I suppose if I am going to continue presenting my tea themed rambling for your occasional weekend reading, I should tell you who I am in relation to the world of tea, and how I got to where I am now: a tea blogger who lives and breathes (also can be read 'smell') tea.
It all started when I was very young, and I mean VERY young! I come from a family that was half English and half from the Southern US, and they fit the tea-guzzling stereotypes of each culture to a -heh- 'tea'. There was always a pitcher of sweet iced tea in the fridge (and since I grew up in Georgia, drinking iced tea all year is doable since it is rarely cold) and every morning my dad and I woke up to a cup of strong black tea, milk, and two sugars. That was the thing though, tea wasn't an art, it was just an omnipresent drink that I chugged constantly. Eventually, that all changed thanks to one of my early jobs.
"Tea wasn't an art, it was just an omnipresent drink."
I was fifteen and working at a mall coffee shop, not a chain store but a privately owned shop that also had a decent selection of neglected teas. Let's face the sad facts, those large glass canisters of tea that lined a shelf were covered in dust and only ever brought down by my curiosity. I no longer lived in the South, so even the large dispenser of iced tea tended to go to waste, people came for the coffee. One day I decided to use part of my paycheck to try a new tea, so I selected the most expensive (and by extension the dustiest) canister and brought home a small package of the strange brown, balled up leaves. I had no idea how to brew it, or even that you did things other than boiling water and (steep for) three minutes, it was good for me that this tea was forgiving or my story might be different. It was Formosa Iron Goddess Of Mercy, that was all the label said, not that it was an Oolong, from Taiwan, or that 'Iron Goddess of Mercy' was another name for Tieguanyin. I took a sip and my mind was blown, in that instance everything changed, it was not just a drink, it was a sensory masterpiece! I ended up drinking my entire tiny stash in one day (not knowing about resteeping yet, or gongfu brewing) and then bought more whenever I could. Sadly they ran out and never reordered, and when my employment ended so did my attempt at convincing them to order more.
"I took a sip and my mind was blown, in that instance everything changed, it was not just a drink, it was a sensory masterpiece!"
At that point I didn't know how to get more of this magical tea, any other tea stores in the area only catered to 'afternoon tea' style events, and my teenage self didn't think to research it on the internet. Conveniently around this same time I went the way of many teenagers in the geek community and became obsessed with Japan (though, hilariously, not through anime as is usual, I was a history and food buff) and started living off Japanese green teas, especially Genmaicha. It was around this time an obsession with teaware would start, having procured many pieces of Japanese teaware.
Time went on, as it does, and a new store opened in town, a fancy grocery store with a dedicated tea section, complete with large tins full of tea you could pull off the shelf and sniff before buying. On one such shopping trip I pulled every tin off the shelf to sniff in hopes of finding some new and exciting drink, and there it was, a tin of brown rolled up balls of tea. I knew from the sight and smell that this was the same tea that sparked my passion for the leaf all those years ago! I immediately bought some, this time treating it to a better brewing session (still not knowing about gongfu brewing) and it was wonderful. I made sure to have some on hand at all time, drinking it daily, but also to research it using the new to me name 'Tieguanyin'. This, of course, ended up opening a whole new world of tea to me, causing my passion to explode!
"This ended up opening a whole new world of tea to me, causing my passion to explode!"
Years later (again) things changed, my lifelong health problems became a full on disability and attempts at artistic self-employment blew up in my face. I was visiting my mom lamenting (over tea, it was an Oolong, a Dong Ding this time) that my life had no direction and I felt lost without something to do. I have never been the type to just sit around, I have to stay busy or I go bonkers. She suggested, brilliantly, that I turn my obsessive personality and love of writing to tea, 'Start a tea blog' she said, and it just seemed right. I thought to myself, even if no one reads it I will have something to do. It was an easy transition from taking notes in my tea journal (I decided after the Tieguanyin incident to write teas down so I can find them again!) to blogging, and I was already involved in the tea community and knew how friendly it can be.
"My mom suggested, brilliantly, that I turn my obsessive personality and love of writing to tea. 'Start a tea blog' she said."
That was over three years ago, since then I have tried hundreds (ok, it is honestly over 1,000 at this point) of teas and have more teaware than I honestly know what to do with. I can justify my collection as being photography tools for the blog, have to make sure that tea looks pretty! Tasting all these teas, collecting teaware, and expanding my knowledge has been great, but really the best part of this whole adventure is sharing with people.
"The best part of this whole adventure is sharing with people."
I cannot tell you how wonderful it feels to hear from a reader who has discovered a new favorite tea, or to see the look of bliss on a friend's face when I share a particularly good tea with them for the first time. For all my hermit like tendencies, sharing this consumable art truly is the greatest pleasure.
Written by Amanda, Independent Blogger at My Thoughts Are Like Butterflies Tea Blog.