Marlon, who is a 21 year old college student at USCB, and an intern at the Institute for Energy Efficiency. Lao Ren Cha is thrilled that Marlon agreed to be interviewed (via email).
~Interview with Marlon~
Thanks for taking the time to do this interview with Lao Ren Cha. To start with I would you be willing to describe how you first got “into” tea and tea culture? In addition to that what was your “gateway tea”, the first tea that really made you want to try out more tea?
My first loose leaf tea purchase was from Adagio. It was a green tea sampler and the stand-out in my opinion at the time was a tea called “white monkey”. It got me really excited about brewing loose-leaf green tea. Since then, my taste has evolved to favor oolongs, but good green tea still holds a special place in my heart.
My first loose leaf tea (golden monkey) was from Adagio as well. Can you describe how your relationship with tea and/or the tea community has developed over the years?
My relationship with tea is a peaceful one. I am always thankful for the zen-like mindfulness I feel when sipping on a good tea. The process of sitting down and brewing tea either with friends over conversation or alone in contemplation is the most relaxing and essential part of my day.
As far as my relationship with the tea community: I run the twitter account for Chan Teas and can not say enough great things about the tea community. Whenever I have a question about tea, I can send it out and have it answered quickly, with the possibility of sparking good conversation. Aside from online, everyone I’ve met in person with a connection to tea has been welcoming and helpful in my pursuit of expanding my tea knowledge.
What do you enjoy most about tea and/or the tea community?
What I enjoy the most about tea is how it focuses me.
I enjoy how open and inviting community.
What is your favorite tea right now?
I’ve been pulling a lot of late nights and it’s nice to have a good shou puerh by my side. I love the earthiness of this tea and the way it grounds me. My favorite thing about a good pu-erh is that it evolves through the infusions and lasts forever.
You are a founder of a tea company of your own. Can you describe your company, its goals, and where its focus is?
Company: Chan Teas
Goals: To share our experience with tea
Focus: We’re focused on sharing the knowledge we have about tea through cool pictures and fascinating information. Our content is meant both to inform people about tea and also to inspire people to start making tea themselves. In a way, tea is intimidating to people but it really doesn’t have to be. We want to demystify the tea experience. We also sell necessities like gaiwans, trays and cups in our brand new online store. For people learning about tea, it can be difficult to find a gaiwan or a proper brewing vessel, that’s why we’re doing it.
What advice would you have for someone else who wanted to start a tea company? Is there anything you would do differently with your own company if you had it to do over?
My general advice would be to drink, brew, and educate yourself about tea. You’ll figure out the rest as you go alone.
Also, keep in mind that everything is a learning experience and we learn from our mistakes more than our accomplishments. I wouldn’t change a thing.
How has tea impacted your plans and/or for the future?
Over the last couple of years, tea has become my passion. I pour tea on a daily basis and if I happen to go a day without brewing, it seems weird. Tea has added to my daily routine in a positive way by allowing me to slow down, reflect and relax while conversing with friends and sparking conversation.
In the future I plan on traveling to many more tea producing countries to expand my tea knowledge.
Who would you describe as your tea heroes?
My heroes are all of the people that have helped me pursue my tea journey. From the small shop owners in china, to the tea people I interact with on twitter on a daily basis, I am thoroughly grateful for all that I have learned from these amazing people who truly want to spread the love of tea.