What's your story with tea?

So, going out on a limb here for starting a topic…

As the woman who runs a Korean Tea shop back home said to me once, “everyone has their own story about how how they got into tea”
So, what’s yours?
Did someone in your life influence you into following a tea passion, or did you just walk into a tea shop, and find your interest hooked? What instances and explorations have created your path to tea?
Make it interesting!

33 Replies

cough hopefully the first (unless someone beats me) of many posts…

I began my ventures into the world of tea the summer after my sophomore year – it was a summer of adventures with a lesbian friend of a few months, who had just graduated. We made it a habit of going to Peets, and then walking around the mall – good, simple times. I decided to try the teas at Peet’s, and one day we walked out with a white Beehouse teapot, and a tin of Golden Dragon Oolong (ah! how nostalgic and innocent that memory is!).
Every night after our on-foot adventuring (she didn’t have her car), we would end up at my place and I’d brew up a pot of oolong without regard of water temp or steep time. (on that note, good thing I started with oolong, not green). I collected the entire selection of Oolongs at Peet’s – all three of them – and I eventually learned to distinguish vaguely between them.
Eventually, we found out that there was a Teavana in the mall, and that was actually rather astounding, such a large vault of tea had been under my nose the whole time. I became convinced that they were a haven, and truly spent hours in there every week – I became extremely familiar with the interior of the store, and i got friendly with the employees. At that time I had a lot of money, so I’d buy something every time I was in there… heh.
I noticed, a two or three months later, that there was not only a Teavana, but a Lupicia in the very same mall – wonder of wonders, man. I did the same thing that I did at Teavana, and it kind of became a routine for me for a year or two – walk to mall, go to Teavana, take some samples, go upstairs to Lupicia, get some samples.

From there….Adagio, Guayaki, Puripan, small tea stores here and there…
My nightly tea with my friend (we hung out, truly, almost every night up until my Senior year) kind of evolved into a more intricate ceremony, with a table, candles, incense… When I had friends over for tea, they were really impressed, and the ceremony evolved even further… at this point, about 60% of my bedroom back home is dedicated to tea, with art, a tapestry, shelves for tea, for teaware… I’ve seriously put thousands into tea.
All worth it, though. Tea has gotten me through the harder times in my life, and at times I feel like it’s the only consistent thing, even if I neglect it for weeks or months. Tea’s a pretty good friend, really. One of the things that made me not want to leave for college was the idea of leaving behind all my teaware, and the spot I had spent so much time creating for myself. Oh well.
I’ve found it to be a really good device for opening people up to talk, and I can spend hours with a person or two, sitting around the tea table. I’ve had people come over unannounced for a few pots, and I’ve even skipped class with people to go to my place for a few cups.
Magic stuff, tea. It’s been kind of a staple through the frustrations I’ve been feeling living at the university, and it’s a nice escape. As I’m planning on leaving the college world ASAP, hopefully tea will be a successful part of my business ventures in the future – we’ll see. Until then, it’s just one cup at a time, ya know?

takgoti said

I feel like I just watched an indie movie. In a good way.

Honey, I could write a novel and a screenplay on my experience with tea XD

Maybe someday I will.

Cofftea said

YOU REALLY SHOULD! The novel could be a steepster select item!=P

Keemun said

…we should have a cup of tea together.

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My Grandmother got me into tea as soon as I could drink on my own from a tea cup! So…maybe about 3 or a little bit before 3 years of age. I lost my Grandmother at the age of 5 and a half but I remember her like it was yesterday! Eventho she’s been gone for almost 26 years now…there are several things I will always remember her for and by – one being tea. We had tea every day with and after lunch.

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Angrboda said

I don’t know how old I was when I first started drinking tea. I can’t have been very old and it was something that involved large amounts of both milk and sugar so you probably couldn’t even call it ‘tea’ anymore. Gradually as I got older I got weaned off first milk and then sugar. It was just the random cheap supermarket brand, though.

I didn’t get it often, it was just the odd cup here and there. When I turned 15 I got my first teapot for my birthday along with (sadly) the only teacozy I own. After that I started very randomly making the odd pot for myself in my room. There were lots of Pickwick flavours then too, so sometimes I would get a little adventurous. I distinctly remember my father telling me that strawberry tea had absolutely no place what so ever on the breakfast table due to it being smelly. He doesn’t like tea at all, and I will fully admit for someone who doesn’t like it at all there are several teas that would be quite stinky. Most often though I used it for hot cocoa.

