PS: These posts portray the opinions of the author. Strong they may be, always be aware “to each their own.” If you want to do things ‘wrong,’ do it wrong. Happy steeping!
Facts are the Key to Tea Mastery
To master your tea game… memorizing everything from dates, history, subspecies, varieties, cultivars, locations and terroirs, processing methods, and yes, even estates and farmers are essential, it’s the way. There is indeed too much to know about tea so narrow your knowledge to a certain location or type of tea. Listen to Master Master:
Know your stuff and you will thrive.
Believe me, Don’t Try
Many people fill their time and effort reading and researching about tea history; who went where, who said what, what that means, and of course… when that happened. But do these facts really matter? To some, they are essential to one’s tea game or status in the tea community. Honestly, I feel facts are one of the last steps someone should pursue to up their ‘status’. People can be wowed by your memory and book knowledge, but steep a daejak1 and make it taste like an woojeon2… and people will Kētóu!3
A couple of examples of good-to-know subjects:
A Must To Test Quality, not to enjoy
If you want to test quality like if you are selling tea or even hold a ‘quality control’ position, you pretty much need to know how tea is made. A good example is roasted wulongs. Has the tea been roasted with a charcoal fire? Or has it been baked in an electric oven? Both have their appeal to the masses. Charcoal gives a better taste, especially if roasted with good wood or even olive pits. But on the other hand, it’s much more expensive. Oven baked tea is cheaper, of course, and usually used with lesser quality leaves… but not always. And you can have very good tea baked with an oven, and bad tea roasted with charcoal. But knowing which one is which is needed, and keeps you from getting cheated.
A Wise Subject to Learn
There are many traditional steeping techniques: cooler water for green tea is a good example. But do understand there are ways to break those “rules” and not only keep the tea tasting correctly but possibly make it taste better! Not to mention that an interesting and odd way to steep a tea is intriguing and brings attention and wonderment from your more knowledgeable tea guests. One must also know different ways to steep the tea they are presented with. It is very hard to make a tea well the first time you steep it… yes, even masters need to feel out the parameters of tea. But knowing how to steep a variety of teas will indeed help you get it right the first time if in need.
1 Simply put, a 4th grade Korean green tea.
2 Simply put, a 1st grade Korean green tea.
3 磕头 / Kētóu /