The first post appeared on this blog exactly a year ago today.
An awful lot of tea has been bought, steeped and sipped since then – the good and the bad, the cheap as chips and the quite expensive, tea as rough as sandpaper and tea as ethereal as a half-forgotten dream about clouds, tea bought just around the corner, and tea orders that were put together in distant Yunnan after I clicked a mouse button half a world away.
Once upon a time, half a lifetime ago, I was an engineering apprentice.
The construction of railway vehicles is a dangerous business, even if you know what you are doing, and so for our own well-being, as well as that of those who would eventually teach us, we spent the first year of our time learning how to do the basics in the safety and comfort of an apprentice training school.
In those first 52 weeks we learnt to wield hand tools without maiming, before it was even suggested that we were fit to be let loose with their powerful electrical and pneumatic equivalents.
We were then ready to leave the shallows, and plunge into the deep end, the dark, mad, cavernous workshops built of Victorian red brick where we would spend the next three years learning our trade.
Our first year as apprentices was all about giving us a framework onto which our new skills, experiences, and knowledge could be fastened, a filing system and a set of cabinets into which we could place the information we acquired.
That’s how I feel tea-wise.
This blog was started as a way to document and record my efforts in taking tea more seriously, and to give structure and direction to my previously ad hoc, meandering journey through the world of tea and tea culture. One year on I think I’ve now got a fairly decent base to build upon.
Standing on that base, I can see what I know, and more importantly perhaps, I’m aware of what I don’t as yet know. I’ve done the border of the jigsaw puzzle, as well as a few segments here and there, now comes the process of filling in the middle, and joining up all those isolated pockets of knowledge. It’s going to take decades, but I’m in no rush. One cup at a time.
Later on today I’ll be having a small gong-fu session to mark the occasion. I’ll be dusting off my best pot and dropping a righteous quantity of the 2012 Bu Lang sheng pu-erh into it.
I simply have to say a huge “Thank You!” to all those who follow and read this blog. Your support over the last year has been much appreciated.
Here’s to the future. Now, go and drink some tea…