; Cwyn's Death By Tea: Wymm-en Puerh ;

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Wymm-en Puerh

Wymm Tea sampler sachets
I tried to refuse this week's tea sampling. When Wymm Tea contacted me about trying some of their puerh, I took a look and saw green, green, green. This isn't puerh for Old People. It's puerh for young wymmen. I'm old wimmin, that "y" chromosome is no longer anywhere near my general direction. I even said "the teas we are looking for are already aged like we are, since we do not have the years left for long term storage. Thus I don't review many newer sheng teas unless my son wants them." Wymm Tea responded to all that with "we will take that as a challenge." Sigh. Okay, then I yam what I yam and that's where the y comes in.

The y also comes in again with the packaging for the tea is wrapped in fancy soft paper, thread and leather tag. Unfortunately, the paper is scented with something. Whyyyy??? I can't tell if these samples are bath sachets or something I'm supposed to drink. Even worse, the delightful vendor enclosed a typed letter to me in a 4 POINT font. I can't read anything smaller than 12 point and preferably 14 or even 16 point. My old age would be even more depressing but for the miracle of e-books. I refuse to read what gets printed as Large Print in the US, mostly romances and biographies of Jackie Kennedy. At least with an IPad or e-reader I can set the text size to what I want, allowing me to read almost any book. Anyway, can you read this?? My 24 year old son couldn't read it either, sadly, so I let the cat eat it.

This is what a 4 point font looks like to this old lady.
The packaging and marketing of Wymm Puerh tea is geared toward a type of female consumer who is super hot right now. The Obsessive. She can be seen in film and on TV. She is Gillian Anderson in "The Fall." Robin Wright in "House of Cards," Maggie Gyllenhaal in "An Honourable Woman," or Claire Danes in "Homeland." In real life perhaps the Duchess of Cambridge. A recent piece in the Telegraph attempted to describe this type of woman as wearing "clean lines" clothing, high end labels, more specifically "businesswomen whose dress sense was as sharp as their brain power." The article tries to focus on the career role these characters play as the reason why the clothing is fascinating. But the author got it wrong. It's not just the clothes we are fascinated with, nor the career, we are looking at a woman who has a specific type of Control. For she:

1. Doesn't eat.
2. Smells fresh.
3. Is thin.
4. Has perfect teeth.
5. Doesn't eat.
6. Never spills.
7. Can wear heels all day.
8. Is immune to clutter.
9. Has perfect skin.
10. Doesn't eat.

She has, in other words, the perfection that all eating disorders seek to achieve. It's not even solely about being thin, it is about the Control. Her anorexia is so perfect she doesn't menstruate so no mess on those clothes.

And then she has a particular type of house. The immunity to clutter is of course paramount. The house is the sort we see on every makeover on HGTV. Open concept. White kitchens and bathrooms. Marble countertops. Stainless steel appliances. Apron sink. Glass showers. Dark wood floors, no matter that dark floors show dirt and are difficult to keep clean but she DOES keep them clean, and that is the achievement of these floors. The kitchen is never a mess because she never cooks. The fridge is empty except for bottles of water, or maybe a half drunk bottle of fine wine a'la Carrie Matheson.

In this type of environment a customer like Claire Underwood welcomes scented rice paper wrapped tea samples tied with string. No loose tea to *oops* drop down into the bra or heaven forbid into the bed. Probably best to brew outside, unless the sachet is dropped directly into the bathtub. The tea is completely controlled. At least until we find the stray pubic hair in the cake.

I'm exaggerating and I didn't find any pubic hair this time. But what many women and marketers don't realize is that what we admire is television, and television is scripted and set-designed and then edited. Television is theatre, not real life and not even a mirror of real life. Reality is the cats are on the countertop when I'm not looking and I'm sweeping up cat hair. And I'm a normal woman so I'm messy. I spill. I drip. I splat. My hair gets greasy and guess what my tits aren't the same size so those expensive bras won't fit anyway.

How many women are going to admit they prefer bug bit wrappers? "Guess what, Lindsey, I just got a new tea cake. Yep it is full of bug bites!" You can imagine the horror. Not to mention "omg the mold, it's awesome." But I digress because the real point to remember here is not about the packaging or the image. It's about the Control.

Puerh tea is never going to be the product for women who admire Control. Initially they might be attracted to the idea of the "slimming" prospects of puerh tea, however most of these women are already thin. And truthfully, the Puerh Hobby is too Messy. You will have spills. The tea erodes the finish on your furniture and floors. Loose tea flies around and gets into everything. You can package your Pu any way you want, and she might buy it once, but the Controlled Woman cannot ultimately handle the realities of storage. Her cakes will be dry because there is no storage solution clean enough and she doesn't like humidity and fears mold. For these women, even the best puerh smells wrong. It's the smell she is trying to get rid of by douching.

Sachets are single-session. Laohuangpian.

The smell I really need to get rid of is the scented paper. I chose the Laohuangpian, which is sold in a bamboo-wrapped brick for $58 Canadian. Unfortunately the website has no information on where this tea comes from, so we don't have any origin on this tea. The samples are enough for a single session.

Soup is the usual light lemon and the flavor is white grape rather than apricot which is a good sign. First three steeps have the bitterness we are looking for in an ager. After six steeps I'm adding time, and past eight steeps I'm squeezing out a cup. But hey, it's huangpian, the old leaf at the bottom of the tree. 

Second steep.

The real story behind Wymm Tea is the price of some of their other teas. While the huangpian is one of the least expensive options, they also have a 2013 Autumn Bingdao 200g for $998 Canadian! I think about Yunnan Sourcing's 2013 Autumn Bingdao which is $58 for 400g by comparison, also claiming to hail from 100-200 year old trees. Wonder if Wymm Tea did their comparison marketing research. Even if their version is far and away the better tea, I'm having a hard time imagining how tea buyers are going to see the value in paying nearly a grand for half the tea that Yunnan Sourcing is selling. I mean, you can't taste online after all. Unless the tea is well, meant for the tub.

Some bigger leaves and even buds in this.
Or maybe the Wymm customer isn't looking at Yunnan Sourcing late at night instead of sleeping, as many tea drunks might do because they won't get caught by their partners who trip over tongs on the way to the loo. I get it that Wymmen don't want bug bit wrappers, but what nags at me is puerh buyers are largely men. Look at badgerandblade "sheng of the day" forum. These guys are straight razor, Scotch whiskey drinking Brit chaps and they are not gonna want scented puerh wrappers anywhere except on their girlfriends. Aside from that, I'm grateful for the samples and wish Wymm all the best in their endeavors.

Requiescat in Pace.


  1. Victoria Beckham is said to drink puerh tea. Now there is a woman with a specific type of control. She meets your ten criteria with bells on (or perhaps with golden balls on!). I don't suppose she would blink at the price of Wymmtea's tea's 2013 Bingdao either.

    1. I wonder if she manages to buy and drink one cake at a time.