Part of a series on How To Expand Your Tea Education.
Becoming informed about tea can be easy and hard at the same time. There are more than enough books about tea. Some would even say there are more books than there is demand. You can find training courses and certification bodies.
One of the first places to look is online. Online has its advantages. There is so much free info available, some of which is more accurate. Websites and blogs also get updated more often than books. A mistake in hard copy can cling tenaciously to life. An online resource can correct those misunderstandings quickly. However, a web resource can also spread erroneous info quickly.
Here are the sites I go to when I want more information, or when I want to double-check. While some of these sites can offer varying degrees of knowledge depth, there is much for the advanced tea reader. These are in no particular order.
Peony Tea Blog: PeaonyTS is a relatively new site, but has begun a good work of explaining some of the Chinese culture elements behind tea. It is a good place to start to understand key concepts in pu’er, wulong, and teaware like gaiwans. Derek of Peony Tea also talks about varietals and other more involved subjects.
TeaChat: TeaChat is a message board. As such, its value is dependent upon who contributes. Over the several years of TeaChat’s existence, there have been some valuable contributions. I have used it to find info and connect with people about yixing teapots, but the boards cover so much more. On the other hand, you do have to sift through many repetitive, or irrelevant messages in the conversation streams. TeaChat is operated by Adagio.
The Mandarin’s Tea: Postings on The Mandarin’s Tea may not come as frequently as they did in the past, but the library of in-depth info on tea still exists. It provides some of the most thorough tea tastings of traditional roasted teas and pu’ers. You will also find rich articles on tea and cigar pairings, and tea for meditation. Tim goes to great lengths to find teas done the old-fashioned way.
MarshallN: Great for all things pu’er; storage, teaware, and black teas.
Seven Cups: Thorough coverage of the growers and tea masters that Austin and Zhuping work with in their zeal to bring fine Chinese teas to market. In many cases you are reading what the tea growers and masters know about tea processing and tea varietals.
Tea Trekker: As thorough as the Seven Cups blog, but covering a broader range of teas, including Japanese teas.
Tea Masters: What I like about Tea Masters is the focus on Taiwan teas, and the ability to read of the changes that occur in a tea across harvest periods. Stephane can frequently return to farmers and read of the changes in tea across seasons. It is a great way to learn how tea harvest and processing can change a tea.
World of Tea: I go to Tony’s site because I like the research he has dug up about tea business (especially online tea biz) and the science of tea.
Japanese Tea Sommelier: A collection of tasting articles on classic and unique Japanese green teas. There is background information about the teas being tasted, usually including the varietals and glimpses at the processing methods used.
Life in Teacup: Gingko Seto has family connections in the Chinese green tea industry. She uses her Chinese language skills to translate and explain those things about Chinese teas you may not otherwise find.
If you were to add an 11th to the list, who would it be, and why?
And no, I’m not fishing for a compliment.
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