The other day a close friend of mine (the man who introduced me to tea), came by our retail location for a visit. As usual we hung out, drank some tea and caught up. He is a warm, charismatic individual with a passion for tea and sharing it with others. He is currently working in the tea industry and as the conversation deepened, we stumbled upon an important question, what are people looking for when it comes to tea? Or perhaps more specifically, what excites people about tea?
We identified three broad categories of why people drink tea: for health, for enjoyment, and lastly, as a connoisseur of tea. Each category represents a different fundamental approach to the world of tea. No category/type of drinker is better than any other, these are just different ways of approaching and appreciating tea. Over the years I have helped thousands of individuals find the specific tea they're looking for and I can say that without question, every single one fit into one or more of these three categories. Perhaps this article will be an opportunity to help each individual discover what really excites them about tea by heightening ones awareness of the many great ways to appreciate the magical drink we call tea.
Perhaps this is the fastest growing category of enthusiastic tea drinkers. If you are interested in tea for health, you might find yourself asking questions like; "What properties does this tea have?" or "Will this tea boost digestion?" These enthusiasts are acutely aware of the many health benefits of tea and are on the hunt for teas that will help bring a more balanced state of being to their every day life. For the health conscious drinker, tea is a tasty tool on the path to wellness. With the growing number of scientific studies and facts toting the benefits of tea, don't be surprised if these "health conscious" tea drinkers drop some knowledge on you about anti-oxidants or use big words like gama-aminobutyric-acid (GABA). The Health conscious tea drinkers often wander out of the category of traditional teas in order to explore the treasures of herbal teas. They know that health benefits aren't limited to one tea and appreciate the whole of what tea has to offer.
This is biggest category of tea enthusiasts. Whether it was sun tea with lemon and a hot day or a "cuppa" tea in the afternoon with friends, this group of drinkers know the beauty of sipping and sharing a simple cup of tea. This kind of tea drinker is open minded but often knows what kind of tea makes them happiest. Whether it's because it sparks fond memories or just has a flavor that grabs them, don't be surprised when they ask for their favorite time and time again. If you are an enjoyment drinker, you might find yourself saying things like; "Nothing beats a spicy Chai in the morning" or "I love to drink a warm cup of tea on a rainy day." The enjoyment drinker knows teas are good for them but would drink them regardless. They understand the joy a cup of tea can bring and for them, that is more than enough.
With out question the smallest group of tea enthusiasts but perhaps the most devoted. The Connoisseur wants to know everything there is to know about tea, tea-ware, and tea culture. They have a love of tea akin to the sommelier's love of wine. These people have opinions about what makes good, and not so good, tea and tea-ware based on extensive research and experimentation. When discussing tea they ask questions like; "Which region makes the best Oolong?" or "What clays make the best tea pots?" Their curiosity has them asking where the tea was grown, at what elevation, and who farmed it? Their philosophy is: deeper knowledge leads to deeper appreciation. Here is where you will find the tea mystics as well. People who fully dedicate their life to learning and sharing the treasures of tea and tea culture. For the connoisseur, health and enjoyment are intrinsic in tea, the question is how to enhance or refine those attributes.
There you have it. Three different lenses for looking at the same thing. Three different ways to enjoy tea. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to enjoy tea, what most important is that you enjoy it!
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