Is there a tea in your collection that you just don’t really jive with?
Like, it just doesn’t turn out that well. Maybe you don’t like the way it tastes.
Maybe it turns out wayyyy different at home than it does at your local tea shop.
Or maybe your friends just can’t stop talking about how good this tea is, but you don’t get why.
It’s your “what’s the deal with this, anyway?” tea.
For me, that tea is aged white tea, which often tastes like raisins. (And me and raisins don’t get along, as many of you got an earful about on one of this week’s IG Lives.)
Even if I know the white tea is objectively good, I just can’t get around the ick factor with the raisin note.
For a while I figured, oh well, I don’t have to like everything.
But then I heard from Shiuwen and Noah (from Floating Leaves Tea in Seattle) that they sometimes work on the same tea for months. They brew it over and over again, sometimes to the point of extreme frustration or anger, just to try to capture that one feeling from the tea that one of their tea teachers brought out once.
Almost like a Moby Dick of tea experience.
That was mind-blowing to me. I’ve rarely ever brewed the same tea more than twice in the row, barring my practice for last year’s tea brewing competition in Vegas, let alone again and again for months.
And usually, if I don’t really like a tea at first, I give it one more chance at most before moving on.
So in comparison, their level of grit was freaking inspiring.
Of course, many of us do work that hard, but at our jobs or coursework, or with more physical hobbies, like sports or creative art.
I’m sure you have something you work really hard at already, steven.
Why don’t we do the same with tea?
So this past week, I’ve been trying to put a little more grit into my tea practice.
And not just experiments either, which are a form of entertainment for me. I mean, actually pushing through stuff that’s a little hard and frustrating at times.
First, I worked through a mystery Korean green tea which really wasn’t great at first, until 4 attempts later, it became something actually decent. (Here’s the full session: Mystery Korea Green)
Second, I worked through a raisin-heavy aged white tea (hisssss!) and was able to figure it out and actually enjoy it. (Here’s the full session: 2012 Shou Mei White)
And now? I’m not sure what’s next, but I’m excited. There are so many teas that I’ve kind of just given up that now I can’t wait to explore again.
I can’t promise that you’ll suddenly fall in love with teas that you usually hate, or that you’ll ever understand why your friends like that one tea, but what I can promise is that you’ll learn something, and you’ll learn something good.
P.S. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend Floating Leaves Tea on IG and Facebook for next-level tea knowledge. I owe a lot to many, many tea mentors but Shiuwen and Noah are just incredible: they cover so much of what isn’t often talked about in the tea world and it’s just golden, golden, golden.
Keep your eyes open for their livestreams and those from many other awesome tea folks, many of whom are sharing extra-special content during this quarantine.
We’re also doing our best here on Tea Curious to do our part: catch me (and my lovely assistant Steven) everyday from 3 PM – 4 PM PST on IG Live on a wide range of tea topics to pique your curiosity. Then, catch the replays on YouTube or join our group discussions on Discord. Cheers!