When I moved away from home I was given a small teachest from Pickwick with six different kinds of bags in it. As I emptied it, I didn’t like it being empty so I set out to try every single Pickwick flavour I could find where I shopped. I have a touch of OCD on certain issues so of course I didn’t care about any other brand than Pickwick. I couldn’t very well put Lipton in a Pickwick teachest! O.o

And then things started to take speed. As I tried more and more flavours, both green and black, I got more and more curious about how it was made and such things, so I started looking in books at the library and such. I tried buying a few loose leaf, but still just supermarket brands. I didn’t know where else to go and I didn’t have the amount of money to throw after it that I do now.

In 2004 I moved to the city where I live now and one of the first shops I found (apart from the local supermarket) was my little local teashop. It was amazing! All that tea. Literature told me that it was bound to be a better quality than what I had been used to, but to be honest I couldn’t really taste much difference. I liked knowing that it was better quality though, so I started losing interest in buying new bags. Shortly after that I discovered A C Perch’s webshop, Chaplon and Teaspring.com and these three places only turned me gradually more and more snobby about my tea.

And here we are today, owning some ten teapots not all of which are in use, and more tea than is probably entirely sane. Also a few books and a fair amount of snobbyness. Over on LJ I kept for a long time a table with all the teas I owned, which brand they were, which country they came from and which type they were. I stopped that a while ago though because I kept forgetting to delete stuff when I finished it and I forgot to add stuff when I bought it. I expect this Cupboard feature here that I haven’t got to play with yet is similar.

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teaplz said

What an interesting question!

Well, unlike many of the people here, I didn’t grow up drinking tea. In fact, I hated it. I hated how flavorless it was. That it, to me, tasted like dirty dishwater. Occasionally I’d take a sip from someone else’s cup, and I’d still have the same reaction.

About a year ago, I was diagnosed with IBS. As a result, I can’t eat a lot of my favorite foods anymore. One of the things that I read over and over again, as a result, was that peppermint and peppermint tea are stomach calmitives. So I hesitantly went out and bought a box for myself, and found out quickly that I really did like it.

From there I branched out into chamomile and other herbals. It was only this summer that I braved a cup of Decaf Lipton, and found myself suddenly not hating it anymore. I actually wanted it stronger!

Right now I’m still in the bagged-tea stage of my tealife. I’m still a complete novice. I’m most familiar with blacks, and I’ve dabbled in oolongs, but white is a complete mystery to me. As is green. So I’m constantly reading everyone’s reviews on here to get a sense of what the greater world of tea is like. I can’t wait to start on my loose leaf journey!

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Auggy said

Great first official non-Steepster employee thread!

I was introduced to hot tea at 16 when I spent a month with a family in England. They drank their tea with sugar and milk so I did too. I really enjoyed it but once I got back home I went back to mostly tea-free habits, only having the occasional bagged tea fixed English style.

Fast forward a few years. I spent a year in Japan and fell in love with green tea. Mostly it had to do more with the environment I was in when drinking the tea, not the taste. Sitting around in the living room with my host family, chatting and laughing in a weird mix of Japanese, English and charades, cold hands wrapped around a hot yunomi to stay warm, waiting for the bath to be free… When I got back home, I was VERY homesick and reached for tea (and miso soup) for comfort. But I would make the tea with boiling water so, needless to say, it was always pretty nasty.

Fast forward a few more years to 2007. I decided to once again attempt a green tea due to nostalgia. But this time, the back of the bag (Stash) said to use water lower than boiling temp. Success – it wasn’t disgusting! But it didn’t taste like what I’d had in Japan either so I started branching out, trying to find something that did. I got more bags of Stash – also discovering that not all bagged black tea was weak and boring – then I found Adagio’s TeaChat board where I found out about Den’s and Lupicia and all sorts of other places and kinds of tea and gradually larger and larger portions of my pantry became tea-space.

And that’s really long so I’ll stop now!

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Cofftea said

Mom has been drinking instant lipton black iced tea for as long as I can remember. So in the summer, that’s what I drank- although rarely because it’s not decaf. Then I fell into the hype that tea helped you loose weight so I bought some oolong tea (I was told that worked best) and a basket infuser. I went right from instant tea to loose leaf and jumped right over bagged tea. But I didn’t drink it because I liked it. I liked mint so I added mint to any tea I drank to cover the taste and drank it room temp (I always kept tea in my water bottle on my chair so it was neither hot nor iced).

I never liked hot tea. Looking back I think it was a texture thing because, while I drank cappuccino and lattes, I didn’t like black coffee and I didn’t like hot chocolate made w/ water (unless it was coffee) because of the texture. While I’m still a very texture oriented person (no hot chocolate made w/ water for me), my tastes began to mature and grow. One day I discovered that I liked black coffee so I tried hot tea and liked it. So I started w/ dessert teas. To this day 2 of my favorites were Botanical Indulgence’s caramel creme oolong and black whiskey cream.

