Long ago and far away, but in this same galaxy, when I was just getting into wine and wine culture, I had a million questions about why certain aspects of wine were supposed to be so important, especially since at the time it didn’t seem so important to me. After all, if it was such a big deal, surely it would be obvious even to a newcomer what the difference was between a barrel-aged wine and one aged in stainless steel tanks; surely I should be able to easily tell a difference when drinking out of a glass made especially for a certain type of wine, rather than my Cost Plus $2.00 on sale special (not to mention my cute little Mason jars and hand-made mugs).

I’ve since learned what those differences are, and how and why they make a difference. Please understand; by that I mean that sometimes the cheaper glass or younger, cheaper wine is preferable—it can depend on the context—but it does make difference, and it’s good to know the difference.

Knowing this, as a tea neophyte, I have questions. I can think of all the reasons why a bag tea in a restaurant can be ok (context, remember?), but I really want to know in what way water temperature, steeping time, gong fu preparation, water content and filtering, loose leaf vs. bag, pot type, and so on are important. Why, and when, should I invest in a pot that heats my water just so? I get that these things change the flavor profile of tea (a subjective area at best), and perhaps the amount of health benefits coming out of that cup of tea. But in what ways?

With wine, so much has to do with the wine’s relationship to what is being served food-wise, or the occasion, or the season. Do these things factor in to tea drinking as well?

There are probably multiple posts in the responses to my questions, but give me some hints. And then, submit those posts!