One thing that most tea drinkers treasure is their personal taste. They seem to have a favorite tea flavor, a favorite treat to enjoy with that tea, and even a favorite time of day to sip and munch. I see more limits being put on personal taste every day for reasons such as “it’s harmful to you,” “it costs taxpayers money,” and more. Good intentions infringing on your ability to choose. Time for a bit of pondering on this over the teapot. First, fill the kettle with water and set it on the stove. Then, commence pondering.
Some people hold their own personal taste in such high esteem that they want to take the “personal” out of your “personal taste” and substitute it with theirs. They move hemlines up and up and up until there is hardly anything to hem and then down and down and down until you’re tripping over skirt folds like women did in Victorian days. They widen ties and lapels and then narrow them, and tell you that your pants should be three or four sizes larger than you need and hang down or very tight so your voice is an octave higher. They say that men should not shave for several days to acquire a “hunkish” look and that women should either style their hair into something that nature could never have managed or wear it totally limp and straight. With each change, they say that it is the “new style.” They design cars with fins, cars with sleek lines, cars that look like the little go-carts you raced as a kid, and with each change tell you that this is the one you should choose if you’re a wise consumer. They make up a “food pyramid” that they say is what you should follow to “eat right,” and then they declare this pyramid obsolete, replacing it with a new image, the “food plate.” Then, they tell you that you must follow this because the old pyramid is why so many people are overweight.
How did we ever get along without them?
When it comes to tea, “experts” tell you how to properly taste and what flavor “notes” and “aftertastes” to expect. They say that there are certain ways to properly steep the tea to get these flavors, certain teawares in which to do the steeping, and certain cups in which to drink them for proper enjoyment. They come a bit short of assigning a tea sommelier to your house to make sure all is done as it should be.
Does all this “expert advice” and declaring things to be “in fashion” or not really matter? I know a teenager who, since she started eating solid food, has stuck with a diet that consists mainly of elbow macaroni sprinkled with parmesan. Occasionally, she varies this by having a bowl of sugar-laden cereal with milk. Is she sickly, grossly overweight or underweight, or in some other way in less than peak condition? Nope. Gee, how could that be? She eats according to her personal taste, not according to the now defunct “food pyramid” or its replacement the “food plate.” She eats what is right for her.
That applies to our tea. We should listen to our personal taste and that may involve altering our steeping procedures so the resulting cuppa tea fits that taste. The same goes for various other issues popping up in the world of tea these days. For example, we tea drinkers are being bombarded with a constant barrage of statements that say we should buy tea from a company that is part of the Fair Trade crowd (without that clearly being defined or any proof that it really makes life better for anyone) and that the tea should be organic. Then, there are the celebrities jumping into the tea game, wanting you to buy a tea based upon their name recognition. No, thanks, I’ll stick to my personal taste!
Speaking of which, the water is ready for the pot. Time to steep the tea.
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