Nowadays you hear lots of talk of “tea for special occasions” or “special occasion tea” (here and here). I have said previously on this blog that I don’t keep tea for special occasions and I’ve even mused whether I was made fun of for having such a stance. Recently I was doing some self-reflection as to why, exactly, I find the whole topic unnerving. I guess I came up with a few different reasons why I find the idea of “special occasion tea” to be kind of weird to me...
The early days of puerh drinking was pretty unpretentious. 20 years ago puerh tea was much cheaper than most other types of tea. Also if you go back to the early English writings on puerh you never hear talk of puerh for “special occasions”. Did something change as a society that we now demand to feel “special”? Even just the idea of elevating a tea to special occasion tea simply because of its current popularity has me scratching my head.
So then is it simply the high price or perceived scarcity that defines something as special??? It certainly seems to be marketed this way.
For me personally, I define something special as something that you cannot put a price on - a feeling, an experience, an event, but most importantly a special moment in time attached to a memory. All tea can be appraised for a certain price- the cheap stuff and the astronomically expensive stuff. Then what is it that makes a tea a “special occasion tea”?
Interestingly, when there is a special occasion in my life I never go for my most expensive teas nor my rarest teas. The teas I go for during special occasions are usually not that expensive at all. What they do tend to be are teas that bring me back to a certain time and place, a moment, a certain meeting, certain people, good memories, good times. Connecting the past to the good times in the present moment. This is the wonder of aged puerh tea!
So really if you are looking for a “special occasion tea”I suggest taking a tea and making good memories with it, share it with good people, and have good times. It doesn’t have to be expensive tea but maybe it will be priceless for you someday.