Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Who is a tea expert?

written by isundust on on 2012-03-16

Who is a tea expert?

If in one sip, you can identify a tea, are you an expert? No way! It just means you are able to remember a tea you drank before.
If in one sip, you can tell the approximate age of a tea, are you an expert? No way! It just means you are a seasoned Pu-erh tea drinker.
When others mention a tea, you always say you have it in your collection, are you an expert then? Of course not! It only shows that you are a collector, like a philatelist.
When others mention a tea, you are able to tell them its characteristics and price, does it mean you are an expert? Nonsense! It only shows you're in the business or that you are an big enthusiast.

You know by heart the names of many tea mountains, villages and peaks, so what? You can explain in detail how the plucking is realized, and then?

Actually, we are only people who drink tea, why do we all want to become ''specialists''? Does it mean that every one of us would like to make a living out of tea?

In the end if we were only tea drinkers who can serve tea, who can love tea, who treat every single leaf with great care, that would be enough. If you get to understand every tea you have, if you can get the best out of them, then I would say you are amazing.

Each tea, no matter how expensive it is, has its own style, its own good and bad aspects; brew it with all of your heart, you can get the spirit of this tea, extract every special trait, point up the best side of it, grasp the full essence of this tea; then you are a real expert.

Let's talk about the Dayi 7542 recipe: this tea is very common, it's a blend of plantation teas, to my knowledge, this tea is brewed well when you get 4 characteristics: 1- no bitterness or astringency, 2- a changing and lively liquor, 3-a soup pleasant in the mouth, 4- the typical Chaqi of 7542. Few people can get those four features together in a same cup.

Today, I brought up a controversial debate; actually, I like this saying: '' the more I argue, the more I find out that I don't know Pu-erh tea''. As far as i'm concerned, I wish to argue and learn more with every tea friend I can meet.


  1. I think you gave some interesting and important view point! We live in an era when there are too many masters! :-p However, in traditional Chinese Confucianism culture, if an intellectual was called a "master" or "expert", he would first be alert and ponder whether it was a taunt or shallow flattery.
    On the other hand, I think "tea experts" could be of different levels and different profession, including tea scientists, tea farmer, tea historian. And, there are people who've collected a lot of teas and know about them whom I would call tea experts. But I agree with you collection alone doesn't automatically makes one an expert.

    1. Hello Gingko, thanks for sharing your views.
      Let me precise that i only translated the articles from this website:

      I found it interesting to have a Chinese opinion about this subject. I tend to agree with this author. I think 'expert' only means you have better knowledge than those you talk to, for example, any chess club player can be seen as an expert by casual players. Like any loose leaf tea drinkers is considered as a specialist by those who only know tea bags.

      Then, as you say, tea is a vast area, covered by many domain of expertise. Maybe a tea master is someone who have a deep knowledge about every aspects of tea (agronomy, processing, collection, history, business, philosophy...)

      Finally, i would say that being a tea expert or not is not important. We have something to learn from everyone. I think that blindly following the advice of one master slows down the learning, it's better to listen to every tea drinker you meet and make your own opinion.

  2. the more i know about tea, the less i realize i am. gathering people's thought is the start. it sometime depends on luck too. if you manage to find a good sifu, it could shorten the learning curve. again, i think passion is the key.