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  • A Beginners Guide: How To Make Gong-Fu Tea!

    Hello hello!! Welcome to comprehensive guide on how to get into gong-fu brewing tea! Gong-fu brewing tea can be a lot of fun, but for someone whose unfamiliar, it may be daunting. While trying to make learning come with ease, use my guide as a starting point to get yourself familiar with gong-fu! But first, what exactly is gong-fu? Gong-Fu Simple Definition: Gong-Fu is the Chinese ceremonial way of making tea. Gong-Fu More Detailed Definition: Gong-Fu is a ceremonial way of making tea by repeatedly brewing a large amount of tea in a given vessel to analyze the change in tea, and to maximize the wide-variety of tasting notes of a tea’s profile while getting as much out of a tea-leaf as possible. Sounds great! But how would I do that? Before I answer that, I’m going to give you a hot-take: You’ve probably already made tea gong-fu style tea before and didn’t even know it! Let me ask you a question. Have you ever brewed a tea-bag a 2nd time? Or re-infused tea leaves in a teapot multiple times? Wha-la! You’ve loosely made tea gong-fu style! Although it may not be ceremonial to Chinese tea-culture, re-brewing already brewed leaves is the most basic way to complete gong-fu! However, the way of making it more-traditional may seem complicated, but in reality, it’s not! Technically, you only need one brewing vessel to make tea. That’s it. Everything else can be make-shift, or do without! What's a vessel? What are the different types, and what do I need? I’m glad you asked! A ‘vessel’ is a piece of teaware you make tea in! This can be a teapot or a mug! However, for gong-fu, there are several different kinds of vessels that you should familiarize yourself with Gaiwan: The simplest way to describe a gaiwan is to say it’s a small handleless bowl with a lid. They sometimes come on a saucer, and can be made out of porcelain (the most common), clay, glass, or even silver! The basic idea behind a gaiwan is that you put your tea in the bowl, pour water over it, close the lid, and when you’re ready to pour it out, tilt the lid ajar to hold back the leaves and pour out the liquid! (See photos below). However, when pouring a gaiwan, pace fingers at the edge of the bowl to avoid burning yourself! (To pronounce a gaiwan, say ‘Guy-Won’) Side-note. I see a gaiwan with a spout. What's that? Great question! If you see a gaiwan that has a spot on it, that’s what you’d typically call a ‘Hohin’! They’re typically used for Japanese teas, and different variations of them have made their way to different tea cultures around the globe. They pour like you’d pour a tea-pot, but just without the handle. Hold on, I’ve also come across a vessel that’s wide and flat in shape. Is that also a gaiwan? Actually, that’s not always a gaiwan! What you’re probably looking at is a ‘shiboridashi’! Around the tea community, you’ll see people reference it as a ‘shibo’ (like she-bo), and are typically used for Japanese teas! Japan's teas are some of the most delicate teas in the world, and easily singe and get bitter quickly. A shibo’s purpose is to keep the water’s temperature from staying too hot when brewing, and also used to quickly pour the brewed tea out of the vessel to avoid over-steeping. The fast-pour also explains why they have such a wide-opening and such a large lid. A tea-pot: For gong-fu tea, many places sell smaller tea-pots. They’re typically smaller than you’re average teapot, and unlike gaiwans, they have built-in filters! These tea-pots are famously made out of clay, however, they also can be made out of glass or porcelain. I saw a tea pot, but it has a long handle and the spout is to the side. Is this the same thing? Another great question! These work very similarly to a teapot, but they’re not. These have their own name, and they’re called a ‘Kyusu’! These are also used for Japanese tea, and have a much wider spout to quickly pour out the brewed tea to avoid over steeping. These pots are typically larger, and unlike using another vessel, these are typically used for only 2-3 infusions (whereas, in a traditional gong-fu session, you want to get more infusions out of it). Starting Gong-Fu, The Tea Ware You Will Need What to start with: A Vessel: To keep it simple, you can start with just a vessel. That’s all you really need. You’ll also want to find something to pour your tea in and drink from. The most commonly-used vessel in the world of gong-fu is a gaiwan. However, when looking for a gaiwan, if you’re making tea for just yourself, I’d recommend using one that’s from 60ml-100ml. To use a gaiwan, you'll place your middle-finger and thumb around the outer ridge of the bowl, and use your index finger to fold the lid down at a tilt. Then, lift the unit and tilt until tea pours out. See photo below... If you’re comfortable with adding a few more things to get the ball rolling, here’s what else you’ll need… A Kettle: You’ll want an electric kettle. The idea is, you’re consistently making tea. A kettle is great to quickly warm up your water and is easier to pour from compared to a pot on the stove-top. With an electric kettle, if given the option, you’ll want one that has a temperature reading on it. Since some teas are pickier to temperature than others (and to keep consistency with your tea session), it’s always good to keep up on the temperature of your water. Gong-Fu Tea Cups: These tea-cups are typically smaller, and will typically hold between 40ml-100ml of tea. These can be made out of various materials, and are great for sipping and concentrating on the tea you’re drinking. Cha Hai: A Cha Hai, also known as a serving pitcher, is what you’d typically pour your tea in! The idea is, you pour your tea from your vessel into a sharing pitcher and serve tea from it. This is so whenever you pour tea from cup to cup, everyone gets the same and consistent brew. If you poured from cup to cup, each cup of tea will have different strengths to it. This is important, especially for more delicate teas. However, If you’re drinking tea at home by yourself and you’re pouring directly into your cup, you might not necessarily need one. This is a personal preference. Tea Tray/Tea Table: A tea tray, or also sometimes references as a tea-table, is what you serve your tea on. Tea trays typically have holes or slots, and a tray or cavity underneath to catch spilled tea and water. Gong-fu tea isn’t necessarily the cleanest way of making tea, and spills will happen. They can be made out of bamboo, wood, or clay. Some people even use drip-baking trays for an affordable version of a tea tray. A scale: With gong-fu, you’ll sometimes want to measure out your tea. For this, I recommend getting a food-scale (or depending on where you live, you can find small scales at smoke shops). When measuring tea for gong-fu, you’ll typically measure tea in grams. However, you don’t necessarily need one, as some people just eye their tea. However, for people like me, a scale is always necessary. A filter: A filter is sometimes used in gong-fu to catch any tea-dust of tea leaves. This is optional. For me personally, I’ll use a filter to pour the tea through when taking photos or making tea for other people. When I’m by myself, it doesn’t bother me if a few tea-leafs specs end up in my cup. However, most filters are made of metal (aluminum) and are very affordable. So, I’ve also seen other tea-wares. What else is there? For other tea-ware, it's completely optional. Some people go further and use tea-towels to clean tea-trays, use separate trays for measuring tea on, as well as using carved pieces of wood to present the tea-leaves on! To add, some people decorate their tea-teas with decorative ornaments called ‘tea pets’. We’ll dive into these tea-wars later on, as I don’t want to get you too confused when starting. How to Gong-fu: First, you’ll want to heat-up your kettle to your desired temperature. How hot do I heat my kettle? Many different places say many different things about what temperature to are your tea at. For some teas (like green tea), it’s recommended to brew them at 170ºf. For other teas, it's much higher and can go up to boiling. I will go further into this in a separate upcoming post, however, I start every single tea at 190ªf, and will raise or lower the temperature from there. Note: Some people prefer to use boiling water for every single tea. However, in my personal opinion, I always steer away from doing so, as it will singe and burn most tea. However, if you’re confused about temperature, you can always see what the vendor of the tea you’re drinking recommends. I’m not trying to confuse you when I say this, but there is no right/wrong temperature to brew your tea at! You’ll read many different things, and above all, it’s up to you to experiment to see what you like best. For me, I always used temperature guides as a, well, guide. I actually implore you to venture out and see what you like best for yourself. My kettle is heated up. Now what? Next, you’ll want to measure your tea. For gong-fu, it’s important to stick with single-origin whole tea-leaves. Ground tea-leaves, or tea bags, will steep most of its flavor out almost instantly. So now you have your loose-leaf tea, I always recommend measuring 1 gram of tea per 15ml of water. What does this mean? Your vessel is a specific size and is typically measured by how much water it can hold. If your vessel holds 60ml of water, and to use 1 gram of tea per 15ml, then you’d use 4 grams of tea. I measured my tea. What next? Next, put your tea in your vessel, and put your water over the tea. Pour your water to the top of the vessel, and place the lid on. Then, quickly, pour the now brewed-tea out. That's it! However, in gong-fu fashion, you don’t stop there; you keep going! Next, you repeat the process by doing the same thing again, except adding a little more time to it! For every pour you do, which is called an ‘infusion’ or ‘steep’, you slowly add more time to compensate for the tea leaves diluting with every pour. Now I poured the tea, what else do I do? Once you pour your tea into your sharing pitcher (or cup), then it's time to drink and enjoy! You can continue with infusions, and keep the session going. Below are some FAQ’s, and other helpful tips, when making gong-fu tea! FAQ's: Q: Is a gaiwan specifically used for only Chinese tea? Can I use the same vessel for different kinds of tea? 3 Of course, you can! Most tea-drinkers use a gaiwan for everything from green tea, all the way to herbal blends! For me, I use my gaiwan and teapot for every single kind of single-origin loose leaf tea. It may not be the most traditional, but it’s up to you. Everyone tends to have their ‘one’. By this, I mean their ‘one’ go-to vessel they use for everything. For your tea vessel, you should connect to it like you would a pet. Some tea wares are a life-long connection. Q: I’m still confused with infusion times. What do you recommend? For most teas, I brew with the following, Infusion 1: 10 seconds Infusion 2: 20 seconds Infusion 3: 30 seconds Infusion 4: 40 seconds Infusion 5: 50 seconds Infusion 6: 1 minute Infusion 7: 1 minute and 20 seconds Infusion 8: 1 minute and 40 seconds Infusion 9: 2 minutes Infusion 10: 2 minutes and 30 seconds Infusion 11: 3 minutes Infusion 12: 4 minutes Infusion 13: 6 minutes Infusion 14: 8-10 minutes However, depending on how strong the tea is, I will repeat infusion times, or skip some. This is largely dependent on the tea, and also dependent on personal preference. I highly recommend you test out times of your own, and come up with a system you like! This may seem stressful, however, this is the perfect opportunity to explore your personal likes and dislikes. Try and have fun with it and make it your own! Q: Do I really need to measure my tea? Not necessarily. Like I said above, you can measure it by eyeing it, and add/take away infusion times based on taste. Q: How much water does my vessel hold? When ordering/buying a vessel, it should already say. If it doesn't, wanna know a neat trick? Place your vessel on a scale and tare to zero on grams. Pour water until the vessel until it’s full, and the amount of grams you see is the same amount of milliliters of water it holds! If it says your gaiwan holds 60 grams of water, it means it holds 60 milliliters of water. Q: I have a flavored tea-blend. Can I gong-fu it? Well, in theory, you can. However, most flavored teas are made with the intent of being brewed in a mug or a larger teapot. Gong-fu is mostly intended for loose-leaf tea, typically single-origin, so you can taste the different complexities and notes within a tea. Q: Can I add sugar/milk to my tea? You could, but I say no. I mean, the idea of gong-fu is to quickly pour it out, and to experience a tea as-is so it would defeat the purpose. Also, when making tea gong-fu, a tea's natural sweetness and creaminess can make itself known! Some tea's natural sweetness and creaminess can easily get lost when making tea in a mug or larger tea pot. Q: Where can I buy these teawares? I can’t recommend anyone specific (in the spirit of being non-biased for this specific post). However, I would browse a web-search, or even social media, and look around. Many tea vendors carry different tea vessels, and they shouldn’t be hard to find. For starting, I do recommend going with affordable options, until you decide to treat yourself to something expensive. Especially with starting, you’ll likely break something very easily. (No worries if you do! Everyone at every stage of their tea journey has broken their teaware). Q: I only have a mug and a defuser. Can I still? No worries! You can also infuse a tea bag or infuser multiple times. It wouldn’t be anywhere near tradition and wouldn’t get as much out of the tea (tease, profile, etc.), however, that doesn’t mean you can’t join in on the fun! However, just know that you’re limiting yourself to what you can get out of a tea, and highly suggest getting a vessel (like a gaiwan) geared towards gong-fu. Overall, keep in mind that this is supposed to be fun and meditative! Try to make this your own, and make tea in a way that makes you happy :) — The Oolong Drunk “Blissfully Tea Drunk”

