“Why do you like Chinese tea so much?” Dylan is often asked.
“I like tea for the same reason people like wine. The experience of tasting flavors and picking up on aromas you would never suspect to be given from a plant based drink, and the study of understanding how it got there”.
“Chinese tea is all about flavor.” Dylan there that is the only thing that matters, flavor.
Originally from Brooklyn, Dylan has been studying tea since 2011. He started drinking tea in the back of Pearl River Mart in Soho with his friend Miles who to this day swears he got Dylan into tea. It was here that Dylan learned to enjoy the simple life of tea. He and Miles would sit at the table for hours talking about all sorts of things. There was always a clear difference in the depth of the conversation in the beginning and at the end of the pot. Dylan even enjoyed just sitting alone on that balcony looking over the large department store. What Dylan didn’t know was that this noticeable difference in conversation and comfortability of being alone had been connected with the act of drinking tea for thousands of years.
Soon after, Dylan got a job in Harney and Son’s NYC location. It was here that he was introduced to the geeky side of tea. “I had tasted two different Japanese greens, Sencha and Gykuro. I noticed the Sencha was bolder while the Gykuro had a softer more savory flavor. I asked my manager what the difference in the two teas was. ‘Oh they just shade the plant in the last two weeks of the growth cycle’ he said nonchalantly. ‘That’s it?’ ‘That’s it’” “This opened a whole new world to me” Dylan recalls. “I began to see tea as a mathematical equation”.
At Harney’s, Dylan spent his days trying all types of teas.
Eventually, he found himself most interested in Chinese tea. “There is a complexity to the study of Chinese tea that you just don’t find in teas from other countries. Right off the bat Chinese tea has six fully developed tea categories, each with their own flavor and characteristics. And then to dive into each of the categories one by one; it’s a rabbit hole!”
After Harney and Sons, Dylan began working at Tea Drunk, where he apprenticed under Shunan Teng. In what he would call “some of the best days of my life”, Dylan learned more about Chinese tea than he thought there was to know. “It was there that I first understood the importance of terroir. Why this one tea from this one village is better than any other version of that tea”. Through tea, Dylan also became interested in other parts of Chinese culture, like Jingdezhen Porcelain. “I love porcelain. It’s complex and beautiful, and it doesn’t affect the flavor of the tea.” Even when it comes to his teaware, to Dylan, the flavor remains the most important factor.
Dylan began his own quest of tea education after leaving Tea Drunk in 2016, starting The Sweetest Dew. After Leaving Tea Drunk, Dylan’s mind was so consumed by tea and the pursuit of good flavor, that there was only one way he could continue his studies; he traveled to China.
In spring 2017, Dylan traveled to China to witness China’s tea season first hand. He traveled all through the countryside visiting famous tea producing locations. He watched white tea dry near Fu Ding, helped load a tea turning machine in An Xi, and picked Bi Luo Chun on the mountain of Dong Ting. “Being in China not only gave me an understanding of tea unlike anything you can put into words but also showed me how important it is to truly help others understand tea. Not everyone will have the opportunity to do what I did, but the things I learned were important for people getting serious into tea.”
Dylan now resides in Huangshan and is working to make tea as transparent as possible. He frequently travels to tea regions, spending time with tea farmers, learning about the plant and the industry. He regularly puts out tea articles that focus on the facts in order to give the correct information and perspective on the tea industry.
“My goal,” Dylan says “Is to raise the overall standard of tea in the west, if only by a little bit”.