One of the wiser voices in the tea blogging world is Jason Walker, who discovered tea while living in China. After returning home, Jason started Walker Tea Review, a website designed to help tea drinkers find good teas available online. He regularly posts video reviews of teas, which are a great learning tool because they show you how an experienced tea drinker prepares his tea.
I thought I’d catch up with Jason ? digitally, of course ? to learn more about his blog, the tea industry and more.
What are you drinking at the moment?
I’ve been trying more Korean greens lately.
You originally got into tea while living in China. I don’t think there could be a better place to discover tea! What was it about tea that you fell in love with in China?
The taste. I was drinking teas of such rich flavor. The freshness and variety opened a new world to me.
Do you still have a soft spot for Chinese teas?
Yes, a warm, deeply-infused one. But I do appreciate teas from all over the world.
When did you start the Walker Tea Review?
WTR published its first video tea reviews at the end of 2008. In August 09, I moved on to create an online tea tasting program and reached over 100 tasting reviews.
Who or what inspired you to start the blog?
After returning to the US, I would visit tea shops and order teas, looking to find teas as good as those I had left in China. In the process, I found other people who wanted advice on choosing good teas and preparing them. The tea market was/is growing in the US, but I realized it could grow faster if people know how to properly appreciate tea. There are many who don’t like tea because they haven’t found the right mix of quality, taste, and successful preparation.
Over the past few months I’ve seen a few articles suggesting that tea is the new coffee ? implying that it’s starting to develop a similarly fanatical base of followers who take their drink very seriously. Do you think we’re seeing a cultural shift in the West where drinking fine tea is becoming a trendy thing to do?
More like a cultural renaissance. From the early 1600′s tea was a dominant business and cultural force in the West. For Buddhist monks in Asia, tea was spiritual. From tea houses to our teapots at home, tea is communal. The only thing tea is waiting for in reaching its zenith is a cheap, quick, and hassle-free way to make delicious tea at work.
If you were to make one recommendation to a new tea drinker, what would it be?
Try lots of good tea. There are so many good teas out there that don’t need sugar or flavoring. Move past the teabag and savor the aromas of loose leaf tea. A good loose leaf (when properly served and re-steeped) can deliver more cups of delightful tea, usually for the same or lower cost per cup. And don’t try to cut corners by trying the cheapest loose leaf you can find. Too many people have already been put off of tea because they tried a lower quality (i.e. weak flavor and bitter) tea at a cheaper price. On my FAQ page, I’ve recommended 10 teas that I believe every person should try.