In December of last year I made my 1st tea purchase (from Adagio) of non dessert teas that I drank hot sans peppermint. My order constisted of samples of pu erh dante, ooooh darjeeling, almond oolong, white pear, and white cucumber (still one of my faves, especially cold). I was HOOKED! Now I try almost anything, the weirder the better. I may not like everything, but I’m always glad I tried it.

Adagio also sucked me in w/ their tea blending feature. I blended my teas before, but now I can share my weird combos w/ others. I now use my frequent cup points and the points I earn from giving tea as gifts to quench my own addiction. I admit, I’ve stuck w/ Adagio for my online purchases because of my points build up. When I spend all of them I’ll move on to some place else:) I’m now starting to do tea reviews on teareviewblog.com and am considering starting my own separate website and hopefully being able to earn income from my reviews.

It’s quite ironic since I started only drinking instant sweetened iced tea, but I’m now a tea perfectionist. I always portion my tea per industry standards (2.25 grams per 6oz of water) and either steep them based on the industry time and temp standards or using my CDN digital tea thermometer.

I also do not add anything to my tea, except for milk in my chai- I can’t stand sweetened tea. My one exception is when I make coffee, lemonade, or cocktails. I often steep tea (my favorites are chais or Fava Tea Co.‘s Maple Sugar Black) in my coffee, not only to add flavor, but to add tea’s health benefits to my coffee. I also always make lemonade w/ either white or green (or a blend of both) chilled teas instead of plain water. I’m not a big alcohol drinker, but I when I have a drink at home I either I have a simple tea and vodka or kahlua (if it’s a black tea) or I mix 1 part double strength chilled green or white tea w/ an equal part white wine.

My newest experience w/ tea is matcha… and I’m IN LOVE! I need to get some and when I do, I’ll be having a bowl every morning.

While am no longer a sucker for tea hype, I now realize there are legit health benefits so, unless I’m doing a tea review, I choose not to drink herbals alone- but I often mix them with true tea. My biggest pet peeve is when I go out to eat and I order hot tea (which is unfortunately always bagged) and I’m given an herbal tisane. HELLO! I said tea!

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teafiend said

I’ve alway liked tea, but was definitely more of a coffee person up until like last month. So, I’m still very very inexperienced but trying to expand my base.
The kick off was on JL in a tea community on that posted about a Wo Wu ceremony. It sounded really cool, and I wanted to participate. Then, I realized I’ve never really drank tea and had about 5 generic kinds. I would have the occasionally cup of jasmine, but had no idea of the vast tea world. Additionally, I was looking for hobby and it seemed like something that could hold my attention.
So I found Adagio teas and bought a sampler set to see if it was something I was interested in. The next day I found Steepster. While I generally dislike the idea of blogging(I didn’t have a facebook till this year and I’m 18), this site seemed different. Mostly because it has a focus, but also a lot of wiggle room.
And I just like to hear myself talk. Well type, but you get the idea.
As I sipped my first tin of Adagio tea, Thai Chai, I knew instantly that this was in fact my thing.
Overall, it was kind of forced. No great history of my family drinking tea, or a life changing tea moment, but I’m here now and totally loving it. I do check my Steepster far more often than my FB or LJ, and actually post here.
Tea did however help me secure a place as a notable undergraduate researcher. I did know jasmine by chance due to my minor forays in youth, and a professor asked me if I wanted a cup after class to continue a discussion. He is one the most interesting people I know, and also is one of the most well connected professors at my school. I’m sure his recommendation will be the main factor for getting me into a medical school. When he told what kind of teas he had, I jumped at the jasmine because it was the most familiar and I knew I liked it, thus wouldn’t make a face. Apparently it was his favorite, and a year later I’m his TA and have nearly published a paper under his and another professors guidance. Yesterday, I introduced him to the glory of Adagio teas, and will forever have the “Golden Child” status so competed for.
My tea fanaticism has been so over the top everyone I know, and don’t even really talk to, knows that I’ve become the crazy-tea-lady. Which is much better than my former position as the crazy-lady-who’s-gonna-make-dinosaurs-and-take-over-the-world-BTWS-SCIENCE. Granted that statement is still true, my plans will be a little more secretive(and now involves vegan!raptors to help me defeat plants, which I hate, thus why I’m vegetarian).
This post shows more of my crazy than I meant…
I started to like tea, and this site has enabled me to like even more.
Still, tl;dr.

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Jack admin said

I think the first loose-leaf I went out and bought was from McNulty’s in the West Village (http://www.yelp.com/biz/mcnultys-tea-and-coffee-co-new-york). Before that, it was just drinking whatever was around the office (I was working at an ad agency then).

