92

My 100th tasting note on Steepster! Thanks to everyone for making this community what it is: a friendly and fantastic hangout for tea fanatics. I visit this place at least a couple times a day (usually more) because it’s just a great place to be!

This was a sample I got with my last Verdant order, and I tried it gongfuish style in my tasting cup, with subsequent short steeps. Like the Laoshan black, the little curly dry leaves gradually unfold into full tea leaves. On my first sip I was immediately hit with asparagus! Thankfully I love asparagus. Next there were green beans. On the second steep the beans were still there but also a bit of toast flavor. Third steeps and after it got really creamy and buttery, almost like the bi luo chun I had a few months back but the sesame oil flavor was not quite as strong. Unfortunately I didn’t try the summer harvest while it was available, but this is a really delicious and well-made green. What can I say? The He family just makes fantastic tea.

Warning: this ended up really long!
I’ve been swirling something around inside my brain for awhile now on the nature of snobbery as it relates to tea and literature, and I think I will finally share it. Without going into too many details, awhile back someone came on the Steepster forums and said something about a much loved tea company that was not nice (or true), and it was pretty snobby too. It got me thinking.
At the time I was working on a paper comparing Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus” to Thomas Kyd’s “The Spanish Tragedy”. I had a couple of thoughts on how I think of snobbery, and I think Shakespeare serves as a good example for both of them. First, that sometimes people make things highbrow or “fancy” when the original creator did not intend for it to be highbrow or fancy. Second, that being able to appreciate what is “fancy” does not necessarily take away from one’s enjoyment of things that are not. (Can you tell I just put on my academic writing hat?)
To tackle the first issue, let’s think about Shakespeare and “Titus Anddronicus”. Our society absolutely views Shakespeare as highbrow entertainment. In part, this is an issue of language; the English language has evolved quite a bit since the Renaissance. However I think Shakespeare is largely thought of as highbrow because academia has made him so. How many times have we heard Shakespeare referred to as the greatest author that ever lived? And yet, Shakespeare was far from highbrow in his own time. In later years his troupe performed for royalty on occasions, but if you were a Londoner in Shakespeare’s day you could see one of his plays for a penny. You could also see a bear-baiting for a penny, in fact those took place right down the street. Shakespeare wrote from popular demand; playwrights had to keep up with popular opinion if they did not want to lose a sale to bear-baiting. “Titus Andronicus” is a prime example of this; it’s full of revenge, spectacle, and dead bodies. Revenge tragedies were very popular when he wrote it. People wanted to see revenge and dead bodies, so Shakespeare gave it to them. It’s only now that we make it highbrow entertainment. Likewise, I do not imagine that all tea makers think of making tea as a “highbrow” beverage, but how often do people make it so?
Secondly, I understand that as we enjoy better tea, our tastes change. As I have learned more about literature, I’ve gained a better appreciation of certain authors and books. Five years ago I would not have written a six page paper based off of four lines in a Shakespeare play. However, this knowledge has not made me only happy to read Shakespeare or classic authors. In fact, many of the books I read for enjoyment are new and popular books. I may not feel they are as complex as Shakespeare, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like them. However, there are limits to this; there are some massively popular books out there that without naming titles, I just think are bad. Likewise, there are many teas I might have enjoyed years ago that I now think are bad. What I hope is that I continue to find a balance. I want to be able to appreciate very fine teas as well as the ones that are decent, or middle of the road. I hope that I also always appreciate fine literature, as well as the books that are just decent. I think sometimes we can like things that are not “highbrow”, and things that are fancy don’t have to be fancy.

And if you’re still with me after all that, I award you five gold star stickers.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 15 sec
Claire

Thanks Bonnie! :)

Bonnie

HOORAY FOR YOU 100!!! As the winemaker at Mondavi told me, he sometimes drank Gallo Reserve which was inexpensive but tasted good even though his wines were more expensive and highly desired. To be a tea ‘snob’ is to have a lack of humility. When you lose humility, you prove that you have failed to learn from tea. You have made a good point.

Rachel Sincere

Congrats on #100!

Ninavampi

Congrats no 100!!!

DaisyChubb

Claire! Amazing, first of all – congrats for 100!
Second of all, I would like to redeem my 5 stars ;)

That was wonderfully written – I’m a theatre student so I followed the whole way (while kicking myself as to why I had never thought of it that way before ;) ) Thank you for opening my eyes to a way of thought that I’ve been struggling with ever since the little forum kerfuffle.

Thank you for putting my feelings into words :)

Donna A

Very interesting thoughts. I got my bachelor’s in nursing, but took Shakespeare as an elective and when I found out I would be having to write even just a page or two on a few lines in Shakespeare, I was very anxious to say the least! Anyway, I think you make some great points regarding both tea and books.

