Sometimes you will just crave a certain tea, and it will be perfect. It will satisfy all the corners of your soul with the familiar flavours, and you will bliss out, enjoying the perfection of drinking the very thing you want.
Especially as you begin to grow your tea collection, your tea consumption may start to flow in cycles. You will read about this tea or that tea, and you’ll just have to have it- the novelty will sustain you for a while, and then, inevitably, you’ll move past the initial infatuation, or you’ll simply drink too much of it. You may return to your old favourites, or begin the cycle again, trying a new tea type or seasonal blend, until you find yourself with far more tea in your cupboard than one person could possibly drink. And then people will give you tea, knowing you like it, and the collection will spread to the counters and perhaps the floor, endless delights to continue exploring.
But what about the old favourites? The ones that got you started? The ones you turned to, time and time again, before your palate became more sophisticated and your cupboards more crowded with tea? Sometimes you’ll crave them so strongly you’ll go back, just to enjoy the nostalgia of it. Sometimes they will wait patiently in your cupboard, slowly getting stale, as you try newer, higher quality teas.
Here’s something else you can do, if this tea addiction has hold of you. Something besides forcing all your guests to drink tea, and overwhelming people with their choices. As your tastes change, and your mood changes, and you become more selective in what you do or do not wish to try, periodically go back to your old favourites and evaluate them from your new vantage point. You might discover some interesting things. For example, you may discover that the "average" tea you began with is very tasty when brewed using your newer, more sensitive methods.
You may discover that the tea you grew up with is in fact disgustingly low quality and you want to spit it out. Who knows? You may discover that even as your taste buds change, your preferences haven’t. And you may remind yourslef of the great joy of a familiar flavour.
It’s one of the many joys of tea. After you start exploring the huge breadth of the tea world, looking back at where you came from can be a fascinating glimpse at your own growth as a tea connoisseur.
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The first time I tried chai was in the kitchen of my parent’s house, and served by my younger sister. “You have to taste this—” she insisted, pushing a mug across the countertop to me. She refused to elaborate on its contents. The flavors, she said, would speak for themselves.
The quality of water affects the taste of your tea; this is beyond dispute. The relative quantities of mineral salts, oxygen and trace elements determine the relative "liveliness" or "flatness" of a particular cup. To that simple substance we add the basic flavor of the leaf itself or an herbal substitute.