Enjoying the Simple Pleasures of Life, While Living in a Complicated World

Dr. Strange Brew or How I Learned to Stop Worrying about Tea Snobs and Love Tea

Each cup of tea represents an imaginary voyage.  ~  Catherine Douzel

I have been enjoying tea since I was a young child. My mother would have a hot, steaming mug of tea waiting for me every day after school.

Her tea choices were extremely limited to what the local grocery store had available, nonetheless, she always made a fine cup of tea, no matter the brand. However, when you’re eleven years old, you’re not aware of limitations.The one thing you’re sure of.. mom has tea ready and waiting when you get home from school, and it going to taste wonderful.

Today, I was curious as to how many different brands of tea I had to choose from. The list was as diverse, as the varieties of tea:  Twinings, Williamson Magor (now known as, Williamson Tea), Taylors of Harrogate, Suttons, Harney & Sons, Darvilles of Windsor, Tazo and Lipton, to name a few. As I looked at all of the brands of tea in my cupboard, I wondered… What qualifies as a good brand of tea? I came to a few realizations….

What Kind of Tea Drinker Are You?

The spectrum of tea drinkers range from those who brew tea in the form of tea bags, to those who prefer fine, loose teas or herbal tisanes. Many prefer the informality of tea served in mugs, compared to fine china cups and saucers. Mismatched tea sets fit the personality of some tea enthusiasts, in comparison to others who treasure perfectly matched tea pot, cups and saucers.  Experienced tea drinkers, have developed their own taste patterns, while those new to the flavor nuances of tea- ‘newbies’ are just beginning to form their own unique taste palate.

Choosing a Brand of Tea

One thing is certain: today there is a myriad of brands and varieties to choose from. I remember when my mother discovered Twinings loose tea, and her view of tea broadened immeasurably.

No matter the brand of tea we choose, we are continually educating our palates, honing our own unique taste memory of flavor nuances, and broadening our sense of taste presented in each up of tea we drink. In essence, we are building a unique tea tasting library, one cup at a time.

Each tea drinker has their own unique ‘taste library’, and there are some drinkers who are more experienced in flavor nuances than others. However, there is a type of tea aficionado who elevates a particular brand over another brand, implying their propensity for good taste is far above and more seasoned than the average tea drinker.  These particular tea enthusiasts bridle at the mention of certain brands, revealing their self-absorption and pretentiousness. Individuals of this ilk, earn the moniker ‘tea snob’, quite appropriately, in my opinion

Is One Brand of Tea Better Than Another?

In making a good cup of tea, whether by the pot or cold pitcher, the choice of brand is no more important that the variety chosen. When it comes to drinking tea, what is most important… is how a particular tea tastes and if you enjoy the flavors! I say, listen to your own palate when evaluating teas. Begin brewing and tasting familiar teas: orange pekoe and black teas and learning the subtle flavors each presents in a cup of tea. Once you learn what tastes you’re drawn to, move onto Assam, Darjeeling and Earl Grey teas and broaden your own unique personal taste library!

The universe of tea encompasses unique flavors formed by the location where it’s grown, the climate, and the soil in countries all over the world. You can build your own personal taste library and turn it into an encyclopedia, one cup at a time!

What’s your favorite variety of tea? I’d like to hear about it!


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