  • Review: Colorful Peony White Tea by Volition Tea

    Hello hello! For the first tea review of the year, we’ll be talking about Volition Tea! Volition Tea, based out of Chicago IL, launched in 2021 with their first line-up of teas. According to Volition, they sampled over 50 teas to narrow down a selection of just only 7. One of those selected few teas is their ‘Colorful Peony’ White Tea — a white tea from Fujian, China. So how does their only white tea from their first line-up hold up? Let’s dive in! Dimensions: 4.3g of white tea in a 65ml gaiwan Infusions: 12 Price: 30g for $24.00 UDS Water Temperature: 200ºf Infusions 1- 6 Upon the first infusion, the tea’s texture glided across the tongue to leave a light honey-sweet afterglow radiating from the tongue. However, after a second and third infusion, this tea’s liqueur started to darken as the bold tasting notes of sweet vanilla overpowered the palette. However, by the 6th infusion, a sweet velvet smooth texture blanketed the mouth as the strong notes of vanilla left behind a light glow of stevia and honey. Infusion 7 - 12 By the seventh and eighth infusion, this tea’s thick texture quickly lighted up to being more slick and thin. Despite the tea’s texture thinning, the notes of honey-sweet vanilla began to settle as this tea continued to leave an echoing sweetness. By the twelfth infusion, this tea had given all it could and began to die out altogether. With a final kill-brew, this tea left behind a memorable session that continued to echo in the corners of my mouth for hours to come… Conclusion: When making this tea, I first noticed the powerful notes of vanilla. For a white tea, notes of vanilla and honey isn’t something that typically comes to mind. For me, it was a very pleasant and enjoyable surprise. Another aspect I enjoyed about this tea was its ever-changing texture. Despite not having a huge variety of notes, its texture carried this tea’s notes in a way that kept it interesting, and tasty. Overall, I believe Volition Tea is starting strong with their first line-up of products, especially their white tea. Despite having a strong white tea to launch their initial line-up, they’ve also quickly garnered a good following on social media. To add, they’ve quickly become a force of inclusiveness and have already gone far and beyond to be socially aware in such a way that it’s hard to ignore. Volition has just started, and yet, has already been a massive breath of fresh air to our community. I believe they’ll only continue to do great things, and hopefully, become a staple within our community...

