Working for Joy's Teaspoon, I get to experience an abundance of cool tea experiences. I attend trade shows and festivals. I get to try lots of new teas and tea gadgets. I follow and am followed by some of the tea industry's coolest or hottest folks. I hear people speak about tea and taste tea and try to get a little piece of perfection in a cup. While I find it thrilling and entertaining, to the outsider, I can only imagine it's overwhelming. For someone who just wants something that tastes good and hits the spot, talk about mouth feel, floral notes and 18th infusions can be a bit of an overkill. While I love sitting and talking about tea like this with my tea buddies, the fact of the matter is the very conversation that brings the "tea snobs" together can be the same conversation that makes a "newbie" shy away.
I've been stewing on this theme for awhile as I've been introducing a few newer coworkers to my tea supplies. They drink bagged tea (gasp!) and they microwave their water (oh the horror) and worst of all, they don't have infusers to even try loose leaf (say what?!). They look at me like I'm some sort of tea guru and while I might know what I'm talking about, I'm not talking a language they understand. This is a problem. It's a problem because I believe in the value of community and all tea is better when shared. This is a problem because we're talking leaves and water here. No one should be cross eyed over it. When people go crossed eyed over your tea chats, you've lost the community.
So I decided to share a little bit about my personal journey for the perfect cup: I over steep. I under steep. I reuse a mug for different teas without thoroughly rinsing it out - sometimes I haven't even finished the prior tea. I let the tea get cold. I burn my mouth. I only use tea timers when tasting a new tea. After that, I usually forget altogether.
Perfection is not a requirement for a cup of tea - it's just a lofty goal. Tea should not be a mystery that requires a guru to solve. Instead of trying to make it perfect, make it right for you. Adjust steeping times, play with water temperatures (or ignore them completely). I have found that I enjoy lots of teas that I've forgotten about and oversteeped, sometimes by 30+ minutes. Find tea that you like - who cares if it's green or black or herbal. Who cares if you don't like matcha or puerh! It's okay to like your iced tea made with Lipton tea bags. That's the only iced tea my dad will drink. I don't understand it but that doesn't make it wrong. Make it your own.
A perfect cup of tea is subjective to you. Instead of listening to someone like me ramble on about the merits of temperature, steep time, multiple infusions and fruity notes, put some hot water (or cold if that's your thing) on some tea leaves (or herbals if you like), swirl them around until it looks, smells, tastes how you like it. Then take a moment and drink it your way. Or feel free to throw it out if you royally screwed up your way. Tea is only good if its good to you so feel free to throw caution to the wind, ignore your timers, eyeball the amount of tea you're using and brew to your hearts desire.
There now. Doesn't that feel like your cup of tea?