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Jan 2nd, '16, 15:30
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The USA tea drinking experience.

by BioHorn » Jan 2nd, '16, 15:30

Boy, do these guys at teadb.org hit the nail on the head of the tea drinking experience here in the US! Their teapet reference is funny.

Check out the first paragraphs of their recent post here:

http://teadb.org/shopping-for-tea-in-taiwan/#more-3248

Heck, with apologies, I just copy pasted it here. If they object to it, I will take it off.

"Forever alone.. Being a pu’erh addict in the west is a lonely endeavor and how we intake information and buy tea is in all likelihood very different than the average Asian pu-head. We’re often resigned to the tea table/closet all by our self. If we’re lucky we can get a good friend/significant other to come over once a month to humor us but we’re making drinking alone and talking to each other on instagram.. It’s no wonder why teapets are so popular..

In the western tea scene… 65ml teapots are in high-demand.
In the western tea scene… we get teeny, tiny boxes of tea shipped monthly.
In the western tea scene… a cake is most definitely not a sample.
In the western tea scene… we occasionally indulge with **gasp** multiple 200g cakes that we we still have trouble getting through!

Taipei from Elephant Mountain.
It might be delicious tea, but it’s more often than not a very solitary hobby. On the plus side, drinking by yourself or with a few third parties is helpful because it removes the sense of urgency and sales. You can drink as you please, have control over the water, and have the power to create consistent brewing. It’s for the most part a safe place.

Out east in places with a longer history of pu’erh consumption or a thriving tea community it’s a bit different. As covered extensively by Marshaln, both Hong Kong and Taiwan have very different teashop scenes. There’s some surface level similarities.. In both places you sit down and try tea. It’s usually served by someone from the store, except for the odd exception like Wistaria. Frequently this will be the owner, but for larger shops it could also be an employee. At the end of the session, you can choose to buy tea in some quantity to take home. None of the, I’m going to buy 25 grams and drink it over the next three months and then dilly dally for another three months before picking up a 250 gram cake that’s very common in the west..

The people that own the shop might be tea folks, but they’re also definitely sales. There’s varying degrees of pressure put on you, depending on the shop and the circumstances. Even when there’s not a hard sell, there’s still a social sense of reciprocation to return the favor in some fashion (they just let you try tea!)..

I’ve had experiences in more than a few teashops with more or less this structure in the US. I hardly ever go anywhere local anymore because it’s not my preferred mode of buying tea and generally feel I can do just as well buying online and avoid much of the pressure. In the west it’s also a very small market selling to locals and the prices are usually higher compared to what’s available online (a storefront isn’t cheap). It’s nice to drink tea with others especially if you have a shared interest but drinking at a teashop also usually requires some mental preparation on the tea drinkers part to be able to say no towards buying teas. It’s not the end of the world, but I have ended up regretting a few small purchases early on in my tea hobby."


Here in NE Ohio there have been motions towards increased tea consumption in general. Personally, friends and more of them come over to have tea. I have been toying with the idea of having it be more of a tea house style with people calling in for a visit and tasting. We'll see. Got one going off to school. Maybe then...?

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Jan 2nd, '16, 23:05
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Re: The USA tea drinking experience.

by chingwa » Jan 2nd, '16, 23:05

Tea has always been a solitary experience for me. I have had times of drinking tea with friends in tea shops, but the tea is never up to the standard that I drink from home where I can oversee preparation. A few times I've made tea for friends at home but rarely feel they have the same focus or appreciation of it.

Choice is either have good tea at home by myself, or bad tea with friends outside :)

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Jan 3rd, '16, 02:01
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Re: The USA tea drinking experience.

by NateHevens » Jan 3rd, '16, 02:01

That's interesting, and true in part. I think Teavana really encapsulates the way we do tea in the West, or at least the US (unfortunately).

But this is why I adore Tea Drunk. The experience in that tiny little hole in the wall is unmatched (that's based on my experience, though, which is, admittedly, very limited). And the tea is consistently great quality, too. Plus, they don't actually put pressure on you to buy the tea you drink, though that's probably because of how much the tea service costs...

For example... I spent $22.86 (not including the tip) on tea service for a 2012 mid spring Bai Mu Dan. It was incredible... the flavor on each brew was wonderful, and the service is always top notch. And next time I go in, I'll be trying the Bai Mu Dan original variety, which I'm looking forward to. But you also plan to spend a lot of time at Tea Drunk... I can spend nearly 2 hours enjoying one tea there. It's definitely worth it, though.

Yet that's really an exception to the rule. I love the point about 65ml teapots being in high demand, too. Tea Drunk got me in love with the little 1oz cup and 3-4 oz pots. That's what I want for my teas. But it's near impossible to find that in the US if you don't know where to look.

