; Cwyn's Death By Tea: Before the Fall ;

Friday, September 30, 2022

Before the Fall

The last day of September is here already, and in my part of the world autumn is arriving. We went from turning off the air conditioning earlier this week and turning on the heating the following day. No lazy days with the windows hanging open this year. I am more tired nowadays, getting hard to find the energy to sit down and write as the basics of daily living take more effort at my age. I have so many unfinished drafts. But I can appreciate the start of cooler days more as I slow down, especially the turnover of teas I reach for. Over the warm summer, greens and shengs clutter up my countertop. Between those I reached for coffee sometimes, and many days it was just too hot to drink any hot beverage. Instead I had a lot more water, sparkling water and diet cola. 

This summer I planned to brew up iced teas, but I gave up after a few tries. I have to admit once and for all I just do not like iced tea. I don't mind slurping up the remains a cold cup of a tea that starts out hot, but a finishing swig is not the same as a full tall glass of iced tea. I tried a big bottle of that unsweetened iced tea you can find at the grocery store, you know the one, it has a green label and green top on the bottle. It was so terrible I tossed half of it out. Mainly I wanted the container, thinking I would refill it with cold tea, and I still have the bottle. And I made an effort with my new Stanley French Press, doing some grandpa green sheng teas with it and pouring them over ice. Then the weather got too hot and with no A/C in my bedroom, I started out my day too warm to bother brewing hot tea and waiting for it for cool off, and ended the day still trying to cool off. 

So, with some relief I set aside my iced tea efforts now and turn to my darker teas. I need to get the Fu bricks off the porch. This week I pulled out my  2018 Arbor Red from white2tea, the last cake I have. After a year or more drinking Fu brick, I have not yet dipped back into my hongcha with any determination, and I have forgotten how good Arbor Red is. The tea is ridiculous in how long it brews. With 4g of tea, I can brew two steepings a day  poured into a mug and the leaves are still just opening up 5 days later. I am not a fan of the sweet and malty Yunnan gold style hongcha teas. I prefer something more astringent and savory that packs a punch of caffeine. 

Arbor Red leaves after 5 days

Arbor Red for me fits with my night owl self, it's a hefty snifter of tea energy. I don't wake up in the morning feeling perky like many people do. I feel like a sack of shit. I forced myself up in the morning back in the convent days, but ended up in the bathroom so many times just feeling nauseous for no reason other than the hour of the day seemed unholy to me. As a kid I used to think about all the executions at dawn in WW1, like Edith Cavell, that's the level of dark morning is for me. In the summer, early mornings are not so bad and I enjoy them more. But fall and winter, my body nopes out. I am the perfect night shift person, and took as many late shift and weekend shifts as I could in my clinical days. By 10:00 pm I feel stellar. Give me a heavy caffeinated beverage and I can rock out the night getting so much done. I thought I might turn around in old age, but instead I am just more of what I always was. My family hates it.

As hongcha teas go, Arbor Red is not a light floral tea, I like it for the robust astringency like chewing grape skins. It's an easy transition if you like English-style assams. If budget is a serious issue, I'd recommend looking at Yunnan Sourcing's Feng Qing hongs, or their purple leaf blacks. But Arbor Red is a better value than it seems with the initial outlay, simply because of the longevity of the leaves. I can get 5-6 days out of 4g of tea, with doing two steepings. So for me, a 200g disk lasts nearly 200 days. That brings my cost down to more like 25 cents a steeping. 

Day 6 on the same leaves, hardly see the bottom yet.

I really loved beautiful hong teas from places like Joseph Wesley (whatever happened to that vendor??), but the cost for those teas was around $10 or $20 for a small amount of tea that lasted maybe a few weeks at best. So while $85-95 initial cost for Arbor Red seems steep, it's a better value for the longevity than some of the gourmet red teas I have enjoyed in the past. 

So I re-upped on Arbor Red yesterday, and the mail can take 3 months if it does and I'm good for awhile. I need to dig out what I have left of aged Shui Xian pillows and the roasted oolongs I have been hoarding for years. Not to mention checking out the more aged puerh teas I own. I won't think about winter until it hits, but at least I have teas to look forward to trying again. 


  1. What do you do with the leaves overnight? Fridge?

  2. Strongly brewed sencha works well iced in my opinion...

  3. I wanted to check dutch page of moychay but ended up on the original one. This one translates "the closer the deadline, the darker puerh in the cup is". I got once dragon balls from Laos thru siam teas German shop and had to mix them with liubao and boil for very long time to come up with mellower brew.