What tastes good? Us and Them:

Ethan Kurland
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Sat Mar 30, 2019 10:52 pm

With my older sister, Judith, today. 2 months ago she got tea from me. She had a packet of excellent gaoshan that I call Perfect rolled inside a cup, not closed tightly with clips nor bands. After I had expressed my dismay, Judith told me that she had not been drinking it because for weeks she had forgotten that she had the tea and then later when she remembered she had it, Judith had thought it might have gone bad she had not tried to store it well.

Anyway, I prepared it. It did not present sweetness with a touch of floral notes that it usually does, but it was not bad. Judith thought it was terrific, at least as good as when it was fresh. It tasted good to her; so, I decided not to mention what flavors were missing.

I was reminded that a cup of tea is not such a big deal to most people. Even when aware there is much more pleasure to be had, getting a little more from some good loose tea is great for them. Like someone who used to make instant coffee but now brews Maxwell House or whatever out of a can; decent tea leaves not in a bag is the main thing. One does need more.

I was also reminded that a lot of talk about preparation etc. just muddles the minds of people who don't care as much as those thinking they are kindly sharing some of what they have learned about tea.

Judith has been a part of lots that has gone on, helping on major acts of Congress, holding positions for Massachusetts, Boston, etc. She has been behind the scenes and up front, helping usually, but sometimes leading (as Commissioner of Health for Boston she ran 3 hospitals & 28 clinics employing 4000 people under her cutting this city's infant mortality rate in half). Yet, to prepare tea well etc. in addition to what she does with coffee (which she grinds herself etc.) is too much for her. But she is happy with tea that is a little flat, using leaves for only one infusion (most times) when the leaves are good for more.....She is not like me about tea. Most people aren't.

Anyway in the future, I will have all of my gaoshan in 40-gram packs as the dayuling that I am selling is. I don't like the idea of green fresh leaves losing some of what they offer in large quantities.

Cheers
mrmopu
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Sun Mar 31, 2019 7:16 am

A lot of people don't understand our habits with tea and our fascination and obsession with it.
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Bok
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Sun Mar 31, 2019 8:28 am

Thoughtful topic Ethan.

For me the moral of the story is: Drink the best tea you can get and afford, prepared in the way you like it. Take into consideration what others might suggest, yet abandon any rules or methods if they do not improve your personal cup.

Sharing is good, yet once you share, you pass the task of its enjoyment to that person. So share what you can afford and are willing to share, otherwise keep it!

In the end it is still a niche interest...
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Tillerman
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Sun Mar 31, 2019 8:52 am

Bok wrote:
Sun Mar 31, 2019 8:28 am
Thoughtful topic Ethan.

For me the moral of the story is: Drink the best tea you can get and afford, prepared in the way you like it. Take into consideration what others might suggest, yet abandon any rules or methods if they do not improve your personal cup.

Sharing is good, yet once you share, you pass the task of its enjoyment to that person. So share what you can afford and are willing to share, otherwise keep it!

In the end it is still a niche interest...
Amen!
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rdl
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Sun Mar 31, 2019 9:14 am

I saw a photograph. A group of village kids, the boy in front having taken off his sandal, holding it in front of him to take a photo. That selfie brought as much joy to those kids as someone in Bali with an iPhone and perfect sunset.
Whether it's a tea, a finely tailored garment, a hand made writing instrument, wood-burning oven baked craft pizza, there is always an "Us and Them"
I prefer to be neither an us nor them, but the "and" in your proposal.
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Victoria
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Sun Mar 31, 2019 3:27 pm

Yes, an esoteric interest for sure. My mother still asks “so are you still into ‘that tea thing’?” implying it’s silly and I should be spending my time on more serious pursuits. My brother recently let me know the oolong I’ve shared with him are ‘crap’. Honestly, I was surprised by that response. Then there are the westerners who associate tea with crumpets, milk, sugar, ladies and high tea. Sometimes I even wonder if it is merely a self indulgent pleasure. But then I remember what drew me into the wormhole of tea exploration is much more than a sensory experience, it is a state of calm focus and grace, while at the same time intellectually engaging cultural, aesthetic and historical aspects. An added plus for me is sharing this experience with other tea heads, I really enjoy those moments together.
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Baisao
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Sun Mar 31, 2019 6:48 pm

A nice meditation on what is needed, but perhaps with her stressful life what is needed is meditation.
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debunix
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Sat Apr 06, 2019 11:25 am

I send my sister care packages of various teas, and she loves to explore them, but I use the vacuum sealer to make single-pot packets for the greener oolongs and the senchas, because I know she won't use them up quickly. I think she enjoys the teas either way, but I feel better doing it this way for the sake of the tea.
oolongfan
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Sat May 04, 2019 3:21 pm

I wish that there was a way to connect the 'us' and 'them' more easily. My non tea drinking husband and milk-with-tea drinking sister could not understand why I would spend mulah on an incredible 1980's CNNP Yellow Mark sheng. They tried to be supportive..but my husband kept asking '..so what else did you get with the tea'..becuase the idea of spending that much money on one cake of tea was...well...crazy to him.

