Friday, May 20, 2016

"The best tea autist blog"?

Spring 2016 Jinxuan Baozhong
I laughed when I read this on an Internet Forum about my blog:

"This is the best tea autist blog. He takes really nice photos while reviewing teas that 99% of his readers will never be able to afford or find. He brings his huge tea kit outside all the time and always meticulously photographs every drop of tea." (...)

Thanks for the compliments (best, nice photos). However, I would like to take this opportunity to answer the complaint that my teas are too expensive.
And just to prove that I'm not "autist", let me start to agree that there are indeed some teas in my selection that cost more than what 99% of the people would call reasonable. If I'm proposing such teas, it's not because I have a big following among the 1%. It's simply that I love those teas like I love Christmas: they are very special, once a year experiences. They also provide valuable lessons about how teas evolve with time, standards of perfection, qi...
There's always a fine line between the tea enthusiast and the tea snob. Getting used to high quality tea makes it difficult to go back to drinking simpler and cheaper teas. And since I have a direct access to truly amazing teas that continue to drive my passion, it's probably a little bit normal that such teas stand out in my selection. But, first of all, my teas are not difficult to find since anybody can order them online at my tea boutique: !

And if you look at the prices, you'll notice that I have also listed very affordable Oolongs. The '209' Oolong costs just 12 USD for 150 gr. A Jade Oolong is at 12 USD for 100 gr. A high mountain Jinxuan Oolong costs only 25 USD for 150 gr And this Jinxuan Baozhong from this spring costs 18 USD for 150 gr (or 4 USD for 25 gr)... It's the tea that you can see in this article. I've enjoyed it very much. I used a big amount of leaves and the first 3 brews were rather short. The tea had flowery scents, a mellow taste and an elegant finish! In the later brews it didn't mind being pushed.
It shows that you can also find nice quality and pleasure in more common teas. But they are not as common as that. Consider that they are:

- fresh harvests from the finest season, spring,
- single batches from the same field and same day to ensure very distinctive and pure aromas,
- well processed in family sized plantations with long tea making traditions,
- naturally made in Taiwan, without any added scents,
- selected for their superior quality by the best autist tea blogger!
I strongly believe that good entry-level Oolong teas have many benefits:
- They are good companions to practice your brewing skills,
- A good understanding of their qualities will let you appreciate exceptional teas even more (than if you only taste such top teas),
- They teach a fundamental lesson in life: adjust your expectations. It can't be caviar every day! A key to finding pleasure in everyday tea is to understand the character of the leaves and be content when you are able to brew them to their full potential. There's actually less risk of disappointment with an every day Oolong.

Please note that you receive a free pack of Dong Pian Oolong if your order exceeds 60 USD (and a free copy of my Oolong Brewing eGuide). Airmail shipping (with tracking) is free above 100 USD. And it's free EMS shipping above 200 USD. You also find good deals with previous harvests that make good tea even more affordable!


Unknown said...

Good tea is an every-day luxury. It can lift your mood and lighten your load for the day. It is a meditation and a great start to the day or a way to relax in the afternoon. In our busy crazy life, it is a part of self-care.
Love your blog!! While we can't all go outside with a "huge tea kit" and make our tea, I for one love to see pictures of you doing it.

TeaMasters said...

Thanks for your loving comment!
I try to keep my tea kit easy to transport. It's not that big. And while I'm on the subject, I do share my tea with friends and family when I'm at the beach. It's just when I'm by myself on tea mountains that I drink alone. Self-care, as you say. Can't care for others if you don't take care of yourself also.

le disciple du thé said...

