Learning to Love Tea

Matcha and a little work at Te. Houston, Texas. September 1, 2013.

Matcha and a little work at Te. Houston, Texas. September 1, 2013.

I came of age in the pre-Starbucks era, when people didn’t drink coffee before college introduced fledgling adults to liquid energy.

Even in college, I didn’t drink coffee. I can’t stomach intensely bitter drinks and foods: pickles, arugula, beer. You get the idea.

Mere thoughts of these ingestibles make my lips curl.

Yet even before college and my focus on intellectual history, I loved learning about cultures and lines of thought. Tea culture—English, Japanese, Chinese—fascinated me with its beauty and history and meaning.

I really wanted to like tea.

First, I had to concede that I’d never like black teas. Too bitter. (I tried.) Then I realized that I’d never cotton to fruity teas and tisanes, which I find too hollowly tart. Slowly, over time, I learned to love green and oolong teas and nutty and warm-spiced tisanes. I still love British tea culture, but even after living in England, I never could do tea the British way (black tea prepared, typically, with cream, sugar, and sometimes lemon).

Today, I buy fine loose-leaf teas and patronize local tea shops (if you’re in Houston and enjoy tea, visit Te) and coffee houses that take the extra effort to brew loose-leaf teas to order and remove the tea leaves before serving (great Houston spots include Boomtown Coffee and Catalina Coffee).

What’s something you learned to love?

P.S.—This post topic recommended by Carlos Laurel.