About Me

I started teasphere in 2006 as a way to bring my love of tea to the Internet. I’ve been passionately exploring tea for almost 11 years now, and have enjoyed every moment of the journey. That little leaf has brought me joy, pain, laughter, self-discovery, and most of all some great friends.

I’d love to say it all started from some great revelation or amazing story… but instead it starts with The Karate Kid. Yes, the 1984 movie starring Ralph Macchio, honestly. I’ve always had a connection to Asian things (Snakeyes the ninja G.I. Joe, nun-chucks, throwing stars, chopsticks, video games, Yan Can Cook, etc.) from the very beginning, and Karate Kid was the first time I had the chance to see and experience the real thing – to some degree. Then as the Karate Kid series expanded I was exposed to two things that I did not even understand at the time but quickly came back later in life to have a profound effect: Bonsai (Part III) and Japanese Tea Ceremony (Part II). A tiny spark.

While I was a young teenager an aunt bought me my first bonsai (a tiny juniper). It died. My dreams of a lush beautifully sculpted tree to match the one from the movie were not as easy to kill though, and I bought a book and studied up on things. I bought another a few years later. It died. So I decided to gather a nice specimen from the forest. It promptly died. I then decided to grow some from seeds. Yep, they died too. I then was getting older and decided to accelerate the situation and buy “The Karate Kid Tree” from an online bonsai dealer. It lived… for about a year. Then died. I put the hobby on the shelf at that point.

However, in the midst of my massacre I was learning a lot about Japanese culture, and bonsai, and almost accidentally, tea. My father had been stationed on the DMZ in Korea, and while I was not even born yet, I did hear tales as I grew up. On a trip to an arts festival on a hot July day he decided to stop into a small mom-and-pop Korean grocery that we came across and they were selling Jasmine Iced Tea. He bought us each one. This started the small old owner into a flurry of activity the likes I had never seen. He had loose tea, bottles of dissolved sugar cane, teapots, strainers, cups, and all kinds of other things… just to make a $1.50 cup of iced tea. Not just a lever that, when pulled, produced sweet brown water over a cup of ice. I liked the flowery taste of the tea and the un-sugarlike sweetness. The spark began to burn.

In trying to figure out what kind of tea it had been and what all that commotion had been about, weeks later, I came across a description of the Japanese Tea Ceremony. The spark became a flicker of flame. It was almost a word for word description for the scenes I had seen years back in the Karate Kid. The little bamboo spoon, the whisk, the powdered tea, the turning of the cup, all of it. Aha!

Now I was hooked, and even though the loose jasmine green tea in the little yellow/gold tin was, in my mind, the height of tea quality, I began to figure out when it was bitter and what it took to make it drinkable. It was all very basic, a mug of water in the microwave for 2 minutes and a teaball of the jasmine tea plunked into it for random amounts of time to keep it from being bitter. Then I slowly started branching out to teabags of “Chinese Restaurant Tea” which I later learned were Oolong tea. Also, random inexpensive teas in canisters, and bags, and pouches, and whatever I could find at the local Asian markets.

Fast-forward quite some years and I had spent countless hours reading and researching teas of all kinds. My parents had bought me a cool purple/brown clay teapot for Christmas which had a strainer so I could brew my jasmine green tea easier. This lead to more research and the discovery of Yixing teapots, and a costly addiction to them :) I also had the great pleasure to find a small Pan-Asian grocery store near my dorm in my first semester of college, hundreds of miles away from home, which was my calm from the storm that was an area about as safe as Beirut. The owner was a small middle-aged Thai woman who was intrigued by my knowledge of almost everything in her store (being a fairly big white Italian guy, this was quite different for her) and we quickly became great friends. I spent much of my time hanging around her shop and talking about all kinds of topics and I think we learned an equal amount from each other, which was nice. I had become interested in the philosophical teachings and writings of Taoism about a year before we had met and while she was Buddhist she was able to talk about much of it and turn me onto a lot of great books. Unfortunately one semester in the vicinity of constant shootings, stabbings, and drug deals was enough and it was time to transfer to a school closer to home… and much safer.

I had come quite a long way and now understood the finer points and much more than I could have ever dreamed about all things Asian. I also dusted off the bonsai hobby and was finally successful with a small sickly pot of jade on clearance from a grocery store that has since multiplied and become an entire roomful of bonsai still living some 8 years later. As well as a tea tree, a long leafed ficus, and a few others.

I also have been able to use the Internet to find and buy some great tea that otherwise I would have no chance of ever enjoying. And most recently a great newsgroup rec.food.drink.tea filled with a great cast of characters and untold knowledge. It has further fueled my love for that tiny leaf that has now caused me to create this webpage and type this whole story and for you to have read it. If you’ve stuck with it this whole way through, congratulations! And Welcome to teasphere!

– Dominic

15 Responses to About Me

  1. Tess Grey says:

    Bless your heart for joining the teablog madness, Dominic! I value your opinion (and you’re so right about the “cast of characters) and am very much looking forward to keeping up with you. Hope you don’t mind if I plug you on my blog.

    Loved the “tea journey story” above; I really enjoy hearing about how people “discovered” and came to love tea.