  • 6-Year Bloggiversary: SOS! The Sinking of the RMS Tea

    Sometimes in the sea of life, waves will come crashing ashore from many different waves. If the waves are too big, they’ll splash over and pull you into their current before taking you out to sea. While trying to stay afloat in the rocky winds of life, you must quickly hold your breath before being submerged below the surface. In these moments of chaos, sometimes all it takes is for you to open your eyes underneath the surface to find the vast world of calm water standing still below you. In my sixth year in tea, a tropical storm whisked me away from the land and dragged me out to sea. I quickly dipped my head underneath the current, held my breath, and opened my eyes to find a vast and expanding world below. What did I see when I looked beneath the surface? Today, I’ll be showing you what lies within the dark depths of this oceanic wave. Six years ago today, I launched ‘The Oolong Drunk’. Over the past year (since last-years blogiversary post), I encountered many sirens in the ocean of tea. So before we set sail, grab your life vest and a gaiwan, and let me take you with me on my side of the story of how these waves almost completely capsized me from blogging, and the world of tea itself … Welcome to my 6-year Blogiversary, where I will continue to tell my side of the story. Hurricane White Tea Over a year ago, I tea-drunkenly stumbled across an industry secret that no ship’s captain would want you to discover: The processing of white tea is manipulated in a way to make it appear ‘aged’. After studying a theory that began as maritime fiction, I noticed a commonality in this doppler radar's reading: The same aged-white tea’s production year was all the same across many different tea vendors. Now with a full mast of a conspiracy theory at sail, I began my search for a captain to help navigate this ship through a tropical storm. After months of circumnavigating the world of tea’s waters alone, I finally caught my first proof that would be able to turn this Lochness Monster theory, into fact. “Who told you about this?” One company questioned as I asked them about the idea. My months-long search almost came to an end as they inadvertently admitted to the theory. This would have completed this slow-moving regatta, except, they declined to let me officially quote them and use their words for comment. I had to continue my search. Over the next few months of talking to dozens and dozens of tea industry people, I finally found a Capitan who was willing to sail my ship through this growing storm. After weeks of interviewing, research, and digging for factual information, and almost 6 months later, my report was ready to share with the world. Prior to launching this ship to sea, I hopped onto Instagram-LIVE and talked about the massive effort that went into this report. After talking to an audience of fifteen, the post was LIVE and with a few clicks of a mouse, the course of my voyage would forever change…. Two things happened: When filming the said Instagram-LIVE and upon announcing that the report was published, my audience dropped from fifteen to three in just a few seconds. I was shaking because up to that point, I had never worked on something so monumental regarding the world of tea. I was also petrified because I had been promoting this post as a ‘shocking truth’ for about a month leading to this moment without referencing what it was. I just remember thinking to myself that if I took any misstep in any of this, my credibility would instantly anchor to the ocean bed. Then the second thing that happened was the next morning when I opened my social-media account, I found over 200+ inbox messages on Instagram, several dozen website entries, and a few dozen inbox messages between Facebook and Twitter. Upon seeing the notifications, I instantly became seasick and wanted to vomit. When reading through the bottles at sea, it quickly became apparent that all of the replies were of support of this revelation. With a sigh of relief, I was finally able to breathe again. Despite creating a tsunami-sized wave in tea, my credibility didn’t sink below the roaring sea and anchor itself to the ocean floor after all. Instead, my credibility missed the iceberg and stayed afloat…. Links: The 'Aged White Tea' Article [Photo: One of my favorite tea-sessions in my 6th year of tea -- 10,000 feet in the air in the Rocky Mountains] The Ocean Floor: ‘Blissfully Tea Drunk With…’ Society was launched to sea rapidly without a lifeboat, much less a lifejacket when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Despite that my personal social life wasn’t so much affected, society for many around me was. Over the course of the previous year, online friendships through tea were growing to the point that my boat needed to be upgraded to an ark. However, with the mental health of friends quickly diving below sea level, I saw more of a need for togetherness. With the 2020 election, calm waters quickly became rippled. Racists were posting ‘white’ squares on their tea-feeds, activists were anxious and panicked, and everyone in-between was losing their ever-loving goddamn minds. While I momentarily started to question my own sanity, I reflected on integral fact: Tea didn’t have political boundaries. Tea doesn’t have elections. And tea doesn’t drive people apart. So on the night of November 3rd, I gathered six tea friends together to put on a LIVE-show to our audiences. If we were all going to be suicidal while watching electoral-votes fluctuate in colors of red and blue, we might as well do it together… That night, the 3-hour LIVE turned into an event that many tea friends used to help distract themselves from the hurricane winds… That’s where it all started. And where did it end up? At the beginning of 2021, Instagram launched a feature to add multiple people to a LIVE. That next weekend, I utilized this feature, and the series premiere aired. With a chaotic ten episodes that made up the first season of ‘Blissfully Tea Drunk With…’, I took a short hiatus. During the first season, which included guests from Europe and Australia, I moved across several states and started my new career without skipping a week. After a month of taking a much-needed breather, and the waves at sea finally calm again, I began planning season two. Unlike previously where I lined up guests two nights before, I spent a whole month planning the first six episodes in advance before the season-2 premiere. With this, I also planned further out — including the season 2 finale. And on Saturday 21st, the ship set sail. For season two, I planned and structured each episode for consistent flow, which often included a comedy segment (with help from my brilliant comedy co-writer, Neldon Hamblin of ‘Tea With Neldon’), things went off with a bang! Week after week and every crazy stunt becoming zanier and zanier, I finally reached a project I had kept in hiding for the entirety of the 2nd season up to that point: I launched a fund-raiser for The Trevor Project. Before long, three months of planning led to the announcement of a fund-raiser that included 23 tea companies donating over $1,000 of tea and teaware for four sweep-stakes. After a week, 41 people donated and helped me reach 220% of the goal. And ten weeks after the premiere, season 2 ended by riding out this wave as four winners were drawn…. However, once the season-2 finale aired, I quickly realized that not every wave was meant to be surfed. The weekend the winners were drawn, my ship drifted off-course and after the blink of an eye, the boat capsized and I was quickly sinking to the bottom of the ocean floor. Ten straight weeks of organizing season 2 with 10 episodes while filling 41 guest spots across 5 countries, 8 comedy segments, and a fundraiser involving 23 companies, the weight of my anchor pulled me down to the seafloor. Later that night, hours after completing the season 2 finale, I was still sending the winner’s information off to the tea companies… Before I knew it, I realized my life-vest couldn’t keep me afloat anymore, and I sunk. At that moment, I lied on the ocean floor while holding my breath before questioning if I had enough energy in me to even swim to the surface of the ocean. While lying on the ocean floor, the sight of light appeared in front of me. A faint glow in the distance drew me into its comfort. While floating closer towards the light, I reached out as far as I could reach. And as my fingertips reached the angelic glow, I quickly realized that it was attached to the anglerfish of blogging retirement. While close to drowning in oceanic darkness, I quickly pulled my fingertips back and kicked as hard as I could to swim away from the bottom of the ocean floor, and spent the next few months swimming upward and letting go some of the weight that had kept me anchored. After a bit of time and without even realizing it, I had resurfaced to the top of the water to take a breath of fresh air. While being able to breathe fresh air and letting go of the thought of retiring, I started working on my next blog project and I kept on swimming…. Links: Season 1 of 'Blissfully Tea Drunk With...' Season 2 of 'Blissfully Tea Drunk With...' The Trevor Project Donation Page (Archived) The 2020 Christmas LIVE (video 1) [Photo: My 26th Birthday on Sept. 17th, one of my most liked photos in my 6th year in tea on social media] SOS! The Sinking of The RMS Tea In my opinion, one of the most enjoyable aspects of tea surrounds its ability to bring people together. From this togetherness, friendships set sail from the docks and embark on a maiden voyage to new lands. Our journey set sail with a beloved tea friend who, due to life circumstances, suffered from a condition. Despite so, she managed to board RMS Tea with me and power through by drinking tea from a vendor who convinced her that this tea would not only keep her afloat on calm waters, it would also bypass her medical condition. The company found a solution that allowed her to keep drinking tea. Despite the information being incorrect, our voyage across calm waters sailed through multiple facets of tea, mutual admiration for music, and above all else — friendship. While wiring the high wave of exposing the truth about aged white tea, my hunger for sharing knowledge of tea, in tea, was at its strongest. With a strong education in marketing in this industry, something about my friend’s situation regarding this company playing doctor didn’t sit right with me. While our ship sailed through endless oceans that kept us afloat, the beginning of the end happened when they shared that this said-company raised the price of the tea they made her dependent on… …by 40% At the time, I didn’t realize that this was the exact moment when our very-own RMS Tea hit the rigid edges of an iceberg while scraping by. After complaining to this company, the company modified my friend’s tea-medical supplement by switching prescriptions — a tea that was more expensive than the one she was originally buying. On top of being grossly price-gouged, she was now paying a higher price than ever for tea. After commenting that the processing of this tea wasn’t any different than any other, and the fact that this company was manipulating their marketing, my friend scrambled to send me YouTube evidence to help back her claim that this vendor’s teas were processed in such a unique way, that it wouldn’t affect her health. And this processing method was unique and this company was ahead of Moses and would part the sea their self… After watching a 20-minute video of this tea company gate-keeping tea production by bashing traditional processing methods, while doing the same exact thing as the other company, the video’s grand reveal was, “This godly processing of our tea can never be explained. You have to buy it and drink it yourself and that is when you’ll know. If you don’t buy it and drink it, then you’ll never know the true real meaning of tea.” In the most professional wording possible, I must tell you that urban-dictionary would properly define that as the moment I instantly became, ‘fucking pissed’. The hull of the RMS Tea began to flood as fireworks set off from the decks. Alarms were sounding as the ship began to be pulled down by the weight of rushing cold water. This happened when I told my friend that the processing of tea isn’t something you believe, it's something that’s factual. While on the defense, and as the ship’s engine room kept flooding, she reacted by saying this company was her friend and they wouldn’t mislead her. She then claimed that the owner of this company rescued them from having to give up their most beloved hobby altogether, and since I didn’t want to believe in it or continue listening to this tea company, I was being closed-minded and not being supportive. Then claimed I wasn’t being a true friend. The water of our sinking was now rising so quickly that passengers upon the RMS tea couldn’t evacuate fast enough. While racing up to the deck on a ship that was quickly being weighed down by the frigid waters, I told her that no true friend would ever take advantage of her by giving them medical advice to manipulate their health condition, to just to then illegally price-gouge her into buying more of their tea. This company wasn’t her friend; she was their victim. At that moment, her response completely submerged the bow of the ship. She said, “I believe that he’s my friend, and since you’re my friend, you should respect that he’s my friend and is trying to help me and my condition — more than you ever had!” The lights on the RMS Tea’s electricity shorted as the weight of the water had pulled down the bow of the ship so much that the stern of the ship launched into the air. The hull of the ship began to creak under the pressure of hanging in the air as smoke-stack began to snap off from their base— rolling down the upper deck before crashing into the water. Then, as I shouted my response, I knew the fate of the ship our friendship was built on was sealed. “Tea is not a belief system!!!!” At that moment, she hopped onto the last lifeboat — leaving me on a ship that quickly broke in half from the weight of being suspended in the air, before free-falling into the icy water and disappearing from the surface of the earth, forever… She blocked me on every single social media platform, blocked my phone number, and disappeared from my life in thin air. A friendship that lasted for well over a year, sank in seconds. At first, I began to get angry at her but after a bit of time, I re-directed my anger at the said-tea company who weaponized her with such falsehoods that she felt the need to end our friendship when being faced with truth and reality. After another chunk of time, I began to redirect my anger at the tea-company and redirected stat myself. I often found myself asking my question, did my reveal of white tea inflate my passion for tea knowledge so much that my need to be ‘right’ ruin one of the best friendships I’ve ever had in blogging? I also began to question, what’s the point in being a tea educator if you can’t share factual information? What was my purpose in all of this? The only thing that submerged my life was sinking with insecurities of my own personable relationships in tea, and also, in my personal life as well…. [Photo: One of my favorite sessions of tea -- during the break between Season 1 and 2 of the Instagram-LIVE talk show 'Blissfully Tea Drunk With...'] From Sea to Shining Sea: My Final Truth After mentally going back and forth on my falling-out with this ‘friend’ for months, I had finally come to the conclusion that the need to share factual information in tea wasn’t wrong, and no one should be shamed for sharing knowledge and truth in tea. However, with this, I also learned that the double-edged sword here is that no matter how hard you try, you can’t fight someone’s beliefs with facts. I’ve also reflected that despite my friend, they are likely not the only person being grossly manipulated like this by said-tea company. As social media blurs the line between vendors and their shops, with personably connecting with their consumers, it's harder and harder to decipher how to gauge a colleague with a friend. Because the boundaries are harder now than ever to decipher, can you really blame my friend for being misled? When you have the knowledge of knowing better over someone who is being willfully ignorant, are you actually at fault for sticking to your morals and not backing down? The most unfortunate thing about all of this is, this tea company is too big within our niche that I don’t feel safe enough to name-drop them. Their influence extends so far into tea that I can’t afford to out their identity. It’s unfortunate because this fallout resulted in multiple panic attacks, as I even went through a phase where I questioned every single one of my friendships in tea and their authenticity altogether. It’s also unfortunate because there are other victims of this company, and me not being able to speak out about makes burdens me with guilt because I feel like I’m letting it happen. It’s the consequence of being a leader in our community because it comes with the knowledge you don’t ask for, and sometimes, having this knowledge just absolutely sucks. Having knowledge and not being able to do anything about it is a burden that no one deserves… To hell with both this friend and this company for putting me in this position. On the flip side of this, I've also learned that so many people in tea came out of the woodwork when hosting the charity for the Trevor Project. While I did get overwhelmed by all of the work and even contemplated retiring my tea blog right after, I was also sent dozens of messages from other tea drinkers from the LGBTQIA+ community who claimed that they felt like they finally had someone to connect to. After reading a few tearful inbox messages, I felt like that following my heart and doing what I love has made being overloaded worth it. The love and support that so many people showed was breathtaking. Even in reflection, I wouldn’t be able to tell you if I was overwhelmed by doing so much work while in the middle of major life changes, or, was it just by the massive and staggering amount of outpouring love from this community in such a short period of time. In this instance, I like not knowing. Finally, I also learned that while making the massive post regarding aged white tea, I questioned one thing repeatedly: If the staggering amount of tea companies I reached out to knew about this singularity in grossly-negligent activity and refused to speak out, what other shady marketing practices do they also partake in? Are these manipulations so commonplace that it was even a factor in ruining one of of my favorite friendships in tea?! The answer to this is no. In my 6th year in tea, I lost a wonderful friendship. And in my 6th year of tea, dozens of more tea friend suited up, dived to the bottom of the ocean, and brought me back to the ocean surface. These friendships that brought me out of my sea of sadness to show me that we’re just one big family. Dozens of tea friends, 23 companies, and 41 people opened up their hearts and proved that love, not tea, is the biggest driving force behind our community. If I want you to take anything from my 6th year in tea, I want you to remember several things: Tea is a beautiful thing that can only be used for whatever purpose you project onto it. Tea has no meaning unless you give it meaning. Don’t fall in love with any projection of tea that you begin to lose sight of the differences between fact, and fiction. To add, if one person tries to sink your ship, you’ll have a community of allies across many different worlds who’ll be your life-vest and prevent you from sinking to the bottom of the ocean floor. Be skeptical, yet open-minded. Never stop asking questions. And never stop telling your tea friends that you love them… Thank you to everyone who has fucked with me for the past 6 years in tea, and thank-you to everyone who chooses to love me and my work. I realize that loving me is a choice that you make, and because of your love, my heart keeps growing to keep making room for the more and more wonderful people who keep coming into my life. And to those who talked a big game this year and couldn’t show up — fuck you… and thank you for the motivation. With so much love and respect, ~Cody Wade Aka The Oolong Drunk “Blissfully Tea Drunk” I wanted to give a special thank-you to Neldon, Danielle, Kelly, Luke, and Alex for peer-reviewing this post. Thank you for challenging me. I want to also give a massive thank-you to Jeannie of Miro Tea in Seattle, you changed our world for the better :’) [Photo of Alex and Neldon, who I often drank tea with virtually though out my 6th year in tea]