After that, I picked up a tin of Rishi Snow Buds from Whole Foods http://steepster.com/teas/rishi-tea/1-organic-snow-buds-xue-ya on a whim one day and was amazed at its smell and taste! It kind of just grew from there, until I was drinking enough (and reading tea books and going to tea classes) that I needed to keep a tasting journal.

And that’s how Steepster got started :)

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Carolyn said

I started drinking tisanes when I was about 11 or 12. This was in the early 70s, back when Celestial Seasonings was nearly unknown outside of Boulder, CO. They made a tea called Pelican Punch which had carob and other yummy stuff and I loved it. It meshed well with the vegetarianism I was experimenting with at that age. Sadly, they discontinued that tea and in my opinion Celestial Seasonings hasn’t made a better tisane since.

Most of the real tea I’d tried was oversteeped cheap tea leaves. Consequently, it was bitter and awful. I had a few nice teas in Japanese restaurants but when I left Denver I left all that behind, including drinking tea.

Last year I tried writing a novel in a month (NaNoWriMo) and experimented with replacing a large portion of my blood with coffee and junk food to do so. It was an experiment in driving my health clear into the ground. (But I did win NaNo, yay me!)

I struggled with this after NaNo but didn’t really find a solution until a friend told me about wonderful Chinese teas and shared her sources with me. Genmaicha and Juan Xian were revelations! Who knew tea could taste like that?

Since then I’ve experimented and read everything about teas I could find. I’m a true tea newbie and Steepster has been a large part of my education.

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Luthien said

When I was growing up in Australia in the 1970s, everybody drank coffee (almost always instant) and tea (almost always bog standard black tea bags) in about equal measure. But I never liked tea as I knew it in those days. I was always a coffee drinker.

Fast forward to my early 20s, when I moved to the big city and shared a house with a girl who liked herbal teas, so I got to know peppermint tea and various strong red fruit blends in tea bag form. I drank most of them, but red fruit teas never really grabbed me much and peppermint tea was the only one that really stayed with me after I moved out of that house. I was still very much a coffee girl, living in Little Italy where there was fabulous coffee available everywhere.

Fast forward again to the early 2000s, when my migraines reached the chronic daily headache stage. Caffeine in certain amounts can be good for easing migraines, but too high a concentration of it tends to trigger migraines. Sadly for me, brewed coffee has just about the highest concentration of caffeine of any caffeinated drink, so… I gave up coffee. I didn’t know what to do without my staple drink. I was just about on the point of considering taking up smoking to stop myself going crazy. Luckily, that was when a friend of mine suggested I try something called “white tea”, which she liked and was relatively low in caffeine and high in anti-oxidants.

So I tried my first pai mu tan. And I liked it! It didn’t taste like my idea of “tea”. And it also eased migraine pain, which was an added amazing bonus. So… I kept drinking it.

In my search for loose pai mu tan, which was then not available in bagged form in supermarkets as it is now, I found The Tea Centre’s main store in the middle of Sydney. Soon, I was sampling some of their other loose teas as well as pai mu tan. Then I started noticing various other tea specialist shops in the city, including a Japanese tea place (which is no longer there and whose name I can’t remember.) I tried genmaicha, brewed it completely wrong, didn’t like it (strangely enough! g) went back and talked to the people at the Japanese tea store and slowly started to get an idea of how to brew green tea so that it didn’t taste like burnt seaweed.

A little bit after that I discovered online tea ordering and the rest, as they say, is history. I still don’t like black tea very much, a left-over from my dislike for “tea” growing up, and rarely drink it. I make up for that with white, green, herbal and, most recently, oolong teas, which have now taken over an entire shelf of my pantry cupboard. I blame Steepster for this – it’s SO MUCH easier to keep track of my teas since I’ve been using this site. g

Cofftea said

Instant coffee and bagged tea? Ew.:(

Auggy said

So now I’m wanting to go on the hunt for some pai mu tan because anything that helps with migraines is awesome!

Cofftea said

Since it’s all from the same plant, I’d think all tea would help w/ headaches/migraines?

Luthien said

Cofftea, I can’t tell you exactly why white tea has the effect on migraines that it does, but I think it has something to do with the fact that it is the least processed of all the different varieties of tea that come from the tea plant. It’s very high in anti-oxidants, so that may be part of it, but green tea is also very high in anti-oxidants and it doesn’t have the same effect. I have heard that there have been some studies done about the effects of white tea on migraines but I haven’t looked at any myself. All I can really tell you about is my own experience and the similar experiences of several of my friends who also suffer from migraines. I have had migraines for more than twenty years and I was used to NOTHING working on them apart from really hard core pain killers, so I was very sceptical about the likelihood that a tea would help. Butpai mu tan does ease my migraine pain, every single time.

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