Forsaking All Others

A Pu-erh brick

Sometimes I get the feeling that I want to start specialising in one of the classes of tea.

I think this desire has a root in the Zen-like notion of “do one thing but do it well“, of wanting to drill down into the fine detail of something, to be a master of one tea class, rather than a tea jack-of-all-trades.

I suppose there is the fear that in wanting to enjoy all teas your relationship to them is a bit dilettantish, flirty rather than serious. There’s almost a feeling of wanting to commit to one tea rather than playing the field so to speak, to get to know one tea intimately, instead of feeling that you know a lot of teas only superficially, by name, appearance, and taste profile only.

If I was to specialise in one class of tea, it would undoubtedly be Pu-erh. It’s fascinated me since I first encountered it all those years ago. I’d love to dedicate myself to learning the differences between the Pu-erhs from each tea producing region of Yunnan, each mountain even, and then learn to appreciate the subtle differences between the various vintages and ageing methods.

But then again…

silver needle white tea leaves

Two other classes of tea really speak to me – delicate white tea with its minimalist approach to processing, and the rare and elusive yellow tea, both of which suggest and promise years of enjoyable study and research.

At a push I could broaden my scope, specialise in both white and Pu-erh. Yes, that would have a good yin/yang feel to it – the light and the dark, the simple and the complex, the young and the old, the sweet and the earthy…

But then again…

Would that mean that specialising in two classes of tea would essentially halve the overall desired effect, undermining the very reason in wanting to specialise in the first place? Specialising in two classes might be half as good as specialising in one, but is it still twice as good as not specialising at all…?

And then again, how much would I miss that early morning pot of green gunpowder, or that early afternoon session with the Longjing. Would I come to regret abandoning the odd cup of Oolong in favour of greater knowledge of Pu-erh?

So many teas, so little time. What’s a teaist to do?

I know one thing for sure, when I figure it out, without a shadow of a doubt the answer will have come to me over a cup of tea.

Time to get the kettle on again…

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