Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Reader Questions: How Did I Become a Tea Blogger?

A reader recently asked if I had ever written about how I transitioned from casual sipper to the crazy life of a tea blogger. I was fairly surprised to find that I never had. Hard to believe, isn't it? This post might be a lengthy one but I don't want to leave anything out. I'd love to hear about some your tea journeys in the comments!

I grew up in a family of tea drinkers although things were quite a bit different from the way that I approach tea now. Red Rose was the brand of choice and I took mine with milk and two sugars. My mother and I avidly collected (and still have) the little Wade porcelain figurines that would come in each box. Whenever we finished a box I loved sticking me nose inside and deeply inhaling the aroma of the tea dust inside.

Fast forward to 2007 and I'm attempting to put myself through college. Milk and sugar aren't practical for mini fridge living so I was drinking my beloved Red Rose without these things. Needless to say that did not go very well. I had never been a coffee drinker and couldn't stand the taste. However, surviving all nighters spent writing papers does require some sort of caffeine. I started exploring the selections at the grocery store and brands like Stash and Celestial Seasonings became my mainstays.

Not long afterwards, my mom showed me a magazine ad for flowering teas because she thought they looked cool. It rocked my world a bit to learn that tea didn't come in a bag and that it could be so beautiful. It was then that I decided I needed a tea upgrade. I ordered a starter kit from Numi Tea with an assortment of flowering teas as well as a small glass teapot. These things were too cool! I soon found myself searching online to learn more, overwhelmed but fascinated at the same time.

It was at this point in my tea discovery that I stumbled upon Teaviews.com. They were looking for staff reviewers to write about tea. What poor college student doesn't love the idea of free stuff? Despite my lack of experience they brought me on board and I was quickly overwhelmed with the variety of teas that were out there. I'll always be grateful for this early education because I was exposed to a wide variety of teas. I also learned the important lesson that each person's tastes and experiences determine the types of teas that they enjoy. I reviewed a teabag with chili peppers in it and absolutely hated it but another reviewer who grew up in SoCal said it tasted like home. For the curious, you can still read the reviews that I wrote there.

A tea shop opened up in the next town over (though they closed not long afterwards) and I became a frequent visitor. The owner had a real passion for tea and her fuss-free approach did a lot to shape the tea drinker that I became. She taught me to drink her Jungpana silver needle "grandpa style". After about two years of writing on Teaviews, I was still actively pursuing my interest in tea and wanted more. I turned to Twitter as a way of connecting with others. Two months later, Tea for Me Please was born.

The rest, as they say, is history. Six years have passed and I'm still digging. At the start of this journey I never would have guessed that tea would lead me down the road that it has. I've connected with amazing people all over the world, stepped outside of my comfort zone and even changed careers because of it. I wouldn't have things any other way.