  • A 'Oolong Drunk' Expose: The Authenticity of the Social Media Tea Farmer

    You can’t necessarily believe everything you read on the internet, and when it comes to tea, there is no exception to this rule. This became true when I got presented evidence from ‘Machine Gun Kelly’. For the purpose of this article, MGK requested that his real identity be kept anonymous. “You know, these tea-farmer accounts on Instagram that has thousands of followers. They present their profile in a way that makes you believe that they’re actual tea farmers, when actually, they’re reselling from TaoBao,” according to MGK. With these allegations, MGK showed me exact listings from several prominent tea farmer influencer Instagram accounts, along with one tea vendor. When showing me comparisons from TaoBao listings to their own, it proved that the product photos at hand are copied from Taobao. For reference, ‘TaoBao’ is a China-exclusive online retailer, and is the eighth most visited website globally according to the Alexa Rank. The four accounts that have evidence against them are @TeaFarmerLin, @TeaFarmerBruce, @TeaFarmerGirl, and Crafted Leaf Teas. I was then shown where ‘Crafted-Leaf Teas’ copied a product photo from TaoBao, which is a tea listed for around $6.00 USD for a pound. This particularly hit home, as I had bought 50 grams of this tea from for $20.00 UDS. If they really got their tea from this TaoBao vendor, this means I bought this tea from Crafted-Leaf Teas at 3,900% mark-up. When reaching out to the accused for comment, only Tea Farmer Girl responded. “Some Taobao are ours, and some TaoBao good come from the same factory as ours — all of which are product information provided by the factory,” she stated. However, when looking, the TaoBao accounts come from a Chinese tea warehouse. This is damning. Tea Farmer Girl's admission to this means two things: These accounts are price-gouging the same product for their Western-Facing audience. This also means that they’re not really tea farmers. Lets put this in perspective: China has their own internet that’s specific to them. To be able to run a Western-facing shop, you would have to use a VPN to bypass the Chinese government's restrictions. Given that a lot of Chinese farmers do not live in cities, the likelihood of a farmer owning advanced enough technology to operate a western-facing online retail shop on a larger scale while bypassing the Chinese government is not likely. However, most vendors rely on wholesalers to some extent or another. Not one person or one entity can do everything. However, most vendors don’t copy-and-paste the exact same photo and price their tea at 3,900% mark-up. That still leaves the question: Are these ‘tea farmer’ accounts authentic, or are they just fantasy? That’s for you to decide…. Posts regarding tea from Crafted Leaf Teas has since been removed from my social media, as I no longer associate with them for allegedly selling me tea at 3,900% mark-up. @TeaFarmerLin, @TeaFarmerBruce, and Crafted Leaf Teas have yet to respond for comment. ~The Oolong Drunk

  • Crimson Lotus Tea goes Intergalactic.... with Black Tea

    Hello hello! About a month ago, Crimson Lotus Tea released their new line-up of black tea. Although they've sourced black tea for others before, this is the first time they've released a tea that wasn't sheng our shou, in eight years! For this line-up of Dian Hong Black Tea (which is a Yunnan-grown bud-heavy black tea), they released three different variations -- all ranging from being light to heavy with tea buds. After buying a cake of Intergalactic, the most bud-heavy of the three in their line-up, I opened my tea-mail to find samples of the other two in the line-up -- Roam and Big Red. How did Crimson Lotus Tea do with sourcing a tea that's outside of their normal range? Is Intergalactic out of this world? Let's find out! Tea: Intergalactic Dimensions: 3.3g of white tea in a 50ml gaiwan (1g per 15ml) Infusions: 14 Price: $34.99 USD for a 200g tea cake Water Temperature: 200ºf Infusions 1 - 6 When smelling this tea, I first noticed heavy aromas of malt and honeydew. With the first infusion, the tea's slick texture slid its way past my tongue, leaving behind woodsy notes of sweet malt. With a few more infusions, the light notes of sweet notes of tree-bark and tree sap became sharp and sweet. By the seventh infusion, there was a hint of brandy lingering in the mouth, which was overshadowed by a fluffy malt echo that filled the air in my mouth. Infusions 7 - 12 The notes of malt and rum were balancing well with the notes of tree bark, with a texture that was equal parts light and smooth. As the session continued, this tea's notes held a consistency in notes and texture for at least four infusions, before beginning to ease up. However, by the fourteenth infusion, this tea was looking pale in color and was ready to be concluded... Tea: Big Red and Roam Dimensions: 3.3g of white tea in a 50ml gaiwan (1g per 15ml) Infusions: 14 Price: Roam: $24.99 USD for a 200g tea cake Big Red: $29.99 USD for a 200g tea cake Water Temperature: 200ºf Infusions 1 - 12 At first, Roam started out with soft notes of malt and light stone-fruit. With just a few infusions, this tea's body was noticeably balanced with sweetness, fruitiness, and woodiness. This tea's texture also jumped out at me because it was fluffy, yet defined. When trying Big Red, I first noticed a strong woodsy-like maltiness that immediately blanket the entire palate. While having less defined fruit-like sweetness to Roam, this tea's texture was substantially more defined in regards to being smooth. However, just like Big Red, roam was very well defined and held a strong consistency throughout the session. Conclusion: To start, I wanted to commend Crimson Lotus Tea for going outside of their comfort zone with releasing their first line-up of Crimson Lotus Tea-brand black tea. One thing I really enjoyed about Intergalactic was how radiant and pleasant its aroma was. This was carried over to this tea's tasting notes, which at one point, was energizing and room-filling. Another aspect about this tea I liked was its ability to continually change and alter throughout the session. As far as Big Red and Roam goes, they were more consistent with their notes throughout the session. However, one thing to keep in mind with Intergalactic is that this tea still felt very fresh. Due to being so bud-heavy, this tea could benefit from aging for a month or two for its notes to really shine. Due to personal experience with other Dian hong, Intergalactic will continue to grow and become even more incredible after a bit of time. Overall, I believe that Crimson Lotus Tea did a phenomenal job with sourcing Dian Hong. Out of the three, they are all delightful on their own merit. Despite that Crimson Lotus Tea being known for carrying some of the best shou-puer in the industry, who know what else they can master if they continue to explore other avenues in tea? We can only daydream of amazing things... ~The Oolong Drunk "Blissfully Tea Drunk"

  • Mississippi White Tea!

    Hello hello! Longleaf Tea is a tea company that produces Mississippi-Grown tea, right in the US! Despite producing green and black tea since their launch, I was fortunate enough to get my hands on a couple of samples of their white tea. While only producing less than a pound of white tea for experimenting with tea production methods, Longleaf Tea sent me samples of two different kinds -- one from this Summer (2021) and one from the Fall of 2020. This makes it one of the worlds-first North American produced white teas -- ever. Note: For today's write-up, I'll primarily be going over the most recent harvest in white tea Just like how other teas from different regions are reflective of its surroundings, can the same be said for Mississippi-grown white tea? Is Mississippi-grown white tea worth getting hyped over, or will it soon be a Louisiana/Mississippi bayou front porch myth? Let's find out! (Photo: Fall 2020 Harvest) Dimensions: 5g of white tea in a 75ml teapot Infusions: 14 Price: n/a Water Temperature: 200ºf (Photo: Summer 2021 Harvest) Infusions 1 - 7: My initial reaction upon seeing this tea was the wide range of color the dry leaf was. Alongside the wide array of colors, the dry leaf also smelled line pine-wood. The first infusion of this tea brought a smooth and savory texture of grass, along with a faint mouthwatering aftertaste of an autumn leaf pile. As the tea kept opening up, its texture continued to refine a consistent energizing sharpness that brought on heavy notes of tree bark, more green grass, and a radiating humid-mouth feeling that reminded me of what the woods that surrounded the Red River smelled like when fishing with my father. However, by the seventh infusion, the green grass started to resemble tall weeds in a cool and humid summer afternoon. (Photo: Summer 2021 Harvest) Infusions 8 - 14: Halfway through the session, I noticed that a faint pine sap-like sweetness tried to echo in the corners of my mouth, but was still being covered by the tall brown grass and fresh forest smell. By the tenth infusion, this tea was already showing signs of slowing down and by the fourteenth infusion, this tea was showing signs that it had no more to give... (Photo: Summer 2021 Harvest) Conclusion: To start, one of the main aspects about this tea that I enjoyed was in regards to its profile. Despite being harvested from young tea trees on a new farm, this white tea was ready to make itself known. I also enjoyed how the woodsy and grassy notes of this tea were refreshing -- something I don't often associate with woodsy tasting notes. While most white teas are often either floral or fruity, it was lovely to taste a white tea that was strong in carrying an identity of its own. However, one of the main differences between this white tea, and the other sample of white tea from 2020, was that the production of the tea was a little different. The fall 2020 white tea had more tea buds and had better consistency regarding its appearance. Despite how it looked there was something ornately different about how the 2021 version of this tea was made, and was much more appealing to me. Overall, I was a fan of the 2021 Mississippi-grown white tea. One thing that rarely happens to me in tea, that happened to me with this session, is to be brought back to a memory that I had long forgotten. My dad was from Mississippi, and when I was a kid, we'd use to go to the Red River and go fishing during the summer. Now when I drank this tea, and when I closed my eyes, the tasting notes took me back to the Mississippi woods in the summer with my dad. Despite that my dad has long-left this earth, it was surprising to be taken back to another visit with him :') If one was to ask the question: Is Mississippi-grown white tea reflective of its environment? I'd answer with a strong yes. While this tea may not be talked about among the native-Cajun in the Louisiana and Mississippi bayou as a myth, it will actually be enjoyed under the stars that shine on the US-South at night instead... ~ The Oolong Drunk "Blissfully Tea Drunk" (Photo: Summer 2021 Harvest)

