; Cwyn's Death By Tea: Monitoring My Purchases 1 Kilo 2012 CNNP Fu Brick ;

The Very Limited T-Shirt for Cwyn's Tea Fund

Friday, January 1, 2021

Monitoring My Purchases 1 Kilo 2012 CNNP Fu Brick

Happy New Year! 

With a new year ahead of us, in a burst of probably short-lived optimism I am going big with my tea drinking. Actually this is less about optimism and more about realism at this stage of my life. Facing up to my considerable tea collection I have a need to really monitor past and future tea purchases and focus on exactly how much tea I am drinking, to enjoy what I own and gird myself in the event of tempting new teas dropping in my favorite shops. Right now I am confident in my ability to enjoy what I own, but less so facing the event of a whole year of tea releases without buying something. One way to get real is to focus on drinking up things like this 1 Kilo 2012 CNNP Fu Brick I bought back in 2016, and wrote about briefly at the end of that year. 

I really need to get honest with myself about how long it takes to drink up teas like this, and the only way to do it is make myself drink it every day until it is gone. Now, in the mornings I usually enjoy a large mug of tea with my first set of meds for the day. The teas I drink in the morning are not sheng pu, but rather things like hongcha or oolong. In December, however, I decided to drink up all the excellent Mojun Fu brick tea I purchased at the World Tea Expo in 2017 as a morning tea, even though I normally think of fu brick as an after-dinner digestif. But in December I discovered Fu brick is quite agreeable and comfortable to drink in the morning when the tea has a few years aging in it. I feel confident in committing myself to taking a few months to drink up a full kilo.

Drinking up a full kilo, mathematically speaking, depends upon how much tea I brew per day. I plan to use my Teforia machine for brewing, and I often like to use the same set of leaves for two days in a row if I can because I am lazy and don't want to rinse out the leaves every day. Determining how long it will take me to drink up this brick depends on whether I go two days on my teas or just one day, because obviously going two days means twice as long to drink up this brick. Right now, the math on 1 kilo of tea drinking 7g per day means I would finish the brick sometime in late May. If I go two days on 7g of tea, I'm looking at drinking this brick until mid-October this year. 

This is a sobering reality and why I am going to do this. Once you get past 55 years of age, thinking about how long teas take to drink is quite a different dimension than when one is under 40, for example. If 1 kilo of tea is going to take the better part of a year, which it looks like it will, I need to think about just how many of these years I have left in my life. Now I can certainly drink my sheng and other teas later in the day, and this 1 kilo of tea is just my morning beverage. But how many years do I have left to enjoy teas?


Thinking this way puts a different spin on tea buying. Committing to nearly a year on a kilo limits me on drinking something else. It also challenges popular "wisdom" in tea circles which suggests that you need a tong (jian) or more of a tea to really "know" that tea. But if that tong will take you a year or more to drink, how does it feel after age 50 to think you maybe only have enough time left for 20 jians of tea? My parents died earlier than that and I have health problems, not to mention this pandemic. Do I want to spend more than one year on any single tea, or would I rather enjoy as much as I can of the many teas I own and have a nice variety on my tea menu?

I am suggesting to myself, rather strongly, that the idea of buying tongs after age 40 is probably not a good idea, even when the tea is excellent, either in value or in quality. A tea needs holding and storing for at least 10 years. Some people might plan to sell their teas after a certain point, but I don't plan on doing that. Realistically one cannot expect or possibly even want to spend a whole year or more on a single tea when you only have 10-30 of those years left. Do you want to limit your life to only 10 more teas? 

Back to the idea of holding teas to sell, the idea of selling teas is nicer than the reality. I spent a decade selling stuff online, and I can't face doing the shipping any longer. It's easy to list stuff for sale online, but shipping is even worse today than it was when I quit doing it five years ago. Nowadays Amazon has spoiled consumers to expect fast shipping. If you don't get that package out in two days, people will be emailing looking for their tracking number, especially when they are spending $100 or more on a purchase. You cannot count on the same good health you enjoy at 40 when you reach 60 and beyond. Finding boxes, wrapping, printing shipping labels and driving to the post office takes a huge amount of effort when you are older and do not feel so good on some days. Afterward you get to deal with the eventual crop of unhappy customers, because that is a reality of doing business. All that will feel worse especially if you're fire-sale-ing your tea, which you probably will be unless you are sitting upon some extremely rare and desirable teas of the most excellent storage. 

Second brewing here, lighter than the first

Don't get me wrong, buying tongs at a young age is a nice idea if you really love the tea. You will have twenty years to age that tea before worrying about drinking it. But think about how many tongs of tea you actually want when it takes a year or two to drink that tong and you only have 20-30 years left. You're down to 15 tongs that you can reasonably drink assuming you can keep up 7g a day until age 70. Do you really want to commit the precious years you have to only 15 teas, or would you rather have a collection of many more single teas and enjoy as many tea experiences as possible? Of course if you have a family who also drinks with you then the metrics change a bit, but most of us in the west are single drinkers, not members of a four person family where everyone drinks tea. 

