Some teas, though, do rise above the rest. I think this is because of a purely emotional reaction or attachment to the taste, or the content in which I'm exposed to it. I am extremely lucky to work in tea, and to do so with a pair of tea masters (even though they would both probably cringe if I called them that- and I do, too, but there is no better term). Many of the mindblowing teas I've experienced in the past two years have been prepared and handed to me by one of them.
Their approaches to making tea are quite different: one methodical, one intuitive. I was thinking about this today while drinking this year's spring harvest of Bailin Gongfu, a traditional-style fine Chinese black tea from Fujian, studded with silky, golden buds. Right around last year's harvest of this tea, I went out to visit one of them. The day before I left for the trip, one made me Bailin here; and while out there, on a hike in Muir Woods, the other had packed me a thermos of that same Bailin. (I know, I'm lucky.)
It seemed more than a coincidence. In both instances- a quiet early morning moment off a downtown Manhattan street of brick and concrete, and the sylvan depths of an old growth forest on the Pacific Ocean- the rich, roasted chocolate and apricot-pit sweetness transcended the beauty of the place.
Even today, sitting at home on my old couch, the Bailin sings through two, three, four infusions. This tea is so of the place it's made and of the place it's consumed. The locations and maker may shift, as will the taste, subtly, but it's always right for where you're drinking it.