Wednesday, May 24, 2017

In Pursuit of Tea Appreciation


Drinking the best tea in the world does not guarantee the sense of enjoyment and appreciation. For the tea itself is only part of the answer the other half of tea appreciation rests with us.

The balance of tea appreciation can swing between 2 common extremes. Ignorance by way of not knowing and understanding the true worth of a tea is a challenge that many novices face. Tea enthusiasts on the other hand can unknowingly trap themselves in a situation of taking things for granted or become overburdened with expectation that our emotions dampen our ability to enjoy and take pleasure from a tea session. The pursuit of tea appreciation teaches us that the sense of appreciation can be fickle by nature. This delicate balance is under the relentless threat of ever changing conditions and the many factors intertwined with the tea itself and the state of our psyche for which we hold a powerful perceived value of the tea we drink. Identifying these factors and learning about their influences can provide us with a better outcome to understanding and appreciating tea.

Tea holds value that is primary presented through its quality, rarity and history. These factors are then either escalated or diminished under our uniquely individual preferences by way of expectation, experience and ability that connect us to the tea. As an example, I provide you with a basic general overview of myself. My expectation is influenced by the effort I put in towards obtaining the tea. This is further tweaked by the price and sometimes the fame or notoriety of the tea in question. My experience comes from having a mental catalog of the countless number of teas that I have drunk under varying parameters of brewing. Each tea I drink will be compared to what has come before. My ability relates to my personal knowledge and understanding of the category of tea and the individual tea in front of me. This is complemented by my genetic makeup and health that govern how well I connect to tea.  

The road in front of us is not always straightforward.
There are twists and turns, obstacles to overcome.

Depending on how these factors play out a high quality tea session that despite consisting of good teas can become overlooked and go unappreciated. Furthermore the hype and excitement of marketing and social interactions can turn an average tea into a great experience. Becoming familiar with the sway of intense emotions that swamp the senses is part of the development that tea drinkers will go through. This can be especially confusing during the early phase of learning and gathering experience. Time brings about familiarity and control that allows us to moderate our emotions. Calmness opens our eyes to a clearer reality. Eventually you will find that tea of little quality and substance is a distraction for the short term. Likewise tea of quality and substance will gain our acceptance and recognition once our senses become aware of their qualities. To account for individual preferences and the different levels we cultivate under, a  broad mind accepts that there is more than one answer. We weigh each of these factors differently and when combined under a respective tea session the outcome naturally varies. That said the principal for tea appreciation remains the same and by identifying the key constants that have stood the test of time we can form a practical guideline to help keep us on the right path. In my experience the pursuit of tea appreciation that can be sustained for the long term relies on tea of genuine quality and substance, seeking and attaining true knowledge, and retaining a humble desire to better ourselves enabling us to continuously enrich our experiences and bring us closer towards the beauty of tea.

3 comments:

  1. Thank you for this post. Sometimes I see a lot of negative comments or discussions of teas that I know are very good teas, and I feel discouraged.

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    Replies
    1. There’s a lot that can happen before and during a given tea session.

      How much do we really know?

      If we did not handle and store the tea ourselves, what condition was it in? and in some cases was it genuine?

      If we did not brew the tea ourselves, what were the parameters used? source of water? equipment used? how did it affect the resulting brew?

      If we did not drink the tea, what was the basis on which the tea was assessed? what personal preferences/level of experience came into play?

      … and there are so many more factors and conditions that could be asked.

      How much do we really know? not much :)

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    2. I'm sure a lot of the negative comments I read about good teas relate more to preferences. Some people have very strong preferences compared to others.

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