So, in the short term I am going to commit to drinking up this kilo brick as my morning tea. I brewed up 9g yesterday and it turned out rather stronger than I like. The Teforia I use because I am lazy expels the liquid forcefully through the leaves and completes 3 steepings per carafe. So, my first carafe is strong. I noted a fine nutty flavor, no storage notes to speak of and a pleasant feeling in the stomach. Today I brewed the same leaves again and got a much weaker cup. I am on the fence a little because I should optimally reduce the leaves down to more like 5g and change them every day, but I doubt I will. 

This 2012 Copco brick is fairly good, with a nutty flavor and only a few small sticks. I purchased it originally from a Hong Kong seller who since closed down his website and only sells on eBay now. Fu brick is fairly green until about 5 years or so when it starts to darken. In addition to my considerations on how long a kilo will take out of my life this year to drink, the reality of this brick in my collection is that I never found a decent storage solution for the tea. I had it in a plastic bag half open for the four years I have owned it. 

I feel bad that I bought a big brick like this when I had no room to store it properly. I am fortunate that the large size of the brick kept the interior with some golden flowers intact, but definitely not as much as I like to see on Fu tea. Someone in a more humid climate or someone who stored this tea decently should aspire to a fully encrusted brick of golden flowers. I can really taste the difference of a well-crusted fu brick, it has a tangy zip on the tongue that my brick is lacking. The tea is decently aged enough to drink, but less than optimal amounts of flowers. Fu is not a very expensive type of tea, so I don't feel as bad as I would storing a sheng tea badly, but that's why this brick is neglected, all my storage is stuffed full of sheng puerh. I need a separate solution for fu brick and just do not have it. Thus the tea is drier than it should be, though on the positive side any touch of Hong Kong, of which there was little to none anyway, is gone by now. 

So, I anticipate that my new project to drink up this brick will finish sometime between May and October, leaning more towards October at this point. I will post on Instagram at some point showing more progress on the brick. The project will be a success if I tire of this tea and convince myself that I have no business buying a full kilo or more of anything at this point in my life. 

If you want to buy Fu brick tea, I notice that Yunnan Sourcing has added more fu brick teas to their site, including on the US site. These teas are fairly expensive, and most are still green. To get an aged one you need to look at 5 years and older. You can find fu brick for about half those prices if you're willing to put up with eBay. I notice that the seller I bought from still has Copco Fu bricks on eBay, his name is tea8hk if you want to have a look at those, but I see plenty of cheaper $40/kilo bricks elsewhere on eBay. Heicha teas are more popular nowadays on western tea forums as people are looking at drinking options that cost less than sheng puerh with far shorter aging cycles. I hope more US sellers start to carry heicha teas, especially if they can find exceptionally clean examples. 




4 comments:

  1. I've got the same problem, too many fu bricks in half open bags and not enough time. Luckily my fu bricks were cheap as dirt when I purchased them. Better to have too much fu than too little.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think this was a great article that you wrote. Facing and accepting our own mortality is something everyone will have to do one day. Thank you for this great and enlightening post.

    ReplyDelete
  3. In the past I would browse Google by picture of dark brick teas, find taobao link and contact one of the eBay vendors to ask if they would list it. Grandnesstea were the best in this regard but since eBay crackdown on PayPal refunds to do with pandemic delays, they moved to aliexpress and there is no PayPal option. Anyways, I considered to support tea vendors by NOT claiming money back for heaps of tea I didn't get. Let someone else have it. Maybe it was their only way to taste my tea selection. Berylleb now songyi9 have own site and eBay and they listed previously very rare dark tea "qu Jiang bao pian", chawangshop lists different brand of same. It's from xinhua, different part of hunan rather than anhua. Another guy I used to buy has now his own site only buy-chinatea.com and he has "10 years aged mini anhua cakes", like huge jar of 300g of those single portions. Curiostea has Tibetan zangcha mini cakes and they sell 10g samples of most of their offers. Dragonteahouse became ridiculously overpriced. So i am waiting for someone to list a 墨君茯茶泾阳茯茶西安金花茯砖茶特级陕西特产官茶茯神200g礼盒装 it looks like a 200 g version of yunnansourcing mojun brick. I found it to be best mixing with gotu kola that I got from Thai teaside. Another vendor that offer samples is yunnancraft and they have dark tea section that has unique offers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the ideas. I haven’t looked at Dragon Tea House in years. But I don’t think most buyers want to lose their money even if it is a shipping issue. Unfortunately refunds or re-ships are a cost of doing business these days. Yunnan Sourcing has done a large bulk buy of those Mojun Fu-cha bricks with over 1000 of them in stock, so a shipping snafu can be re-shipped. The bricks are very clean, made in a new, modern factory and a good choice if one can afford the shipping.

      Delete