|Spring blossoms in Wisconsin|
|A light roasted oolong.|
My EnjoyingTea teabag gets a bit of color in five minutes, the bag contains maybe 2 grams of dark roasted oolong chips. It's not unpleasant, I get a little tongue action, but the tea is not very strong. Still, I can see myself drinking up this box of Bags. But now I can move on to another tea Bag, this time I have one from blogger Wilson of travellingteapot. Five minutes in the old fruit jar, I smell some humid storage and the session is suddenly looking up.
|A Liu Bao bag from Singapore|
The humid storage tea Bag brews up a bit red and I must have forgot something because this isn't oolong. Checking the email from Wilson I see this is Liu Bao Bag. Imagine that. This tea Bag is rather good. I feel bad now I steeped it so long, I could have got two good steeps out of it had I gone for two minutes instead of five. I'm feeling a little buzzed and just like with alcohol I start wanting another glass. My second steep is very light, so this tea Bag will need to cold brew for a few hours. I only have one of these Liu Bao Bags so I'm gonna steep it and find another glass.
|Black tea and shou flavored brew|
|A really Old Bag from Origin Tea.|
|Treat me nicely, I'm old.|
|Red is the color of aged oolong.|
I've found plenty of folks on Instagram likewise brewing up Chinese tea in their own way, and finding local connections. Sometimes we are all steeping the same teas! Through a mutual admiration of photos, I discovered a blogger ysaurella_thevangeliste and hence meandered onto "her" blog. Here I find a tea head writing in French and brewing up every single tea, regardless of type, western-style either in a large Bonjour glass teapot or western-style in a sieved tetsubin. Other tea nerds elsewhere brew the same exact teas using a tiny gaiwan, or a Yixing teapot. Another person uses a stoneware tea pot from a thrift shop and decorates the tea table with little painted statues or pieces of patterned cloth. Very often my friends seem to brew up the same tea on the same day, without anyone consulting anybody else ahead of time. And no one person uses the same equipment and nobody brews the same as anyone else.
Wapatoolie is one of those American words, and you might have noticed I eschew terms like huigan and umami and terroir. I'm not a Tea Sommelier and nobody is gonna pay me for my tea knowledge, such as it is. I stick tea in my Midwest farm crocks, and use unplugged fridges that don't work. We sneak tea in through the porch window to hide it from the kids. We brew up the Naka in Starbucks travel mugs and store shou under the bed. Puerh samples go into Tupperware and Ziploc. Oolong finds its way into family reunions for the first time in the family history. The purists can try and keep the Objectivist Puerh universe intact, and the vendors complain how we westerners talk about tea more than we buy.
But they are missing the real picture that I'm seeing. We need to talk to find the words to describe puerh and oolong tea in American English. People are trying things, connecting to tea in ways that are meaningful to them, Relative to where they live. The vendor that will win out in the end is the one who has it in stock when the craze hits because the teen kids are drinking puerh now, and the real big day of tea is coming. You know what is going to happen eventually anyway in America once the Champagne gets dumped into the Wapatoolie. That's right. It goes into a Fruit Jar. Then a Hank Williams writes a song and soon enough everybody sings it at a wedding. Nowadays it's people like the hip hoppers who are giving us new words. And we like it. Amerika hasn't done its thang to the shang just yet, but it will.
Give us time, we're just getting started.