How did you become the tea lover you are today?
The best thing that came out of the relationship with my ex (not so nice guy) was that he introduced me to Indian food. With Indian food came the introduction to chai tea. The rest as they say is history.
I don’t really like coffee, so I started drinking tea. I learned a lot from this website. I have a huge collection of tea now. I remember the first time I went to Teavana, it was like heaven.
When I stopped working my life became pretty boring, and I decided to get some hobbies to fill my time. I also need to drink less soda. Tea seems like a win/win.
I was first turned onto tea by the health benefits of green tea. I started off with the grocery store tea bag stuff and hated it…mainly because I was brewing it incorrectly. I didn’t give up though and in my attempts to make green tea palatable, I started learning more about tea and developed my palette. Now I have grown to love all sorts of tea from matcha to oolong to flavored and herbal teas.
I still enjoy and drink coffee though usually just a small amount in the morning. However I drink tea regularly throughout the day and soothing cup of sencha or jasmine pearls is a bedtime ritual. Coffee gets me wired but tea gives me a moment of serenity.
I have to say I admire the fact that you aren’t pro-tea and against coffee. You have found a place for both these beverages in your life and that is often really hard. I guess it is all about balance. Do you use any sweeteners with your tea?
Thanks, I know people have strong feelings for one of the other but I say learn to appreciate both and you’ll have the best of both worlds. I rarely use any sweeteners with tea or coffee. But I do add a little milk to coffee cause I still can’t stomach straight coffee.
Before my senior year in college, I only drank chamomile, peppermint, and Earl Grey, only in tea bag form. My love/obsession for tea exploded soon after the formation of the Tea Time Club, where members brought their teas to share (and talk and play scrabble and whatnot). There, I was introduced to loose tea and blended teas. Then out of the blue, during winter break, I became interested in learning about tea (cultivation, spirituality, culture, processing, terroir, varieties). It fascinated me so much…well, here I am now!
…I miss the Tea Time Club.
If you miss it so much, maybe it will be a splendid idea to initiate one of your own with all the tea enthusiasts you have around you. Maybe an online version would also be fun, though Steepster seems the best way for tea lovers out there to communicate and share their news, recipes and so on.
My folks are tea fans. I like drinking it sometimes.
Since I decided to drink less coffee, I got into tea instead. It was nice to have a different hot drink, and I got really into rooibos.
I was at Barnes and Noble in a long line and I saw a display of Republic of Tea. The Blackberry Sage looked interesting to me and I never leave a store without something extra so I bought it. When I cracked it open and smelled it, it was heaven, and I drank it regularly. I bought all the other RoT teas that B&N carried that sounded good to me.
I learned about chai somehow and when my son was two years old I would heat up soymilk every morning and throw in cloves, a cinnamon stick, some whole cardamom, some black tea, probably other stuff, and that was how I woke up and got myself to school.
I eventually looked up tea online, started with the looseleaf gateway Adagio, then found Harney & Sons and Simpson & Vail. Ordered from those two exclusively until I found Steepster! I’ve been drinking tea—albeit starting out with a huge collection of RoT tea bags—for about 19 years!
As a kid, my family were coffee and tea drinkers. Of course that meant Maxwell House and Lipton. I could not get past the smell of coffee and their tea was likewise so strong it was almost coffee. So one day I bought a box of Constant Comment at the grocery store and liked it. I drank that and Bigelow Earl Grey for decades (longer than most of you have been alive) as that was all the ‘gourmet’ tea that was available in our town.
I eventually became like my parents and made it so strong it started giving me stomach problems. I switched to this new fangled stuff at our grocery store – Twinings! I was gold for a while until the stomach protested again. Switched to Twinings Green Earl Grey and learned to control the temperature and steep time. All was right with the world. Then they stopped selling Earl green. :(
Fortunately the internet had come to town by then and I discovered Ahmad Green Earl Grey on Amazon. Next I discovered a world food market in the nearby college town. They had an entire aisle of tea! I got to try oolongs and puerhs. Yes I heard angels singing.
The next step was discovering Steepster. I came here looking for reviews of the best bagged teas, except there hardly seemed to be any. It was over run by crazy loose leaf people. I almost didn’t hang around. I did use a little Twinings and Ahmad loose leaf. Bought a kettle and ditched the tea ball.
The final conversion happened when I visited Empire Tea Services about 60 miles from here. I took home 4 teas that day and suddenly it all made sense. I got what the crazies were saying. This was followed by TeaVivre and all the amazing teas sent to my home. I was blown away.
