Welcome to another Tea People interview! This week we're chatting with tea blogger Brittiny Lawson of My Steeped IdentiTea. Grab a cuppa and sit with us for awhile...
Q. Why did you decide to blog about tea?
A. When I was doing research on the internet about tea, I discovered several tea blogs in which people posted notes and reviews on the teas they have tasted. After I decided I wanted to experience tea for myself, I thought starting a blog would be the best way to document my learning experience.
I realize that I could have kept my tasting notes offline, but I figured making them public would help me communicate my thoughts better with other tea-lovers.
Q. How do you decide which teas to review?
A. Since most of my reviews, right now, are samples sent to me by vendors, I review teas on a first come first serve basis. I have lists (yes, multiple lists) in which I keep track of what teas, from whom, and when they were sent to me by vendors.
I plan on doing reviews of teas that I have bought myself, but vendors’ reviews come first.
Q. What’s your favorite kind of teaware to brew in?
A. That depends on the type of tea. I love brewing whites and greens in a gaiwan. I brew black teas and flavored oolongs in my tetsubin and unflavored oolongs in my yixing pot.
Overall, gaiwans are my favorite teaware because of the ease of use and cleaning – that and I find them visually appealing.
Q. Do you prefer a cup & saucer, mug, glass or gaiwan?
A. That, too, depends on the type of tea. When I make black or oolong tea I normally use one of my brightly colored mugs. When I make green or white tea I use my glass cup or glass pitcher and pour it into tasting cups because I love to see the color of the liquor.
Q. Do you take your tea straight up, or with sugar and/or milk?
A. Straight up! Adding milk or sugar to tea before you try the brew itself is like adding steak sauce to a steak before tasting the meat itself. It is an insult to all the hard work that is put into the product to produce the fantastic flavor.
Chai is the only exception to this because chai is traditionally drank with milk and sugar. When I make chai, I try the brew by itself first and then add the sweeteners.
Q. Do you remember the first cup of tea you drank? How was it?
A. I remember my mom teaching me how to make a cup of tea using Lipton bags when I was sick. I liked the taste, but I only ever thought about drinking it when I was sick.
When I started to really experiment with loose leaf tea, the first cup I had was an herbal tea called Scarlet Glow from In Pursuit of Tea. It was a very fruity and floral tea… and I think that was the first and last cup I ever had of that particular tea.
Q. When did you make the switch to loose leaf teas (or have you)?
A. When doing research on tea I pretty much plunged into the tea world hardcore, so I started out with loose leaf and have preferred it that way ever since.
Q. Do you drink tea predominantly for health or enjoyment – or both?
A. Both. With the research I was conducting, I discovered the vast amount of health benefits that tea has to offer before hearing much about the wonderful taste. After I realized I enjoyed tea for mainly the incredible flavor, I felt sad and disappointed that marketers were shoving the health benefits down consumers’ throats and making the taste second on the list of importance.
Q. What are your three favorite teas?
A. Sencha, Gyokuro, and Darjeeling
Q. What’s your favorite pairing of food with white, green and black teas?
A. I really don’t like to pair food with tea. When I drink tea that is normally the only thing I am consuming at the time. However, I have found that eating some unsalted peanuts, raisins, or dried cranberries is good with any type of tea.
Q. Do you have a favorite tea company? Which one, and why?
A. I don’t think I can choose just one. Mighty Leaf and Yogic Chai are two of my favorite tea companies. I like those two companies for the same reasons: the companies are run by people who are extremely passionate about what they do, they have great tasting products, and they treat their customers as they would their friends.
Q. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
A. Thank you, Jamie! You rock! I think these interviews are a great idea. I love going behind the scenes and getting to know other tea bloggers.
Thanks so much, Brittiny for sharing with us today! I'm right with you on being sad about the health benefits being pushed so heavily at the expense of the flavor aspect of tea. I'm curious as to what started your research on tea - you said your tea journey started with research. Was it personal or for a project of some sort?
If you have questions or comments for Brittiny, please leave a comment below. You can reach her through her blog, or on Twitter @IdentiTea.