Tea sommelier Clint Jones has tasted many good teas: white, Japanese green, Chinese green, oolong, black, and intensely flavored pu-erh. (AP)

Tea sommelier Clint Jones has tasted many good teas: white, Japanese green, Chinese green, oolong, black, and intensely flavored pu-erh. (AP)

Oolong tea leaves are placed next to one of the many authentic pots, trays, and tools in the collection of Clint Jones. (AP)

Oolong tea leaves are placed next to one of the many authentic pots, trays, and tools in the collection of Clint Jones. (AP)

Tea sommelier Clint Jones pours pu-erh tea at home in Fairview Township, Pennsylvania. (AP)

Tea sommelier Clint Jones pours pu-erh tea at home in Fairview Township, Pennsylvania. (AP)

White tea leaves, minimally handled after being plucked from the plant, are in the collection of Mr. Jones. (AP)

White tea leaves, minimally handled after being plucked from the plant, are in the collection of Mr. Jones. (AP)

Walking, Talking Tea Party

Posted: July 1, 2019

All Clint Jones wanted was a decent cup of tea. He set out to find one. But he got more than he bargained for! Now he loves tea so much, he is a “walking, talking tea party”!

Mr. Jones teaches chemistry in Pennsylvania. One night sometime in 2015, he was sipping plain old grocery store tea. His scientist’s curiosity bubbled up. “I just wanted to see if I could find some really good green tea,” he says.

Since then, he’s found many, many really good teas: white tea, Japanese green tea, Chinese green tea, oolong, black teas (which include Darjeeling and Earl Grey), and intensely flavored pu-erh tea. Most of them he orders directly from Asia. Meanwhile, he fills his house with authentic pots and trays and tools for serving each kind in the way of each culture. The room is decorated with Asian-themed art, curtains, and lamps.

Mr. Jones doesn’t just drink a lot of tea. He knows a lot about it too. He can tell you that all true teas in the world come from the same plant: camellia sinensis. That plant is grown in very few places in the United States. Many people cannot buy tea locally. Many tea lovers buy theirs from Asia like Mr. Jones does.

Imagine you can smell each pot Mr. Jones is brewing. Can you name the flavors? Some are grassy. Others may remind you of chocolate, mushrooms, or fruit.

When you buy your tea from the other side of the world, you don’t just drown it in boiling water. Mr. Jones uses an instant-read meat thermometer to check the water temperature. He wants it exactly 185 degrees. He pours water over the tea leaves in a clear glass teapot. Then he pours the water out. He’s rinsing the tea! The tea he gets is so fresh it can even have dust left on its leaves from the field. Next, he pours more water over the leaves then gives the tea just one minute to steep. For him, making tea feels a lot like working in a lab.

Have a seat. Eat a Fuji apple slice with a cucumber and butter sandwich, all washed down with Mr. Jones’s white tea from a tiny cup. But Mr. Jones warns you: Don’t even think about adding milk, sugar, or lemon juice. It will ruin the tea’s pure flavor!