You know the expression, “Not seeing the forest for the trees?” I like this expression. I’m guessing that the reason why is because I often make the mistake of getting too caught up in a detail -or step- of an activity, that I miss the point of the task. When I started learning Gungfu Cha this happened to me all the time. I’d be obsessed with the water temp, and what I was using to make the tea, or how I was pouring it… And I forgot to enjoy the activity of making the tea.
But that’s not what I want to talk about today. Rather, I’d like to talk about a different kind of tea involved mistake that I’ve seen some people make. The mistake I’m referring to is taking to narrow a definition of “making” or “drinking” tea. This could also be called, “being a tea snob.”
The mistake, as I see it, goes something like this. Someone who knows a bunch about tea, tea culture, and brewing styles gets to talking with someone who is less of a “serious” (AKA snob-ish) tea drinker about tea. This less serious person says something along the lines of how they like and/or love things like Yerba Mate, Rooibos, or some flavored tea like Earl Gray. At this point the serious tea person will do something like cringe, or scoff at the non-serious person and say something pretentious.
I think this comes from a narrow, though very technically correct, definition of what does and does not constitute tea. What it misses, at least in my opinion, is the potential that dea drinking has to bring people together, and help them communicate with one and other.