Tea Snob vs Tea Lover: What’s the Difference?

Royal Albert Country Rose Tea Set
Royal Albert Country Rose Tea Set - perfect for a tea snob, uh "princess"?

I’ve been accused more than once of being a tea snob (or a “princess” about my tea). Frankly, I find the accusation troubling. While drinking good tea and preparing it correctly is important to me, I don’t think that this alone makes me, or anyone else whose shares my sensibilities, a tea snob. While  I have been known to  wince while watching someone wringing out their teabag into a cup of tea, and generally order coffee instead of mediocre bagged tea at restaurants, I also enjoy teas in all price ranges as well as flavored teas and even herbal tisanes. I don’t take milk or sugar in my tea, but that is more a matter of preference than snobbery, and I loathe the over-pricing of some teas by tea companies that are more concerned with image than providing quality tea at fair prices to their customers.

A wise person once said the difference between a snob and a connoisseur is that the snob drinks, or doesn’t drink, a tea because he is concerned about how others will judge his choice. The connoisseur on the other hand drinks tea because she truly enjoys it.  Here are a few other examples of how a snob can be distinguished from someone who simply loves good tea:

  • A tea snob is inclined to make snap judgements about a tea based on its origin, leaf size and processing method. Tea lovers know, however, that what really matters is how the tea tastes in the cup. While I admit to a preference for orthodox, loose leaf teas, I’ve had some really delicious CTC and bagged teas as well. I’ve also had a lot of  supposedly “premium” teas that have left me cold. Those leaves might be pretty, but if they don’t brew up nice, I fail to see the point in drinking their liquor.
  • Tea snobs often freak at the notion of a flavored or blended tea. Now, I personally prefer my teas unflavored and really love the subtle nuances of a well-grown and processed single estate tea, but I also appreciate the tea-blender’s craft. Some flavored teas are just plain delicious, and there is nothing wrong with acknowledging this.
  • Preferring more “challenging” teas, such as pu’erh doesn’t necessarily make a person a superior judge of tea quality. It may just be a matter of personal preference. Insisting only drinking one type of tea, because one deems black tea to be too “ordinary” is just plain silly.
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