  • Insani-TEA Round 2: Brewing an ENTIRE 200g Tea Cake

    Hello hello! Last year, I brewed an entire 50g tea cake while trying to follow Cwyn’s 'Death By Tea' Blog as a guide. However, in her initial experiment, she brewed a 100g gourd from the White2Tea Tea Club. While always being unsettled at the fact that I didn’t quite reach the same heights she did, I decided to do it right this time by brewing an entire 200g tea cake of White2Tea’s 2021 Green HYPE. On October 2nd, on the 2nd season of my Instagram LIVE talk show ‘Blissfully Tea Drunk With…’, I broke out the tea cake and began the mega-brew! However, on the next installment of my LIVE talk show, I continued the experiment by having Nicole Wilson of ‘Tea For Me Please’ join me to try and wrap up the session. However, what took place during that period of time? How did it all turn out? Let’s dig in! Specifics: Dimensions: 200g beeng for a 1500 ml coffee craft (roughly 1g per 7.5ml) Infusions: 40 Days: 8 Water Temperature: 200ºf Amount of Water: 12.5 gallons Storage: When not brewing, I placed a lid on the coffee craft, before storing it in a gallon zip-lock baggie in the fridge. Day 1: On day 1, while LIVE on my talk show, I broke out the cake and broke it into several chunks. While breaking apart the beeng, my tea-pic Handke broke when reaching the beeng-hole. After brewing several infusions LIVE, I later took a break and continued to brew this tea throughout the day. After six infusions of flash-steeps, the tea kept quickly expanding and kept becoming stronger and stronger. With a sixth flash-steep, and due to the incredibly high leaf-to-water ration, the tea was still so strong that it was almost undrinkable. Note: You can watch the beginning of this brew HERE on my IG-LIVE talk show! Day 2: On day 2, the tea kept expanding to the point that the coffee craft was now jam-packed. I tried to even wedge my pinky finger in it, and it wouldn’t even budge. Even with several more flash infusions, the tea was still insanely strong. Day 3: Day three looked like day 4, except, my stomach was still having issues processing the concentrated tea. Given this was such a fresh sheng, it was still very acidic. When looking at the coffee craft, my anxiety instantly spiked. Day 4: I only did one flash steep. The taste was becoming less bitter, however, was still so strong that it was still hard to drink. By this point, I had to buy an antacid. Day 5: Now with a lot of anxiety, I also only did one flash steep. I didn’t want to touch it. I was sick of it and yet, it was barely evening out. Day 6: After having anxiety and forcing myself to brew this again, I was still too overwhelmed to keep going... Day 7: By day 7, the next episode of my Instagram-LIVE talk show aired where I tried to wrap up the session with tea-blogger Nicole Wilson, aka Tea For Me Please. While on my LIVE, I did several infusions with Nicole. However, I also began to notice that the flash-steeps were beginning to settle down after a bit. While on the show, I even tried to dump the tea upside-down to show how jam-packed the tea was in the coffee craft. However, after ending the episode, I was determined to not give up and let this session win. I then boiled my kettle, poured it over the tea leaves, and let it sit in the craft for thirty minutes. With hopes of diluting the tea, and with frustration that the fucker was never going to completely brew, I finally managed to kill enough of this tea’s strength to bring it back down to a normal level. After the 30 minute infusion, I infused it one more time. To my surprise, it was smooth, pleasant, and enjoyable. I was prepared to toss it at that point, but instead decided to keep it for one more day…. Note: You can watch day 7 HERE on my IG-LIVE talk show!y Day 8: On day eight, I woke up refreshed and was ready to brew this tea to the end. With determination, and with fear that keeping the leaves any longer would induce an ugly episode of food poisoning, I kept chugging along. Especially with day 7’s 30-minute infusion, this tea quickly declined in strength. By the end of the night, I infused it for one more time and the leaves were finally spent. With a sigh of relief and tears of joy, the nightmare brew was finally over. The Aftermath: When digging this tea out of the coffee craft, I had to use an ice pic to pry out the leaves. They had expanded so much in the tight space that it took over four minutes to finally pry it out. And when prying it out, I managed to isolate the beeng-hole. To my surprise, it was still mostly intact and was dry in the very center. Conclusion: In conclusion, Fuck this. When Cwyn did this on her blog, she used a much larger vessel to brew her 100g gourd. Despite using the largest possible vessel I owned, the leaf-to-water ratio was still insanely high. Because of this high leaf-to-water ratio, the majority of my infusions were flash-steeps to help fight this tea’s strength. If it wasn’t for doing a 30-min brew at the end of day-7, this very well could have kept going for several more days. Overall, this is an experiment I’ll never be repeating again. For starters, 2021 Hype was an amazing tea under normal circumstances. When doing the mega-brew, I really felt like this tea didn’t have a real chance to shine and be as enjoyable as I know it to be. To add, there was so much tea and water, especially for how acidic fresh sheng was, my acid reflux started to negatively impact my health. If I were to do this again, I’d make sure I’d have a large group of people to share with. I’d also make sure I’d have a 3,000ml giawan so that the infusions would be more normal (or, close to what normal is?). I will now chalk this up to one of the crazy-as-hell stunts I did on my talk show ‘Blissfully Tea Drunk With…’, and will make for a fun memory for the future to come. Except, I’m burned out on sheng, so I’ll need a good while before this memory can start becoming fun again…. You can watch my talk show ‘Blissfully Tea Drunk With…’ LIVE Saturdays on my Instagram @theoolongdrunk. With love, ~ The Oolong Drunk “Blissfully Tea Drunk"

  • Rum Barrel Shou Puer Aged for 1 Year!

    Hello hello! Around a month ago, Crimson Lotus Tea launched a special edition of their rum-barrel shou-puer tea. For the past 3-4 years, Crimson Lotus Tea has released an annual version of rum-barrel shou puer tea. However, this year they released the maocha (loose-leaf puer tea) version of their ten year aged shou puer 'Black Gold', and aged it in a barrel for one full year! After partaking in their 2019 release of rum-barrel shou, which was aged for three months, how does this special edition version of this experiment hold up? Let's find out! The Session Details: Price: $59.99 USD for 60g of tea stored in a clay jar Steeps: 14 Dimensions: 4g of tea in a 60ml mini-gaiwan Temperature of Water: Boiling (206ºf -- in high altitude) Steeps 1 - 7 To start, the loose-leaf had earthy notes of a clean forest and tree bark, with a prominent odor of rum. With the first infusion, the clean notes of alcohol/rum brushed over the tongue while leaving behind a smooth tree bark and room-filling woodsiness. After a few more infusions, the clean and smooth texture kept expanding until it became a near-velvet texture -- leaving behind three-dimensional malt-like tree bark and sweet rum. After the seventh infusion, this tea kept expanding and showed no signs of slowing down. Steeps 8 - 14 Halfway through the session, the velvet-like texture began to slightly mellow. With the tea's body starting to mellow, the mixture of tree bark and rum began to resemble a sweet malt-like black tea. At this stage of the infusion, the liqueur was amber in color. As this tea's strength began to mellow out, it began to show a strong multidimensional oily texture that made the tea glide through the mouth like an actual glass of rum -- just without the bite. However, by the fourteenth infusion, this tea had given all it could and this barrel gave its very last drop of rum-infused daydream... Conclusion: One of my favorite aspects about this tea was how complex it was. While having prominent notes, the notes were presented in a way that was more than face-value. This tea also excelled with having an excellent balance of tasting notes, and despite being heavy in texture, was incredibly smooth and clean. As far as the rum-barrel profile, it was strong enough to be noticeable, yet tied in all of the notes to create one unique and mind-blowing palate. Overall, I believe this is one of Crimson Lotus Tea's greatest experiments. After following them and their line of barrel-aged teas, I truly believe this limited release sets their previous experiments apart. With the bar set already so high on their sou selections, I couldn't imagine (until now) that the bar could keep getting risen. If you happen to grab yourself one of these limited releases from Crimson Teas, I strongly suggest that you should while you can. Teas like this only come around once in a lifetime... ~Blissfully Tea Drunk