Invader Zim

Congrats on 100 Claire! Now where’s my 5 stars?! You write well enough that even I, a wildlife science major, was able to follow and understand. I agree with Bonnie in that the nature of snobbery/highbrow is the lack of humility.

softrevolution

Loved reading this! What an interesting comparison; I found myself nodding along with you as I read – there are so many things in food, literature, and culture in general that have humble beginnings but somehow stumble into the realm of highbrow, which I find pretty amusing. Lobster and foie gras come to mind as dishes that started out as poor man’s food but evolved into delicacies. Really makes you wonder!

Claire

Thanks everyone and 5 gold star stickers to all my readers (and I hope you all have some good tea too)! :)

Bonnie

I wish we could all have afternoon Tea, go to the Theatre for Shakespeare then have a dinner of Lobster and Foie Gras with some good Wine.

Claire

That sounds fantastic, Bonnie. I’m down for all of that!

Angrboda

I agree with your thoughts about the snobbery. When I first started really learning about tea, I turned completely super-snob for a while? Tea bags? No thank you. Cream in tea? Gosh, no! Always milk if anything. That sort of thing. All. The. Way. Now, however, I have learned even more and I’ve come to realise that life is just too short for that sort of thing, and if I occasionally drink the odd teabag when there’s nothing else interesting available, then so be it. I can always go home and make something else afterwards. I can’t be bothered to be a snob. It’s way too energy consuming, really.

bravedave

Totally agree with your thoughts Claire. Well said.

Nik

Congrats on 100, Claire! Loved reading your thoughts on tea, literature and snobbery. I agree with Angrboda: life’s just too short. For me, drinking tea is less about education and health than it is about yum. Every cup of tea is made in search of the almighty yum. Your yum may not be the same as my yum, and that’s okay. If my yum is achieved with the help of milk ‘n’ sugar, condensed milk, honey, maple syrup, ‘nog, whatever, that’s okay too. And if other tea drinkers don’t agree with me and cringe at my list of potential additives, well, that’s okay too. =)

Mark B

Well said.

Claire

Thanks again everyone for the kind words. Recently my friend Lauren wrote a post on being inclusive vs. exclusive and it summed up a lot of my feelings on the subject: http://www.falconesse.com/2012/11/14/theres-room-for-everyone-in-the-nerd-house/

Claire

I forgot to add there is a lot of swearing in that post, so if swearing offends you fyi!

Donna A

I think Lauren has the right idea. Why not be inclusive (as long as no harm is being done?)

Invader Zim

I agree, there’s no need to make fun of someone because of their interests or lack of knowledge of something. Introduce them to it if you are interested in it instead of excluding them!

El Monstro

A lot of my professors didn’t care for Shakespeare that much. If I remember correctly, a lot of his stuff is basically updated Greek plays? There are all kinds of crazy conspiracy theories involving him too. I liked Macbeth and his psycho wife quite a bit.

Claire

Many of his plots were adapted or taken from Greek works, and Shakespeare was particularly influenced by Ovid’s Metamorphoses. While today we see this kind of writing as largely negative, this was the standard for the 16th and early 17th century. If you read a lot of Renaissance literature, you’ll see that authors commonly borrowed from one another or mimicked another person’s work. For some interesting examples of borrowing, read Kyd’s Spanish Tragedy and then Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, or Shakespeare’s Hamlet and then The Revenger’s Tragedy (author unknown). Other fun facts: Shakespeare was not the only writer of his time to write plays called “King Lear” or “Hamlet.” His telling of King Lear has some shocking changes compared to other playwright’s versions. Unfortunately Kyd’s version of Hamlet got lost.

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Comments

Claire

Thanks Bonnie! :)

Bonnie

HOORAY FOR YOU 100!!! As the winemaker at Mondavi told me, he sometimes drank Gallo Reserve which was inexpensive but tasted good even though his wines were more expensive and highly desired. To be a tea ‘snob’ is to have a lack of humility. When you lose humility, you prove that you have failed to learn from tea. You have made a good point.

Rachel Sincere

Congrats on #100!

Ninavampi

Congrats no 100!!!

DaisyChubb

Claire! Amazing, first of all – congrats for 100!
Second of all, I would like to redeem my 5 stars ;)

That was wonderfully written – I’m a theatre student so I followed the whole way (while kicking myself as to why I had never thought of it that way before ;) ) Thank you for opening my eyes to a way of thought that I’ve been struggling with ever since the little forum kerfuffle.

