Thinking Like a Beginner About Tea

Green Tea Sampler (ETS image)
Green Tea Sampler (ETS image)

Those of us who have been drinking tea for a while might tend to forget that there are a lot of people for whom tea is a mystery. Which is probably more likely to be the case in a country like our own United States than someplace that’s more tea-centric, like the United Kingdom. I can vouch for this since a mere nine years ago I was one of these people who found tea quite mysterious.

This came to mind recently when I ran across a comment on Twitter recounting a tea novice’s first experience with green tea. This individual seemed surprised and perhaps a bit relieved (and perhaps a bit of both) to discover, as they put it, “it’s actually not horrible!” Well, what a relief.

Which brought to mind a few beginner’s type tea-related incidents from my own past. One concerned yours truly, in the early days of my acquaintance with tea. As it so happens someone at the office where I worked had a box of something alleged to be green tea. It was in tea bag form and so I proceeded to steep a cup of it. And proceeded to taste it. And while I didn’t spew it across the room like a character in a sitcom, I might as well have. Because it actually was quite horrible. I was familiar enough with green tea to realize that this just a bad specimen or it might have put me off green tea for a while.

The other incident took place when I had become better acquainted with tea and had gotten my hands on green tea that I considered to be not in the least bit horrible. In fact, it was nearly spectacular. I thought I would share some of this fine elixir with someone I knew who had a passing interest in green tea but not much experience with it. Who took a few sips of a it and asked for sweetener.

Needless to say I was quite floored, baffled, and put out, though I tried not to let on. But looking back on it from the perspective of someone who’s been drinking “good” tea for a while, I can see that it sort of kind of made sense. It had taken me years to get to the point where I could appreciate the subtle flavors of a delicate green tea, and so it was asking a bit much to expect a tea novice to love it at first taste.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

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3 thoughts on “Thinking Like a Beginner About Tea

  1. bebe croteau

    i have been drinking black tea since i was a little kid, but mom and gramma both used liptons tea bags …its just been the past few decades, (my adult life) since i started to buy full leaf loose tea …

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