  • The True Story of Tea_Tography, a Tea Community Sensation

    Sometimes, there are special occasions in life where you get to catch a glimpse of a shining star. If you’re lucky enough, you sometimes get the rare opportunity of being in the same light of a burning star before its flame burns out. For me, I was one of the lucky ones who not only got to catch a glimpse of a shining star — I got to know her before her flames burned out. This is the story of a social-media sensation that helped shaped the western online-tea community, and how at one point, was the pillar of it. This tea journey inspired so many others, and was the leader of popularizing aestheticism in tea photography, while captivated thousands of others with her storytelling through tea, and photography. This is the true story of Tea_Tography. For this tea journey, I sat down with Jordan and talked to her about how where it all started. However, we must go back to 2010 when Jordan joined the US-Navy on a 6-year contract. Halfway through her naval career, she got a terrifying diagnosis. After learning of her diagnosis, she looked for other ways to better her health. With this in mind, a fellow shipmate introduced her to Teavana. After learning more about the health benefits of tea, she eventually went down the rabbit hole into learning more about the drink itself. It didn’t take long before Jordan was known as the ship’s ‘tea girl’. This was even more evident when her ship took part in the 24th Exercise of RenPac 2014 — a global exercise in Hawaii between the larger-global naval community. Her officer even brought her tea back from a visit from one of the Chinese Naval Ships. “He brought back tea and gave me some. I’m pretty sure it was a tie-guan yin,” she recalled. Being known as her ship’s ‘tea girl’ made unexpected impressions on others on her ship. This even led to how she met her now-husband. “He was working the scullery (the dishwashing area in a mess hall) and I asked him to clean my tea ware,” she said when recalling how the romance started. Over the course of several visits to the scullery to clean her tea-ware, he surprised her. Her shipmate ordered some of her favorite teas without her knowledge and surprised her with them. From that moment on, fate was sealed. (Photo: Jordan at her last day in the Navy cir. 2016) With being on the ship for up to a month at a time, she leaned into her passion for tea and tea knowledge and started regularly reading various tea bloggers for tea recommendations. “When I was under-way, I started reading Oolong Owl (popular tea blogger). Her website would load on the ship, I’d read her reviews, and if we still had internet, I’d order teas so I could have new tea when we arrived to port,” Jordan explained. However, it wasn’t until stumbling upon The Tea Conjurer (now-retired tea blogger) that lit a fire within Jordan that could not be extinguished. Jordan was already a hobbyist-photographer, but it wasn’t until seeing the way The Tea Conjurer captured their tea session that inspired Jordan to take tea photos of her own. It didn’t take long until Jordan felt inspired to post reviews of her very own. Before long, she launched her very own Tumblr page. After several years of enjoying tea under her belt, she finally made the leap forward to publish her first-ever tea review. On Tuesday, October 28th, 2014, Jordan broke ground by publishing her very first tea review. The review was from now-closed tea shop Butiki, and their Lemon French Macaron Tea. After testing the waters of blogging, she picked up steam and became posting reviews more and more regularly. However, it wasn’t until November 27th, 2016 when she launched her Instagram account and posted her first photo. With this post, she would soon be launched into overnight success. When asking her about how quickly she became successful, Jordan said, “It was wild to me at the time. I don’t know if there were a lot of people who were focused with photography at the time, or creating a great review? But realistically, I didn’t know how to put my review into words very well.” While writing reviews didn’t come very naturally, she learned that she was able to captivate her passion and love for the art of tea more easily through photography. “But I knew how to take a photo and I knew how to express myself and the way I liked the tea through photography,” Jordan said. With the rapid growth in popularity, reaching a few new thousand followers every month, she eventually migrated to reviewing teas from Tumblr and other social media platforms, she began exploring ways to publish content on her own platform. On January 6th, 2017, her website was live. However, shortly after the launch of her website, this is where our tea journeys cross. Just like many others, I was also enchanted by the beauty of Jordan’s photos. After coming across one of her photos through White2Tea, I began conversations with her. Unbeknownst to me, she lived in the same city as me. After further conversation, we both decided to meet for tea. I met Jordan at The Cultured Cup, a tea shop in Dallas that we had both wanted to check out. After pulling into The Cultured Cup, I got nervous over meeting the artist herself. I had now followed her photos for quite some time, and yet, I was still relatively new to tea and tea blogging. Upon actually seeing and meeting Jordan, I was surprised to find that she was close to my age. She was kind, sweet, and cool. She had an aura about her that radiated warmth, safety, and intelligence. (Photo: Left, Fort Worth Japanese Gardens. Right, Meeting Jordan at The Cultured Cup, Screen-Grab from tea_tography's Instagram Story) After a day of driving in the DFW metroplex she invited me up to her then-apartment and that’s where I saw it… That’s where I saw what she was famous for — the windowsill that held her staging area for her photos. It was not just surreal, it was magical. I was right in front of the actual social-media sensation. To make the moment more magical, Jordan gifted me an extra temperature-reading tea kettle and even sent me home with tea (which I later pissed her off by posting my most-viewed Instagram story by tossing it in the yard when it broke -- video below). In another adventure, we even met at the Fort Worth Japanese Gardens. After some time, Jordan moved to a closer part of town. In this period, we went to The Cultured Cup several more times. She even came over to my new place to have tea with me in Fort Worth. And at one point, Jordan also attended a birthday party of mine at a pizza-joint and gifted me a Bitter-Leaf Teas gift card (where I bought my gaiwan, which I still use to this day and feature in blog posts and social media posts -- photo here). During this period in her tea journey, Jordan was becoming more and more popular. She had reached a milestone of 10,000 followers, was recently being copied by various social media accounts, and was doing free-lance photography for other tea companies. She also hosted several ‘intro to gong-fu workshops at The University that she then attended, and was continuing to post and upload more and more content. Jordan’s tea journey was not only at full speed, and she was in demand. Tea_Tography was now dominating the western-facing social media tea community. However, she wouldn’t hit a personal peak with her photography sensationalism until January of 2018, where she has over 15,000 Instagram followers and was invited to cover the 2nd Annual Houston Tea Fest. At the time, I was scheduled to host a workshop on puer-tea and also cover the event. After talking again, Jordan and I decided to carpool and head down to Houston together… (Photo: Tea_Tography's Instagram Story, Friday Janurary 25th, 2018) “I don’t remember that,” Jordan said after asking her if she recalled that we listened to the entirety of ‘Reputation’ by Taylor Swift on the 4.5-hour drive down to Houston. I specifically remember because after the first few seconds of ‘I Did Something Bad’ where Taylor sings, “I don’t trust a narcissist, they love me,” I abruptly shouted oh god no and immediately changed the song. Thankfully for me, Jordan also didn’t remember how socially awkward I was for the remainder of the drive. Later that afternoon, Jordan and I detoured and arrived at Tin Yen Tea and Herbs where Jordan and I got a pot of AliShan Taiwanese Oolong and had gong-fu service. It lasted for a little over 2 hours — two hours of pure bliss. Up to that point, this sheltered tea-blogger never knew that shops offered gong-fu service like that. I was in awe. I dropped Jordan off, I went to my hotel, and the excitement of attending my very first tea festival kept me awake all night. (Photo: Tin Yin Tea and Herbs, Tea Session with Jordan) The next morning, Jordan and I met for the free breakfast at the hotel restaurant before heading to the convention. I was slated to speak at 4:00 PM that day, and after touring the entire festival, thirty minutes later we had seen everything. We even popped into a guys lecture about his in-depth look at how Starbucks stinted the entirety of the tea industry…. After finding out that it was just a disgruntled 30-y/o channeling his inner Karen over his thoughts on corporate capitalism, we quietly and quickly hauled ass out of his never-ending bitch-fest. With having toured the entire tea festival, and a little more than six hours to kill until my very own lecture, we decided to leave the convention and mosey on over to the NASA Johnson Space Center. We got rained on when taking a 2-hour tour of the facility, looked at historical NASA memorabilia, and then concluded our outing by grabbing Jimmy Johns. We arrived back at the convention with just enough time for me to set up my power-point. At 4:00 PM, I taught a packed audience of 6 people about puer tea before Jordan and I parted ways. I went back to the festival the next day, voted for my favorite chai in a chai-tea competition, then started my long drive back home after learning that Jordan wasn’t returning to the festival… (Photo: 'What is Puer Tea?', Lecture by The Oolong Drunk on Saturday, January 26th 2018 at The Houston Tea Fest) Jordan and I only hung out a few more times. During one visit, we met at The Cultured Cup for a final time, and a little while after, met back at her then-house in Fort Worth. She invited me in, and upon walking into her house, she gave me a tour of her new home. She first guided me over to her entertainment center that housed her entire tea-ware collection. There it all was. Lined up perfectly were pieces of tea ware, many of which I had recognized from her photos. It was almost like a museum exhibit of the many iconic pieces that helped her with her artistry. Then, she showed me her new camera — a camera she had begun using to develop film with. She then showed me her bathroom, where she had been doing at-home film development. During this tour, I noticed something. I noticed that when showing me her home-photo lab, she was more excited and passionate to show me where she developed photos when compared to her tea ware. In fact, a sparkle in her eye was noticeable when talking about her original passion for photography— a sparkle that no longer existed when it came to tea. She took me to her new staging and we prepared for tea. She dug through dozens of teas that were sent to her for review but picked something she had bought for herself — a Japanese Sencha. This wasn’t something she was supposed to promote, not something she was gifted — this was something that was personally for her. After a few hours, it was time to pack up and leave. Before leaving, she took my photo with two of her cameras and we hugged. I walked back to my car, said goodbye, and drove off for a final time. In the coming months, my own personal life became chaotic and upside down. After a short series of events, including a break-up that left me temporarily homeless, I upped and moved across several states. Despite my personal timeline being disrupted and taking me somewhere else, and despite our tea journeys parting ways from each other, Jordan’s tea journey didn’t last for much longer... (Photo: Last 'The Cultured Cup' adventure, and last selfie, with Jordan) “My reviews were waning at the time. I was in the in-between transition of leaving my thoughts on Instagram posts instead of my actual blog,” Jordan explained as she detailed the beginning of the end of Tea_Tography. Jordan continued to explain that she was caught in a rut of feeling obligated to keep up with a regular posting schedule. And after a change in Instagram's algorithm, the infrequency of follower engagement, she began putting more pressure on herself to keep posting on a regular schedule. With her becoming more and more in demand, she was putting more pressure on herself than she ever thought she would. The pressure she was putting on herself became mentally taxing. “I was drinking tea for the enjoyment of posting about it, and not drinking tea for the enjoyment of the tea itself,” she said. After feeling the stress that came with the obligation to keep a regular posting schedule, especially with being hard on herself, Jordan quickly felt her passion for Tea_Tography fade. “I tried to re-spark my passion for tea by transitioning over to youtube. It didn’t last long. It actually became more strenuous than photography,” she continued to explain. After reaching a new limit with creative fatigue, she quickly realized that blogging has made her not only resent tea, but photography as well. Then, at the end of January of 2020, Jordan decided to sell her beloved digital camera — the very tool that she utilized to help her get to her spot. She was done with not just tea, she was also done with photography. (Photo: The very last digital-camera photograph, by Tea_Tography) While trying to retain any tangible inspiration for tea and photography, she tried to experiment with using her analog camera to capture tea time. However, that didn’t last long, as the process of developing film was too expensive to upkeep. After taking long breaks between posting her next three photos on social media with film, she knew the end was coming. On October 20th, 2020, Jordan published her very last photo of tea. Six years after her initial blog post, and after gaining thousands of followers and becoming a sensation, Jordan’s tea journey came to an end and Tea_Tography was concluded… When asking her about the final days of her blog, Jordan reflects, “I did feel guilty. I felt like I had to take photos, but that’s when I started resenting everything about it. I felt forced.” After asking her if she would have done anything differently, she said, “I wish I had taken a different approach and enjoyed tea for what it was, and didn't try to be so show-ey. I wish I did it for me.” “As I get older, I get more private with what I do. I have a lot of hobbies and I don’t post them on social media. I just do stuff for me now. Getting older and maturing has helped me realize that to enjoy these things, I have to do them alone,” she stated in regards to knowing her true inner-self. However, she realizes that tea is a massive part of her life’s journey and has played a part in every major life event up to this point and time. “I still really enjoy tea. It still has a place in my heart. I have so many memories with it if I had not gotten invested in it,” she said as we wrapped up our phone call. Jordan and I concluded our convo after she said, “I will always love it. I just won’t be so apt to share it on a large community. In a small setting with friends and family, but it will be a time that will now be spent for me.” Jordan and I hung up and I began reflecting on her incredible journey. I remember the last time seeing Jordan that the sparkle she once had for tea, was gone. It was something that was there when first meeting her, and something I didn’t pick up on until writing this article now. Even now, Jordan’s domain has expired as her blog sits archived — still open to see. One of her final blog posts was her review of The Houston Tea Festival, and when looking back, saw that the last-4 of her Instagram posts were done entirely on film. Looking back at the archive of Tea_Tography, I was reminded to appreciate the beauty we have in our community now. I now see various bloggers and photographers who were initially inspired by Jordan and have furthered their own journey in tea with inspiration through Jordan’s work. Many of which, probably don’t even know the story of Tea_Tography or where some of us get inspiration from. This is especially true, especially with estheticism on photographing tea. It also made me wonder how the balance of being a fan of someone’s work, and demand for more, can inadvertently make them put pressure on themselves to the point of pushing them away from their art. I got a tear in the corner of my eye and felt it slide down the side of my cheek as I closed the pages on my notes from talking with Jordan, and continued to reflect on everything she had just said. Tea_Tography was now in the past. She arrived, captivated an audience, and was quietly gone. Sometimes, we get a glimpse of a shining star. Sometimes, if we’re lucky, we get the rare opportunity of getting to be in the same light of a burning star before its flames burn out. Just like many of the stars in our own galaxy that have burned out many years ago, their light still reaches us and lights up the inner corners of our hearts. Their light continues to shine bright, and despite being gone, will continue to shine for many many years to come..… ~The Oolong Drunk "Blissfully Tea Drunk" (Photo: Very last photo on film, by Tea_Tography)

