making teaHackneyed adages like tea being an “acquired taste” fail to do the drink justice.  There is a ton to enjoy and learn about tea; it has its own unique qualities and even a vocabulary and a long history to support its legacy.

1.  While visiting Pasadena’s new Bird Pick Tea & Herb, I learned that tea is not simply one of nature’s phenomena.  As legend has it, Emperor Shennong was sitting under a tree one day and a tea leaf blew into his cup of hot water, starting a trend that continues today.

2.  Teapots used for the Gongfu ceremony are made from a material called Yixing clay, which keeps tea vessels heated in a natural way.  Gongfu involves brewing tea with the utmost meticulousness, patience, and skill.

3.  Although some people may be afraid to try tea composed of flower leaves, chrysanthemum can be used as a detoxifier and is not harmful.  I suggest doing a little initial reading before brewing your own, but you may want to give it a try to soothe your ailments.

yixing4.  In China, the best tea is grown at high elevations.  In India, tea grown at lower elevations is considered higher quality.  The geographical distinctions confound me!

5.  Whole leaves are preferable to tea bags because “tea dust” is often placed in bags.  The best tea is made from the bud and first two leaves of a shoot; tea dust is the mashed-up remains.

Perhaps if I had not already been in love with tea, I would not have been as interested in learning about these properties and facts.  For some people, learning about such qualities generates a new interest in this fascinating and delicious elixir of life.