When I try to describe the taste of The Teacup’s Taiwanese High Mountain Oolong, I keep wanting to use the words “grassy” and “woody,” but in the tea-taster’s vernacular, those are negative terms. (I’m going to continue having trouble with that, since a friend and I love to describe tastes and smells in terms of nature.) It’s another one of those teas that pleasantly calls to mind woodland parks with untamed, grassy fields just waking up from winter hibernation.
I made the mistake of a particularly long infusion right after I brought it home. It almost gave me what is otherwise known as “bitter beer face.”
I didn’t time it today, but I skimmed quickly through my work email and then removed the basket from the pot and saw the tan-green color of those grassy fields I mentioned above. The scent is also of sweet grasses and honey, even though I left the sweeteners on the shelf. I keep sticking my nose into the storage tin and conjuring memories of our local Discovery Park.
My recent foray into higher quality teas has had quite an effect on my preferences, and when I look into my stash for something to drink, I glance over the old grocery-store-bought bagged teas and my eyes glaze over. I find myself dreaming of something fresh and loose. Something that can be enjoyed without adding cream or sugar. Something that requires more work than just tossing a bag in a cup. I’m beginning to understand why it can be such a big deal. Once you begin your journey into the way of tea, there’s no going back. You simply won’t want to.
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As someone that has done a fair amount of content on tea, I have a lot of mixed thoughts on the way information is passed. With tea reviews or discussing a specific tea I have struggled with the question: how to talk about an individual tea or tea in general in an interesting or useful way.. Whether you like or dislike TeaDB episodes largely depends on whether you enjoy watching two particular people drink and binter. This is fine enough and it is certainly fun for Denny & I to create, but I’ll also agree with the sentiment that it’s not necessarily the most substantive way to review a tea in depth. There’s some signal but there’s also a lot of noise. Writing about a specific tea also isn’t easy and I think is actually very difficult to execute in a way that is actually consistently interesting or useful for people. Most people just want to know if you liked or didn’t like a specific tea. Making something that piques interest beyond that is a challenge and even if you don’t like them a place like Mei Leaf has succeeded in creating content that really does engage their viewers. You also have to consider that the majority of people have not had the tea or are even unfamiliar with the basic taste profile (i.e. Denny & I describing a traditionally stored pu’erh, when the audience has never had one).. Here are some phrases I dislike and hear frequently enough that I find them unhelpful and sometimes even counter-productive.
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On a business trip recently, I went with my colleagues to a fantastic little coffee shop in Silicon Valley called Chromatic Coffee. My colleagues were very excited about the way they grind, brew, and pour the coffee. It turns out there is a lot more to coffee than I ever knew. For … Continue reading