Topic: guest "experts"

What do folks think about having occasional features where we invite an expert (maybe a moderator from one of the Chinese tea forums, or someone who writes or teaches about tea / teaware), or (better), a couple of experts, to answer questions? We could have people submit questions, and then either vote on them or have the moderators select some, then forward them to the expert(s). The questions, answers, and maybe even some of the comments could be translated back and forth if necessary (if the guests are online and interested in participating in discussions, we could let them read / post to the thread, providing translations if necessary; however, this might be labor intensive for our already overworked translators :>). We might even be able to get some questions to people who don't go online at all, by sending them questions in written form, then posting their responses.

In this way, we could get some good information from people who we might never hear from otherwise.

If people find this idea interesting, maybe Robert, Chrl42, and other Chinese-speaking folks could come up with a few people who really seem to know what they're talking about (either from other tea forums, or through other avenues), and approach them to see if they'd be interested. If anyone has a topic or an expert in mind, feel free to post below.

Of course, most "experts" in the tea field are those somehow involved in the industry (vendors, growers, etc.), who may be trying to advance a particular belief to help their own business interests. Not only that, but there are often a lot of "right" answers to any question about things related to tea. So ideally, a lot of these topics should be covered by a panel of at least 3-5 people.

Based on the discussions we've already had, I think the biggest topics that would be of interest to start with would be:

* Pu'er storage
* Yixing teapots
* Gong fu brewing techniques

But I'd also love to see some q&a about:

* Farming techniques
* Processing techniques
* Tea cultivars / varietals
* Specific varieties of tea (yan cha, dan cong, etc.)

(we could also see if Brian Kirbis could get some of the folks he's working with, both the farmers and academics, to answer a few questions, now that he's in Yunnan again)

2 (edited by ABx 2008-11-21 04:30:51)

Re: guest "experts"

I think that would be fantastic.

I actually don't mind people from the industry. Anytime someone has enough of a passion for something that they want to persue it full time, they do have to find a way to make it pay the bills. Of course there are those that are only into it for the money, but either way I think a lot of us understand that these things are just one person's opinion. If nothing else we could always put up a sticky with a disclaimer explaining this to any of the newer folks that may read these things.

I think that this would actually also help to diversify the knowledgebase of western enthusiasts, which should only highlight the fact that there aren't many solid facts when it comes to tea. We could also probably try to pick questions that would avoid opinions stated as fact, or re-phrase them. In that way I think that moderators choosing the questions (based on what people are asking) may be the best option.

I also wouldn't even mind seeing info from some of the more knowledgeable vendors in China - just people that know the culture well and can impart some kind of perspective as someone that's in the middle of it day in and day out, year after year.

You know, I could actually see other projects coming out of this if this forum really takes off, like compiling a newsletter. It wouldn't even surprise me if some industrious folks even made some sort of online magazine like The Leaf.

Re: guest "experts"

This is a great idea and much needed. 

I also think it's a good idea to invite people from the industry, as well as to have a few different opinions on a subject from different experts.  Tea is such a fluid art that I believe it's important to be less dogmatic and more accepting of the inherent differences in cha dao.  Plus, I think it wouldn't be too hard to spot the difference between the folks that are trying to spin the answers purely for their own benefit, vs those that have something to say and good products that support their beliefs.  Many respectable tea merchants have a wealth of knowledge far beyond what those that are not in the industry possess.  We are all tea lovers anyway, and I'm always looking for quality teas/tea ware/tea books from good people.

The Leaf Magazine is excellent.  I also like The Art of Tea published by Taiwan's Wushing tea publishing. As far as I know, Hou De is the only place you can get it in the US.  I do think that there is some spin in the articles sometimes to promote a certain tea product, but I don't believe it's poorly intended, and I don't believe that the writers that do it are dishonest about their products.