Hello Tea World
introduction, past present future
Hello tea world, and thanks for stopping by Form Follows Tea. Before I get into what this site is and where it’s going, I want to talk about where it came from:
Last autumn marked my first full year back in the US after five years spent abroad in Japan. Everyone tells you to watch out for culture shock when moving away, but there’s very little said about the shock of returning and feeling like a stranger in a familiar place. This reverse culture shock hit me much harder than whatever culture shock I may have felt from moving abroad.
It probably helped that I loved living in Japan. Sure, the first year or two was rough at times. I had only minimal Japanese language ability and the minutiae of everyday life was a struggle. Things I had taken for granted – buying specific food items at the supermarket, maintaining my car, setting up utilities – took ten times longer to complete than usual, or had to be done with help. But for the first time in my life, I felt like I was breathing in learning. Every day, especially the tough ones, brought new lessons. (Oh, that’s what that word means! Ok, that’s how you hand out gifts at the office.)
Eventually, I was just breathing in air again. I was still learning new things every day, but these things were more by conscious choice than by necessity. I started participating in a few traditional culture activities. One of these was tea ceremony. I soon gained a love for matcha and for the depth to which tea has permeated Japanese culture, philosophy, history, and art.
I was also impressed by how communities form around tea. Tea became a bridge for me to learn more not just about my local fellow students, but also others I met at tea-related events and exhibitions. As a common point of reference, tea worked wonders, especially as a foreigner.
Anyway, fast forward to the past year. Beyond the typical reverse culture shock stuff of feeling like a stranger in my own country, I felt like a ronin. I was wandering in tea and my other studies because my teachers and the communities I was part of were so far away. And in a more general sense I lacked a strong sense of career/learning goals to pursue, since I no longer had an environment that challenged me to learn new things for my daily life.
Why Form Follows Tea
I realized that if I wanted an environment that promoted learning, connection, and direction as I had experienced in Japan, I would need to construct it myself. As tea was a large part of what had enriched my life for years past, it seemed natural to start there. I began to explore tea beyond tea ceremony. I read books on Chinese tea, Indian tea, British tea, tea utensils, etc. (Of course, I did this while drinking lots of tea.) I read other tea blogs and realized that the internet is one of the ways tea culture, learning, and community flourishes, especially without the structure (or confines, depending on your view) of a more formal tea culture here in the western hemisphere.
This life of tea online inspired me to start Form Follows Tea.
I’ve never blogged before. And honestly, I’ve never really written anything publicly for the internet. I can’t say I quite understand how this portion of the world works. In other words, it’s a perfect environment for learning. To put it more personally, this blog is an attempt to stop wandering, an attempt to learn and share that learning with others.
Form Follows Tea now
When I first envisioned Form Follows Tea, I knew I wanted to do something different. I wanted to create something in a tea blog that I hadn’t seen before. So I went with a black background. (jokes, jokes)
In a little more seriousness though, I used my love for art/design and background in science to create a visual review system with standardization and repeatability at its heart. Yeah, I know standardization and repeatability are not the sexiest of traits. But there is an upside – reviews are more easily compared between themselves, and between other’s tasting notes.
Which reminds me – I’d love to hear about your tasting notes if you’ve tried the same teas as me, so please drop me a comment in the reviews, or send me a message here. If you’ve got something else tea-related on your mind, also feel free to contact me at the links above.
Currently Form Follows Teas is focused on reviews and comparative tastings of teas. I publish new posts every Tuesday and Friday around 9:00 AM EST. If there’s something else you would like to see, I am open to suggestions and am always thinking ahead. Bringing us to this last bit:
Well, who can say what the future holds for sure, but once everything is up and rolling smoothly, I have plans for adding a wider variety of content to the site. I hope to integrate more design-focused projects with tea topics, in addition to posting deeper dives into the science behind the leaf. When it comes to tea, there aren’t any topics I find uninteresting, so let me know in the comments below what you enjoy most in tea blogs. I’m excited to take this first small step in tea blogger-dom and hope that you will join me along the way!