; Cwyn's Death By Tea: October 2021 ;

Friday, October 29, 2021

Monitoring My Purchases: 1 Kilo Fu Brick and Teforia

2012 CNNP Fu Zhuan Brick

Two more days left of October. Well, slightly less than three actually. I cannot wait for this month to be over. This month cost me so much money and I didn't even buy puerh which means a waste of money really. At the start of October my furnace got condemned as a carbon monoxide hazard and the local heating guy disabled it even though it was working perfectly fine. He said he called the company about trying to replace seals or some such and they all accused me of having a 1970s furnace which was no way the case. But disabling it is a little unfair and it plunged us into one cold October. Took ten days just to get a quote on a new furnace, then another ten days to order and more days yet to wait until the guys could come out to install it. Thousands of dollars later I can stop heating up the corn pillow in the microwave for a bed warmer.

Then the cat got sick and vet bills. I sound like an excuse and I really agree. Spending money on someone other than yourself is really hard to justify when life is so short and a pandemic is on. I might still have more vet bills, and then I have a need for a new tooth crown. My Russian dentist says my current crown is not broken enough for insurance to cover it, but with a discount she will do it. I can choose to grumble, wait out the crown to break more, or just suck it up in the wallet and get it done. 

Now, are you waiting for things to get worse? I saved the best for last, because yes my Teforia died. I can do without the furnace, the crown and the vet bills but I really really need that Teforia. To be fair, it actually still worked, it just had a problem with the the globe on top where you put in the tea. The globe is detected via a pressure sensor, even though the globe locks in place manually. That pressure sensor gave out. The machine gets an error because it thinks the globe is not locked in place properly, and so it will not begin brewing. This is a safety feature, since the tea is expressed with a fairly high pressure into the carafe. 

The Teforia

The problem with getting old is that accepting and dealing with change becomes difficult. I got to a new level of spoiled, a gold standard of morning tea with the Teforia by brewing from my bed using an app. If you want to read the details, I wrote about it all back in 2018, only 3+ years ago. So the Teforia craps out and all of a sudden I cannot seem to figure out how to brew my morning Fu Brick tea. 

I did not want to give up the convenience I had with the bed brewing. I'm not a morning person. I don't get up at the crack of dawn like perky nuns happy to greet the day with song. My brain is actually okay but my body feels like sludge. I can't even walk straight without bumping into things. I am capable of nothing in the morning except eating breakfast in bed with tea and emails. Or maybe some Twitch because I am a modern girl. You can imagine the level of ego beating I got from those perky nuns for my lack of morning bounce. Not only was I forced up early, but I was made to walk out in the cold of winter 3 blocks to chapel in the dark, blah blah blah. I got through that and now I deserve a Teforia, and I don't care if Mother Antonia herself rises out of the grave with a big stick to come after me. 

Now, Teforia was supposed to be making a new model since 2018. Then the date got pushed back to fall 2020, then spring 2021, then fall 2021, then spring 2022. Adagio's website is still showing spring 2022,  but the actual Teforia website is a dead url. Oh, and I messaged Teforia on Twitter about the pressure sensor and got crickets for my trouble. So it's over. Fini

The Teforia is famous as the $1500 tea machine. I paid $140 for mine on eBay and got more than my money's worth. Quite a few articles were published on the failure of the Teforia and they all were mostly wrong, mainly because none of the authors actually tried the machine. Here is the real set of issues with the Teforia:

1. The company does not have the capital. That's number one. It happened back in 2018 and apparently they still could not raise it for another go-round.

2. The price. Though I would have paid the $399 planned price for a new one, given I was happy at $140, you can always wait for eBay too. $1500 isn't worth the comment because at that point I need a tong of something thrown in.

3. Marketing criticism. Everyone had it all wrong, loftily saying the Teforia "does not replace gong fu brewing." That's off, because you don't brew gong fu teas in the Teforia, silly. You brew teas you don't NEED to gong fu. That means all hongcha, green teas, tisanes and, well, heicha. These types of tea are straightforward timed brews. They taste fine in a machine. It is not for puerh despite the sheng setting. That is because puerh has two types of gong fu brewing: the lightly leafed over-watered under-boiling floral lite, and the boiling water with heavy leaf where it will kill you. Ideally you want to aim for the latter. But anything else, like my Fu brick, doesn't need that level of care. It's fine in a machine. The problem is, "making your crap teas taste better" is not exactly a great selling slogan.

4. No "Start" button. My machine would be working right now if I could bypass the stupid pressure sensor. For some months I got around the glitch by turning the globe back and forth until the error light went out, but then this trick stopped working. 

5. Goes with #4. Use a manual locking mechanism minus the pressure sensor. 

6. Forget the app, a remote control is better. Requiring a network is just daft. I do agree with the reviewers here, the whole "smart kitchen" thing really never took off. I hear the landfill dumps are full of LG fridges these days. I put my Teforia on top of the garbage can and luckily it was curb picked within the hour. If not I would have paid the electronics recycling fee, but it will end up at least partly in the landfill someday, sadly. In the meantime some tweaker will probably find a few bits of heavy metal in it to sell. Okay…on many levels the Teforia is just wrong, but I still want another one the same way anybody should want a Dyson.

I could go on, and I really feel like going on. The best part about being a nearly 8 year blogger is when you stop caring about the reader experience and things like essay-crafting, and fully indulge your own bullshit. (You have to get there, Geoffrey. It's all about you, and only you. Nobody who blogs in reality does it for other people. The self-gratification garbage dump is everything. It's way cheaper than therapy. Well, I will miss you.)

