I love journals and log books. I love making lists. Physically writing down records between the pages of a book seems to draw up more memories than creating a digital word document or an Excel spreadsheet, for whatever reason. I’ve kept a log of every book I’ve read since 2004, and it’s amazing to have ten years of reading history in a little Series of Unfortunate Events-themed blank book.
So you can imagine my excitement when I went into Teavana and saw that they sell a TEA JOURNAL. A MOLESKINE TEA JOURNAL. I bought the journal there and I don’t regret the purchase, but I since learned that you can get essentially the same journal from the Moleskine website for 7 bucks cheaper. The only difference in the Teavana-themed Perfectea Journal is the pretty orange cover and the Teavana-themed stickers in the back pocket. Fear not, though, there are stickers included in the plain black Moleskine version as well.
What I love about this journal is that it strikes the perfect balance between structure and freedom. There are structured pages for tea tasting notes, website reviews, and catalogues of your own collection, along with informational pages on tea tradition, history, and steeping instructions. But there are plenty of blank pages and checklists as well for your own notes or categories, allowing you to turn the journal into whatever suits you best.
Some of the information inside includes:
- Tea processing
- Tea classification and grading
- Types and varieties of teas
- A pull-out timeline of the history of tea, from 2737 BC to 2010
- Tea tasting vocabulary glossary (This has been the most helpful information to me. What’s the difference between “bakey” and “biscuity” tastes? This glossary is a handy reference.)
- Brewing methods
- Tea etiquette
The journal has four built-in bookmarks in different colors, which my organizational self went nutso over. There are also five tabs that divide out the main sections of the journal:
- Tastings – This includes the tasting vocabulary and about 40 pages devoted to tea tasting. On each page, you can record info about the tea, including its price, country of origin, steeping instructions, and the date of your tasting. You can then fill out information on the liquor’s color, body, aromas, flavors, and other notes. The most interesting feature here is a spider-web graph with different flavor points that you can mark. This creates a visual map of the tea’s taste profile. I like using these tasting pages to work on honing my palate.
- Teatime! – This section includes information on making tea and some brief notes on tea etiquette in Chinese and British culture. There are pages that allow you to make preparation notes on different teas. I found this section a bit redundant, since there’s already places to record very similar information in the Tasting and My Collection sections, so I’ve been using it to write down tea blends I’ve experimented with (I’m doing this project that involves making and photographing a tea blend for each of the nine existing Sherlock episodes. OMG OMG. I can’t wait to share that project when I’m done.) There are also many pages where you can write down teatime-related recipes. Too many pages, some would say.
- Places – This serves as a space to organize and make notes on physical tea places, including shops, tea rooms, and cafes. Just as with the Tastings, Web, and My Collection tabs, you have the option of giving each place a rating between 1 and 5 stars. There’s a handy space to write the opening hours of the shop in question, which I thought was a nice touch.
- Web – This allows you to organize and keep notes on websites. You can mark whether it’s a website, e-shop, or blog. There’s space for a brief description and for any categories or tags that will be helpful for you. I like this idea- it’s a good physical companion to a bookmarks folder on my browser.
- My Collection – This section has a page on tea storage (GOOD. YAY. SO IMPORTANT.), and then space to write notes on teas that you own. You can write about three teas per page, making it a handy collection of “blurbs” about your tea collection, including where you bought it from, your rating, and when you should drink it by. I also adore the little space where you can write the page number that will take you to a tasting page of the tea.
OH, THAT’S ANOTHER THING. You know how journals are kind of a mishmash of things, and it’s hard to keep them organized, even with built-in tabs? Well, all of these pages are NUMBERED, and there’s a freaking index in the back that you can fill out, making it an organized reference for your notes. This makes me so very very happy. Whoever designed the Moleskine Passions journals knew what log- and journal-keepers love and need
Beyond the pre-printed tabs are four extra blank tabs, containing lined pages, blank pages, and pages designed for making checklists. Most excellent.
If you can’t tell, I’m a big fan of this product. If you like keeping a physical record of your teas, this is one of the best options out there.