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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.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Looking Back

It's almost been two years since I dove head-first into the world of "serious" tea-drinking, but in reality my tea "roots" are way older. I grew up on various Taiwanese High Mountain teas and cheap shu pu-erh at dim sum restaurants. It's a bit embarrassing, but for a while (before really getting into tea) I thought shu pu-erh was the only kind of pu-erh there was! In my household dim sum was synonymous was shu pu-erh, with a healthy dosage of chrysanthemum flowers. Shu pu-erh was also something I drank casually in the house, when I wanted something with more flavor than water, but not as unhealthy as soda or something.

So how exactly did I make the "jump" from casual tea drinking into a geekdom that I would be hesitant to tell anyone except my tea friends and those closest to me. Like any good story, it all started with a girl...

Just kidding, there's no romance here, but it's really funny when you consider the circumstances. I was getting acquainted with people from various other universities when I was studying abroad, and one girl came from a tea-enthusiast background (Fujian), and she asked if I drank any tea, to which I said shu-puerh. Later that night, she prepared some of her expensive TGY gong fu style, and I was dazzled by it all: the artistry, the floralness, and the warm feeling from drinking her tea.

Deciding to make the most of my convenient surroundings, I headed to the local tea mall (Tianshan Tea City). My friend (the same girl) and I browsed around, and after sitting at a shop for a while I found my first tea-love: yancha. I had walked in expecting to buy TGY, and walked out with DHP. I've never looked back, and thinking about it now, I don't really drink much TGY anymore!

Thinking back to that tea shop, I probably got price/quality gouged just a bit. I had no clue how bargaining in a tea shop worked back than (still don't really have a clue), and I basically had no clue how to judge good tea. Luckily, I didn't spend too much money, and her stuff was decent in my memory. I was at the mercy of the shop-keeper, and I was a very soft target. I also spent way too much money on cheap slip-cast pots...which still haunt me today.

Before coming back to the United States I worried that I would be unable to continue my growing tea habit, not knowing you could buy good tea online. My friend (still that same girl) showed me the Hou De website, and told me it looked like a good place for Taiwanese oolong. Intrigued, I jumped from the Hou De website to various blogs, making my way to TeaChat, which is where my obsession began. I decided to create my own blog...and basically things just kept growing out of proportion, and here I am today. There are things still I regret and things I wish i had done differently...but these are reflections for another day.

2 comments:

Bret said...

Your lucky, at least you came from a tea drinking family. Imagine being a white male growing up in Texas and being a "tea drinker" Now that,s just asking for trouble.

Maitre_Tea said...

hey, I love Texas BBQ, but my family wouldn't hear of a me having a smoker in the backyard...besides, I'm not as lucky as say...those from HK or a pu-erh collecting family.