This is likely a topic that angers most and encourages others, especially in the world of tea. There is so much behind tea and so much more than the leaves and the hot water, and this is what brings many people into this beautiful beverage, pastime, and lifestyle.
In some cultures that tea comes from there is music that goes with it, or flower arrangements, clothing, manners, or even religion. When we adopt tea into our lives, do we have to adopt the rest that comes with it? Of course, we can, and it can be fun and beautiful to do so, but when do we make it our own?
I write this on the eve of releasing a product into the tea world that may change pu’er forever. I don’t present this with pride, but with curiosity. Will it change pu’er? Pu’er tea is one of the only teas that carries such a culture with history and tradition on its back; it was the first tea ever cultivated! It has always been pressed into bings or disk shapes, and that’s how we see them in stores around the world. Sometimes the shape of a brick or a bowl, but why not anything interesting? And why is it controversial to change that shape?
When we changed the shape of pu’er, we changed the way you can relate to tea. No longer is it just Chinese, or just Asian, or just Buddhist. Now, it is your own. We must break away from what is theirs and make it ours, with a bit of theirs still in there. Let the tea be great. Changing the wrappers isn’t revolutionary; drinking pu’er on a bike on the way to work is.
We are lucky enough to be in one of the few regions of the world that has tea from nearly every region of the world. Let us continue to pay respect to the people and cultures these teas are coming from, but not forget to remember that we too have our own that can enhance and personalize the teas we call our own.