    Am also encouraged to know that you finally got your bonsai to live. I guess I just need to keep trying–I’ve had about five or six die horribly on me, as well, after hours of my agonizing over them. Never give up, I suppose.

    Anyway, welcome!

    Tess

  2. […] First off, a great fella from the alt.rec.food.drink.tea newsgroup has just launched his own teablog.  He’s got reliable and interesting theories on tea, particularly greens, and his story about his own personal “tea journey” under “About Me” is really great.  Here’s to hoping that Dominic shares lots more tea ideas and information with us in the future at his Teasphere. […]

  3. What a wonderful story Dominic! I look forward to your posts – and thanks Tess for finding this blog! Good luck with your bonsai and happy drinking!

  4. Octavio says:

    Just jumped here from Tess’s blog. Great story and looking forward to hearing more!

    Octavio

  5. Noel Sutter says:

    Hi Dominic, I’m glad to find your interesting tea teasite, coming to us straight from your heart, I think. I value and respect your comments given on the google tea group.

    Take care and happy tea drinking!

    Noel

    P.S. BEautiful tea pot on the top of your home page.

  6. B says:

    Very nice website and blog. I also have the same experience with the Jasmine Tea Sunflower Brand. I make the tea exactly like you do and the smell and flavor is just as good ( and sometimes better ) than the most expensive Jasmine Teas that you can purchase.

  7. YOUR CYBER MOMMA says:

    OHIO DOMINIC!
    Yes it’s your Momma! Because your sister told me all about your tea site and
    all the twist and turns it took to be the tea lover that you are today!
    I scanned your tea biography and was happily impressed as usual, and learned
    many things about my own son!
    God bless you, and thank you for opening up MY tea drinking world for me!
    Keep up the good work of broadening the tea world for others!
    LOVE YOU TEA DRINKING CYBER MOMMA!!!!!:)

  8. Dennis P says:

    I want you to know that we are aggregating your blog entries on the Twinings site. You’ll notice your site is on the blog roll and your posts can be found on the top tea blogs page. We would appreciate a link to the Twinings Tea blog on your blog roll or links section too. While we may not be posting all the blog entries from your site, we attempt to post all your entries pertaining to tea drinking.

  9. Kevin Shin says:

    I’m an importer of Premium Goji Tea from Korea.
    It’s totally different from Green Tea with Goji or some other Goji teas in the market.
    Please give me a chance to send you my product information by email.
    Thanks.

    Kevin Shin
    Pocas International Corp.
    cell.646-625-9624

  10. Geoffrey Kutnick says:

    Hello,

    I was wondering if you accept press releases regarding new tea products. I have some information about the launch of a portable loose tea brewer that I would love to send you. I look forward to hearing from you.

    Regards,
    Geoffrey Kutnick
    geoff@kreislermediagroup.com

  11. your momma says:

    buon giorno dominic
    I just got done reading your most recent entry on your
    blog and all about the cool tea pot, your lovely wife
    got you for christmas. and how you wanted to climb in the bag bag of indian tea,and the tofo instant soup.
    well God Bless you and kelly girl.
    I am very impressed by your writting abilities to express your feelings and senses of flavors smells
    about what your tasting and experiencing.
    enjoy your life,
    love mom

  12. Sharon Hsu says:

    Hi! I’d like to introduce myself – my name is Sharon and I’m a summer intern working for Zhi Tea, an organic loose leaf company located Austin, Texas. This summer, we are thrilled to launch a new campaign for tea bloggers in the online community. We would love to provide you with a sample of our freshest tea leaves which make for great iced teas. We ask nothing more than to have you relish in the taste of our teas, chill down from the heat of the summer, and share it with your friends and families! For more information about Zhi Tea, feel free to visit our site at http://www.zhitea.com. If you would like to embark on this journey with us, please respond back to me via e-mail by this Friday, 6/11, and we will get a sample out to you ASAP!

    You can choose from these teas:
    1. Ginger & Lime Green Rooibos
    2. Berry Hibiscus
    3. Turkish Spice Mint
    4. Tropical Green

  13. jd says:

    A hi from a fellow Slashdotting tea-drinker. :)

    For the longest time, as far I was concerned, PG Tips (loose leaf) and the British way of making tea were the tea-making world. The other brands were cheap rip-offs for the most part and nothing beat the chimp tea parties in the ads.

    Then I found a tea shop called The Tea Zone, where they actually had fairly high-grade teas with names I couldn’t pronounce or remember, never mind spell. That spoiled me big-time, but they changed the teas available too often for it to be a stable source. Nor would they give me any names of any of their suppliers (no great surprise!).

    And thus I am here, to indulge in the ultimate in tanninated caffeine and to read the wisdom of other geeks.

  14. Suzanne Tiberio says:

    Howdie Dominic,my brother Tom just called to ask about your TEAS! So I turned him on to your site! Tea on!!! :)

  15. Peter says:

    Hi I’m Peter from Teamania. Our company is specialized in teas from Thailand and adjacent countries.

    I can send you some tea samples if you are interested to review some. We have a wide selection of fine oolong, green, black and herbal teas from Doi Mae Salong, Doi Angkhang and other mountain areas in northern Thailand.

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