What is Your Story?

by on Friday, September 23, 2011 9:18:00 AM

Most of us did not have the fortune to grow up on high quality, loose leaf tea, since it is just now starting to gain in popularity in the US. So most of us have an interesting story about how we came to love and appreciate tea as more than just a beverage for when you are feeling ill. What is your story? Did you happen to learn about loose leaf tea through dumb luck? Through a nice friend? Through a natural learning process that led from tea bags to whole leaf tea? Here is my story to get us started

My Tea Story, by Nick L.

Outside of the occasional glass of Lipton iced tea, I never drank any tea when I was growing up. It wasn't until high school that I began my transition from drinking no tea to searching for the best whole leaf tea that I could find in a matter of years. After my freshman year in high school, I attended a spanish immersion camp in Bemidji, MN to help me speak the language a little bit better. Many of the counselors at the camp came from Argentina and they could often be found sipping a hot tea-like drink called yerba mate. They drank yerba mate (an evergreen tea from Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil) from a gourd using a metal filtered straw called a bombilla. The drink was delicious and I fell in love with the customs and traditions associated with drinking mate as well. When I went home after a month at the camp, I quickly bought my own gear to make mate including a gourd, a bombilla (filtered straw), mate, a water heater, etc. Of course, as I researched yerba mate online to learn more about the customs and traditions, I also started to stumble across more information about teas and herbal teasanes from other regions as well.

It wasn't until the next year in high school though that I really started to learn about loose leaf tea, however. After school one day, I walked over to a local coffee shop with some friends. At this coffee shop they had an impressive list of weird teas that I had never heard of, and so I decided to try one called gunpowder green tea. The tea did come in a teabag, however the leaves inside were actually whole leaf tea. When I later went to the site of the company who made the teabags, I discovered that they also sold the same tea in loose leaf form. And the rest is history, I gradually learned more and more about tea from different regions including China, Japan, India, Taiwan, South Korea, Kenya, South Africa, etc, and started to try teas from different regions. I researched all the different traditions, styles of teaware, growing climates, processing methods, etc and checked out/purchased dozens of books on tea. Then, during one of my summers in my college years, I found Shang Tea in Kansas City. Shang owns his own organic tea farm in the Fujian Province, China, and he has taught me quite a bit about tea production and especially about white tea production. And now I actually work for Shang, learning more about tea and continuing to learn more about my passion.

So what is your story?

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