Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Many people in North America have never been exposed to really good tea, which is remarkable given that tea is the most popular beverage in the world save water. The practice of tea drinking is not widely popular here. Why not? Surely much of the blame rests with what passes for tea in those horrid little bags sold in grocery stores and served in restaurants, but there are cultural factors at work as well. As my friend Steve has pointed out, men in our culture are often embarrassed about drinking tea, as though it is somehow unmanly or effeminate to enjoy something so elegant and refined.

I believe that those who experience the wide world of teas will quickly overcome this misconception and embrace the practice of tea drinking. Perhaps if our little blog can show that drinking tea doesn't make you any less of a man, a few more men will be encouraged to explore this wonderful experience.

As I write this I am enjoying an excellent longjing. Although there is mounting evidence of various health benefits, I drink tea for the simplest of reasons: I enjoy it. What could be more manly than that?


Steve Imparl said...

Hey inimino!

Welcome to the blog and thanks for posting. I agree with most of what you wrote, except for the part where you called teabags "horrid." That's OK; I've been looking for something we could finally argue about. ;-)

Seriously, welcome aboard. I look forward to working on this project with you. Your knowledge of tea and your good taste will be assets to our blog and book.

So sit back, relax, enjoy some tea, and keep writing, my friend!

inimino said...

Thanks Steve! I'm glad to be here.

I should clarify -- I don't object to the idea of tea bags, I think they could in principle be done well. It's just that most of the tea sold that way is poor and I think that's what most North Americans think of when they think of tea.

With coffee, on the other hand, there's readily available well-prepared good and even gourmet coffee sold on just about every street corner. Almost every North American can correctly identify a coffee bean, but not a whole tea leaf, and not many restaurants would consider bringing you hot water and a packet of instant coffee after your meal.

Of course, there's also plenty of bad coffee out there, but it seems to me there's much more awareness of the different levels of quality than there is in the case of tea.

Steve Imparl said...

Inimino, thanks again for your first blog entry and the follow-up comment to it. I'm glad you're not objecting to the idea of tea bags.

I will probably develop this idea more completely in a separate post, but I see value in having a wide and diverse selection of teas available to suit the tastes of various tea drinkers. For numerous reasons, that selection would include the finest whole-leaf teas and the mass-marketed broken grades, too. Again, there is much more to say about this topic, but I'm very happy we have started to have the conversation.

Finally, I like your comparison of tea to the more familiar (in North America, at least) coffee. It is helpful to have that point of reference.