If it is any consolation, the same situation exists in coffee roasting. Many people are happy to keep quaffing cheaply processed badly grown over roasted coffee...even if they have to drown it in sugar and milk to make it palatable. Even worse, many people assume the more bad tasting and bitter (in a bad way) the coffee, the more caffeine there..is which tells you a lot about about why they drink it in the first place.

I just try to share whenever possible, respecting preferences..and above, trying my hardest not to come across as a giant tea snob. as lonely as it gets where I live...I just tell myself that means more great tea for me ;)
Ethan Kurland
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Sun May 05, 2019 5:46 pm

oolongfan wrote:
Sat May 04, 2019 3:21 pm

I just try to share whenever possible,
I am coming around to giving people a small amount of tea that I have prepared and hardly speaking about it. This way people understand that I drink something different than what they think of as tea. Thus, I am polite, sharing, ….

What people do with coffee is bit easier to understand. Coffee is all around and most people did not like it at all the first time they tasted it (usually when quite young). Most people started with a lot of sugar and/or milk to like something in their "coffee" cup as others drank....
oolongfan
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Mon May 06, 2019 1:07 pm

@Ethan Kurland - i like your idea of sharing...I should do that more often. The biggest obstical for me is brewing...most people out here are solidly in the tea bag brigade ;)

How do you suggest brewing to your friends...do you go infuser route or encourage them to try gong fu cha style brewing? I can barely get anyone to try an infuser or tea ball..never mind tradtional methods of brewing ;)

I think you are spot on about coffee...most people are introduced to horrible coffee at a young age...I was lucky that was not the case for me ;)
Ethan Kurland
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Mon May 06, 2019 4:50 pm

oolongfan wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 1:07 pm


How do you suggest brewing to your friends...
I am trying not to make brewing suggestions, but I often do. I am not giving tea leaves to anyone anymore. I will brew at my place and at others' places to give people what I drink (hoping they notice how I prepare it). If someone likes what he tastes a lot but cannot be bothered to have a teapot with small holes or whatever, then he is making an informed choice.

I will be serving samples of tea this Friday at an International Fair. I will use 3 different size teapots and watch to see how much the size of a teapot matters to people. Often I have seen people dismayed by small pots. It is not their idea of "a pot of tea". That also goes for pitchers to serve from. So, I will pour from the pots with leaves into a pot without them to serve.
oolongfan
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Mon May 06, 2019 5:03 pm

@Ethan Kurland - Good luck at the International Fair....I hope you get some interested folks. I like your idea of brewing at your place, especially as a 'tea pro', people have a chance to observe and see if that brewing method is for them. Which teas are you going to brew?

I get the dismayed reaction to small pots. I brew in mostly 60-40ml teapots, in part because this allows me to try more teas in one session without taxing my poor kidneys or adrenals. People are agast as such small sizes despite my mentioning that I do multiple brews so it adds up to a larger portion...but allows on to observe the tea as it opens up and evolves. I still get zero interest..the minute people see those iddy biddy pots, they regard them as cute 'toys'.
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Dresden
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Sat May 18, 2019 5:25 pm

oolongfan wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 1:07 pm
The biggest obstical for me is brewing...most people out here are solidly in the tea bag brigade ;)

How do you suggest brewing to your friends...do you go infuser route or encourage them to try gong fu cha style brewing? I can barely get anyone to try an infuser or tea ball..never mind tradtional methods of brewing ;)
I have actually had a fair bit of success with my coworkers by introducing them to Kamjove style teapots (picture below) which makes brewing gong fu cha about as easy as it can be.

I think the more important thing to keep people receptive is to not come off as too "snobby" about it. They may do something which would seem horrific to many of us here, but ultimately the best way to drink tea is the way you like to drink tea.
Kamjove.jpg
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debunix
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Wed May 22, 2019 11:01 pm

I started out with Kamjove infusers like that, and got some nice pots because they look neat, and while the artisan pots have proliferated, there are rare occasions when I end up with the Kamjove (usually due to travel), and the tea is still good.
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