Malheureusement il y aura toujours des détracteur jaloux de quelqu'un de talentueux qui de plus partage sa passion sans compter. Le kit de thé extérieur ? ! Effectivement impressionner la galère chez soi et plus facile que d'aller jusqu'au bout de son art du thé et de renouer avec ses sens, mère nature et la philosophie naturaliste des lettrés chinois. On pourrait rajouter de plus que même si certains peuvent trouver que tes thés sont trop cher ( ce qui prouve qu'il n'on meme pas été voir attentivement ) alors qu'il esseye de trouver un autre revendeur aussi ouvert et enclin à aider chacun dans la voie du thé que toi, je pense qu'il va chercher longtemps. Enfin, mieux vaut ne pas donner de crédit à ce genre de critique uniquement mauvaise et sans véritable fondement.

TeaMasters said...

Merci beaucoup pour ton commentaire et ton soutien.
Mais ce genre de critique n'est pas blessant et contient même du positif. C'est aussi intéressant de voir comment je suis perçu à travers mon blog par des gens qui ne m'ont pas rencontré. Avec toi, on a eu l'occasion de passer une journée de stage de thé ensemble: tu me connais plus personnellement. Et puis, en écrivant depuis ce blog depuis bientôt 12 ans, j'ai certainement eu l'occasion de critiquer un grand nombre de techniques, de thés et de façons de faire, si bien que j'ai certainement mis beaucoup de personnes mal à l'aise. Il est normal que je ne sois pas à l'abri de la critique. Si elle peut m'aider à mieux partager le plaisir que j'arrive à tirer du thé, c'est tant mieux. Ici, par exemple, c'était l'occasion de tordre le cou à l'idée que mes thés sont tous trop chers.
En tout cas, je suis très touché par ta réaction. Merci!

Unknown said...

What a strange comment from Haier -and one out of ignorance! It is unfortunate that he doesn't get as much out of your blog and tea selection as I do. It is not only a wealth of knowledge, but a golden reference standard in the world of tea.

I've heard several people ask Teaparker in the past where to buy good tea in Taiwan, and/or where he buys tea. He usually gives a rather ambiguous answer (sometimes frustrating as a new student). It usually is something along the lines of: know the taste and feeling of good tea and you'll find it. But if you think about it, he really hit the nail on the head. If a consumer cannot tell the difference between low land Siji Chun and, say for example Da Yu Ling, why buy the Da Yu Ling? A wine education doesn't start with Château Lafite. However, you have to have a place to start! A reliable reference. I've been blessed to have had some truly incredible teas from Teaparker -like all good teachers (and Tea Masters) he has supplied me with the experience of many reference points. Understanding how brewing, age, terroir, etc affects the flavor, so I know 'know that taste and feeling of good tea.'

Likewise, Teamasters is not only a place to learn knowledge, but truly know a tea's provenance. Many reliable references. It is quite the opposite of autic! I personally appreciate the opportunity to buy and experience -say 1989 8582 and know, with little doubt that it is truly that in lieu of other merchants whose teas are of questionable provenance. Or true Da Yu Ling for that matter, as many people will mis-label their tea as such. In buying such teas normally you'd have to worry about being scammed by the merchant, or worse, the merchant being scammed by their source. It takes someone who truly knows what they are doing to navigate the waters of ignorance and deception in the tea world. How many other tea merchants know the harvest date of the majority of their selection down to the day?

Thank you for blogging Stephane!

TeaMasters said...

Thank you Ryan for your very kind comment.
It's easy to be misunderstood, especially when you take an original and different approach. What's nice is that, with your help, I could meet so many tea enthusiasts at the Tea Institute in Penn State U who are open to this approach.
Thanks again for all your support.

Karen said...

Wow, Stéphane! All these years and I never realized I was acquainted with a "tea autist!" Woo hoo!

EG said...

Please keep up your wonderful, evocative photos and constant flow of thoughtful discussion and information. Continue to offer a full range from the humblest to the most exceptional teas; they are all outstanding and more than fairly priced.

Most of your readers will consider themselves students and appreciate your spirit of sharing- it's generous, passionate and inspiring. Well beyond price!

TeaMasters said...

Thank you Elisabeth for this very kind encouragement!

Shwetablog said...