Wednesday, March 2, 2016
The Office Tea Club
If you follow my instagram account at all, you'll know I started an Office Tea Club. Many of my co-workers have noticed my tea habits, and often ask questions about why I have an electric kettle, why I drink loose leaf tea, why I have insane amounts of teaware on my desk, etc. Many of the questions were out of curiosity for tea, so I thought it would be fun to carve out a small amount of time every week for a few of us to get together, relax and have tea. I brew up a tea or two and we taste, talk about how we feel about the tea, learn a little bit about it, and just have some time to decompress. It's turned into something I look forward to every week, and I have fun selecting teas for us to taste.
If you are interested in starting your own office tea club, I urge you to do it! You'll be surprised at how many people are interested in trying tea, and the time you spend together communicating in a more casual manner will help build team morale. You may even get to know each other a little bit better which is especially important in settings where you're sitting at a computer all day, only talking to people via email or phone. I find that everyone is a bit friendlier to each other now that we have tea time once a week.
So, this week I was thinking we needed to shake things up a bit. We've done pure and flavored teas, even tea cocktails. But we hadn't delved into the world of puerh. I recently received my monthly Global Tea Hut package, and there was an intriguing puerh blend called Zen Blend. I know shou puerh is a bold choice for folks that haven't had it before, but everyone's got to start somewhere, right? I wanted to further our tea education. It was described as being very relaxing, and I thought we could all use a bit of that.
So, I sent around an email and offered up a few tea choices, and everyone picked the puerh! I let everyone know that it tastes very different from the other teas we'd tried. We ended up being a small group (just 3 of us) for the puerh tasting, which probably worked out well. When I passed around the dry leaves, my two co-workers seemed visibly worried about the impending brew. They both said it smelled earthy, moldy, leathery. It did. I brewed up the puerh, rinsed it once, and served. The response was...polite. They were both surprised that the brew itself didn't taste as strong as the aroma of the dry leaves. It was smoother and a little more subtle, but of course, still quite dynamic. The tasting notes were so colorful I just have to share them:
"It's like sitting on a comfy leather sofa in a moldy basement"
"The flavor you'd get if you took an old leather bound book and steeped it in water"
"Sweaty leather shoes"
"The essence of a flooded college library"
I find I've learned quite a bit about how creative my co-workers can be based on what they have to say about the tea! So they weren't in love with the puerh, but it opened the door to teas they hadn't heard of or tasted before. I was surprised that while we were getting a bit tea drunk, I wasn't the least bit jittery. Relaxed, just as the blend promised. This surprised me because the caffeine in tea always makes me a little shaky, even shou puerh. But this was definitely different.
I think next week I'll try to find a nice sheng puerh so we ca compare the flavor and aging process.
Do you share tea with your co-workers? If you set up an office tea club, I'd love to hear about it! Or I'd be happy to discuss if you need any help in creating one.