Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A Thought on Tea Classification

I have a theory I'd like to test out on the wonderful tea geeks of the internet. I've been thinking about the way we classify tea. By this I mean the generally observed classification spectrum of green, white, yellow, oolong, black and puer. I don't mean to exclude the other possible iterations of that spectrum, that's just an example.

My idea is that it may be more useful to identify teas by their geographical, cultural and historic contexts. For example, although the Western tea market generally classifies Cliff Tea and Tie Guanyin as oolong, I've heard many Chinese tea drinkers call these by their own names and consider oolong also something unique more limited in scope. Same thing with Pheonix Teas. The context that got me thinking about this was when I was asking questions about the origin of Cliff Tea and Pheonix Tea. I don't think that the tea producers from each region got together and decided what they were making was oolong, they more probably were just making tea that fit their geology, geography and culture. I propose this kind of lens because I think it may get us as tea drinkers closer to the tea and its origins and help us look past abstractions.

I'm not saying we should do away with our characteristic/processing based spectrum concept by any means. I'm just thinking this is an interesting point of discussion. Please feel free (or obligated) to comment ;)


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