My journey has been a long one. I still respect and enjoy the simple bagged teas that got me here, but I am now obsessed with the dance of the leaf and the eeking out of every subtle nuances in the cup.
I have read with great pleasure your story. It was truly a wonderful, life long journey which resulted, as I understand it from your conclusion, in a deep understanding and appreciation for tea. Still I am curious what is your favorite variety?
I don’t know if I could narrow it down to one favorite. I do love Yunnan teas especially Dian Hong. I love Jasmine Dragon Pearls. I guess I pretty much prefer China tea over all other varieties, although I recently had a Nepal tea that was a cross between a China black and a Darjeeling that I thought was near mind blowing. Of course there will always be an Earl Grey in my collection.
I would guess of all the teas I have tried my least favorite natural tea is Assam.
I had known for a long time that there is such a thing as loose leaf tea (Had a bag of Darjeeling with Lavender that I may have gotten at a New Age store. It was a lovely tea before it got stale:) Made the mistake of keeping it above the stove! And I didn’t have a strainer or anything, so it was difficult drinking it and trying to avoid also drinking the tea bits. Hehehe. So, like with most of my life, I drank bagged tea, mostly Bigelow’s but occasionally Lipton’s flavored teas and when Borders came around with their Cafe’s, I discovered Republic of Tea. Though the only flavor I am really crazy about with ROT is Blackberry Sage, and I am so glad they came out with a loose leaf version and that I found it at my local fruit market!!! So while I knew about loose leaf, for some reason I never really looked into seeing where I could buy some. I didn’t have a car until I was 28 and had sucky jobs with not alot of hours plus just had other interests. I am not crazy about buying stuff online/from catalogs unless I know the brand fairly well, and even then! LOL. So that limited me as well. And I was ok with the bagged tea anyways!
Then last March/April I was hanging around a local college town that has alot of neat shops and restarants with my Mom, and I convinced her to go with me to a New Age shop that has a tea cafe on the 2nd floor. We got a pot of a herbal called Winter Tonic, we both fell in love with it. I decided that I would see if there were shops closer to me, (The college town above is almost an hour away, usually can’t justify the gas, unless I got a few things to buy, and looking to make an afternoon of it, though even then.) Found Teavana’s (Yeah I know outrageously overpriced, been hit or miss, but then I expect that from any retailer.) and another store that is near my Grandmothers, (Whom I pick up every Monday to spend the evening at my house. When I need to go to that store, I usually wait til a Monday to go.) And have taken some chances with companies that do not have stores near me (Like David’s Tea, luckily have managed to convince some family members to get me tea sets like The Winter Collection for special events like my B-day.) and have taken advantage of a few companies that offer free samples in return for reviews here on Steepster. As soon as I get a new job, I plan on getting a credit card and once in a while checking out some more tea companies online. But those for the most part will be companies that sell samples that are relatively cheap.
Bagged, loose, blended or whatever variety you chose to try, a perfect tea is the way you and only you like it. Maybe what you enjoy can be a bad choice for another.
I can sympathize with you since during my college years I also struggled with the financial part and I can perfectly understand why you want to buy teas or samples relatively cheap. It will all get better with time. You know what they say: Keep calm and move on! Good luck to you!
Most of my life I’d thought drinking tea would be such a dignified hobby to have, I always wished I liked it, but the only tea I had tried was bitter black tea and I hated it. Then one day a couple of years ago I saw a loose licorice flavored tea sitting in my family’s pantry and decided to give it a go since I love licorice. This time I was in control and I always follow directions, so the tea came out sweet and barely bitter at all. I was amazed this was the same drink I’d had years ago.
All the other tea we had around the house were bagged and besides Constant Comment I couldn’t really get into any of them, so I decided to look online and placed an order with Harney and Sons and Rishi Teas. At the time I didn’t enjoy the straight teas I ordered from Rishi, but loved the flavored teas from Harney and Sons. Over the last couple years I found a few teas I liked straight (Darjeeling comes to mind) but mostly stuck with flavored teas (primarily from Harney).
It wasn’t until recently when I saw what Verdant was doing (with the help of this site) and decided to try some of their teas that I got really excited to start drinking more straight teas. The price of some straight teas used to scare me off, but now that I’ve learned you can steep them more than one time it doesn’t seem like a bad deal at all!
Indeed there are varieties of tea which can be reused and actually there are some such as oolong which get better with the second steeping. If you also think about their chemical compound and health benefits, straight tea can really be considered an investment.