; Cwyn's Death By Tea: The Hobby of the Loner ;

Sunday, June 26, 2022

The Hobby of the Loner

A tea colored car.
Actually it belongs to my ex
who lives in Guangzhou.

I still have puerh on the brain after all these years and my recent storm disaster is not enough to knock it out of me. Especially when I discover teas in my house I apparently forgot about. I find myself thinking more about the puerh beginner after my last post. What a world they have yet to discover! Most of what you discover about tea is for your appreciation and probably yours alone. 

This weekend I am thoroughly worn out from storm cleanup and days spent on the phone with insurance companies, disaster reports, roofers and auto repair shops. I put in two 20-hour days this week on all this, but one of them was spent on my cats. Both cats fell into stress events after the storm, leaving one cat with some sort of allergy/stress eye reaction where his eyes rolled up and sideways and he insisted on staying in my lap an entire night before I hauled him to the vet, yet another bill I did not need (however, the vet is also missing part of his roof, so it was an informative visit in more ways than one). My other cat went into irritable bowel diarrhea mode, which leaves him hungry and frantic. He got up on the kitchen counter and knocked the butter dish onto the floor and ate up all the butter. That led to two more days of bowel issues I don't even want to recall, and more cleanup I did not need.

But my cat thought he had discovered something wonderful with that butter, so I had to come up with a new butter storage quick. I have a ceramic French butter crock which I adore for butter. I bought it on Etsy years ago, and it's genius. You pack the butter into the lid, and then add some cool water to the crock which keeps the butter fresh longer in warm weather. Unfortunately this brilliant little crock did not go over well with my son, he just could not handle the butter and dealing with the water etc. I did not think our Mr. B. would want to cope with such fussiness either, so I retired the crock very quickly in favor of a vintage plastic butter dish. 

French-style butter crock

Now, however, we need a butter dish the cat can't get into, and so I remembered I had this crock. I thought okay, I can use this crock upside down and skip the water. Oof, a bit dusty and after cleaning it off, lo and behold I discover I have puerh in the thing. I tend to stuff bits of puerh into teapots, cups, tins, caddies, even wood boxes. Whatever I can find. Any object in my house might have tea in it. After doing this for some years, you tend to forget what you stashed and why. I started making little paper slips with the name of the tea on it. But I guess I didn't do that in this case. The tea is loose, not a chunk of anything, and I would guess at least five years or maybe even as long as seven years since I bought this butter crock and retired it. Who knows how long I have left a sample in here? It's got to be something I decided was too good to throw out. 

Well, I need this butter crock now so time to drink up the seven grams or so of whatever tea this is. I decided to go maybe 3 grams into the Kamjove with no regard to parameters just to be rid of it. The tea will probably be watery for my taste, but with everything going on, who cares? It's just tea at this point. Except the tea is astonishing. I was expecting something rather harsh or dried out or faded, just whatever. But it was absolute bliss. The first mouthful an explosion of fruit, florals, bitter greens and chicory. Omg my stress reaction is palpable, whatever this tea is suddenly seems miles and away better that anything I have had in a very long time. My overtired brain cannot even remember tea this good, though of course that is most definitely not the case, I drink great tea all the time. 

Maybe it's the disaster going on. I started on this tea yesterday when I hit a wall physically, I was so exhausted I felt ill, and so ill I actually took a Covid test just to rule that out. Today I started on the second set of leaves from the sample after taking an aspirin. And now this tea has put me right as rain. I get that this is a northern tea of some sort, actually it reminds me somewhat of white2tea's 72 Hours but that could be overly optimistic given my hysteria from the storm. 

The soup is pudding-like, but it has a structure to it, the leaves almost seem like I could overcook them in the Kamjove, but they aren't overcooking because they are thick and strong. They are green with a bit of age, yet they speak to me of a strong lineage, older trees, no new plantation here. I taste roots deep in soil beneath an almost white-tea tippy-ness. I am over-dousing with too much boiling water, but they resist torture, almost telling me "bring it on, we can take it and we have more to give." Lesser teas buckle under torture and turn into a cloudy mush. Some puerh teas that are just okay are finicky, to get the best of them you have to discover what the brewing parameters are. This one is almost a royal personage whom you can subject to anything, they never lose their dignity and give back just the same. It's a forgiving tea. As I stew over whether I need to cut down the beautiful old tree in my yard to keep it from damaging my house, I need forgiveness. I need support. This tea holds itself up to me with its strength when I need it as I need it now.

Truly fine puerh leaves can take punishment and almost any parameters. You can even drink the brew cold and the soup is not drastically worse. A truly fine puerh makes you feel much better physically, not sick or ill. People in Yunnan drink the best leaves green and suffer no ill effects from it, even when stuffed in bamboo tubes and dried over a fire. 

My who-knows-what-it-is tea.

So here I am, by myself, drinking a truly fine tea. Most tea shops don't have puerh this good. A few people may be lucky enough to live with maybe one other person who appreciates puerh, but probably not as you do. If you have fallen down the rabbit hole of the puerh hobby, it's a form of insanity that only you will ever know and understand while the rest of the world revolves around you in complete ignorance of puerh bliss. 

I don't find puerh forums much fun anymore. Sure, we can share something with fellow puerh heads, but most puerh discourse lately is juvenile with a lot of judgy people who think whatever you are drinking is utter trash. I might even think that. How helpful or fun is this? Maybe helpful on the information level of finding good teas to buy, or bad teas to avoid, but nobody loves your tea better than you do. And nobody else ever will. Wine people can attend tastings in nearly every small city, but the puerh person? Drinking alone at home today. And tomorrow too.

If anything, the attitude of other puerh drinkers can lead one to paranoia. Keep your shit to yourself if you don't like my tea, even though you never ever tasted my tea, or my storage, it's amazing how you think you know something about it. You don't. The amount of gaslighting in puerh forums can make people question their taste, temper their well-earned enthusiasm, and darken the glow of discovery. The vast majority of puerh people on forums are not collectors, they are drinkers. They are not buying tea for the marketplace or for other people, it's for themselves to enjoy. Keep that in mind. 

In the realm of environmental disaster, and anything else horrible going on, it's a comfort to know I have things to drink. I don't even know what the hell it is I am drinking, but I know it is wonderful. I just brought my body back to life with a beautiful tea, and nobody needs to believe that except me. 


  1. I wish I could find tea that would combine melodicity of ambience and a kick of dark minimal techno. It doesn't exist. But me sending signals to comets makes them get off the course and bring important minerals to earth that will yield in perfect harvest 200 years from now. Someone will be drinking my perfect hybrid that tastes like honey and buzzes like vodka.


  2. You remind me that I found an old sample of 72 Hours a while back, that might have 2 sessions in it yet.

    Storm recovery sucks. It's this time of year that we start developing white knuckles here in Sunny South Florida, and we don't unclench for another 4 months yet. May you have success with the insurance claims.

  3. Thanks as ever for your refreshing think/taste-for-yourself point of view!