I came into my tea habit gradually. I started drinking coffee relatively young partly due to my dad’s pot-a-day consumption (over the years I realized he brewed his coffee quite weak in order to allow for 6-8 cups a day. His consumption has slowed down a bit in recent years which is probably for the best) and the fact that my first class for four years of high school began at 7:15am. I eventually became interested in making better coffee than the reliable but boring brew our Black & Decker machine produced, and learned that getting into good coffee is prohibitively expensive when you are in high school and work part-time at a grocery store. So, tea.
I started off with buying loose-leaf from whatever random retailers turned up on Google. I tried some samples from Adagio and TeaSource, and I remember being astounded at how much flavor I got out of loose-leaf brewing gunpowder green tea. I read blogs, r/tea content and other tea forums and determined that many of the hardcore tea-people were focused on oolongs or puer, so I ordered some of those too.
The milan xiang dancong I tried was accessible enough, though it took a while to learn how to brew it delicately enough to avoid the bitterness. But puer didn’t make sense to me at all. Earthy, funky, sharp and bitter? It lacked the familiar flavors I could recognize in black or oolong tea. Why would you drink puer if you could have tea that tastes like fruit or chocolate? I was intrigued and had to find out more. My fascination grew and I continued to research online, place small orders and concentrate during drinking sessions. About two years after trying my first puer, the obsession had progressed to the degree that I secured funding from my college to travel to Yunnan province and seek out puer directly from the source. I’ll get to that in later posts.
My learning process with puer was very simple: buy some, try it, repeat. This is still true for me today. I think at this point I could tell you what puer ‘is’, but I’m not an expert. I could compare this to my learning process with poetry, which I started a bit late at the very end of college with a single writing workshop. I have continued to read and occasionally write but I don’t really think I could tell you what poetry ‘is’. There is still too much variety and theory for me to wade through before I can conceptualize it easily or get at the essence of it. I’ve been much more consistent with my puer consumption than my poem study.
Now, I drink other types of tea and will likely write about them here too. I’d like to capture some of my ideas about tea and get some feedback from other tea people. I may do some reviews to get that blogger tea convention access. Finally, I hope this blog will inspire me to write more frequently and practice putting my rambling, abstract tea thoughts into concise pieces to share with others.