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Gregory Glancy

Tea Epiphany: Why Did You Begin to Drink Tea?

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I am curious to see why people became tea drinkers and how they became interested in learning about tea.

If you have a story, please share!


Greg

www.norbutea.com

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Both my parents start every day with a cup of tea. Since they're Canadian, it was Red Rose brand while I was growing up, but on my last visit home to Canada, I noticed they'd switched to Tetley. I hated orange pekoe tea, and assumed I basically hated tea. I was a confirmed coffee drinker.

Then I moved to Asia.

The first tea I fell in love with was in Korea, where they drink a lot of things billed as tea that aren't actually made with tea leaves. This tea was, however - nokcha. It's green tea mixed with toasted rice, and after three years of getting up at 5:30 am to teach businessmen on their way to work, I gave up on the whole grinding beans and brewing coffee thing, and started my day with sad resignation and a bag of nokcha poked into my mug instead. It kept me propped up many a cold morning, the toasty smell filling the classroom and keeping me from falling asleep while the suits churned through their set dialogues in pairs. "That's right, Mr. Lee. Your boss is an imPORTant man. Not an INportant man. Carry on. SLLLUUUURRRRPPPP."

Vietnam was a wash for me, on the tea front - I was too busy falling in love with coffee again. But now I'm living in Japan, I like cold jasmine tea in the summer, and hot cups of houjicha in the winter. My first few months in my apartment last winter, before I got my first paycheck, and could afford heat or coffee, I heated my rooms with a kettle of hot water and warmed my hands up with a mug full of houjicha. Even now, the smell of roasted tea reminds me of poverty. But in a good way. The Koreans have a word for this - I forget what it is, exactly, but it translates into something like, "Remembering the bitterness of the past with the sweetness of the present."

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Hello- This is a very interesting topic. I am sorry if my comments appear vague...I think my interest stems from my general interest in Chinese culture/philosophy.IMO It is difficult to study any aspect of traditional chinese culture without finding tea somewhere.The school that taught me Tai Chi Chuan had a "tea-room" on-site. The two sources that Taoism and Confuciusism share in common are the "I-Ching" and the tea house. I am not Chinese, so I cannot say that my thesis is 100% true. This is just an observation.It is not my desire to insult anyone by oversimplifying things.


"As life's pleasures go, food is second only to sex.Except for salami and eggs...Now that's better than sex, but only if the salami is thickly sliced"--Alan King (1927-2004)

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There have been some great responses so far! Now that I have a little time, I thought I would go ahead and share my story too:

Tea has always been a part of my everyday life. Growing up in Texas, iced tea was always a staple at every meal but breakfast, but I never paid any attention to the tea aside from what brand the teabags were.

In my young adult life working as a waiter in a 3-star Indian restaurant in Dallas, I was exposed to Chai and Chai making. The kitchen staff would make and drink chai every morning, even in the summer. Like iced tea, chai really isn't about the tea itself...it's about the spices and the milk and sugar, sort of like a mini-meal or energy drink.

During college I was a line cook, and I drank a ton of iced tea again just to cool myself off during long hot sessions on the line. Again, tea served a purpose but wasn't important in itself.

Then, a few years ago, a good friend who manages a wine distributorship in Dallas invited me to a wine and tea dinner at York Street restaurant. It was 5 or 6 courses, and each course was paired with a tea (!) and a wine. Before each course, the wine importer/expert would stand and introduce the wines, and the tea purveyor would introduce the teas. It was amazing how beautifully everything went together, and this was my first real exposure to treating tea as something special in itself.

It was like a lightbulb switched on in my head, and from that point on I was on a mission to learn as much as I could about tea as a subject of study. I befriended the people who supplied the teas to the dinner and proceeded to drive them crazy with questions and my constant presence in their shop. From a taste standpoint, I was enthralled by all the amazingly diverse flavors and sensations present in the different types of tea, and I read and studied and tasted as much as I could get my hands on. I was a religious studies major in college and wrote my thesis on food in the Hindu worldview, so seeing the importance of tea in the context of East-Asian culture and spirituality was an easy step for me too. For me, this "tea epiphany" represented bringing my love of food and foodways together with my fascination for culture and spirituality. The rest is history.


Greg

www.norbutea.com

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For me, growing up mostly in Texas was also an iced tea much more than a hot tea thing. I recall that in the early 1970s, using Constant Comment for iced tea was about as special as you could get. Sometime after that I began buying loose leaf teas at Whole Foods and its predecessors in Austin. Then about ten years ago began buying loose leaf fine teas from The Cultured Cup (TCC) in Dallas.

But it was not until I joined the monthly T-Bar Club at TCC 2 or 3 years ago that I really started exploring and understanding the huge, diverse and complex world of tea. A tea pairing dinner co-sponsored by TCC with Chef-Owner Sharon Hage at The York Street Cafe was an electrifying experience.