People want their large cups of "concentrated" brewed teas poured over lots of ice with tons of sugar to drink while they're on the go.

*sigh*

Jan 3rd, '16, 04:00
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by bonescwa » Jan 3rd, '16, 04:00

I'm really happy that it's something that I can have, just for myself. I think everyone needs something like that.

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Jan 3rd, '16, 13:49
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Re: The USA tea drinking experience.

by BioHorn » Jan 3rd, '16, 13:49

NateHevens wrote:That's interesting, and true in part. I think Teavana really encapsulates the way we do tea in the West, or at least the US (unfortunately).


*sigh*
Be sure to stop by TShop and visit Theresa. You probably already know them/it.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BAD4cpatMgb/

You are fortunate to live in a city with a variety of choices!

Jan 3rd, '16, 17:07
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Re: The USA tea drinking experience.

by jschergen » Jan 3rd, '16, 17:07

No worries on the c/p. Thanks for sharing!

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Jan 3rd, '16, 17:57
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Re: The USA tea drinking experience.

by iGo » Jan 3rd, '16, 17:57

BioHorn wrote:
NateHevens wrote:That's interesting, and true in part. I think Teavana really encapsulates the way we do tea in the West, or at least the US (unfortunately).


*sigh*
Be sure to stop by TShop and visit Theresa. You probably already know them/it.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BAD4cpatMgb/

You are fortunate to live in a city with a variety of choices!

+1

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Jan 3rd, '16, 18:42
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Re: The USA tea drinking experience.

by BioHorn » Jan 3rd, '16, 18:42

jschergen wrote:No worries on the c/p. Thanks for sharing!
Thank you! :P

Jan 11th, '16, 11:07
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Re: The USA tea drinking experience.

by Tea_Addict » Jan 11th, '16, 11:07

For me, nothing beats a cup of hot tea on a rainy weekend. While it's cold and wet outside, I'd brew a big pot of herbal tea, let it simmer slowly while reading a book on the armchair. It always fills me with warmth, peace and happiness.

Jan 12th, '16, 05:37
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Re: The USA tea drinking experience.

by Noonie » Jan 12th, '16, 05:37

I smirk because 99.999% of the people I know, about 30% who drink tea on occasion, have no idea how good the tea is that I'm drinking, and that my eastern methods in brewing it yield a tea that is so rare in the Western Hemisphere...if they took themselves away from their busy lives (1/2 are busy, the other 1/2 are on Facebook...I digress ;-) they could experience good quality tea. Such a shame...

P.S and they never want to listen or have anything to do with tea, my way.

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Jan 12th, '16, 14:14
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Re: The USA tea drinking experience.

by debunix » Jan 12th, '16, 14:14

As I've written about here many times, I cultivate tea buddies by sharing my teas at the office. Most of them are not going on to buy online from the sources I share with them, but they are going out and getting some better teas available in local shops, and I don't see lipton in the tea selection by the office coffeemaker anymore. So I'm making some inroads....

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Jan 20th, '16, 21:20
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Re: The USA tea drinking experience.

by Devoted135 » Jan 20th, '16, 21:20

The OP sure does capture it! I'm slowly cultivating friends who will sit still and drink tea with me for *gasp* 60-90 minutes. At least one now sends me texts hounding me for another tea session if too much time passes. :mrgreen:

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Jan 27th, '16, 00:59
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Re: The USA tea drinking experience.

by john.b » Jan 27th, '16, 00:59

Kind of off topic, but I wanted to mention a bit about how the rest of Asia would go related to tea. It is true that tea is everywhere in China and Hong Kong, and Taiwan, and there would be no shortage of sourcing options in countries like Japan, Sri Lanka, or India. But what about the rest?

I live in Thailand and there are far less tea source options than in places like Portland or Seattle, even though I'm in Bangkok. I do know of shops and cafes here but crossing to the far side of Bangkok is like going to the next city over in Ohio (not so relevant but I'm from North-Western PA). I've been writing a blog about tea here for over two years and I can only think of a few people in Bangkok that know what pu'er is, and when you take vendors off that list it gets really short. I drink more oolong, but aside from vendors I know one or two guys online that really know oolong, or maybe it's just the one. I've visited Korea, Indonesia, and Vietnam and it wouldn't be different there, maybe with the exception that ordinary grade Vietnamese green tea is decent and commonly consumed, with much less awareness and selection in places like Laos and Cambodia.

At least the internet shrinks the world to allow people in different places to discuss common interests, and even global shipping is an option, but it's odd how tea-interest commonality is much easier to come by in the US than here. That said, I've tried introducing my family and others to tea on visits and it's an uphill climb. The typical response is "it tastes kind of like tea," even when all the styles that aren't black tea wouldn't taste anything like tea they'd ever had.

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