Well, writing this post is a bit embarassing. Nevertheless, I once decided so I have to do it.
Irrelevant part 1
When I noticed that blogs actually do exist, I thought the were pretty awful. Nightwish-loving kinder-goths crying how much they love their idols (using awful language - if you think my English is bad, you should see their Czech). Later, it became more Emo and Justin Bieber-like.
Then, maybe three years ago, I noticed that there was another category of blogs: Blogs of people who feel undervalued and overlooked - so they write their rants and "novel" views (which, in better cases, were first formulated after the great cultural revolution).
Well, then, a year ago, I found several great tea blogs, which eventually led me to creating one (a blog, not necessarily great) too (it was a pretty intense internal fight - it's like creating a Facebook account just because most people around have it).
I try to post relevant things, but today, it will be just a "novel" rant :-) It is not trying to be novel actually. It is just that I made an observation and I would like to know whether things are similar outside Czech Republic (i.e., I would be greatly interested in your opinions).
Irrelevant part 2
The history of tea in Czech Republic may not be long, but definitely intense. It could be named The splendor and miseries of tea merchants. To make long story short - there is an eternal loop: There is a great new tea merchant who is better than the rest. For several, years, everything is great, then he becomes too satisfied and does not evolve much anymore. Then another guy/company comes, better than the previous, etc.
Now, there is a healtier situation in means of tea quality, there are several tea sellers of sufficient quality. However, the situation is not-so-healthy from the point of view of relations between these merchants. Previously, the single good tea merchant/company criticized their competition, but he was mostly right. Recently, some very nasty and false bad-mouthing came between merchants selling good tea. It is very disappointing to find out that people you believed in and who were so nice, are, in fact, ruthless actors. Anyway, this is not the point of this post.
Partly relevant part
The point is - there is a strange form of cultism among many tea folks. Earlier, it happened with the single good merchants. Now it works with several merchants in parallel.
Cultists generally despise other tea vendors than their chosen King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Conquering Merchant of the Tea of China, and Elect of God (well, maybe I had enough of Prince Far I for today... :-)). When their taste tea of their god's competitors, they passionately persuade you that it is crap, a fake or whatever (mostly it's that "whatever"). On the other hand, they automatically take the tea of their god as the best thing in the world, too good for Chinese emperor (if he had lived) himself and all that.
The bad thing is that merchants themselves do support that. For example, if you buy from someone, the competing merchants may refuse to sell things to you in some cases. Funny, isn't it? Luckily, it is not frequent I hope. But it does happen. Even between the best merchants, which makes it even sadder.
What I found interesting is the subjectivity of tasting. When tea cultists jump with joy over ordinary good tea that their god has mercifully bestowed on them, they really feel the joy. The same holds true when they spit fire on one of arch-devils (i.e. competing tea merchants) dares to offer his tea (generally also good), which he dared to produce from trees old 70-80 years!!! Everyone (well, their god says so) knows that treas old 80-90 years are much better and the 70-80 years old tree tea is useless and should be thrown to pigs.
Why is that? My belief is that here is a strong tendency to "do things right". It takes time and money to drink through hundreds of cakes, trying to find out what is good on your own. Actually, with a good "teacher" who points out interesting features of teas, it would be much faster. But it seems even faster when the teacher is your tea vendor claiming there is a bijection between his tea and good tea that you can buy. Buying from him, it is easy to feel grand and "correct learner of the art of tea"... But the reason may be different, of course, I do not know.
Do you feel anything similar in your countries?
I usually did not know why blog ranters do write their stuff. The problem here is, I do not know why I wrote this stuff either. :-) I am genuinely interested in situation in other countries. Being it just an excuse or not, I bid you good night and thanks for reading if you made it this far!
And thank you, Yunnnan Sourcing, Essence of Tea, Hou De, Teahabitat, Teamasters and the rest who give us the opportunity to form our opinions ourselves!
While we are thanking, I would like to thank to independent tea bloggers who help people choose, not pursuing their own agenda.