Research: A Nostalgic Experience

This past week has been laden with research-related experiences. From visiting the library and leaving with a heavy stack of books to trying desperately to access the wider web and find academic books on tea (and hopping on Facebook while I was at it), it felt like I had started on my main project.

Looking back, quite a few of my posts have been about guqin. And while I do intend to learn the art as best as I can, my greatest obligation is to fulfill my research project on contemporary tea culture.

So as I went on through the week, I felt like I was reliving my senior year of college. Just one year ago, I was walking through the fourth floor of Honnold Mudd Library searching for books on tea. Also similar to last year’s experiences, it wasn’t long before I encountered troubles.

The first obstacle I hit was trying to find something that hadn’t been done before. A cursory search through showed me that a lot actually had been done on tea—more than I had realized. Although, this wasn’t necessarily an obstacle. If anything, I could see how I could further the studies.

And so, I started brainstorming.

After a few chats with my guqin teacher, a fellow guqin student and tea arts instructor, and my academic advisor (this meeting was especially interesting and will be featured in another blog post), I came up with a few potential avenues. Perhaps trace tea production by type over the past few decades to identify trends?

I then approached one of the professors who wrote articles on tea for advice, and he responded within a few hours. The response wasn’t particularly encouraging. He pointed out that my project would have to fit in a rather short time frame, and the information I was looking for likely didn’t exist (or if it did exist, the numbers probably aren’t too reliable).

And now, after reading books late into the night, a guqin class, and a day at the mall with friends, I’m rethinking my project. What aspect of tea culture do I want to focus on?

Hopefully, I’ll have an answer by next week.

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