One doesn't have to dip one's spoon into the tea community too far before discovering that there are 2 types of tea drinkers. Both groups are necessary, neither is better or worse. Like any two party system, they need each other to exist: opposite yet equal. And of course that means there are those who would prefer to stay in the center, feeling there's validity to both parties. The two parties of the tea parties fall out something like this:
The Tea-Totalers. All they drink is tea. They take the grade, the water temperature, the serving ware all very seriously. Whether Asian or British style influence, they are steeped in the traditions, rituals and ceremony of tea. There's nothing that they don't kow about making the perfect cuppa. They pass this intricate knowledge of tea to others thereby continuing the long history of tea. Without them, tea would not be as trendy as it is, though the majority of them despise the idea of tea benig "trendy".
The Nouveau Leaf-ers. They love tea. It's not the only beverage, but they pride themselves in knowing more than the average person about tea. Whether for trend or health or just unique taste, they have acknowledged that there lies a whole other world behind that label "TEA". They don't fuss so much with steeping time and water temperatures and would be equally willing to grab a "to-go" cup of tea as have it served gong-fu style.
Anyone reading this blog knows that as an herbalist who stumbled into tea, that I associate myself with the latter of the tea parties. I've always felt recipes and instructions were merely guidelines and that rules were meant to be learned and then unlearned in order to find the next stage of growth. We do that a lot in America. Some people call it "bastardizing", but then if that's the American way, then it allows things to be added into the melting hodge-podge pot we call our culture...
I'm glad tea is trendy. If you interview the owners of the tea companies and tea cafes, you'll find a lot of tea purists as well as tea centerists...you'll find people who love and respect tea for everything that it is. You'll find people interested in high-quality products.
Sure you'll always have low-quality products mass produced by large conglomerates, but then, hasn't even THAT been the gateway product that has ushered numerous people into learning more and more about what true quality tea is all about?
Enjoy your tea how you wanna....
Dare to be a little less sacred.
Just make it YOURS.