Time for Tea Drinkers to S.E.T.T.LE

Things in the world of tea can be very turbulent, with bad weather, labor strikes, low prices at auction, factory fires, and a host of other ills befalling those who work hard to bring those tea leaves to market. But the ones who suffer most are the tea leaves themselves. Yes, I said the tea leaves. So what if they’re not sentient? It’s time for tea drinkers to S.E.T.T.LE.

What is S.E.T.T.LE? Glad you asked. It’s the Society for the Ethical Treatment of Tea Leaves. The society is dedicated to the following principles:

Amsterdam 2 Cup Burgundy Teapot – just right for those breakfast blends and heavier black teas. (Photo source: The English Tea Store)
Amsterdam 2 Cup Burgundy Teapot – just right for those breakfast blends and heavier black teas. (Photo source: The English Tea Store)
  • Assure that tea leaves are labeled with their proper pedigree. A quality, hand-crafted Baozhong does not appreciate being called a mere oolong or a “Chinese tea.” A fine orthodox Assam SFTGFOP (Special Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe) is humiliated by being labeled as “black tea.” And Japanese Gyokuro should never be lumped in with any old “green tea.”
  • Encourage tea vendors to label packages with proper water temperature and steeping times for the newbies out there who may never have tried this type of tea before (they’ll probably do some experimenting later as they get used to the tea but need somewhere to start). Tea that is steeped in water that is too hot or cool or for too short or too long a time gets blamed for not tasting right.
  • Mate the tea with the proper teaware. Some teas need a good old English-style ceramic teapot. Others do better in a glass teapot, or a gaiwan, a kyusu, or even a Yixing teapot. Yet the tea gets blamed for not tasting right which is hardly ethical treatment.
  • Store the tea in the appropriate containers so that they can retain their intended flavor, keeping in mind that some teas are best stored only one to six months while others can be stored several years and pu-erhs are stored often for decades, getting better and better. Again, do this to be ethical with your tea leaves so they do not get blamed for bad flavor.

Take the pledge today to S.E.T.T.LE and stop blaming the tea for the taste going awry. It’s good for those tea leaves. It’s good for the tea garden workers. And it’s good for you, since you will be assured of tastier tea. Enjoy!

See also:
What’s All This “Orange Pekoe” Stuff Mean?
“I Hate Green Tea”

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

5 thoughts on “Time for Tea Drinkers to S.E.T.T.LE

  1. James Kennedy

    First point: even worse, my local vendor has one variety called “Chai” and another called “Normal Tea”. Ick!

    Last point: tea stores in China rightly keep their green and white teas in the fridge.

    The dumb Westerner way of brewing quality tea (add boiling water—cringe because it’s bitter—add milk and sugar—then give up) makes me mad.

    Thank you for posting this. This really needs to be shared more!

    1. A.C. Cargill

      Yes, labeling and naming of teas here is one of my big bugaboos, so seeing “chai” and “normal tea” would drive me nuts, too. However, I’m a “dumb Westerner” who enjoys a strong black tea with milk and sweetener. Very satisfying. As for putting white and green teas in fridge, since we have air conditioning in the house and store the teas in a cool location, I refrain from this. It can cause condensation on the tea leaves when the container is taken out of the fridge to get some of the leaves for steeping, and the moisture, even in the fridge, can spoil the remaining leaves. Thanks as always for reading! 🙂

  2. James Kennedy

    Reblogged this on my blog and commented:
    I drafted a post on how tea leaves should be respected more in Western teahouses. Then someone else wrote that post for me! Take a look…

  3. James Kennedy

    Thank you for bringing this up. It’s hit the nail on the head. This is something I’ve been thinking about recently too.

    I’m pleased you introduced me to SETTLE!

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