Color is an important element in the world around us, whether it’s the color of the paint on the walls and other décor of your humble abode, the colors of nature changing from season to season, or the color of the tea you’re drinking. You just need to develop your “color vision” to truly appreciate these hues.

Done? Not done? The color helps you know.

Done? Not done? The color helps you know.

While sipping my favorite white-tipped Oolong with its amber color and watching the umpteenth episode of “Sell This House,” I was struck (just a glancing blow — ha!) by a thought: many potential homebuyers haven’t developed their “color vision” (being able to visualize a room in a different paint color — not quite like Superman’s X-ray vision or the local fortune teller seeing your future in her crystal ball, but rather handy). Paint colors seems to be the most noticed items, especially if the buyers don’t like them, during the initial open house (before the show’s crew does their makeover).

Tea “color vision” means having some knowledge of what the various colors of tea leaves will be when properly steeped. You can see the color of the leaves, ranging from silvery green to deep green, from golden to chestnut brown, from green-brown to silvery black and black. However, the color of the tea liquid formed as the tea steeps is often not visible (unless you’re using a glass teapot). Plus, there is no real correct color. Ranging from almost clear to black, the color of tea liquids can be an indicator of when the brew is done. Your own taste preference determines what “done” is and, therefore, what the proper color is for you.

These tea colors also tell the story of tea: of the hundreds of years that the Camellia Sinensis plant has been cultivated, of the hillsides in brilliant green with these thriving tea bushes, of the laborers who tend them, and of the tea experts who know when the moment is right to harvest. They tell of the time a Scotsman, in disguise, smuggled tea plants and seeds out of the country and planted them in India, thus breaking China’s monopoly on growing tea. (Tea grown in India has different colors and flavors, due to the different climate and processing techniques.) They also tell of the journey those leaves have taken from the moment they were plucked and then processed, to the packager, to the retailer, and finally to your teapot.

Developing your tea “color vision,” that is, getting to know the proper color of the tea “in the cup” for the taste you want, will undoubtedly enhance your enjoyment of this ancient and widely varied beverage. You’ll be better able to visualize what is there to know the quality of your tea and when it has reached a peak brew.

My tea cup is empty. Time for a refill. Does this color go with my décor? No? Time to repaint (no way I’m giving up my tea). Enjoy!

Note: Visit my blog to see hubby’s and my recent color experience in rethinking the previous owner’s choices for the walls of our new home.

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