One of the things I get written to about the most is the question of how to learn more about tea. When you’re first starting out the world of tea can be wonderfully overwhelming. There is so much information out there, some of it conflicting, that it’s hard to separate fact from fiction. Here are some tips that I’ve learned along the way.
Read Everything You Can
Read anything and everything about tea that you can get your hands on. Particularly for those in the western hemisphere, books are one of the few easily accessible resources. These are some of the ones that I recommend the most often:
The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura
The Classic of Tea by Lu Yu
Tea: History, Terroirs, Varieties by Kevin Gascoyne, Francois Marchand, and Jasmin Desharnais
Puer Tea: Ancient Caravans and Urban Chic by Jinghong Zhang
Modern Tea by Lisa Boalt Richardson
Free Kindle Books for Tea Lovers
The Tea Book by Linda Gaylard
The Art and Craft of Tea by Joseph Wesley Uhl
Drink Everything You Can
Connect and Share with Others
Know that You Can’t Know Everything, and That’s OK
Use Multiple Sources
No matter how much you trust where you got your information, I always recommend verifying everything with multiple sources. There is a ton of misinformation out there. Much of it has been repeated so many times over the years (centuries in some cases) that it gets accepted as fact, even when there is little evidence to support it. I’m reminded of playing a game called telephone as a Girl Scout. One person would make up a sentence which would then be passed around the circle in giggly whispers. By the time the message got to the last person, it bore no resemblance to its original form. Tea is a global game of telephone so it’s best to get as close to the sentence starter as possible.
I asked the tea community on Twitter what their answer was to this question. These are some of my favorite responses.
@teaformeplease Spend time buying tea in person from friendly people who know their business!
— Roan Clay (@RoanClay1) October 22, 2016
@teaformeplease Be open minded, adventurous and passionate about discovering and tasting new types of loose leaf teas.
— ManwithaMug (@ManwithaMug) October 22, 2016
@teaformeplease Much like wine, have fun exploring. The fun is in the adventures of finding what you like and understanding its history.
— ThatOneNerdRon (@raspiras8) October 22, 2016
@teaformeplease I see Chinese/ and Western “Assamica” teas as different tracks. Tea clubs and blogs are a great way to explore Chinese teas.
— Kris Zentner (@kriszentner) October 22, 2016
@teaformeplease Explore! Try as many as possible in various places. You’ll learn differences in quality etc. Reading your blog helps, too 🙂
— Mario (@MarioTravels) October 22, 2016
@teaformeplease Usually, I say to try less things. Find a type of tea (black, green, etc) and find the best stuff in that bracket.
— ▲ (@samgdf) October 22, 2016
Readers, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you agree with my points? Is there something that I missed? Let me know in the comments!