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!
Teagotistical tē-gə-ˈti-sti-kəl (adj.) having an exaggerated sense of one’s knowledge of tea.
Many tea sellers, bloggers, wholesalers, those who call themselves “tea masters” have a booming confidence behind their voices. But all too often that confidence goes too far, to the point of sounding arrogant.
⇒ “This tea is always…”
⇒ “No, not that way. Tea must be steeped this way.”
⇒ “It’s not spelled ‘oolong’! It’s ‘wulong’” (OK, that’s technically correct…)
When sharing knowledge and educating people about tea, it’s admittedly hard to come up with definite answers to many questions. When selling your tea, having confidence behind your words of wisdom is comforting. But a step too far and your words AND you become poisonous to the community.
There have been times when people claim that, by the hand of some deity, they and only they are correct. This is not only isolated to tea, of course. Look at American politics and its extreme partisan state, or religion and its history of many sects, or rock bands that end up splitting up due to “artistic differences” 😉 Moreover, just like the great fractions of old and new, the tea community has divided into schools of thought, from unconventional thinkers to extremists.
Why claim everything you say is the truth when it’s TRUER to say, “that is what I believe / learned / have experienced.” This may not seem to be very “tea master-ish” but in the past, among all the teachers and professors I’ve had, those that “could admit to being wrong” OR “did not think themselves absolutely infallible” are the ones I’ve kept in my memory banks. When I ask a real master a question they do not know, or cannot answer well, they say they’ll get back to me. That shows a great deal of respect for the student. It shows that the student’s question (no matter how small, or seemingly unrelated) and education are meaningful and important to the teacher. I must thank Judy Ware, my 9th grade history teacher, for implanting this “get-back-to-you” process in my brain.
…Yet Don’t Lose Confidence
You can admit what you don’t know something about tea. Once, a wise man struck a blow at his fellow philosophers and proclaimed:
The more you know, the more you know you know nothing.
— Accredited to Aristotle
Confidence and humility can go hand in hand. You either need confidence to admit your lack of knowledge or you need to be spineless. Lacking vertebrae, you can’t keep learning AND teaching. The public needs to be educated, and educators must have confidence when they speak. Let’s just make sure they don’t go too far.
How do you think we can solve the Teagotisital problem?