10 Lessons I’ve Learned About Tea

Don't spill the matcha
Don't spill the matcha

I’m not one of those people who have been drinking tea since birth. As a matter of fact, I’ve only been a tea drinker for a relatively short period of time, about ten percent of my life. But over the course of the past few years I’ve been doing my best to make up for lost time, and I’ve picked up some lessons along the way. Here are a few of them:

  1. Never, ever boil the water for green tea. Really.
  2. There’s no sense in crying over spilled milk. Spill matcha (Japanese green tea powder) all over the kitchen and you’re justified in throwing a full-scale tantrum.
  3. The merchant’s recommended steeping times are probably too long. Maybe it’s just me.
  4. Tea wasn’t really discovered by that Chinese emperor, the one who just happened to be boiling water (outside, apparently, and yes, most emperors do spend a fair amount of time boiling water, now that you mention it) when leaves from a nearby tea tree just happened to be carried aloft on a breeze and just happened to land in the kettle and said emperor just so happened to give the resulting brew (which must have been a bit weak, unless it was a very tiny kettle or unless about a pound or two of leaves just happened to be borne aloft) a taste and pronounced it good. Come on.
  5. You can’t decaffeinate tea by rinsing the leaves in hot water for thirty seconds and discarding the water, no matter how many people say so. If this were a viable method, tea sellers would be falling over themselves to adopt it.
  6. You get what you pay for. Match the per cup cost of a high quality loose leaf tea against what you’d pay for so-so stuff at that big coffee and tea chain and there’s no contest.
  7. We all like what we like. People who put milk, sweeteners and whatever in their teas (or green tea – gasp) are not bad people.
  8. Drunk – it’s not just for alcohol anymore.
  9. Tea can give you a boost, even as it calms you down. No kidding.
  10. There’s feather duster type dust and there’s tea dust. Neither one’s good for much.

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