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I embarked on my tea journey when I studied abroad in China in 2008 and traveled around Taiwan that summer. I'm here to share my experiences and offer my own opinion, advice, and comments on tea.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Tea Ruts

I had first heard the term on a thread on TeaChat, can't remember exactly who said it. For me, it means being in a state of funk with my tea drinking. It had been about half a year before I made my first purchase of Japanese greens from O-Cha, so my stock consisted mostly of nice quality Taiwanese High Mountain Oolong, Dong-Ding, and some everyday Shui Xian from TeaCuppa. Besides my Japanese greens and my daily dose of Matcha, I didn't have much else.

Don't get me wrong, these were all great teas, well except for the Shui Xian. It was okay, but it's an everyday tea so there isnt't any panache. I was getting pretty tired of the same routine, the same kind of flavor profile, etc. I couldn't make my next purchase until last weekday, which ushered in a new monthly budget (my monthly cycle follows my credit card statements).

I ordered from Tea Habitat and The Tea Gallery, two top-notch vendors who I was very excited to order from for the first time. I purchased one of Imen's Chao Zhou teapots and some '09 Zhi Lan Old Bush DC. I'm a total sucker for new tea-ware, especially stuff that's "authentic" to the tea experience. I really hope you can use a Chao Zhou stove in an apartment though, because I think that would complete the entire experience of brewing DC Chao Zhou style. I also bought some samples from The Tea Gallery. I got their Classic Roast, Phoenix, 100 Year Tree, and Shi Lan. Winnie and Dae had some excellent suggestions, and I think next time I will try the Cove Mist and Water Golden Turtle. Well, I ordered these on Saturday, so they probably won't be here until Wednseday or so, though I expect my Tea Habitat order to be here tomorrow (they're only a hour away from me!). But until then, I'm still stuck in this tea rut.

I knew that I had a ton of Lapsang Souchang from my study abroad in China last year, but I was avoiding it. I hadn't tried Lapsang Souchang for a while, so I was afriad that the tea profile would put me off. I decided why the hell not, and brewed up some LS in my gaiwan. It had the usual smokiness you would expect, but there was also some lingering sourness, balanced by a slight sweetness. Maybe because of the aging, but who knows, it's only been a year.

Hopefully by the end of this week I'll be out of this rut, and my new teas will keep me occupied for a while...at least until my next monthly cycle.

Note: I was glad I decided to purchase a Chao Zhou from Imen now rather than later, it seems that out of the 10 pots that were listed about two weeks ago, only 2 are left...Imen is definitely making brisk business on DC and DC-associated tea-ware.

5 comments:

Salsero said...

I'll be curious to hear how you like the new pot from Imen ... not to mention all the new teas. I have yet to order tea from Tea Gallery. I hear nothing but superlatives about them.

Steven Knoerr said...

Hi, I've been enjoying Imen's Dan Congs (a sampler she sent me), and it's been a delight. I'm sipping a Honey Orchid Aroma '09 Dan Cong right now.

I'm very interested in her teaware, as well, though I'll need to wait until my finances will allow. I'm sure it'll make the experience even more singular.

I just started following your blog, and I'm glad I have done so. Thank you for writing!

Cheers, Steven

Maitre_Tea said...

Sal,
I'm surprised that you haven't ordered from the Tea Gallery as one of the senior members on TeaChat. Hopefully I can coax you into doing so when I sample the teas. I'm excited about the teapot too, I'm so glad I live in southern CA...super fast shipping from Tea Habitat!

Steven,
I just downloaded the radio interview you had w/Imen, and I'm looking forward to hearing it tonight. Luckily for your finances, most of her Chao Zhou teapots are sold out, so hopefully the next time they re-stock you'll have the means to buy it. Your definitely more patient than I am...when my first choice was bought, I immediately had to buy one...before my alternates could be bought up

Will said...

I get in tea ruts all the time. I find that I tend to like teas that don't change too much and that are easy to drink when I get in those modes - I like a good red tea (Yixing hong cha), or Oriental Beauty - something that is easy to brew, doesn't have a lot of roast or bitterness or astringency.

Usually I don't like gaoshan teas that much, but recently, a few of those have been my go-to teas when I can't think of anything else to make. Good to drink in the summer, and want to drink them up before they get too stale anyway.

On days when I really don't feel like drinking tea, but need a caffeine fix so I don't get a headache, I sometimes end up just getting an espresso or Americano. I'm a little less picky about coffee than tea, and I don't have to spend the time that I typically like to spend making and drinking tea.

Looking forward to meeting you next week.

Maitre_Tea said...

oh shoot, I was planning on bring some Li Shan tea and Dong Ding that my grandmother brought over from Taiwan. Well, my tea rut is officially over, since my teas from Imen and the Tea Gallery arrived yesterday, and now I'm in Tea Nirvana.