To me, exploring horizontally across a diverse range makes sense; minding per-gram tea price to enable covering a lot of ground and seeing what you like.  It’s interesting how some people start with a flavor or character profile and go from there, instead.  In discussion, one guy just mentioned liking earthy tea range, shu pu’er (of course), and heavy black teas – exploring via flavor aspect range.  (Hei cha would work along with those.)  Another mentioned liking cigars and Scotch, and some types of roasted Wuyi Yancha and sheng pu’er mirrored that interest: Related to profile.  Hei cha might not so much, at least related to funky and earthy brick teas, but a mineral-intensive Liu Bao might resonate.

Pace is an odd component, not just related to making a broad start, exploring a range quickly, or working towards the highest-possible quality-level versions.  On the positive side, exploring moderate cost but diverse teas can add a dimension of change to a daily routine.  It’s potentially negative that one could instead experience a constant state of lack related to not getting to most of what is out there, or competing with countless others to experience what seems like a typical range or amount of exposure.  For me personally, it’s helpful to limit scope.  For example, I don’t explore teaware or Japanese teas, just to keep the range more manageable.  Budget constrains that mainly, but even aside from that exploring all there is for tea is problematic.

What about reducing scope to what is found in a grocery store?  What I say tends to discount that is valid, defining it here as just prior to a middle-level-range starting point, but to an extent it’s not.  It was disappointing for me to learn that grocery stores never stock teas that matched my type and quality-level interest at one point; a step that led to that vendor sample set evaluation.  That’s not as true in China, and Russians seem to have access to better Ceylon in grocery stores – but in general grocery-store tea isn’t “good.”  Not everyone needs to ever get to the middle of an experience / exploration curve though, just as for many sticking with box wine or Budweiser suits them.  Those are fine for what they are, with some thoughts here on where Lipton stands in relation to the rest, with input on some better black tea starting points.

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