to study tea.

  5. I really like the responses to this post so far.

    Jo (@agiftoftea), I know exactly what you mean. Sometimes the only thing a newcomer to tea needs is to taste the result of steeping leaves.

    Gingko (@lifeinteacup), good point & that's really where I was starting with all of this.

    Amy (@AGirlWithTea), I really like the idea that staying in the moment while drinking it is a way to 'study' tea. Something new to ponder.

  6. I like your open-mindedness and acknowledgement here that it's possible to genuinely enjoy something without getting obsessive about it (and I think my level of immersion in tea information would probably put me pretty well towards the obsessive end). I tend to delve deeply into a lot of different aspects of life, but each of us only has so much energy and focus and it's important to never judge others for not putting as much thought or energy into one aspect of life. So, on this note, I greatly appreciate your sharing these thoughts. =)

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