  • This Wacky Tea and Stock-Market Meme, is Real

    It's not every day you come across a social experiment on tea, especially when infused with the US Stock Exchange. The US Stock Market is also not everyone's first thought when thinking about tea, except for Chase. Chase is a 27-year-old from Indiana, who currently works in Chicago for political campaigns, would tell you differently. After coming across one of the most bizarre tea-related vlogs on all of the internet, I spoke with Chase -- who runs a vlog named ''One David's Tea Share A Day' where he posts daily updates to, well, buying one share of David's Tea stock a day. Yes, you read that right. Chase is vlogging his journey buying one share of David's Tea stock a day. Chase started his series on April 16th, 2021, and is currently up to almost 200 shares of David's Tea Stock. "My plan is to go for at least two years, but will continue this project indefinitely," he continued. Chase also explained that this isn't a meme in the making, but instead, he's completely serious. But why David’s Tea, you ask? [Photo: Personal Tea Haul from David's Tea] "When solidifying this project, David's Tea was the largest [retail] tea company in the US at the time," Chase claimed. He went on to say that even if it wasn't for David's Tea's rank in the US market, he's just simply a fan of them. After speaking with David, I later spoke with 'CatsDrinkTeaToo' -- who requested I keep his identity anonymous. 'CatsDrinkTeaToo' is a tea-drinker on Instagram who has also been a licensed stock-broker for the past three years. When I asked Cats about the ability to have enough influence over the market by buying one share a day, it won't cut it. "Theoretically it's a great idea but realistically, it won't happen," Cats said. In regards to having any influence over the market for continually buying one share a day, Cats continued to say, "It's not large enough to influence the price." He further explained that you'd need to buy roughly around 49-million dollars worth of David's Tea stock for where it's currently priced, and even at that, your influence would still be little-to-non existent. According to Cats, David's Tea is a low-traded stock and had around 280 exchanges the day I spoke with him. Despite being a low-traded stock, Cats warned that market manipulation can happen at any time. He also warned that when talking about trading stock, you have to be careful to not convince others to buy alongside you because according to the SEC, doing so is market manipulation -- which is illegal. However, according to Chase, he's very aware that he's walking a very thin line. "I want to enjoy my journey and share tea with others. I'm not convincing them to invest in David's Tea, and never will, but I am trying to convince others to drink tea with me" he claimed. While trying to avoid a financial influence, Chase wants to set a social one. "Young people need to change companies from the top down," Chase said after explaining that he started this social-media series after wanting to show the youth that it's important to take charge of their financial future. He indicated that there's no other option, and due to the current state of the economy, making a change from the bottom-up isn't working. According to Cats, the younger generation just simply isn't saving. And he's right. According to a 2019 article from Forbes, Generation-Z can no-longer afford to buy a home, or save for retirement. "It's an art project. I'm here for the long haul," Chase concluded as we ended our convo. David's Tea became public on June 5th, 2015 on the US Stock Exchange, and has yet to respond for further comment. -- The Oolong Drunk "Blissfully Tea Drunk"

  • Chardonnay Barrel-Aged Oolong

    Hello hello! This week, I got a box in the mail from Canadian-based tea company, Pugs and Pigs! They included a few pouches of their limited-released tea 'White Grapes' -- a chardonnay barrel-aged Taiwanese oolong. In this experiment, Pugs and Pigs aged a cultivar blend oolong (Si Ji Chun and Ying Xiang) in a chardonnay barrel for three months. Was this unique experiment in tea fragrancing a success, or a bust? Let's find out! Price: $5.00 USD for a 5g pouch Steeps: 12 Dimensions: 5g of tea in a 75ml yixing tea pot Temperature of Water: 200ºf Infusions 1 - 6 To start, this tea's first infusion opened up to the faint notes of green-grass, dairy creme, and a light fruity-tart hint of green grape skin. As the tea opened up with the second and third infusion, the notes of buttery creme blossomed in the mouth with a very slick, yet subtle note of green grapes. The tartness of the green-grape skin was more noticeable and left behind a tongue-warm sweetness -- similar to the same kind of feeling and sweetness of how a fig or date is warm. By the sixth infusion, this oolong's gardenia-like green grape sweetness was perfectly balanced with notes of grass and butter. Despite being noticeable, the sweetness was more subtle. Infusions 7 - 12 At the 7th infusion, there was a notable drop in the grape-skin like sweetness. Along with the grape-skin like sweetness, the creamy buttery notes began to drop off as well -- leaving behind strong grassy notes of fresh hay and spinach. As the session continued, the grape-skin sweetness became more and more faint. By the twelfth infusion, this tea began to faze out completely. Despite fazing out, it still held a strong backbone that fought hard to stay alive. However, I decided to end it here and let this tea session rest... Conclusion: To start, one thing I liked about this tea was how aromatic this tea's wet leaf was. The first three infusions, I stuck my nose in my teapot and a strong aroma of sweet polished grapes and popcorn butter ran across my face. Not only was the aroma impressive, but it was also surprising. Another aspect about this tea I liked was how it managed to have a wide range of notes and textures that balanced well together. However, one drawback with this tea is that the notes of chardonnay were light. It's not something that was strong, but rather, light and breezy. In conclusion, I think you'd want to adjust your expectations before trying this tea. Because of how subtle the notes are, along with the price point, I'm not sure I'd recommend this to someone who's not used to drinking delicate teas. However, in my opinion, this is an experiment gone right. With how that more seasoned tea enthusiasts will love and appreciate, and should at least try once. I'll certainly be looking forward to the next year's production of this tea! Click HERE to join the discussion on instagram! ~ Blissfully Tea Drunk

