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Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Personal Puerh Aesthetic: Considering the Where in Drinking Puerh Tea

In considering the “Where” behind my tea drinking, I think about all aspects of my environment. While I do drink tea in the presence of others occasionally at a tea shop, the vast majority of my tea consumption is alone or with family consuming beverages other than tea. As a blogger, I spend much of my time testing teas that are either samples provided by others or my own collection to check storage. I constantly ask myself whether the tea I am drinking is worthy of writing about. These issues are obvious, but the “Where” is more about specifics.

While tea might lend itself to a meditation setting, I find my tea drinking setting is far more spare than a prayer type space. I had to give up incense and even body perfumes because scents go right up my nose and down the back of my throat. Do you find that you “taste” scents? Because strong essential oil products like incense and perfume just wreck my palate, worse than food. Constipation and indigestion also produce vapors that make their way up my palate. If I plan to enjoy a cigar, it must be after the tea and not before. I don’t smoke marijuana anymore, but I find that people who do often report an inability to experience chaqi.

One does not need to be terribly strict with any of these issues, especially with casual tea drinking, but I feel it’s only fair if I’m blogging to give a tea my best tasting. I should at least reserve some judgment and not say “this tea has no qi” if I’m a person smoking doobies every day. In that case, tea is an adjunct, not a main drug. I think for most bloggers tea is the main drug, or should be if they are reviewing, not all bloggers do reviews.

The “where” is also about storage, where is the tea stored? Storage encompasses all of my storage as well as all the many places around the world my tea comes from. Weather too affects my tea, and while I don’t need to dwell on the weather most of the year, I am aware of it and certainly weather impacts the teas I choose to drink, whether more warming or more cooling types of puerh. I find I cannot tolerate warming teas in the summer unless I want to lie awake all night sweating.

Even though I have several tea tables, numerous tea pillows and trays, most of my tea is prepared and consumed in my kitchen. I feel I am “working” or paying attention to food and beverages in my kitchen more so than anywhere else. I might enjoy tea outdoors in the summer, or on the patio, or in my sun room, but mostly I like to be near my hot water source and, well, the bathroom as needed. Tea gets all things moving along nicely.

In the kitchen I can get my head into the tea because I am not fussing with the tea setting as I would outdoors or somewhere fancy. My crocks are extensions of food preservation intrinsic to the farm community in which I live. I feel more local, and less odd or exotic drinking a beverage from the other side of the world. The tea is mine in my kitchen, and I carry my crocks from the next room to the countertop and check the progress. I usually make a mess when breaking tea off a beeng, and my tea mess is just easier to clean up in the kitchen. I get water everywhere too.

Many of my photos show a red laminated table, this is a 1950s café table on a metal pedestal that is secured to the wall, the type of table you would see in a soda fountain shop sixty years ago. Think “Grease” the musical. I have an old 78 record on the wall above a yellow vintage hurricane mushroom lamp.

Then my bedroom is just off the kitchen and so if I overdose on tea, bed is just a few steps away. One never knows with a new tea how to judge the leafing until that first try. When the tea inspires a monologue I carry the cup to the computer and start typing. Everyone I live with ignores my tea drunk giggles and tea habit in general. I usually do not get sheng gut aches, but if I feel a little bit dodgy in the tummy I like products such as Life Saver’s Pep-o-Mints (the large ones), Nabisco Zesta soda crackers, and Icelandic Skyr. These products contain tummy soothing ingredients like peppermint, baking soda, milk and cultures.

So, the “where” is all about the conditions as well as the places of drinking tea. I can understand why some bloggers stop after awhile and just focus on enjoying tea because blogging does affect the entire process of drinking even when the tea is quite nice. In the next few weeks I hope to attend a tea tasting and enjoy tea with others and get outside my blogosphere for a day.  


  1. Cwyn N,

    The Who- A few years ago I read your blog all the way through I think. I had to skip around a bit because It was making me feel crazy. It’s brilliant though and reads like a fictional novel. I seriously questioned if you were simply writing in character or if it was true. Thank you for your brilliant writing and transmitting your personal experiences and world view though your love of tea.


  2. Cwyn N,

    The What- I consider you more of a puerh collector not a drinker. I would guess you only consume a small amount of grams a week of puerh but that’s just my guess...

    Often it seems as though you buy blindly just for a good review or purchase puerh right at the release time so you can be the first to imprint your influential review into the minds of puerh lovers. This also ensures your reviews/ purchases are not swayed by others opinions. In doing so your reviews are more influential as they place the first suggestion in our minds which science has also shown is the hardest to override.

    The reviews are always a great read.


    1. This is just wrong. I don't have a very large amount of tea to qualify as a collector. I drink my tea for health reasons, and also at times cannot drink for health reasons (meds) in more recent years. I think you missed a great deal from my blog. If you feel the need to peg me, I'd rather you consider the number of experimental storage crocks I have and consider me a fermentation person.

    2. Cwyn N,

      There is a lot of that too. The many articles about storage and fermentation are a real gift to those interested in puerh. They are your love and it really shows in these articles. Your writing has been influential in shifting much needed attention to the storage of puerh. I just loving reading those articles (but my all time favorite are your satirical humor posts).

      I can see how you self identify more as a fermentation person. I suppose anyone who ages puerh is a bit of a fermentation person, and anyone who drinks it is a drinker, and I suppose we are all collecting puerh even if to ferment and drink so I suppose we are all of these things.

      But for someone who repeatedly says they have more puerh than they can consume in a lifetime, yet still year after year buys more full cakes, to me is either a collector or a hoarder. Or maybe both.... hahahaha

      Either way, I love reading your unique perspective on puerh. It brings me much joy.


    3. I haven't revealed my plans for the future of my tea, but it would add context to my purchases. Most people my age have made plans for their tea after they are gone.

    4. Cwyn N,

      Caught on there was something you are not telling us, something doesn't exactly add up to me. Was totally goading you with these last two comments... still tight lipped eh?


  3. Cwyn N,

    The Where- both of my tea set ups are currently in kitchens. I totally agree with the practicality of this location. My work set up where I mostly blog from is on an table exactly like your table but it’s top is bright yellow laminate chrome details and attached to the wall as well ... hahaha that’s awesome. Reading that made me smile.

    It is not as beautiful or zen or breathtaking as my old tea rooms or hundred year old study where I had consumed tea in the early 2000s to mid 2010s but, as you said, nothing is more practical than a tea set up in the kitchen.


  4. OK, I think I have read both your blogs Cwyn N and Matt all the way through pretty much. And Half-Dipper etc. You are both good writers and Cwyn, you are pretty funny too. Matt you are a bit dry, but I enjoy your writing. I used to have a wine cellar and follow wine blogs. But they got way too pretentious for me pretty quickly. The joy of tea is that it is really cheap compared to booze and still way less pretentious, please keep it that way.
    I have been in and out of China since the eighties, have an interest in China, but as compared to you guys, only marginal exposure to tea. But since I am currently located in China, and I am drinking and buying more tea, you got to boil the water here anyhow so you might as well make tea. And Taobao is really great. I am reading around a bit more to figure out what tea to buy.
    So, I don’t blog, writing is painful to me and as an academic I have to do it anyhow all day long. So guys please keep it up and let me get some recommendations on what tea I should be looking at. I appreciate your guys blogging efforts.


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