As some of you may know by now, I own and operate an online tea shop and ever so frequently we get in front of people at expos, events and such.
One frequently asked question that I never managed to answer to the satisfaction of prospects is
“What’s so special about your tea?”
Not that my tea is run-of-the-mill stuff- it’s not, it’s great ;p- but there are some difficulties in answering this honestly.
Exceptional is not the Exception
I have had people describe some of my teas as “exceptional’, a compliment I accept gratefully.
The thing is, great tasting teas are not THAT much of an exception, at least from China.
For example some of the teas I get, the annual production is probably 50-100 kg or so, I only bought 5-10kg, so that are plenty more, albeit predominantly in China.
What I’m trying to say is, I don’t have a monopoly on great teas.
If my answer is “my teas are special because they are all exceptional” then it would be dishonest because I know of other vendors that sell exceptional teas.
Of course that kind of means”exceptional” is an inappropriate adjective but I guess you should know what I mean.
Special doesn’t really mean great
If I so desired, I could have a truly special tea.
All I need is to drive 2 hours to Senai in Malaysia where many households grow tea plants for making Hakka Thunder Rice in their backyard.
I will just sundry it and bake it, a truly one of a kind white tea that is really special.
But here’s the thing, it tastes horrible.
Unknown cultivar- not one like Dabaicha which is extraordinarily high in amino acid
Low elevation and hot climate- hello astringency!
But it’s special right?
I rather have a tea that is widely produced but the widespread production means that there is plenty of competition to bring out the best.
For example, being the top Tieguanyin producer in Anxi means a lot more than being the top tea producer in Shandong, for example. Because the competition is really stiff.
To stand out, it needs to be exceptional. (There’s that word again)
All Teas are Special in their Own Way
Now this sounds like a cop out but it’s true. At least for Chinese and Taiwanese teas.
Most of the top grade ones are made by hand. Factor in changing climate, picking conditions etc etc.
So you can’t have 2 batches that are exactly the same.
Of course for commercial grade teas that are produced according to SOP instead of discretion of masters, blended to achieve consistency and so forth, this is not the case.
What is truly special though….
Is the overall package.
Now I don’t know every single shop in the world but I doubt there are many that shares the same commitment we have to provide information and resources to our customers on tea.
On our tea resource section, we organized our articles into brewing guides, selection, storage, history etc.
More than 200 articles on tea.
Every tea we sell, we have detailed brewing guides, some with videos as well.
All this to help you get the most of your tea as well as know tea better.
Now that is special.
*At least the extent of it 🙂