Friday, June 20, 2014

Gettin' to Know Tea... With Anna V. by Anna V. Smith

J-TEA impacts people in a lot of different ways when first coming into the teahouse. Some are excited to find such a vast treasure trove of hard-to-find teas. Some are awed at the selection, and can't wait to explore each category. Others are overwhelmed by the choices, since they feel that they don't know "enough." I was certainly the latter, when I came into J-TEA a few years ago for the first time. I didn't know anything about tea, and had essentially nixed it off my list of beverages since all the teas I had drank thus far were either watery and tasteless, or too fruity or bitter.

The first time I came in, Josh gave me a puer to try and I was shocked at the fullness of flavor; it tasted like sweet soil and minerals, and made me think of a damp forest floor covered in pine needles, the scene of so many Willamette Valley hikes. I was surprised how a flavor I'd never tasted could so easily transport me to another place.

Since then, I've explored green oolongs, roasted oolongs, formosas and puers, though still shying away from the herbals and strong black teas like Lapsang Suchong. At this writing, a few of my favorites are the Bee's Knees Bird's Nest Puer, and the Dong Ding Triple Blossom Roasted Oolong. A big reason why I was overwhelmed when I first came in was a feeling of intimidation, and knowing that I had a big hole in the section of my brain marked "Tea Knowledge." The good news is that it's not hard to start learning about it, you just have to be willing to start drinking lots of cups tea, and have the patience to try, try again.

I also discovered that my initial disregard for tea was based off of generic low-grade teas; it wasn't that I didn't like tea overall, I just hadn't been exposed to the teas that I like. So, if you come in and have no idea where to start, Josh, Andrew and I will do our best to get you started on the path to finding right tea for you. It'll be fun, I promise!

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