I define this differently and perhaps a with a touch of playful irreverence, from a tea 'master'; a term that floats around and is often applied to those who share a love of tea with the public.
From many conversations with tea importers, specialists, vendors, wholesalers, and retailers there has been in my experience a respectful understanding that true mastery is a process and despite the fact that there are classes, educational vacations, schools, and organizations that offer tea 'certifications', the true life of a tea experience is in the shared cup and in an appreciation and a passion for understanding how that tea has come to your lips.
I have no 'masters' in tea. I have a passion for it and its my honor and my fortune to be able to share that with you.
Before going further, I should also explain this blog's title : "705th Tea Disambiguation".
As a member of the Stauf's Coffee Roasters wholesale team, we often have sought ways to reach out to our customers; wholesale and retail alike. We recognize that we serve a community and it has always been part of our dedication to our craft that we invest in a culture of honesty and transparency, where information serves to help those we connect to. Often this means research and experience and also it means listening.
We have a saying : "The proof is in the cup". More than a clever catch phrase, its meant to draw a clear picture of what quality and craft equate to and what all the care and dedication amount to. If ultimately the cup doesn't share its wealth and inspire those that drink it, to a new level of appreciation, then no amount of research, social connection, farming practices, organic/fair trade certification, or ideology will make up for it. What is in the cup matters and how we experience that cup makes a difference.
It is with that understanding and commitment that dreamed of sharing a new level of tea appreciation and one that I hope will support a new community of caring and compassionate tea drinkers.
There is however an obstacle to that becoming a reality and for many that is information. If you do an internet search on the word tea, the first entry in Wikipedia is this:
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea)
Green tea being infused in a gaiwan
|Type||Hot or cold beverage|
|Country of origin||India|
|Introduced||Approx. 10th century BC|
While posting this might not seem to make transparent sense, you can begin to understand the amount of confusing and conflicted information that is available and is disseminated through the broader community. Tea disambiguation is at the core of the matter : what is tea?
The dual nature of the words meaning is in itself a subjective debate between the tea plant itself (camellia sinensis) and the by product of 'steeping' a plant substance into a liquid for consumption (as in a tisane or herbal tea).
While the topic of this can be deepened it is likely that for the time being it can be put aside with the point made: in seeking a single semantic or grammatical definition of tea, we are starting on a path to the core of understanding why so much confusion arises, both culturally and historically about tea and why we have a fractured tea knowledge.
It is my hope that this blog can serve as a tool to answer some of those questions, to help share information with those who seek it, and to serve as a learning tool for both myself and the readers who might choose to follow me.
A year ago, Tommy Goetz and Rich Benson launched a Roaster's Blog to supply our customers with the next layer of depth on some of the unusual and wonderful coffees that we get so passionate about. They named it the http://705thproduction.blogspot.com ....a reference to our wholesale address at 705 Hadley Dr. in Columbus, OH and the fact that they are the production team. I chose to emulate them with the http://705thteadisambiguation.
I hope you all enjoy reading along and I hope we can explore the world of tea and share in a true way the spirit of a tea culture - a cup shared in fellowship.