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Mine was living in Japan for a bit in college. We had tea ceremony class. I actually had such a hard time with it because of the expectations of a western palate. The sweets weren't sweet (mochi may look like marshmallow, but it sure doesn't taste like it and red bean paste is not chocolate) and the tea was just plain new. Its a bit like taking a swig of milk when you're expecting water.

But once I knew what to expect and my palate became a bit more flexible, I really started enjoying all sorts of flavors - tea included.

Now I routinely buy loose leaf tea from a local company (Rishi Tea) and love it. I've been getting one called Earl Green which is really interesting. I've also been drinking some incredible sencha my mom got for me on a recent trip to Kyoto.

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=

Then, a few years ago, a good friend who manages a wine distributorship in Dallas invited me to a wine and tea dinner at York Street restaurant.  It was 5 or 6 courses, and each course was paired with a tea (!) and a wine.  Before each course, the wine importer/expert would stand and introduce the wines, and the tea purveyor would introduce the teas. 

OMG that is so very brilliant I may need to steal it...

Sincerely,

Dante

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The two sources that Taoism and Confuciusism share in common are the "I-Ching"  and the tea house.

Wow. Never thought of that. I'm in to Wu Shu (Tai Chi Chuan , Hsing Yi Chuan, Pa Kua Chang) the I Ching (and similar systems- Tai Hsuan Ching, Ling Chi Ching) and Nei Tan. Never thought in terms of tea in respect to this, tho.

Sincerely,

Dante

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Growing up in Seattle my grandfather never drank coffee or tea. My mother who was from the south drank alot of iced tea, mostly lipton. As I grew up I started studying and getting into medicinal teas and holistic health. My interest expanded from there into different teas just for the pleasure of drinking the tea itself. I would go into the tea business if I had the money, and may do that once the economy clears up some.


"I eat fat back, because bacon is too lean"

-overheard from a 105 year old man

"The only time to eat diet food is while waiting for the steak to cook" - Julia Child

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Tea has been a part of my life since childhood. As children my sister and I were never allowed to drink coffee but tea was allowed. For many many years I made tea with tea bags. Red Rose was my tea of choice.

Several years ago my daughter introduced me to the world of loose leaf tea. I discovered that there is a whole world of tea other than black tea. I have experienced different varieties and taste profiles. I enjoy both the tasting and the knowledge I discover about this amazing leaf.

I know I can learn much here and hope to share my thoughts and experiences as well.

Connie






I am curious to see why people became tea drinkers and how they became interested in learning about tea. 

If you have a story, please share!

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Hello- I thought this thread related well to the "trend or life style" discussion.


Edited by Naftal (log)

"As life's pleasures go, food is second only to sex.Except for salami and eggs...Now that's better than sex, but only if the salami is thickly sliced"--Alan King (1927-2004)

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This thread was a bit before my serious tea explorations started--interesting stories. 

 

Mom made pitchers of iced lipton when I was little, and it was horrid.  Then I started to try the hot tea served in asian restaurants, and then occasionally would share some tea when my father made some at home.  He was introduced to it by a Chinese friend from his calligraphy classes.  At that time, it was not so easy to get the good stuff here, and he stuck to the SeaDyke Ti Kuan Yin whose tin he could recognize.  I would always keep a tin of that on hand, frequently preparing a cup for lunch at work, but when I couldn't find it, I'd occasionally get brave and try another brand.  Most of the time I was disappointed, and came back to the SeaDyke TKY with relief, but one day I bought a tin of TenRen BaoZhong, and gradually realized that there was more to life than TKY.  I started to explore at health food stores and local chinatown markets, and found this section of the forums, and joined some Tea Tastings, and now I'm a 2 to 4 teas per day fan.  

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I am curious to see why people became tea drinkers and how they became interested in learning about tea.

If you have a story, please share!

Hello- I share this curiosity. I think there may be enough new eG members to make this topic relevant.

"As life's pleasures go, food is second only to sex.Except for salami and eggs...Now that's better than sex, but only if the salami is thickly sliced"--Alan King (1927-2004)

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I come from a country where coffee is  such a important part of our life's that social events, works and life in normal cant function without it.   I cant have coffee, my body thinks it is mold and  goes  weird.   So I drink tea.  

We drink a lot of PG tips here, because it is my husband favorite  tea.  He however comes from a land of tea drinker and has embraced the Swedish  coffee drinking  to the point he  is becoming a bit too Swedishfied. 

 

I do love  other teas then just PG Tips but I dont have the money for such things.


Cheese is you friend, Cheese will take care of you, Cheese will never betray you, But blue mold will kill me.

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