My first real experience with a tea other than orange pekoe was in college, a million years ago. Back in the days when we walked to school uphill both ways with no shoes. The Midwest, where I was raised, was a food wasteland in respect to tea. My best friend went to England for spring break and returned with the most amazing thing ever, English Breakfast tea. With a little milk and honey, it was delectable. The internet wasn’t the amazing shopping extravaganza that it is now, so this delightful amber colored liquid was precious and rare, and I only ever received the one cup.
Finally America, spurred by the tea craze brought on my Star Trek’s Captain Picard, caught up with the rest of the world, and new varieties of teas began to show up on grocery store shelves. But even then it was hit and miss; a lot of stores didn’t carry it and the ones who did weren’t consistent.
Even though it was hard to get, I attempted to keep tea of some variety in the house. I was fortunate to make a friend in Ireland, and he sent me his favorite tea: Assam. I had never heard of it. I just knew it was an East Indies black. At the time, my tea knowledge was basically “green and not green,” so this whole idea of a tea being specified by place and type was new to me. Once I tried that beautiful dark brew, I was in love. The deep malty, nutty notes appealed to my palate, and, to this very day, a cup of Assam brewed dark is my favorite.
From there, my passion for everything tea grew, but my ability to obtain it easily was slim. My salvation came in the form of a local tea shop. Assam, Blend 1776, Monk’s Blend, Rooibos, and Kyoto Cherry Sencha became the backbone of my tea world, but I always tried new things every time I went in.
I’ve been in love with tea for more than 20 years. I have drank innumerable cups, some with friends filled with laughter and some solemn, some alone in the quiet dark of my home, some with my family as we move about our daily lives. And now I have the opportunity to share it with others, to enrich lives one hot, marvelous cup at a time. Because we all love tea, right?