I was recently challenged to try my hand at writing a blog post. It’s been a few years since I last did much writing (basically since college), and I’ve never written for a blog so it seemed a good idea. I stumbled upon T Ching while searching for other things, and decided it sounded intriguing.

I’ve always been the crazy tea lady to my friends. The one who wants a cup every morning and a pot when we go out to a restaurant that has loose tea and will either let me steep my own or has proven that they consistently won’t over steep. I know the general tea types, and I’ve tried many, though I often lose track of what’s what. I’ve visited the tea plantation in South Carolina, gone to “afternoon tea” in the British style (scones and all!) at tea houses both local and in British Columbia, and visited many neighborhood tea shops. My friends and family LOVE to gift me with a bag of bizarrely-flavored teas from Teavana, which I smile my appreciation for and then quietly wonder how long I need to keep it in my cupboard before I can dispose of it guilt-free (and will I be required to produce and drink it when next they visit?). I have even casually studied herbalism over the years.

None of this prepared me for what I found in the blog.

Off I went and started skimming through existing articles. I’d hate to write about something someone else has already covered, and I wanted to know what kind of tone most of the writers use. I looked at how long the blog has been going, and a little voice in the back of my head wondered, “after running for 11 years, hasn’t EVERYTHING already been covered?” To my dismay, the first thing I realized was how much I simply do not know about tea.

While I am familiar with the different major kinds of tea and all of the basic terminology, there was still a lot I didn’t know. For example, what is a “gaiwan”? What is “gongfu” tea preparation? And how much does it matter? I know some of the Japanese teas and terminology thanks to my minor in Japanese (I even have a tetsubin), but my Chinese knowledge is vastly more limited. I’ve heard of Iron Goddess oolong, but what are the differences between types of oolong? (And are there actual monkeys involved?!)

I have also never really paid much attention to exact measurements of temperature, water, or tea. Skimming and reading articles on the blog was like taking a crash course, and I was opening more and more tabs in my web browser in order to google some term that I’d never heard or never truly understood. I felt the need to start taking notes, and will there be an exam later?

Information overload notwithstanding, I am looking forward to learning even more about tea, T Ching, and the unique individuals that are a part of creating–and those appreciating–the blog. In the meantime, every morning my husband drops a Twinings Irish Breakfast tea bag in my mug, pours hot water over it, and adds a dollop of cream. He then sets it on my nightstand for me to drink as soon as I wake up. No matter how much I learn about the ins and outs of tea, that first cup of the day will always be perfect to me.

Answers to most of my questions found here:





guest contributor – Jaelithe Crislip