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In pursuit of tea knowledge: tea resources for the emerging teaist

By Kym Cooper. Posted
The Steepery Tea Co. - Chicaco Smith Chawan

When I reflect on my tea journey to date I always wonder if the path I took to pursuit tea knowledge may have been different if I didn't approach it as haphazardly as I did. Would I have arrived at a different point? Or would I have arrived at the same point perhaps via a different path? For me, it doesn't really matter as my personal journey to acquire tea knowledge has certainly not ended. If anything, with every new tea I drink or new tea practitioner I meet, comes the realisation that tea is fluid and dynamic and mastering it in its entirety is not possible.  

I honestly believe that had I been equipped with better resources and tips from trusted people within the tea community early on I may have reached certain points in my tea journey earlier, invested my time & resources a little differently and I may have thought about capturing my own tea knowledge from an earlier point of time. This got me interested in writing a series of blog posts tailored to the emerging "Teaist". Exploring this idea of how to garner tea knowledge, useful approaches and what tools and resources exist that I might find useful in this journey. Ultimately half of the beauty of exploring tea is the journey. Not all paths look the same and not all approaches resonate with everyone. We all learn differently. But I have written these blog posts to give you some food for thought and perhaps bringing a consciousness to your approach to tea knowledge. 

In the first installment, we asked some of our fellow tea practitioners to share their insights on this topic with you. We posed 2 questions. We asked for one tip that they had for a person embarking on a journey to acquire tea knowledge and one resource they would recommend to assist you on this quest. I have also shared mine at the end for good measure. Make a cup of tea, sit down and enjoy.

What is one tip that you have for a person embarking on a journey to acquire tea knowledge?

Cupping is to know the tea. Early in my journey of studying tea, I was fortunate to encounter a wonderful knowledgeable Taiwanese tea family. Both brothers and father were adamant that you must cup regularly to educate your tea palate. You cup to know the tea you are buying. You cup to check on your stock. Cupping tea makes the leaf give up all their secrets. No place to hide, you will discover the good and the bad qualities of the leaf. Tania Stacey, Cuppa Cha.

Invest in a temperature variable kettle. To build your tea knowledge you will want to taste a lot of different types of tea; but your leaves will only unveil their beauty and their complex flavour profile if they are steeped at the right temperature. With a temperature variable kettle, you can pre-select the exact temperature you need, taking all the guesswork away and making it easy to get the best out of each tea. Anna Kydd, The Tea Curator.

After I sat in my first tea ceremony I was hooked and from that point on tea has become a big part of my life. Tea has lead me too so many interesting places, people and experiences. It's helped to shape how I see mundane everyday moments into something more wonderous and keeps me in a space of gratitude. To drink tea in a mindful way and be completely present with it has been my biggest teacher. Tea has lead me on a journey to connect deeper with nature, understand and respect our place on this amazing planet we call home. Bo Wong, My Organic Life.

At the point in time when you realise you are a little more serious about tea than anyone else you know: make new tea friends, share in tea and find your tea mentors. There are so many great local tea communities that provide a space to share tea with others (e.g., Meetup or Facebook groups). Drinking and sharing in tea with others and brewing for another person quickly allows your tea knowledge to grow. There is no room for ego in tea, never believe that you know more about tea than the next person. Kym Cooper, The Steepery Tea Co. 

What is one resource you would recommend to an emerging teaist to assist them on their journey? 

My Youtube channel of course! Lots of great information for free, you just have to give your time to watch and learn. Seriously, save your money to visit the tea plantations, no book or tea course can replace the feeling of standing with the tea farmers discussing the weather conditions that year and drinking the fruits of their labour – the tea they have produced that year. Tania Stacey, Cuppa Cha. A link to Tania's Tea Knowledge channel is below!

A good tea book. While the internet is filled with an enormous amount of information about tea, a lot of it is incorrect or conflicting. One of my favourite tea books is 'How to Make Tea, The Science Behind the Leaf' by Brian R. Keating and Kim Long. It's a great entry point to the world of tea and a nice small book to read with your feet up and a good cup of tea.  Anna Kydd, The Tea Curator.

To understand the journey, materials, energy and places tea, water and where the teaware I use comes from will make a huge difference in how you experience tea. As a Global Tea Hut member,  a not for profit organisation I've learnt many things about tea, the preparation of tea, how it's made, it's history and the difference wild/organic tea and why we need to support this movement more. It's been a wonderful portal of knowledge for me. As my journey with tea started from my love of ceremony and nature connection some books I would recommend are "Tea Medicine" by Aaron Daniel Fisher and the plant series Stephen Harrod Buhner writes is amazing. I hope to one day share a bowl of tea with you! Bo Wong, My Organic Life.

One of the best resources available to you is the one you can create yourself. Drink widely, read widely and record your tasting experiences from early on. Building your own tea catalogue, refining and learning about your tea palate by drinking and making notes helps you learn more about tea and gives you a very valuable reference in the future. Most importantly it helps you understand what you are drinking. By routinely identifying and recording information about the teas you encounter it does incredible things for your tea knowledge. I wish I had done this from the beginning. Kym Cooper, The Steepery Tea Co.

I would like to personally thank all of the contributors this week to Tealosophy. The beautiful thing about the tea community is that you have an opportunity to meet and connect with such a diverse group of people who all have their own focus and interests. I really believe that my tea friends this week have shared valuable advice to those coming into tea. In the next blog post I will be sharing my comprehensive list of tea resources and will add these contributions to it. But until then please read a little about this week's contributors who are all as passionate as I am about helping others fall in love with pure leaf tea!    

Tania Stacey, Cuppa Cha & Tea Knowledge you tube channel

Tania Stacey Bio from Cuppa Cha

Anna Kydd, The Tea Curator

Anna Kydd Bio from The Tea Curator 

Bo Wong, My Organic Life 

Bo Wong Bio of My Organic Life 



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