Lately, I have been having problems writing. I don't know what to write! However, if you ever come to drink tea with me, you probably will notice that I won't stop talking about tea. So in the past weeks, I made the effort to keep track of what I've been saying. Aside from talking about how to identify good tea and how to taste it, I often talked about my tea experience. Here I am in Seattle, excited about going back to Taiwan to learn tea in May. I'd like to write down my past tea experiences to connect with the future tea learning.
When I was a child in Taiwan, I often saw people drinking tea. Back in my hometown, I saw LaoZuenCha(老人茶,Old Man's Tea) tea making(aka Gongfu tea) in my cousin's house for the first time. My cousin and I are the same age. Her father had a huge metal tea tray set on a table and that was where he made his tea. The tea tray and lots of his teapots had a lot of tea stains due to the frequent tea making. When I went to visit my cousin, he would always ask me if I wanted a cup. In a lot of places of Taiwan, people don't mind that children drink some tea. Those were my first tea experiences. My own family didn't drink tea. As a kid, I never really pondered why some people drink tea and why some don't.
When I was a teenager, I drank a lot of bubble tea and focused on going to the best universities.
I went to National Taiwan University in Taipei for college. Taipei is very different from where I grew up. It's much busier. A lot of my high school friends also went to Taipei and we would hang out once in a while on the weekends. Our favorite thing to do was to escape from Taipei for a day. We would ride our scooters to places with more greenery and had a good time walking around and eating (Food is very important for Taiwanese people and we are constantly eating). My friends told me about a tea house on the hills outside of Taipei. So one weekend, we decided to visit. I met the owner, Mr. Tsai who currently makes our Taiwan Wuyi Oolong. My fond memories of tea started here. If you ever ask me what I remember about tea, I will tell you about this memory of my friends hanging out in that teahouse, drinking tea, chatting, playing games, eating snacks, and having a good time. I remember tea is actually really fun!
I was learning English in university so I tried very hard to save money to be able to come to the states to practice my English. One summer, a family in Florida told my friend that they would host me. So I went to stay with the family for two months.
I believed that tea represents my culture. Besides some art objects, I brought the family a gongfu tea set as a present. One evening, we all sat down and I was supposed to show them how to make tea in a tiny clay teapot. I proceeded with the Gongfu tea and wow, that tea tasted terrible! I always watched people making tea in Taiwan, but I never really sat down to make a pot of tea. Nobody commented on the tea. I think they tried to be polite.
Back in Taiwan, I continued hanging out with friends in different tea houses and totally forgot that I in fact couldn't brew a good pot of tea.
To be continued....