Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Making Sense of Your Tea Drinking
I recently read a comment on TeaDB that made me reflect on how to think about my puerh drinking. In the comment section of this article on justifying the purchase of shu puerh James places his tea drinking into logical categories with rationale as to what teas make most sense for each category. He states:
For me tea drinking falls into three basic categories. (1) Casual brews I drink/make for my wife. (2) Teas I drink gong-fu throughout the day. (3) Teas I drink with other people.
Ripe pu’erh tends to do very well in category 1 and depending on the audience category 3. It doesn’t make sense for me to be brewing something fancy for category 1 and for whatever reason I just about never want to drink ripe as my gong-fu session for the day. That just leaves category 3, and I’m not sure I’m at the point where I can justify fancier boutique ripe sheerly to serve guests. I’ll admit to having considered but I’m not quite there for myself. I also certainly wouldn’t fault the person who chooses to buy it.
For me, even a few years ago, my tea drinking was very very different but for the last year or two it has been pretty consistent mainly due to stable life circumstances. My tea drinking falls into (1) morning gongfu I drink/ make for wife and family. (2) Stored productions that I bring out of storage to drink with my family on a rare occasion. (3) Teas I drink with other people. (4) Everyday drinkers I one cup steep at work. (5) better teas I gong fu at work.
Over the last while category 1 tends to be aged sheng of increasingly decent quality but also can include shu puerh, Korean Balhyocha, or Oolong. My children regularly drink tea with us so I make sure it is of a certain base level of quality. My wife will not tolerate anything overly harsh or unusual and if its sheng, it better be aged. She has an increasingly discerning pallet when I’m gong fu brewing.
Category 2 tends to be sheng puerh that I have lesser quantities of and I am trying to hold on to-expensive or cheap, old or young. Usually, it has some quality of rareness to it preventing me from putting a cake into my regular rotation thereby preventing me from drinking through it on a day-to-day basis. It also has some level of quality to it, otherwise I would just drink through the cake in Category 4.
Category 3 tends to be similar to category 2 but is sometimes Darjeeling which my wife enjoys as well but that I rarely consume these days.
Category 4 tends to be a lot of factory sheng that I have acquired over the last year. If I’m simply looking for caffeine after lunch and my day is too busy to deeply appreciate such things it could be some lesser quality sheng that I have a sample cake of or some cheaper Menghai Factory stuff. If I’m feeling like something of better quality, I go up the quality ladder without hesitation. I will even consume fresh sheng samples as well at work.
Category 5 tends to be nicer aged sheng or samples where I can spend some time with and enjoy and often blog or write about.
Anyways, I think that helping to categorize your tea drinking is another way other than measuring your consumption that can help guide your future purchases. This is especially true if you consider yourself more of a puerh drinker rather than collector.
In my case, I have amassed enough tea to satisfy categories 2-4 over the past year and from years before. So, right now my buying is focused more on high quality drinkers that satisfy Category 1 and maybe for some more special stuff that satisfies Category 2 & 5. Currently, my generous onslaught of samples are satisfying these categories nicely without me dipping into my stored cakes. I am also wondering if I should take the plunge into buying more shu puerh? I really prefer sheng but my wife also enjoys shu and doesn’t really pay to much attention to weather its sheng or shu anyways, as long as its good. I also feel that my purchasing is slowing down because I have enough to last me many many years.
The tea that I select in each category is strongly influenced by harmonizing with the seasons or attempting to balance individual disharmonies.
I hope that this reflection has helped you evaluate your own drinking needs. I wonder what your drinking categories are and how that influences your purchasing, if at all?
Hummmm…. Something to meditate on…