Flavor First

There are any number of reasons why a person might choose to drink tea – unless you happen to be yours truly. Then there’s really only one reason.

For many tea drinkers the appeal of Camellia sinensis, as with coffee and other beverages, is that it makes a fairly effective caffeine delivery system. I’m not averse to putting a little spring in my step, especially when I’m having a sluggish morning, but I’d probably be just as happy without the caffeine in tea, if everything else were the same.

Other tea lovers might like all of the various accoutrements that have grown up around tea drinking. For some this might be the scones, clotted cream, cutesy little sandwiches with the crusts cut off, and everything else that’s part of parcel of a proper afternoon tea. Or you might prefer the more contemplative and/or meditative aspects of tea preparation and drinking rituals that are Asian-inspired, such the Japanese tea ceremony or the gaiwan method of tea preparation and serving.

Then there are the much ballyhooed health benefits said to be conferred upon one and all (and their kith and kin) by drinking tea. I’ve grumbled about this one many times before, until I’m downright blue in the face, as a matter of fact, but I might as well touch on it at least one more time. While I absolutely and positively do not object to the notion that tea might do a body good, it’s really just a side benefit for me and it doesn’t have all that much to do with why I drink it.

So now that I’ve summarized some of the various reasons that don’t impel me to drink tea, what’s the reason that I do drink it? I gave a pretty big clue in the title of the piece — it’s the flavor. Which is the reason why I buy the best tea I can afford (or encourage merchants who want their teas reviewed at my tea site to send their best). It’s also why I choose not to mask the delicate and subtle flavors of a great tea with any kind of additives or adulteration.

So, while I’m not averse to tea as a pick-me-up, a ritual, or a cure-all (so to speak), when it comes right down to it it’s all about the flavor first. Or to quote the motto I use at my own site, “life’s short – drink good tea.”

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3 thoughts on “Flavor First

  1. Pingback: Weekend Highlights – Noteworthy Articles by Fellow Bloggers – Dec 17, 2011 « Granny's Parlour

  2. Great commentary. It occurs to me as I pause to savor this article that some of the observations you make may apply to certain foods. Somehow, the things we ingest are far more enjoyable when we focus on the pleasure they bring to the senses, rather than getting caught up in health benefits and rituals. These take care of themselves. Flavor, like appreciation itself, requires being in the moment.

  3. I couldn’t agree with you more, Bill. I see little point in drinking anything if I don’t like how it tastes. I’m the same way with wine, spirits, etc as well: The important thing is taste. . .the health benefits, socializing, or even getting a “buzz” (caffeine or otherwise) is quite incidental.

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