Building a tea collection is an immensely satisfying endeavour for those who find frequent enjoyment in drinking tea. While tea is at its core quite a simple beverage, (it is, after all, only leaves and water) it’s many nuances and complexities lend the tea world a depth and range that would take many lifetimes to fully appreciate and discover.
For those who enjoy drinking tea, regardless of what type or how often, beginning and maintaining a tea collection provides a lifetime of pleasure and enjoyment for a relatively low cost. Each individual tea drinker has his or her own unique tastes that, when expressed, can form the foundations of a personalized collection of teas that act as the tea drinker’s own library of tastes and aromas.
While it would be ridiculous for us to claim that there are right and wrong ways to begin collecting tea, we have compiled a list of guidelines to help the beginning collector develop and grow a collection of teas that suit their specific tastes and preferences. In our upcoming articles, we will list our five guidelines for collecting teas and explain each one to give a full and proper understanding of how you too can build a tea collection tailored to your own unique tastes.
In part 1 of 5 below, we go over the merits of quality based collecting and why it is better to buy fewer high-quality teas than it is to buy many low-quality teas. We hope you enjoy and as always, feel free to leave a comment below.
Quality Over Quantity
Our first guideline is pretty straightforward. When approaching the acquisition of new teas, whether it’s for a collection or simple day to day drinking, it is helpful to keep in mind that over the long term, buying fewer high-quality teas, rather than many low-quality teas will give you greater satisfaction for the same dollar value. Unfortunately, this advice is rarely heeded by beginning tea drinkers, and in many ways, it’s difficult to blame them.
It can be extremely tempting when first getting your feet wet in the vast world of tea to buy as much and as many teas as you can without paying much mind to its quality. For the budding tea connoisseur, the most important aspect of a potential tea purchase is its cost. Beginners would rather buy as many different kinds of tea as they can in order to expand their palate and their knowledge, and in doing so they have to sacrifice on the quality of the tea. It is a difficult roadblock for many tea drinkers to get past. On the one hand, (assuming funds are limited) you have the option of having many different kinds and types of teas and expand your palate over a wide range. On the other hand, however, you could have only a few teas for the same cost and not get to explore as much in terms of variation, at least not right away. Buying for quantity over quality instead of the other way around can be tempting, but over the long term, quality is what will give you the most satisfaction (trust me on this one). Many times over I have come across collectors who, after spending several years in the hobby are now left with an abundance of low-quality tea with which they have no idea what to do. After their tastes have advanced, they simply moved on to better things and are now left with the cheap tea that they stockpiled in their early days of collecting.
This brings me to my next point, which is in the long term, it is better to buy fewer teas anyway because it allows you more flexibility in the future development of your preferences. Consider that many tea drinkers first getting into the hobby of collecting teas buy as much and as many low quality teas as they can and later on, decide that the teas they bought aren’t necessarily the teas they would like to continue drinking. Had they bought only a couple of fine teas, they would be able to drink those teas while allowing space in their cupboards for when their tastes change and evolve (note that I say when and not if because for the vast majority of tea drinkers, taste and preference is always a moving target as time goes on).
While quality may seem to be quite a subjective concept, it is more clear when it can be experienced firsthand. For most tea drinkers, owning and drinking a few grams of a very fine tea provides far enjoyment and satisfaction then owning and drinking 10,000 Lipton tea bags. If you’ve never given fine loose leaf tea a chance, please don’t just take my word for it, go ahead and invest in a sample of a great tea to try for yourself. We are sure that you will be amazed by the difference.
The world of tea can at times be vast and confusing to new tea drinkers. With so many different types and variations of tea out there, finding a high-quality one on today’s market can prove to be a challenge if you don’t know what to look for. For this reason, Herbal Republic offers only the finest examples of each type of tea to ensure that our clients are buying only the highest quality leaves for their enjoyment. We have come to view ourselves as curators of the world’s finest teas and a way for our clients to enjoy tea while being guaranteed that they are getting only the best.
Beginning and developing a tea collection that provides maximum satisfaction over the long run may seem to be challenging, but if you buy quality over quantity you are already on your way.