All right fine. The Fu brick. I actually boiled water in the microwave and stirred in freeze-dried Mexican coffee crystals for three weeks before remembering I have a Kamjove tea pot. That is second-best lazy to the Teforia. I did explore buying a new electric tea brewer, but not many of them on the market. All those models Gourmia still has on their website and showed at the 2017 World Tea Expo are not sold anywhere now. I have several water boiling kettles, so I resumed the Fu brick brewing using the Kamjove. The mechanism in the glass Kamjove pot is a gravity steeper, basically. I cannot recommend it except for the irretrievably contaminated because the brewing "basket" is plastic. 

Brewing Fu brick in a Kamjove pot.

Now, can you guess how much Fu brick I have left? I missed my October estimate for finishing 1000g, the full kilo burrito. The breaks I took in the summer for the heat, the hongcha days, the borked Teforia confusion all ate into my progress. I'm down to 232g of the 2012 CNNP Fu Zhuan brick as of today. Essentially, about two months of progress lost, all told. I have consumed (or wasted) 768g. I will continue drinking down the brick, and should finish at the start of the new calendar year. Oh, and I bought another Fu brick. There is no help for some people.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

2021 Gas

I literally have it. Gas, I mean. This last month has sucked big fat bowels as I struggled to drink this tea and get this review done. I take some medications that are ripping me a new one and I waited far too long trying to tough it out. Finally I went to the doctor to say I just don't feel good, and she identified the medication culprit and switched me. Took three weeks to heal and I am not fully there yet, but I am on the mend. Still I wanted to get something out on this tea, but I am limited in the kinds of sessions I can do, and I will note these limitations. 

Over the summer my bland diet really got to me, and while shopping for a tea towel on white2tea I decided to toss in 2021 Gas to my purchase. I saw the description of the tea as having an "in your face bitter character" and all of a sudden everything in me craved a bitter green tea. They got to me at a moment of weakness with this one because I have plenty of bitter tea to choose from, just nothing fresh. In the hot muggy summer green tea just gets too appealing for me to resist. 

The tea towel, I have to say, is pretty but not what I was looking for. I have teaware in sufficient quantity to open a shop but I actually don't own any tea towels. I have cloth dish towels for drying dishes, but some of these are 30 years old and used only with water. I don't want to mess up my relics with tea stains. But the new towel is more like thin scarf fabric and I was expecting something thicker for $15 with a microfiber backing maybe. Just really a user error on my part not reading the listing carefully, perhaps, but since I don't own a tea towel per se and not knowing what to look for, I guess I should have looked around more or just bought a regular microfiber cloth. 

2021 Gas is a very green tea at the moment with big-ass leaves. I wanted to do a bunch of sessions with this thing and hoped to spend the entire month of August drinking it. So I started out doing Teforia brews to see how the tea performs just as a bitter green tea. The Teforia on the sheng setting brews just under boiling water temperature. I brewed several sessions of 2021 Gas through the machine which does 3 gongfu brews and expresses the tea with some force. I brewed 3-4g of tea at a time because that is about what the globe can hold. 

The tea did not perform as I expected in the Teforia due to the lower temp of the water. Let me say the tea is actually quite lovely brewed at sub-boiling, the profile is unexpectedly sweet and honey-like with green tea and hay notes. It's not what I wanted, but the takeaway here is that 2021 Gas can be controlled using water temps below boiling. The tea just won't get bitter if you brew it this way.

After recovering from my health mishap, I finally completed a true gongfu session using boiling temps. Well, completed a session with some caveats. I am still not about to tolerate the massive style session I prefer to have. I brewed 3g of tea in a Lin's porcelain pot with about 40 ml water and did 5 brews which is all I can tolerate. 

Happily, the tea lives up much more to its bitter promise with boiling water temps. No sweet introduction, the tea starts out bitter and kept right on through five steeps. It's a tongue-coating bitter. The brew has a greenish tinge, so we are really getting green tea from this at the moment. It has some of the honey vanilla note I found in the machine brews, but otherwise it's more green tea, mowed grass, some floral and a bit of apricot fruit. The tongue coat remains and is fairly slow to transition in the mouth to sweet, with the bitterness lingering for me up to about a half hour before changing over. I am not finding much here for throat and I am not getting much of a tea high, but I just don't think I will brewing this small of a session. 

White2tea prices tend to be relative to one another, so this 200g beeng is $45. At this price point, white2tea is providing a fairly basic tea and it will not have some of the spectacular mouth feels and body sensations their higher tier offerings do (or have done in the past, because I did not buy any other sheng this year from them to compare). 

On the plus side, the tea lacks any tobacco notes and no char or smoke. The spent tea has the large leaves, some stems and a few buds. I could imagine this batch of maocha used in blends with other better teas, or perhaps all this tea was purchased for is an offering for people who want a basic bitter profile at a budget price. Twodog asked me on IG how my health was doing, and I mentioned I wanted drink this tea, and he said "oh, you are going for the ultra bitter?" 

Well, ultra bitter for me is still the 2008 Haiwan LBZ from Wilson. That tea is still the standard for personal pain. No other tea I have had before or since caused me to violently fist punch my leather sofa. This tea is easily controlled with brew temps. It's what I wanted out of a bitter green tea, but I am probably going to pay for this session and it will not feel good later. If you have issues with too-green sheng for other reasons than medication, you might want to give this a pass. But anyone else wanting to avoid the smoky factory profile, and out-of-control factory prices these days, while still needing a bitter tea for aging, this one might be an option. I hope someone else who can drink it out will post a better review and photos for you.