I recently was blessed by gracious hospitality. Twice within 2 weeks! The first time while enjoying most pleasant, intelligent, & humorous conversations I got to drink what my host called "Green Pu-erh". For the 2 years that I've tried pu, I had Shu or Sheng, raw or aged.... always thinking it is strictly a black tea. Anyway, the taste was pleasing-- w/ none of the earthiness I sometimes had found offensive. And this green pu provided a feeling of well-being. I had decided to stay away from pu-erh (for purchases and will) but obviously I made the decisions w/o knowing how much range pu covered.
The next afternoon of pleasure & enlightenment, I drank a Nepalese black tea that was wonderfully smooth and full of many flavors w/ all of them being subtle. Could a tea be exciting & so subtle at the same time? Yes.
I had just drunk a lot of several black teas from Nepal a few months ago. I thought I knew what they were (very good darjeeling). But this tea was different. I also thought I had learned what darjeeling was like (I tried some single estate first & second flushes last winter). NO. I did not know. My hosts served me a darjeeling tea that overwhelms one w/ terrific flavors.
Next surprise, my kind hosts gave me some Nepalese oolong to take home. Can an oolong have all the flavors of tis black tea counterpart & still somehow feel like an oolong? Yes.
So sometimes, we are reminded that names are starting points. Drinking the tea matters most.
Another lesson, slightly different. I had started to feel that a glazed teapot was a glazed teaport (& not much different than a glass one). The Nepalese oolong pleases me as much as any tea I've ever had. I love it. I was preparing it in a new pot, glazed, shaped like an elephant. I played w/ time & temperature somehow knowing my bliss was still a small notch below the ultimate. Then I switched to a porcelain gaiwan (glazed of course). The tea reached the pinnacle. I think the difference was thin walls of the gaiwan vs. medium walls of the other.
Life is good. Thanks to those who provided this wonderful experiences. I won't mention your names. Too many people will come kniocking.