; Cwyn's Death By Tea: May 2020 ;

Monday, May 11, 2020

Letter to a Prioress 2

Mother’s Day 2020

Dear Prioress__,

I can hardly believe more than two years have passed since I last wrote. I was not sure I would write again, but as before you walked through one of my dreams, this time in the company of Prioress K. I remember from my days at your house. So, I write now on a friendly whim, waving to you and her, if she is still with you. My odd menopausal (yes) dreams send me on many a whim, they speak my age. I take comfort in the fact you are older than I am, oh so snitty, but one of us must be older, right? I’m glad it is not me. Though of course you are still a young thing in the religious life for some, and I am sure an occasional reminder of that from a fellow sister is not too unwelcome.

Today I enjoyed reviewing the monastery website, really it is so well crafted and a pleasant journey to peruse. Though I felt sorry to see Sister T. passed in January, I read her obit several times. She got more lovely to look at as she got older, only one of her many gifts. I recognize more than a few names on the obituaries, and of course of my own bunch I know them all. My brain doesn’t process all those names, and I carry on as though everyone is still with us, trying to tell what stories I can of them. I know I am one of the few people left who remembers my own people. At any rate, I enjoyed the photos especially of the chapel. Easy to look at the spring flowers here and remember how pretty the grounds are at the college.

That’s the best I can say of today, for I can only imagine the challenges before you with the college shut and everything to worry about with this wretched pandemic. The messages on the website have a transparent, open feel which I really appreciate. I know of other sites that don’t address the pandemic quite so directly other than perhaps a donation made or some such.

The difficulty with servant leadership is when people want an absolute dictator rather than take on the challenge of collegiality. I remember learning from one of my own leaders that for her the leadership challenge during a painful period of history was not the decisions made but living forever with second guessing whether anything else should have been done. That and probably grieving the period longer than anyone else did. I imagine the Liturgy of the Hours with the schedule is sustaining, one has the next hour to go to.

As for me I am well, and probably have more time for contemplation than the average monastic for I am not too busy these days. I have time to write and think as I had hoped for much earlier in my life than is probably true of most people. Though it may not seem so from this letter, I am not terribly inclined to dwell on the past but find myself interested in what is going on now. Certainly we are in the most unusual of times.

Where I live people don’t truly understand the need to self-isolate, the mentality is a child being told what to do by a parent and thus no one wants to go along with the state plan. They don’t see the horrible decisions resulting from overwhelming the hospitals, that of deciding who gets precious resources and who might not, and who might not live. Thus far we have avoided this scenario in my area, but lord only knows the same could happen later this year with winter. I hate to say so but the difference seems to run between those with some education and those without, for anyone given the old classroom problem of who goes off the drowning boat recognizes the awful situation at once. If no one got the problem of who to throw off the boat, you never think about the reality of a situation happening with shared resources, when they run out. No, too many people just think they are being dictated to by an overlord rather than accepting their part in collegial living. Funny how people don’t want that overlord but then suddenly they do. Growing pains. I knew a W. Franciscan Sister V. once who used to always ask “when will society make a leap, do you think we are in a leap?” She always felt the leap was just before us, and perhaps it is just ahead but some days this feels like chasing a carrot on a long stick. I am no gentle help myself, the gifts I bring are either humor or sharp chaos.

My dream is always I am naked in the chapel. Tell your newly professed they can avoid the naked chapel dreams as long as they stay.

I’m down to a very few college pals staying in touch. We were informed that our class had the worst record for staying in touch and gathering, and it’s probably true. Most recently I stayed in touch with F. and also Sister S. S. recently removed her Facebook account for some reason. I can’t really blame her, I’m not a huge fan of Facebook myself. The way it tracks people, I feel like I need a digital or actual shower after viewing it, I clear out caches frantically afterward. Unfortunately, most of my friends and family use it to stay in touch so I can’t completely disengage.

In S’s case, I wonder if the Catherine Cesnik movie had anything to do with it, the backlash against the SSNDs was uncalled for. I offered to help with that case because I can access the seminary archives in Baltimore, the requirement to get in is having a deceased family member seminarian, and I do. My father went to the same seminary in Baltimore and was in the same class as the priests in the film. But they wanted me to work on something else I didn’t have qualifications for, some sort of police trace work. The only bit I felt I could qualify to do is the seminary records, so I declined.

Otherwise, I am trying to stay as healthy as I can. I live with my son and we have two cats, and an elderly man with mental illness who lives with us and has for many years. He went through an episode recently which was challenging, and he has these every so often. I hope he can stay healthy because during the episode he didn’t understand the need to stay home. But now he is doing better and stays home more.

I hope this letter was not too much a burden to read, I send you thoughts and prayers.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Puerh Shopping in the New Normal

The current pandemic has accelerated demand for online shopping in general which naturally slows the progress of our tea orders as shipping services attempt to keep up. I am hearing a lot of grumbling about slow tea orders which tells me people are still buying and wondering where their packages are. Hello to the new normal.

Express Shipping

Prices for express have increased enormously, and this is because express services are flight-based. Planes are grounded and airlines are struggling to stay in business. Demand is far higher than available service. I would not pay for Express shipping myself, I would either do cargo boat or do without.


This is the slow boat service which took two months prior to the new normal, and is now 3-4 months minimum. Boats are less affected in the new normal, but demand is even higher with flights grounded. Hence prices go up accordingly.

So, what can you do about tea shopping? Know that any shipping from Asia is going to take twice as long as before. Any shipping from outside your own country is longer. I recently ordered pet meds from New Zealand and this package took a month, which isn't too bad but twice as long as last year for the same order.

Thank goodness this wasn't tea ware.

Part of the grumbling I am hearing about is the increase of chargebacks by customers against tea companies for packages not arriving fast enough. This behavior is motivated in part by payment services like Paypal which has a 60 day refund window. If you don't get your package in this time frame, you can apply for a refund. However, this is killing tea sellers who rely on cargo boat shipping.

Should you order puerh from China at this time? Seems to me this divides buyers into two categories, the casual and the hardcore. Which are you? If you can't afford to wait out shipping times past a 60 day limit, consider yourself a casual buyer right now. Or just keep your orders to small amounts and place more orders rather than huge orders to keep your losses small if something doesn't arrive. While most sellers will reship, the fault is probably not in their control. Lost packages are both a cost of doing business, but also in the new normal a cost of the consumer if the tea ordered is no longer available.

A faster option is to look at tea buying closer to home. This favors the shopper who is looking for drinker quality tea, rather than collector quality. In fact, you might want to check local options before placing an overseas order to see if you can find an acceptable drinker to carry you through the new normal this year.

Give tea sellers a break, it isn't their fault shipping is so slow. Wait out an acceptable amount of time, if you choose boat shipping expect to wait four months. Contact the seller before doing a chargeback, you might get options like a reship or store credit. Again, if you can't afford to wait out the shipping, you probably can't afford tea buying.

Some retailers to consider:

Yunnan Sourcing has a US-based warehouse and is ramping up the offerings. Another retailer selling new tea is Crimson Lotus Tea with their Seattle-based Inventory selections. Surprise, you can buy some white2tea selections online from Macha Tea Company in Wisconsin. If you prefer Taiwan storage, consider either Beautiful Taiwan Teas or Teas We Like. In Canada, Vancouver-based Chinese Tea Shop is offering a 15% discount for online orders $60 and above.