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  • Kate Malone Hesser

In 2022 I will...

Sip slowly, taste and breathe.

Do you ever finish a cup of tea and think, "wait, what was that?" At points of extreme mindlessness I can eat whole meals, or if I'm honest, whole bags of potato chips, without realizing it until the plate, ahem, bag is empty. This is typically during times of the day, week, month when stress from work and other responsibilities creep in and I neglect my selfcare. Devoting as much time and attention as I have to the practice of tea has helped with that, but it is still an ongoing practice that requires intention and awareness.

Drink only what I like.

I am a perpetual should - er: "I should finish this because it was a gift." "I should try to incorporate more herbal teas into my health routine." "If I want to be a real tea expert I should appreciate Shou Pu'erh more" Can we all join hands and pledge to stop suffering through infusions that we are just not that into? There are more unique teas than any of us will ever taste in our lifetimes. My focus for 2022 will be to discover those that excite and inspire my practice. Teas that you find yourself passing by can find homes with friends who will be delighted to try them, which brings me to my next point…

Share, share, share.

Nothing brings me more joy than sharing tea with others - in person, in virtual gatherings, through the mail. I was delighted to be part of two Advent tea exchanges and to build stronger connections with several tea friends, which I hope to keep going through the year. While the Omicron variant in my locale is surging, it is still possible to gather with trusted friends in small groups or for virtual tastings. Overtime, I hope to offer in-home tastings and pairings on a professional level to bring custom tea experiences to a broader audience.

Honor my own palette.

Sometimes I feel intimidated when tasting with others because what I taste and associate with particular teas does not seem as sophisticated. At the present time, I will not find notes of lychee fruit in anything, because I have never tasted a lychee fruit. I have zero experience with fine whiskies, have only had coq au vin once, and can't always conjure a memory of eating a custard. Each of us has our own unique set of sensory memories that we can bring to our tasting - and they are as individual as we are! To me, a high quality Jasmine has the aroma of dried blueberries and fresh basil - or if I am truly honest, the Sour Grapes doll from my Strawberry Shortcake collection. Drinking it brings me back to afternoons combing synthetic technicolor pony tails with my sister in the early eighties. A strong Ceylon tea from the Uva region of Sri Lanka with its leading eucalyptus flavor and notes of dark wood and leather, makes me think of pipe tobacco and lunches at the Harvard Club of New York a job, city, and decade ago. These are my personal identifiers, the building blocks of my tea voice, and what make my assessments add value to the broader conversation about tea.

Here’s to a year of calm, community, inspiration, acceptance, and of course TEA!

Happy 2022!

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