Authenticity, Objectivity, & Subjective Authenticity

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Ethan Kurland
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Mon Jul 08, 2019 6:32 am

Recently a lot of our forum's posts have been about members' hopes to buy specific teas of exact provenance, for example Dayuling from specific altitudes (often known to a degree by designated areas 101K, 95K, etc.). The search is for the best tea, using reputation of dayuling or mountains such as Mt. Li. Advice & discussions whether the best Lishan is as good as the best dayuling etc. are common.

People want to have assurance that their $ will really buy what they hope to buy, the best tea chosen from a limited list of exclusive sources. Their eesearch & their analysis of information & advice makes them feel they can objectively choose. Objectivity is impossible if tasting is not blind tasting, one might assume. Somehow one might lean towards dayuling over lishan, or 101k over 95k, etc.

But perhaps not. One's body might tell him, "This is what I like; this is good." Feelings may authenticate the "high quality" of a tea, though the leaves do not come from the highest heights or the mountain with the most prestige. If one is new to tea, I suggest you be open to this more broadly than choosing only from a few dayulings or between the teas of the most famous mountains.

Tasting one of the best teas in the morning & another best tea at lunch & another..... This reminds me of travelers working their way through & around obstacles, crowds, & whatever without grace. They want to get as quickly as possible to places of spirituality or beauty. The travelers may have not noticed flowers, butterflies, etc. on their way; they may not have shared moments with people that could have been profoundly good for them; that is, they may not have lived well while going to spots that are supposed to help them live well.

Sampling & searching can be calm & slow. Perhaps one might avoid having small amounts of dozens of teas & instead have only several teas on hand to prepare daily (or almost daily) for 2 weeks or so. One might learn what he can appreciate & enjoy, even if he doubts that he has the best tea or authentic teas.

Now I am not tempted to buy tea from most of the world. My preferences sort of found me as I drank & enjoyed lots of tea & teas for several years or so. I traveled & worked hard to find my sources for tea; however, overall being open to trying so much (& the same teas much more than once) as well as luck, led me to being able to be happy with tea. Whether teas that I drink are truly authentic & objectively high quality; or, whether my teas are subjectively authentically wonderful, is not so important.
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Mon Jul 08, 2019 7:52 am

Interesting musings and thoughts Ethan.

I can wholly recommend the 'stick to one or two tea for a couple of days or weeks' approach. First it really gives you the chance to get a know a tea through in and out.

The more experienced one is, or familiar with a class of teas, the more this process can be shortened. But if I have a choice I will always want to brew a tea at least a dozen times before I decide on its fate in my stash. Of course some teas are so terrible, that one sip or whiff might be enough, but if it the quality is more or less ok, deeper factors decide if I purchase and keep in my rotation or if it is a one off pack and never again.

That is why for me, 150g is a sample pack. That is how much I think one needs at least to get to know a tea.
Which is, I know, for many not realistic due to geographical distance and high costs.

For me having tea is something that gets better with time, time spent with teas, over the years, refining brewing methods, vessels and developing one's palate. Palate is something we have in some parts passed on via our childhood eating habits, our gastronomical education if you want, part is probably innate to each individual, the rest can be acquired over time. Or so I believe it to be.

I think a generalist may get to know a lot of teas over time, a specialist will more likely to really get to know her/his chosen niche. No good or bad here, just different preferences. I prefer to get to know fewer, but better.
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