Continued from yesterday’s post
Varying exposure; South East Asian teas: Off the broad themes here, it’s worth considering exploring tea types and sources outside China, Taiwan, Japan, and India. Not that anyone could ever really “get to” all the tea types in China, or even do justice to just sheng pu’er or wuyi yancha. The “generalist” approach is kind of assumed then.
To me, it’s interesting trying something new versus only enjoying ever-improving close variations of past experiences. Trying teas from less traditional source regions gets you that, even though they are harder to turn up. There are significant other challenges, like most of the mass-produced oolong coming out of Thailand not being very good (relatively). And the rarer teas out of Vietnam are all but impossible to even hear about, never mind buy. Teas from Indonesia, Laos, and Myanmar just aren’t widely available either. Exploring versions from Nepal might be easier, but then finding others that are hard to find could make for an interesting endeavor. One good lead for hearing about what’s out there in detail is my own blog, Tea in the Ancient World. It’s crazy what has turned up in the past year.
Tea group themes: I touched on this specifically not so long ago (see Online Social Networking Related to Tea – Part 1 and Online Social Networking Related to Tea – Part 2) so I’ll keep this short. No matter what page you are on there’s a tea group out there that will be a close enough match. There’s no need to lose hope because some seem too snobby and others aren’t into even hearing about single type loose tea. Put another way: tea perspective and culture seems to bunch up at those two extremes.
Keeping pace with others in tea exploration: Don’t even try. The interest is yours, and trying to achieve some benchmark for getting through a certain range of knowledge or experience or owning a “normal” amount of gear might only ruin it. If leaning into those or other pursuits is a good match for you then go for it, or even if making it a competition is. To me, the core of experiencing tea is liking what’s in your cup at the present moment, and all the rest of the context and framing is secondary. Then again I never really was into “finding my tribe,” related to anything I did.
Over and over I hear humble-bragging about how “I’m not really a tea snob, but I do own or have tried (whatever it is, often a list).” A photo alone can imply all that, or a statement like “it’s crazy how many types I’ve tried.” There are groups for that: circles in which owning tea gear, or tea collections, or rare teas (or all of that) is the norm. Or I suppose also places where knowing a lot about processing, local Asian cultures, history, or tea genetics is valued; but at some point, the themes do run out of enough shared interest level to collect members into a group.
The nice part about a tea interest is that people can make of it what they want.
Image 1 source
Image two provided by and copyright held by author