The quieter you become, the more you can hear - Ram Dass
I’m not one for spiritual devotion, but I do enjoy the meaning of quotes like this because you can apply it to anything, especially tea. Tea is a big part of my life and I appreciate the leaf but I do not bow to it.
In my “manifesto" post I comment about additives. The "quiet" part of this quote refers to outside flavors not already present in the natural leaf.
In the western world, we add salt, we add sugar we add many things that can boost the flavor but I think we overuse these things and forget what some food and drink actually tastes like.
In the world of food and beverage, you have wine and cheese pairings, whisky tasting, coffee tasting, tea degustations. They all give you the opportunity to experience everything the leaf/bean/malt/cheese/grape has to offer.
You take clear your palate with some water, take a sip of the sample and your mouth can receive flavor with as much objectivity as your taste dictates. Many chefs would say salt is the biggest key to flavor in any style of cooking. They would also tell you that too much will destroy any other flavors present in the dish.
Think of this like a drug addiction or alcohol dependency. The more you over indulge, the more you need to reach the same high. If you are conservative in your consumption, the high or the drunkeness can be more intense and often more clear-headed.
All good things in moderation, right? Seems like a no-brainer but we often over indulge even though we know this. Why? I’ve noticed a few times I find myself eating when I’m not hungry and wonder why I did that. or sometimes the opposite, stop eating even though my stomach is not satisfied.
For me the reason is simple. My palate. If I start eating when I’m not hungry it’s almost always because I have a weird taste in my mouth and I want to change it. This is the body’s way of telling me to drink water. It will cleanse the palate of most unwanted residual flavor and not add to your dietary intake for the day, keeps you hydrated too! When I have a good flavor in my mouth, I will either stop eating to savor that final flavor or I will eat other things and save the food or drink that contains the desirable flavor til the end.
When I drink a good tea or a good scotch, the flavors in my mouth linger pleasantly to provide a lasting memory of the experience. These flavors can also play tricks on you and I often find other senses will trigger one of these taste memories. I will be eating a certain food or walking through town and I taste or smell something and I begin to salivate uncontrollably. Something has reminded my body of delicious puer I had once or the Scotch I tried the other night.
Sometimes I amaze people at how quickly or specifically I can identify certain flavors in a tea. “Your palate is ridiculous, I wish mine was that good” well, thank you but it’s not that hard to train yourself. If you want to start tasting food and drink better, drink more water and start to strip away some excess sugars and salt. please, keep eating whatever you like though, just tone it down. instead of adding chocolate syrup to your ice cream, just eat the ice cream and take note of what the ice cream tastes like by itself. This is not a diet but there you certainly benefit if that’s what you’re looking for.
Food from the earth is a treasure. We should respect it as it allows us to continue living. Plants not only provide us with food to eat, but also oxygen, which is kind of important to humans. The spinach you have in your garden (maybe not yet actually) grows a certain way with a certain flavor. Appreciate that flavor. The carrots and beets gather nutrients from the soil that make them special. Appreciate those differences.
When you start to strip things like tea down to their naturally qualities, you might be surprised at how expansive the flavors can be and you might understand just a little better why we drink tea this way. It might also make us connoisseur types seem not so stuffy anymore.
Another quote with similar sentiment to bookend this post
“The ideas are louder when there are fewer of them.”
― David C. Day