Loose Tea Drinkers - Are We A Quirky Group?

by Rob

Yes...We tea drinkers are a quirky group. My maternal grandparents were from England so tea drinking was a natural thing for my family. Of course it was always a grocery-store, red tea with milk and sugar.

I think I best like the sense of amazement that people display when they have their first cup of premium tea. You may recall that I shared my original purchase of Longjing tea with my co-worker and her significant other. She used to drink grocery-store green tea.

She would put the tea-bag in her cup and leave it there. She figured all green tea was supposed to be so bitter that it needed several spoonfuls of sugar to make it palatable. I told her how to prepare the Longjing tea and said if she added sugar that I would have her drawn and quartered.

When next I saw her, it was so funny. In trying to relate her experience with the Jipin grade Longjing tea, her mouth was moving and she stuttered somewhat but the poor girl couldn't get out the words to describe her Jipin experience.

She finally managed to spit out the words, "I never knew!!!" (or something to that effect, my stenographer wasn't present to take it down.)

A similar thing happened when she first tried some Tieguanyin (TGY) that I gave to her. When I was in China in Dec. '07, I brought about a kilo of TGY back with me. Her boyfriend was already a knowledgeable tea drinker who regularly drank some high quality oolong tea, but neither of them had ever experienced TGY before.

I would often ask her how she liked the TGY; she kept telling me that they hadn't had a chance to drink it yet as they were saving it for a special night together when there would be nothing to distract them from the experience.

Needless to say, when they finally had their TGY night, they were both glowing in their reports of their night with The Iron Goddess of Mercy.

I must say that I am some-what afraid of educating too many people to the "tea" experience. I say this out of selfishness because I am just an average guy, with an average job (and a sub-average pay-cheque). I can already see what the new-found popularity of pu-erh tea is doing to prices.

I fear that it may not be too far in the future before I am forced to relegate my tea drinking enjoyment to only, "special times" as my co-worker and her mate did.

But for now, the happiness I feel in sharing a good cup of tea with people outweighs my price concerns. I can't help but grin whenever my room-mate (a young man of 30 who never was a tea drinker and usually stays holed-up in his room) starts making small-talk and grinning like a Cheshire Cat whenever he sees me putting the kettle on for tea.

He will linger around and try to talk about anything he can in hopes that I will task him to sit down and join me for tea. I often tease him a little as if the invitation may not be issued. (I'm so mean! hahahaha)

Another of my favourite things to do is to share tea with English language students who come here from Taiwan and China to study.

I know that being immersed in a different culture can be a difficult experience, so I soften the blow somewhat by occasionally inviting some of the students over for "tea from home" in a traditional, gong-fu style. This is one of the most satisfying experiences I know of. I help them with their English and they help me with Putonghua. We always become good, long-lasting friends from these times.

During my trip to Taiwan in '05, (I was there for twelve days) I had the good fortune of staying in the family homes of seven former students that I met here. It was during one of those experiences that I met Ching Guo, the retired Feng Shui Master who introduced me to my first Baozhong. What goes around, truly does,come around!

Comments for Loose Tea Drinkers - Are We A Quirky Group?

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May 25, 2008
Loose tea versus Grocery tea
by: Julian

How fascinating.

To some extent I thought the urban societies of the Western world has been cheated - you know, being continuously sold highly processed food that means big profits for the corporates but brings little to the farmers and consumers.

I think this is happening to the tea world, and many other things that as a city bred person I am just too ignorant to be aware of ...

For the best of Chinese teas, their prices are driven mainly by Chinese consumer demands. I mean, those very rich people, and there are definitely more and more of then every day!

This is a massive luxury market. Very few of those teas make it to the West, so regardless of popularity, I don't think Western demand can influence these very special tea prices.

So by all means tell you friends' about these teas!

For the lower quality teas, you just won't believe how little the farmers are selling them for, and most of the profits go to the middle-men. In this regard, I think the internet retailing is a positive development, because it really intensifies the competition.

What I really envisage is a shorter supply chain bringing the tea farmers closer to the consumers, both in the East and West, so that both parties can benefit.

May 31, 2008
I know what that felt like
by: Anonymous

I did and still do add heap of sugar to my green tea or tea in general to cover up the bitter flavor. But one day i had some tea from a sit down Chinese restaurant and tried it with out sugar(they banned me from the sugar after the 2nd cup:-).

I was like gasp its good not bitterness or fish face reaction. That was a year a go and now I'm trying to find good teas like that that hardly require little or no sugar. So far I have failed. Can some one recommend a good store brand and premium brand? Just some good tea in general.

Jun 01, 2008
High Quality Loose Tea
by: Julian

Low grade green tea tends to taste bitter or bland because they are harvested after early spring. In HQ's tea garden, for example, teas are only harvested once a year in March and April. He refused even to sell teas harvested in April.

Most brands sell in bulk, so they take the cheap late harvests, blend with something better, and hope for the best.

If you are looking for teas that are rich, smooth and sweet, with a hint of fruitines at best value prices, I would recommend HQ's Dragon Well green tea (start from $14.95) and the newly launched Silver Needle White Tea at $6.95. Both are harvested early March to early April. They are the ones I drink every day - unflavoured.

Chinese Tea Shop

Alternatively, check out the Best Tea Shop directory at

Best Tea Shop.

Any more suggestions welcome.

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