Friday, January 14, 2011

Behind the Scenes

What exactly goes on during a tea review by yours truly? Well, let me show you.

This is the set up. It's not fancy by any means, but it is what works for me. A simple folding table holds my tea tray, tea towel, and fu dogs. My laptop, external hard drive (where I keep my pictures and written reviews), and cell phone (timer) sits on a folding TV tray and the other TV tray is used for the camera tripod or extra placement space. When I sit in the folding card table chair, to my right is where I store my tea, kettle, and other utensils.

I have a flexible outline in which I review tea. I try to keep the steps the same so I can review each tea the same way, but I try not to make it boring, as well. I open the bag that contains the tea and note the aroma. I pour some of the leaves into a bowl or onto a plate and give the leaves a few more sniffs for a better description of the aroma. At this time I note the recommended water temperature and prepare and start the kettle. While the kettle is doing its thing, I take pictures of the dry leaves while also writing about the appearance. By this time the water is up to temperature so I put the recommended amount of leaves into a teapot, gaiwan, kyusuu, or whatever I choose to use that day and then pour in the hot water. As it is steeping I note the aroma coming from the brewing vessel. I decant the tea when it reaches the suggested brewing time and note the color along with the aroma again. While the tea is cooling I take pictures. Then comes time for tasting. I usually go with my gut on this part and write what first comes to mind... as in what the flavors remind me of. I finish writing the review, edit the pictures, upload the pictures, put the pictures in the edited blog post, and finally post the review for all to see. After all that, I drink the rest of the tea if I like it, and then wash the tea ware.

And... that's it. It doesn't sound like much but this whole process from set up to wash up is about an hour per tea. I have always thought that it's easier to pop out tea reviews one after another if there are no pictures involved... but I think it gives something extra to the blog. You can see that I actually made the tea. You know that I didn't just throw some random descriptive words together and call it a review. I care a lot about the reviews I write and the pictures I take, so I take the time to do a good job... but, as a result, I can't get them out as fast as other bloggers can.

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