My story begins where all good stories should, the beginning. My story begins with Hornepayne were I was born and raised. Hornepayne is a town of less than one thousand people located in northern Ontario. People in Hornepayne like to say that it snows eight months of year and rains the other four. One would think that good warm tea would be a staple of a Hornepayner’s diet. But this, friends, is false: lurking in the drawers and teabagscupboards of Hornepayne is a hidden terror . . . the teabag! Yes. The teabag has run rampant in Hornepayne; loose tea cannot even be bought here! But there is hope, dear readers, for some have chosen to uphold all that is good and bring loose tea into town. One of these good people is my mother.

My mother has loved black loose leaf tea for years. Growing up, I would often drink tea with her. I remember Sunday mornings when she would brew a large pot of tea and I would love to fill my cup with milk and sugar. At this point in my life I had no idea that there were different types of tea, or teas of higher or lower quality. All I knew was that I liked drinking tea. This imperfect notion continued until I reached high school at which point in my life I knew next to nothing about tea and could hardly brew a good cup of tea for myself. One thing I did know is that I was looking for something new, a new flavour. As a fan of martial arts movies, I would often see the characters in these movies drinking tea. It was different from how I was drinking tea:  it seemed to be a complex, yet subtle kind of art form. From these movies I determined the kind of tea I wanted to drink, Jasmine tea. I had no idea what Jasmine tea was – all I knew was that it was from Asia and I wanted to try it.jasmine pearls2

On a trip to Toronto a few weeks later I went to a Korean grocery store and bought 100 grams of boxed loose leaf Jasmine tea for about three dollars. When I returned home I brewed myself a pot of this “wonderful Asian tea” and steeped it for about five minutes. It was slightly bitter and oversteeped, but it was the most wonderfully unique tea I had ever tasted. I had a lot to learn, but I knew my tea journey was just beginning.

Loading and Image 2 courtesy of Regena Rafelson.  IMAGE 1: