How I got started: the beginning

My first active memory of tea was sometime when I was still a little kid, and I remember a house guest coming and we served them tea in some ugly looking glasses, leaves floating in the water. It was some sort of green tea. My guess is it was some sort of longjing.

My grandfather always drank tea, and he still does today, everyday. Tea, as I’ve noted before, surrounds you in Hong Kong. Everywhere you go, there is tea. Kids, however, rarely drink them. I remember a schoolmate in primary school (I was probably about 8) saying with a sour face that “tea is really bitter!”. I concurred — I didn’t find it very fun to drink it.

It really wasn’t until college when I started taking an interest in the drink. All through high school I drank no tea, basically. I would drink them when it was available in a restaurant, as in going to dim sum and what not, but I would never brew myself a cup.

Then when I went to college, I remember buying myself a teapot from the school’s co-op. It was a Republic of Tea teapot, with a plastic mesh filter. I thought that was convenient. I probably bought some earl grey or some other tea also, but then, I asked my sister to ship me a little bit of tea from Hong Kong. I think she bought me two kinds, a longjing and a jasmine pearl. I liked the jasmine pearl, although I do remember overbrewing them (adding too much leaves, in retrospect) and having to contend with this extremely bitter brew. I also remember having my first ever caffeine overdose — after a long night of essay writing (back in the day when I was very inept at the job of BSing my way through any essay topic) and having been pumped up by caffeine, I went to bed, only to wake up an hour or two later…. and with my legs shaking uncontrollably. It was rather frightening, and I never got to that point again drinking tea.

Maybe it just means my tolerance got higher.

Even then, I didn’t drink tea everyday. I drank once in a while… maybe once every few days? Once a week? Something like that. I noticed that the plastic infuser started taking on the smells of jasmine, and basically whatever else I brewed in it before. It also started to get stained… brown stains from the blacks I was drinking, no doubt. I drank it all out of a white mug.

Making hot water was a bit of a chore, as there was obviously no kitchen in my open-double dorm room with green carpet. I remember I brought along with me a percolator from home, and I used that to heat up water to make. Aside from nasty tasting water in Ohio, even after Brita (I distinctly remember my first sip of water there, unfiltered, tasted like swimming pool water), the percolator gave the water a lovely plastic smell. It was great for making tea.


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