Tead Off wrote:Can you really teach someone to taste? This is an involuntary system that goes on no matter what you are thinking about. You can teach someone what to think about tasting, impart suggestions, descriptions. But they are not the same thing as tasting itself. You cannot taste the same way as someone else. Impossible. You can only agree on the description. Taste and description are not the same thing. So what role does a teacher play? If that teacher wants you to believe as he/she does, good luck to you. You cannot teach someone to have an experience. You can teach them to believe in a description but that is only for the purpose of discussion. Sensation is involuntary and prior to thought. A good teacher will remove themselves from your experience and allow you to be free of description and conclusions. They can demonstrate how to brew tea, talk about qualities, etc., but you will have to come to all of this on your own regardless if you have someone helping you or not. Tradition is repetition, not freedom. But, I digress..........
I do disagree to some extend.
A good teacher will point out ways to you how to improve your skills in not just preparing tea, but also how to improve your experience of taste. He can point out what is important in particular teas, and how they work (taste is not just on the tongue, but will also continue in sinus cavities, etc). Different teas have different ways of developing their particular taste (pointing downwards, upwards, explosive, slowly, quickly, only during the aftertaste, etc), which can also be indicators of quality, and knowing about this will help you to better judge teas.
Discussing taste of teas is not talking about absolutes either way - while the experience of taste may be individual, there are certain characters different teas possess which are inherent to those particular teas only.
Maybe one can, with enough determination, come to similar results by oneself (which i somewhat doubt), but with a good teacher you can make much quicker progress.
Please note - i mentioned the terms *a good teacher*.
I also do notice the following quite strongly: when i haven't met my teacher for a long time, i do feel my skills beginning to slack a bit. Drinking tea with him are very good refreshing courses, sort of honing me again, in addition to learn something new as well.
I don't really understand why this issue of a tea teacher is such a problem. Most fields require a teacher (professor, master craftsman, or whatever else). That does not mean that some rare extremely gifted people may not reach certain heights by themselves, but most normal people do undergo apprenticeships, or go to universities, or take courses.
Why is that seen as so problematic in this subject of tea here, on this forum?