Dear TeaChat members,
My interest in tea has recently found new life after spending two months with family friends who are enthusiastic tea drinkers.
Like many, I have noticed that coffee is becoming a sensation in Melbourne where our coffee culture is already more sophisticated than even the best cities of Europe. But try as I may, I cannot get into coffee – clover coffee, normal espresso style coffee, cafetiere coffee, slow drip, paper filtered whatever! I have come to the conclusion then that I am a tea drinker and cannot be swayed even when the entire city is against me making this choice.
Since visiting Japan in 2008 and 2009, I have been exploring tea with a friend of mine – our first teas were various Japanese green teas from a snazzy department store in Hiroshima. Since then, Lupicia (QV store) and yahooauctions japan have been our sources of tea. I have tried T2 but have concluded that they are not serious tea connoisseurs. They probably do not see themselves this way anyway. I found their premium stock such as Darjeeling First Flush and Gyokuro and Ti Kuan Yin and Rolling Clouds to be tasteless, either oxidized through careless packaging, or improperly stored, or -- least generous to T2 – not very good to begin with. I should say then that the best tea shop that I know of in Melbourne is Lupicia at QV.
Interestingly, the NGV (National Gallery of Victoria) International had a Tea and Zen exhibition in 2010 featuring a modern Japanese tea-house installed in a beautiful exhibition space, with incredible tea-ware loaned from what I gather must have been exceedingly wealthy and tasteful Victorian residents. If anyone knows where to take genuine tea ceremony lessons in Melbourne, please let me know.
Finally, the lightning bolt came when I discovered anotherteablog, who through photos and obvious enthusiasm got me thinking about cranking this tea drinking business up another notch.
I have ordered some teas and teaware from the helpful Akira Hojo from hojoteas.com, and have been in correspondence with the also incredibly helpful Toru from artisticnippon.com.
Last night, I was able to drink some passable oolong brewed in the gong-fu-cha way, using yi xing pots, pitchers and cups and I am now convinced: Tea is life.
Below: Me playing Go, and drinking tea.