Some Answers to an Impossible Question by Josh Chamberlain
People often ask me, “What is your favorite tea?” When I look puzzled, sometimes the question is rephrased as, “If you could only have one kind of tea for the rest of your life, what would it be?” I always thought that was a hard question to answer. But recently, I
have figured out a way to answer this somewhat impossible question: I would choose only the good kind (see the Tea Matrix 1A comparing tea type and quality below).
I've noticed that quality and type can often be confused. There are so many types of tea. Even excluding herbals, which I often do, we are left with thousands of choices. The type of tea is not so important, but the quality of the tea leaf is of upmost importance. Do you like bad iron goddess oolong? Hardly. Do you like good, great, or amazing iron goddess oolong? Yes, of course. I love it! Teas of high quality have a common thread even if they are different types.
I definitely get on tea kicks and become obsessed with a particular tea for a period of time. It is like I cannot get something about that tea out of my head and find myself compelled to brew it again and again. This is not unlike having a favorite song and wanting to hear it over and over again. Making that tea again is the only logical choice because its characteristics are what I am relating to at that particular moment. It is not unlike choosing a person to discuss an important matter with. You choose that person based on what you know of them already, what you think they are going to say, availability, closeness and so on. You could say that the same is true for tea.
Imagine this: If you could only talk to one person for the rest of your life, who would it be? Now we have the answer. If I could only talk to one person for the rest of my life, it would be a person of high quality. When deciding on favorites, I focus on quality over type.
That being said, I don't mind the question. Let's talk about tea. Know tea types and subtypes; know the seasonal variations; know farms, regions and elevations; know processing methods; learn how to properly brew tea. Tea is an agricultural product; all of these factors affect the quality of the final product, each creating subtle variations. After you know about this and more... you’ll discover that there really is no favorite. I love you tea!