Thank you for putting my feelings into words :)

Donna A

Very interesting thoughts. I got my bachelor’s in nursing, but took Shakespeare as an elective and when I found out I would be having to write even just a page or two on a few lines in Shakespeare, I was very anxious to say the least! Anyway, I think you make some great points regarding both tea and books.

Invader Zim

Congrats on 100 Claire! Now where’s my 5 stars?! You write well enough that even I, a wildlife science major, was able to follow and understand. I agree with Bonnie in that the nature of snobbery/highbrow is the lack of humility.

softrevolution

Loved reading this! What an interesting comparison; I found myself nodding along with you as I read – there are so many things in food, literature, and culture in general that have humble beginnings but somehow stumble into the realm of highbrow, which I find pretty amusing. Lobster and foie gras come to mind as dishes that started out as poor man’s food but evolved into delicacies. Really makes you wonder!

Claire

Thanks everyone and 5 gold star stickers to all my readers (and I hope you all have some good tea too)! :)

Bonnie

I wish we could all have afternoon Tea, go to the Theatre for Shakespeare then have a dinner of Lobster and Foie Gras with some good Wine.

Claire

That sounds fantastic, Bonnie. I’m down for all of that!

Angrboda

I agree with your thoughts about the snobbery. When I first started really learning about tea, I turned completely super-snob for a while? Tea bags? No thank you. Cream in tea? Gosh, no! Always milk if anything. That sort of thing. All. The. Way. Now, however, I have learned even more and I’ve come to realise that life is just too short for that sort of thing, and if I occasionally drink the odd teabag when there’s nothing else interesting available, then so be it. I can always go home and make something else afterwards. I can’t be bothered to be a snob. It’s way too energy consuming, really.

bravedave

Totally agree with your thoughts Claire. Well said.

Nik

Congrats on 100, Claire! Loved reading your thoughts on tea, literature and snobbery. I agree with Angrboda: life’s just too short. For me, drinking tea is less about education and health than it is about yum. Every cup of tea is made in search of the almighty yum. Your yum may not be the same as my yum, and that’s okay. If my yum is achieved with the help of milk ‘n’ sugar, condensed milk, honey, maple syrup, ‘nog, whatever, that’s okay too. And if other tea drinkers don’t agree with me and cringe at my list of potential additives, well, that’s okay too. =)

Mark B

Well said.

Claire

Thanks again everyone for the kind words. Recently my friend Lauren wrote a post on being inclusive vs. exclusive and it summed up a lot of my feelings on the subject: http://www.falconesse.com/2012/11/14/theres-room-for-everyone-in-the-nerd-house/

Claire

I forgot to add there is a lot of swearing in that post, so if swearing offends you fyi!

Donna A

I think Lauren has the right idea. Why not be inclusive (as long as no harm is being done?)

Invader Zim

I agree, there’s no need to make fun of someone because of their interests or lack of knowledge of something. Introduce them to it if you are interested in it instead of excluding them!

El Monstro

A lot of my professors didn’t care for Shakespeare that much. If I remember correctly, a lot of his stuff is basically updated Greek plays? There are all kinds of crazy conspiracy theories involving him too. I liked Macbeth and his psycho wife quite a bit.

Claire

Many of his plots were adapted or taken from Greek works, and Shakespeare was particularly influenced by Ovid’s Metamorphoses. While today we see this kind of writing as largely negative, this was the standard for the 16th and early 17th century. If you read a lot of Renaissance literature, you’ll see that authors commonly borrowed from one another or mimicked another person’s work. For some interesting examples of borrowing, read Kyd’s Spanish Tragedy and then Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, or Shakespeare’s Hamlet and then The Revenger’s Tragedy (author unknown). Other fun facts: Shakespeare was not the only writer of his time to write plays called “King Lear” or “Hamlet.” His telling of King Lear has some shocking changes compared to other playwright’s versions. Unfortunately Kyd’s version of Hamlet got lost.

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I mostly drink straight tea, and some of my favorites are green teas and oolongs. I almost always have some sencha and tieguanyin in my tea cupboard (and if I run out, awesome, an excuse to buy tea). I do like some flavored teas, but can’t stand really sugary stuff so if it’s very sweet I probably won’t like it. I can’t drink milk so all my reviews are of tea without milk and sugar!
I’ve been getting into puerh the last few months.

Outside of Steepster I’m an English Lit major, and will FINALLY be graduating after the Fall 2013 semester. After that I plan on applying for graduate school to obtain a Master’s in Library Science. Currently I work as a student assistant in the Archives and Special Collections department of my school’s library.
I also like reading (of course) and playing video games when I have time for them.

I’m happy to send samples to anyone in the US or Canada. Just ask. :)

Location

San Francisco, CA

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