Living in a tea-centric world, I know a lot of people who love a lot of different teas, but I don’t know anyone who loves all teas. There is a degree of curatorship that takes place in developing a list of the teas we love and sometimes just as much attention is paid to noting the list of teas we find unappealing. We feel badly about the teas we shun. We’ve tried them, spent time with them, and given them a chance to impress us, yet for whatever reason they weren’t a good match for us. Individual tastes in tea are to be expected, just as we have individual tastes in many things, such as wine, coffee, or chocolate. We’re often less free to choose when we are part of a group that wants to share a pot of tea, or a couple (beyond the stage of I-love-everything-you-love, dear) trying to find a tea both like. Not surprisingly, as someone who is part of a tea business, admitting you don’t particularly care for a customer’s favorite tea is a retail kiss of death.

Too weak, too strong, too flavored, or not enough flavoring are a few of the reasons why we might lose interest in a tea. Some teas are non-negotiable, permanently blacklisted. For example, if you don’t like the taste of ginger, then it is unlikely that any of the variations of a tea blend with ginger as a primary flavor ingredient will hold any appeal for you. In other cases, it might be worth exploring a tea a little further. Maybe that first oolong tea you tried was disappointing, but another company or another type of oolong might change your mind. It can work in the other direction as well – you may have found a 2010 Darjeeling you loved and in 2011 were disappointed by the “same” Darjeeling, or a flavoring change in a fruit tea blend you’ve always loved.

Maybe the easiest, most cliched way to phrase it is that every cup of tea isn’t going to be everybody’s cup of tea – a turn of a British phrase that began in the 19th Century from the opposite angle. Back then, something you enjoyed “was” your cup of tea; it was only later in the early 20th Century that that term became more popular in the negative sense when you refer to something as “not” your cup of tea. Why the change? A dearth of good tea during the World Wars? Hard to say, but if you develop a discerning palate while always remaining open to trying new teas, your love affair with [most] teas will continue to grow.