Talking Tea

Alyson peered over her cup of Anxi Ben Shan with one eyebrow raised and asked, “What?  A comfy tea?”

I, taken aback as I thought this was a logical concept, had to explain myself.  “A comfy tea!  You know, it’s like putting on a nice pair of slippers?”  This didn’t seem to help my case much, so I continued, “A comfy tea is soothing.  It feels nice on the tongue and warms you up without shocking your taste buds.  It’s just, well, comfy!"

I view tea as both a personal and communal joy and as such, I sometimes struggle to come up with descriptors that make sense to others.  I had been working on my descriptive vocabulary such as “comfy,” “grower” and “taster” teas for a while now, allowing the meanings to settle and solidify in my mind.  Although, I was reminded that not all minds think alike, I discovered that when you share your strokes of madness with others, you might just create a whole new way of experiencing tea. 

When I introduced the idea of a comfy tea to Alyson, I clearly had some explaining to do.  But, after she understood my thought process we began to discuss how we talk about tea.  We decided to expand the beginnings of my new tea vocabulary and decided to share it here:

Comfy Tea – as described above, a comfy tea provides soothing relaxation, like putting on a comfy pair of slippers (well-worn slippers, Alyson insisted).  It is uplifting and reenergizing.  An old friend that's easy to be around.  Often a comfy tea is light in feel and flavour.

Cozy Tea – a tea is cozy if it provides you with that “reading a good book in a sunny window or in front of a good wood fire” feeling.  A cozy tea is rich and smooth, comforting and enveloping like a warm sweater or your grandma's old quilt.  It's a feel-good drink that makes you feel soporific as you get through the infusions.

Grower Tea – a grower tea is one which wallops you in the salivary glands.  These are the types of teas that you are unsure of at first, but as you get experienced with them, you discover their less violent personality.  This is a tea with a prickly outside but a warm inside.  If these analogies don’t work for you, I think of it like trying olives or wine for the first time; at the beginning, the flavours are totally overwhelming, but once you hone in on the really special characteristics, you learn to appreciate or even love them.  And this brings me to the last category.

Taster Tea – a taster tea is truly special.  It is one of those teas that excites your mouth from the tip of your tongue all the way back into your jaw.  It is that special one, too good for company (maybe with the exception of really good friends, but maybe not).  This is a tea for the truly obsessed.  It brings you to that happy place, exciting your imagination – imagine frolicking through a field of tea (perhaps this is too much?).  This is a perfect or near perfect tea experience that you compulsively and greedily seek to hoard until you can sit down and tinker with it, getting just the right steep, and sip on it slowly, perhaps slurping and eyeballing the rich liquor.  Bliss.

So the next time that you sit down with a comfy, cozy, grower or taster, think of the ways in which you experience tea.  If our classification helps you to verbalize your feelings, then by all means use it!  Or if you think I’ve been sipping alone too often, then hey, cheers!

Happy sipping,



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