; Cwyn's Death By Tea: October 2022 ;

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Brewing Blind

The end of the line on this blog is closer now. I am not quite there yet, but I can see the end of Old Cwyn and her tea insanity. Nature, and probably poor nuture combined, are having their way with me slowly but surely. While I have no immediate plans to end our tea writing, we are getting to where plans must be made going forward. At the beginning of this blog, in the very first entry, I wrote that I planned to drink tea to my death, and I will do everything I can to accomplish this goal. But days are coming where I know I will be stuck and need to ease myself into sliding out of writing.

My health condition is stable, currently. However, I received a diagnosis of macular degeneration about a year ago. I mentioned this in the Prioress letter earlier this year on the blog, but I did not really explain much. I got this eye diagnosis a year ago, and I was told back then I have 5 years or so of eyesight, now it will be 4 years. There is no treatment other than to hope for the best.

I have noticed my central vision blurring for a few years already, especially during night driving. I also noticed I could no longer read lines on the television. Last year I managed to finish a video game 100% without being able to read any of the text on screen. Now I have a much larger TV and can read a bit again, but with my IPad I sometimes need to use the magnifying glass. It’s annoying because my main activity of enjoyment, along with tea, is reading. I stopped driving a car at night, and mostly I let others drive now even during the day.

Anyway, I have had one year to notice a bit more deterioration and grow accustomed to the idea of losing more of my sight. To be completely honest, I was told back in my 20s by my childhood optometrist that I would probably lose my sight in old age. I guess I had some markers he recognized. For most people who need glasses, eyesight tends to stabilize in a person’s 20s and 30s and mine never did. I needed a new prescription every year or so. Which is why I didn’t think anything untoward over my blurry vision these past few years, because in my life I always needed new glasses at any given time. But here we are.

After the bad news, the first thing I thought of was naturally my tea, because I probably love my tea more than my son and cats combined. Well, at least part of me does, the part I named Old Cwyn and gave this obsessively selfish pig voice so she could get it out.

I read someplace that when bad things happen in England, the “power grid people” can see the electricity spike as folks around the country simultaneously fire up electric tea kettles. I relate to that most endearing trait. So, of course of all the things to worry about, puerh is up there at #1 or damn close. I can get in an aide to help me shower, but who is out there to hire to check my puerh collection?

This is a real worry.. We have mold to watch for, insects and god only knows what else that can happen in puerh storage. Fortunately, my tea is lidded in crocks and various other places. Containers. Tea cups and tea pots. Okay a few other places and some is sitting out. Well, it is still a bit summer here, so I have things on the porch for the heat. Yeah, some fu bricks out there also. Dear god. I am mostly adept at smelling any problems in the tea, but soon enough I could be drinking small insects and not know it.

Even worse is the issue of how to brew tea if I am blind, or mostly blind. I cannot possibly rely on anybody else to know how to brew a puerh tea. Would you? Would your spouse even know how to brew your puerhs, much less find the one you want to drink when you ask them to look? I suppose one could write English on the wrappers, but I hesitate to add inks to my wrappers, that seems dodgy although I know people do it. I worry about ink and how it might bleed into the tea. Even if I label things so I can get somebody to find the tea I want, the issue of how to brew puerh is not something that just any fool can do.

There is a huge difference between someone who is blind from birth, or childhood, and someone who develops blindness later in life, in terms of getting around problems of how to do things. My eyesight has been lousy most of my life, so I got accustomed early on to functioning in my living space at night without lights on. I keep things in the same places for years on end so I can find stuff in the dark. But brewing puerh tea is another matter: we are dealing with boiling hot water, gongfu tea/water ratios, bitty teapots and tiny cups. I can use a mug instead of a cup. Some of you might say “just grandpa that shit” but no way. Shou okay, but I would rather give away all my sheng than spend my days drinking grandpa sheng. Forget that.

I thought that after a year of hearing this news I would figure out what to do about my tea, and about brewing blind, but I really don’t have any answers yet. Denial works for me most days, but I need to keep thinking ahead even if I don’t want to. I did some preliminary research into some possible brewing options. For example, here is a Braille infuser photo I found online.

Then we have Braille objects like this one.

My thoughts on these items were that I could buy them early, get accustomed to using them and I would be all set. I even found some potential amusements already.

But I have two problems here. One, none of these products in these photos are for purchase. They are prototypes available for sale and manufacture. To order something like this, you need to place an order for a minimum number of units. Think about how many units of tea kettles, brewing devices and such that a vendor purchases wholesale to sell. I cannot think of any tea vendor who has more than a handful of any brewing item to sell to anyone. A place like Walmart orders hundreds of electric kettles, but how many Braille items are needed in the general marketplace? Surely people need these devices, but the population of customers is so small that I don’t think Walmart would even consider the volume sufficient to order a Braille mug to sell.

Another problem, I don’t know Braille. My friend DW decided to help me on that, and he called up our friend Marty for me, a teacher recently retired from the Wisconsin School for the Blind.

“Marty says it’s not that easy,” DW phoned me back. “He said adults mostly are unable to learn Braille if you didn’t learn it when you were a kid.”

I know Braille books are out of the question anyway. Most libraries stock popular trash that even the large print collection has nothing I would want to read. Braille library books are probably worn down to the point that only a very skilled person could decipher the dots. Braille teapots just don’t seem practical for someone like me, even if I found one to buy and bought it early to learn the buttons while I can still see.

You know what would be so perfect? That damned Teforia tea machine that crapped out on me. 

The Teaforia had an app I ran on my IPad. I could voice-command that app to brew my shit. The Teforia had a double-walled brewing globe and double-walled carafe, no risk of burning myself on the water, nor the tea, and I had a mug that held all the tea from the carafe. I could easily fill the water basket at the sink and replace it onto the machine without needing any eyesight whatsoever. But then, the stupid sensor for the globe stopped sensing it was locked on. Even though the machine worked perfectly well I could no longer get it to start up with the sensor error because the stupid “smart” device lacked a basic ON button. 

Supposedly a new Teforia is in the works, but every time I check on when it will be released the date gets pushed back another six months. Probably supply chain issues and no financing. I have given up on it ever being released.

So here I am. After a full year mulling on these issues, I have no answers whatsoever as to how I will care for my puerh teas, and how I will choose one to brew except at random, and how I will brew them properly without burning myself. I have zero ideas and nobody to help me and I know I am too fussy about tea to ever accept that anybody can brew puerh to my perfect taste. Even I don’t always brew well. You know how it is, at any given time puerh tea goes through changes and whatever worked last time to brew the tea now needs brewing around.

I have a few non-tea-related posts of things I want to put up on this blog. They are mostly some old photos and a few Wisconsin historical things I fell into that I want to post someplace. I don’t have anywhere else suitable for them on the web to post, it’s not worth starting another blog for non-tea-related stuff. I apologize ahead for the non-tea content that may not interest anyone. But the end is not here yet, and I still have plenty more to write about concerning tea. The puerh tea scene certainly remains sufficiently insane to provide a never-ending trove of silly trips and tripes to get me started.