Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tea People: MarshalN of A Tea Addict's Journal

Welcome to another edition of "Tea People". Today we're chatting with one of the most popular tea bloggers on the net, MarshalN of A Tea Addict's Journal. Grab a cuppa, and settle in as we talk to a true tea expert.

Q. Why did you decide to blog about tea?

A. I think my answer is similar to many others -- when I first started I felt like I should be taking better notes on what I'm drinking, and a blog format helped motivate me to do that. In the back of my mind I also thought maybe this is a way to connect with some like-minded people. Since then there's been an explosion of blogging on tea, which is nice to see.

Q. How do you decide which teas to review/blog about?

A. I drink one tea a day, so it's really a matter of whether I thought I should blog that day or not. For quite a long while I blogged every day. Nowadays I'm a little too busy to do that, so I only blog when I have time and when there's something interesting to say.

Q. Do you ever revisit certain teas on your blog? Why or why not?

A. Yes, and I do change my mind sometimes when I drink a tea for the second, third, or fourth time, which is why I do it. I'm not there to review for the sake of reviewing -- tea is too subjective for that. It's really a form of learning. You always learn something new when you drink a tea, good or bad.

Q. What’s your favorite kind of teaware to brew in?

A. Yixing pots, small, with cups that will hold all the liquid from that pot without the need for anything else.

Q. Do you prefer a cup & saucer, mug, glass or gaiwan?

A. Cup & saucer. The saucer has to be heavier than the cup, otherwise I feel it's not balanced. I used to use gaiwan a lot, but I never touch them these days unless there's a specific reason. Mug is used when I have no time and have to run around or do things.

Q. Do you take your tea straight up, or with sugar and/or milk?

A. Once in a long, long while I'll do milk. I never put sugar in my tea.

Q. Do you remember the first cup of tea you drank? How was it?

A. No -- I was probably four or five, in some restaurant in Hong Kong. Bitter, probably, as it was most likely cooked puerh, overbrewed in a big pot in a yumcha place.

Q. When did you make the switch to loose leaf teas?

A. I always drank loose leaf! Teabags are for foreign devils :)

Q. What are your three favorite teas?

A. A nicely aged oolong, a good, well made young (raw) puerh, and I always have a soft spot for well roasted Wuyi.

Q.What’s your favorite pairing of food with white, green and black teas?

A. I don't eat when I drink tea. If I eat it's only because I am hungry and need something to cushion the tea (otherwise I might get stomach-ache, especially if it's something greenish)

Q.Do you have a favorite tea company? Which one, and why?

A. No. Good companies can make bad tea, and bad companies can make good tea. There are a few very small workshops that press puerh cakes that I particularly like, but they're not really available over here anyway and basically nobody's heard of them.

Q.I know you've spent a lot of time in both China and the US. How has your tea experience been enhanced by perspectives from both cultures, and what major differences do you see between the attitudes towards tea in the two countries?

A. Contrary to popular belief, there are a lot of myths in both tea cultures, but of different kinds. The Chinese (and Taiwanese) tea cultures are really big on various kinds of mythical brewing techniques and effects, ranging from the beneficial use of certain kinds of cups to all types of hyping, depending on who you talk to. The biggest myth over here in the States is probably the health myth. Sure, tea is healthy, but the idea that you can only get more healthy by consuming something, rather than, say, cutting back on something bad, is rather interesting.

Q. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

A. Follow your tongue, smell, and sense, not the "experts", whoever they are. After you've gotten through the initial hurdle of learning the basics, it's really all about introspection and observation.

Thanks so much, MarshalN for sharing your thoughts on the enjoyment of tea with us. It's great to get to know you better. Readers can contact MarshalN through his blog, or leave a comment/question below.


  1. That was a really interesting interview - thanks Marshall and Jamie - particularly in relation to the different kinds of tea myths in different cultures!

  2. Well, I learned something today. And that is that MarshalN has almost the exact same taste in tea that I have. He likes raw Pu-erh and a good well-roasted Wuyi Oolong. A man after my sensibilities. I don't think there's anything wrong, of course, with those who prefer quite different kinds of tea. But it's nice to know who's got similar preferences and connect with those people to learn more. --Spirituality of Tea


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