Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Happy three year blog anniversary

Happy three year blogging anniversary to me!  Given how long the posts are here I should ramble on a little separately rather than add to one that's already 1500 words.  Or I could've skipped it, since I really don't have that much to say, but why not do a little retrospect.

I never really had a clear reason to write about tea, no goal, nothing specific to gain (although some people do share samples; there's that).  It was always about seeing what turned up, trying to use it as a form of discussion.  People have read it, at least, since the blog approaches 50,000 page views, with well over half of that in the last year.  As for discussion, not so much.  Contributing to TChing for a year has been another form of reaching out.  I would like to hear more about other peoples' experiences, at this point, since I know what I think of tea, and to some extent reviews just repeat; same general ideas, different tea.

the blog is the same age as my favorite tea drinker, sort of a coincidence

I'll just add a few thoughts on aspects of tea, for what that's worth.

how my experience has changed:  everyone experiences a learning and experience curve, so I'm on that.  I haven't ran into much I dislike of various kinds of teas, and of course I'm not close to exhausting trying different types.  It has been interesting seeing how preference changes, in examples like liking white teas better, or in trying to lead that process and try more of what I expect I will like more later, as related to sheng pu'er.  It's nice to keep experiencing better versions of teas, sometimes in the form of a shift, almost a paradigm change.  Palate development and gains in ability to describe teas is a very gradual process, the kinds of things that can change from year to year.

interesting tangents, Asian travel:  one of my favorite parts; some strange idea comes up to chase, all the time.  I spent half a year trying to find tea from North Korea, and of course finally did.  Research trails lead into cultivar types, history, a bit into processing, not much, random topics like pu'er fermentation, or perspective of people growing and producing the tea.

Sometimes an interesting tangent turns up and it doesn't really go anywhere.  I spent a few weeks talking to people about tea in the Philippines a couple months back, and there is a story there, but not one that's complete enough for me to tell it, yet.  Tea is growing there right now; that's an interesting part.  I try teas by country of origin, it seems, often related to visiting those places and getting into them that way.  A trip to China got me started, not long before writing this blog, but that was probably four or five years after buying tea directly from a small Laos farm, so I mean started on going overboard.  Vietnam and Indonesia were like that, but in both cases I tried some nicer teas later, based on looking around online.  Or I've been on teas from Nepal a little lately but haven't been there yet; it can work out like that.

8 years old, just today, but he's not so into tea

controversy:  I avoid that, but some topics naturally drift across such scope.  I nearly touched on pu'er tea tree ages a bit based on some good expert input awhile back, but again the ideas just didn't come together enough.  I ran across a gap in current tea category assignment recently but skipped following it up because I just want to communicate interesting ideas, not get in the fray, or blame people for taking a wrong position.

I've only really ever experienced friction with the one person notorious in the tea world for that, and oddly in that case it was nice to be included, although my offense had nothing to do with tea.  I had discussed global climate change, outside a tea group, a very taboo subject, to some.

tea group and forums:  I help run a Facebook version, International Tea Talk, but I talk a little on Steepster and Tea Chat.  That's a better way to engage people in discussion of tea, really, but the blog is nice to lay out research to not lose track of it, and to practice reviewing.

online connections / tea newbies:  it has been odd only knowing people through tea online, for the most part (with a few interesting exceptions).  It's interesting how protective some people can be of knowing more about tea than others, but luckily that's an issue that doesn't come up much, especially since I'm just doing "journey to tea" writing, I'm no expert.  The connection between those scopes, experience and what someone knows, is most clearly relevant for people brand new to tea.  It's interesting how some people back towards the beginning of the curve are most determined to "bring tea to the West," while others further along realize that it has been there for awhile.  In a sense it's nicest to talk to people brand new to tea because they have the whole range of experience ahead of them, with lots of choices about what to explore first.

tea in South-East Asia:  it's odd living in a country so clearly influenced by Chinese heritage that isn't into tea (Thailand; I live in Bangkok).  I wouldn't be surprised to learn that more Thai oolong is sold as fake Taiwanese oolong than is consumed in this country, although surely it's not that bad.  I talked a little about "Thai tea" with a coworker in a break room today, who didn't realize that the style she referred to is essentially the same as Assam or Ceylon, CTC Assamica type black tea, most characteristic here for being mixed with sweetened condensed milk.  They'll get it; I'm all over the project of "bringing tea to Thailand."

getting people into tea:  did I, at all?  I hand out cups at work sometimes, or samples, but I'm not sure how much impact this blog really has.  I was kidding in that last part, about expanding on tea awareness here, but I do sort of work on it.  The next thing I plan to do might help more, which I'll write more about if it pans out.

the next exciting tea to post about, one of those shifts

tea frontiers:  all of this about what I've covered; why not address what I've not.  I've barely scratched the surface related to teaware, funneling all my tea budget into buying dried leaves.  There's lots left to do related to formal brewing process development, some of which others would just consider the basics.  I haven't tried any tea from lots of places, like Russia, or South America, or the Middle East, and almost none from Africa.  Beyond that it's more about a gradual push through a learning curve for me than trying particular new things.  In another three years I'll have made a much better start.

Thanks for reading!  Feel free to add some comments, or look me up wherever seems best online for talking more about tea.

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