  • Music Monday! We Drink Tea to Beat Poetry... Week of 6/14/21

    Hello hello! Last week, we explored indie alt-rock with Arcade Fire's The Suburbs! However, we're going to keep traveling down this journey of alt-rock by exploring the goddess of all goddesses -- Lana Del Rey. Yes, the queen herself! Unlike Arcade Fire's The Suburbs, this alt-rock album by Lana Del Rey veers more towards alternative psychedelic rock. In fact, this album was produced by The Black Key's Dan Auerbach, and was sung and recorded LIVE. To add, Lana infamously kicked-out of her home and shut her door on the face of a Rolling Stone Magazine reporter, after asking her about her infamous SNL performance when writing about this album. Yesterday, Ultraviolence celebrated its 7th birthday, so there is no better time than to recommend it than now! So while this is one of my favorite albums of all time, why is this album great for listening with tea time? Start your kettles, put on your headphones, and let's find out! Note: In this tea and music pairing, I'll be discussing the deluxe edition of this album. (Image: Property of Polydor Ltd. UK under exclusive license to Interscope Records USA) Album: Ultraviolence Artist: God... aka Lana Del Rey Year: 2014 Primary Tea Pairing: GuShu Sheng Puer Secondary Tea Pairings: Rock Oolong, Hei Cha, or Shou Puer Ultraviolence opens up to the soundscape of the echoey vocals of Lana behind a California flair, Immediately, her vocals and lyrics of the album's introductory track to show you that Lana is emoting raw feelings. As the album progresses, we get a glimpse of the emotional viewpoint of what it's like to be in a complicated and confusing relationship. And as tracks such as Shades of Cool or West Coast pass by, this album seems to show these themes in a mediative and relatable way. As the album reaches its halfway point, up to the end, this album's cheekiness shines through as she mocks her critics in 'I F***** My Way Up To The Top', and drives her nonchalant snarky attitude with a chillness that perfectly collides with a tea session. However, the album reaches a vulnerable high point with tracks like 'Old Money', and continues to the end with bonus-track 'Flipside'. Overall, this album is a perfect tea and music pairing because it's atmospheric in a way that immerses you into an entirely new universe and emotionally progresses in a very similar way that a gong-fu session does. To add, its stoner-chill production helps you relax, and bring you to the same vulnerability that Lana is at. For me personally, I listened to this album when I spread my dad's ashes at the beach (specifically, when Shades of Cool and Brooklyn Baby came on). I connected to this album because although it wasn't a partner, I had a very complicated relationship with my dad and Lana was the first person to seem to understand how confusing love can be. Now every time I hear those songs with tea time, I'm instantly transported back to that spot in time on the beach. If you let yourself become vulnerable with Lana, maybe this album with tea can transport you to a place in time as well... What do YOU think of this week's tea and music pairing? Click HERE to join the discussion on Instagram! - The Oolong Drunk "Blissfully Tea Drunk"

  • Confessions of a Tea-Drunkard Drama Queen

    Hello hello! We all have embarrassing things we've all done when it comes to tea. Or on the flip-side to this, we all do unconventional things when it comes to tea -- the thing's that others would look at and wonder if there's something wrong with us. Last week on social media, I asked in my 'instagram story' to get their tea sins off their chest! With the permission of everyone who agreed to share, today we'll be going over some of the zaniest and wackiest tea confessions that you guys submitted. And also, we'll be touching base on one large hidden underlying issue that should be touched on. Also, as promised on social media, I'll later confess some of my biggest tea sins as well. But before I do, we'll also be hearing some of the confessions by other tea bloggers/vendors within the tea community! First, let's start the tea confessions that you guys submitted! Anonymous Confessions from Tea Drinkers: Before we start, I want to state that I got written permission to post these confessions from the tea drinkers who submitted them. Anyhow! Out of the dozens of responses that you guys submitted, three of you confessed to drinking the rinse of your tea. For those of you who are familiar with a rinse, it's where tea leaves is essentially 'washed off' to rid the tea of any dust/dirt that it might have accumulated. Despite that only three of you confessed to drinking your rise, a large number of you also admitted to loving and enjoying boba tea! While several of you admitted to loving boba, three of you confessed to enjoying tea bags as well, along with other flavored teas. One tea drinker anonymously confessed, "I like Lipton. Reminds me of my grandmother." Some confessions revolved around the process of making tea. One tea drinker anonymously admitted, "I brewed Gyokuro in an automatic tea kettle - more than once." Meanwhile, another tea drinker confessed, "I like to [drink] every tea gong fu style, even herbal blends." Another tea drinker admitted that they don't warm-up their tea-ware before a gong-fu session, while a different tea drinker confessed, "I [leave] my leaves out in my gaiwan for so long (days) that at times I find mold on them." Other confessions ranged from adding oat milk to ceremonial-grade matcha, while some else admitted to regularly overstuffing a 40mg teapot with 4 grams of tea. One of you also admitted to leaving tea leaves out overnight and continuing a session the next day, while someone else admitted to never measuring their tea for their session. However, the one confession that wins the award of 'confessions of all confessions' is when an anonymous tea drinker horrifically stated, "I accidentally garbage-disposaled one of my tea pets." Oomph. Confessions from Tea Bloggers/Vendors: Many people who work in the tea industry (bloggers, vendors, etc.) are not so perfect either. After agreeing to speak openly, a few tea bloggers/entities shared some of their tea sins! Lu Ann of 'The Tea Cup Of Life' shared that she'll sometimes pick teabags over loose leaf tea, as well as purposely overstepping some of her teas. On a similar spectrum, Nazanin of 'Tea Thoughts' confessed that unless it's a green tea, she'll boil it. And just like a similar confession from an anonymous tea drinker from before, Don of Mei Leaf confessed that he’s also had to turn tea pots into ornaments after forgotten tea leaves from a previous session start to mold — accidentally ruining the tea-ware. However, in a surprising confession from Micah, who's also known as 'The Weekend Sessions', he openly admitted that people in his personal life don't even know he has a tea blog! On the sweet and wholesome side of confessing, Geoffrey of 'Steep Stories' confessed that, despite being a purist when it comes to tea, he'll drink chamomile tea every night before bed. On another wholesome note, Jann of 'Tea With Jann' was open to confessing that she'll sometimes take a whiff of empty tea jars to get a good smell of the teas she once enjoyed. Jann, I must say, this is a fantastic idea and now I'll be following in your footsteps! (Hey not all confessions have to be bad!) My Own Tea Sins/Confessions: Now, I agreed to share some of my tea confessions with you all as well. Since I have too many things to confess to (such as enjoying tea bags or adding espresso to tea-latès), I figured I'd be a lot more specific in three of my biggest sings/confessions. #3 I once blended a shou puer and white tea together, and then drank it. #2 After reviewing Cha-Gao (Black Magic from Bitterelaf Teas to be exact), I once ate a piece of it like a tic-tac. It fried my tongue and I couldn't properly taste anything for almost two weeks... A month later, I got curious and tried it again but a much smaller piece. It fried my tongue again, and just like before, couldn't properly taste anything. Except this time it was only for a week... (You can read that review, and my expierence rating cha-gao here!) #1 More Recently, I stored a high-oxidized oolong in an empty mustard jar. Despite running the jar through the dishwasher twice, there was still an odor of mustard in the lid that I had missed. A month later when I opened the jar to make that oolong, it smelled exactly like mustard. I brewed it, and the tea completely absorbed the mustard note and lost most of its natural tasting notes. In an attempted to repurpose the tea, I brewed the tea concentrated and added it to a glass of ice and dairy creamer, along with boba. In a failed attempt to make a delicious treat, I had instead made a mustard-scented boba milk tea. Despite the fuck-up, something still felt off. While going full-throttle at trying to make this tea work, I bought mustard seeds and made the rest of my oolong, with mustard seeds, to try to make a better version of Mustard-Scented Oolong Milk Tea. I finally came up with a concoction that had a bliss-point of all of the notes. However, it was only halfway through drinking this perfect monstrosity that I realized how insane I was being for trying to 'win' at this recipe while starting to feel sick. While being unable to settle in my stomach, I threw up in my work's parking lot forty minutes later. Conclusion: After reading the responses from everyone, an indirect problem arose from all of the admissions -- Too many tea drinkers felt ashamed for drinking what they truly enjoyed. A large number of tea drinkers felt ashamed to drink bagged tea, fruity tea, and even scented teas! Personally, this made me sad. So what should you take away from all of this? Well first, none of us are perfect and we all enjoy a variety of things. There are no real 'set' rules in the world of tea for what is good or bad, and shouldn't matter as long as you are the one who enjoys it. Drinking a tea bag doesn't make you less of a tea drinker. Instead, judging and shaming someone for drinking a bagged tea is what will make you less of a tea drinker. I encourage all of you to openly enjoy what you enjoy. I also encourage you to celebrate other tea friends for what they like and try to be supportive all around. Don't let others make you feel ashamed for liking what you like (except, if you enjoy mustard-infused oolong milk tea). Let your freak-flag infuse! And enjoy whatever you damn well please ;-) --The Oolong Drunk "Blissfully Tea Drunk"

  • Music Monday! Mountains Beyond Mountains... Week of 5/31/2021

    Hello hello!!! Last week, we visited 'daddy' with Daddy's Home by St. Vincent! However, this week we'll continue down the path of alt-rock with none other, Arcade Fire! Arcade Fire launched into the music scene with their whimsical musicality of staying up late, riding watching Juno and The Breakfast Club on the weekend, and enjoying freedom by wearing your best second-hand flannel and worn-out converse. While upping the ante, Arcade Fire released 'The Suburbs' -- an alternative indie-rock album that caught the attention of the music scene, which resulted in their Grammy upset of a masterpiece 'Album of the Year win. Despite the hype around this album, let's dig into this album as to why it makes for one helluva tea and music pairing! Put on your best pair of headphones, pick out your favorite thrift-store band t-shirt, and ket your kettles boiling! (Image Property: Arcade Fire Music under exclusive License to Sony Music Entertainment) Album: The Suburbs Artist: Arcade Fire Year: 2010 Primary Tea Pairing: Green Oolong (Chinese of Taiwanese) Secondary Tea Pairings: Fresh Sheng Puer or Fresh White Tea The Suburbs opens up to a 2-parter introduction that takes you down into the band's soundscape by introducing you to the struggle of living in Houston suburbia. While exploring the fears and anxiety of living in a catholic home with pressures of having your future pre-determined, the listener is taken into this journey of fear and anxiety of being stuck in the nine to five rut. While exploring different themes of wanting to express artistic freedom, leaving home for the first time, and wanting to break the mold, Arcade Fire continues this journey by showing that the grass is never greener on the other side. This album carries a tension that lasts throughout the album -- while leading up to Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) by showing that once a suburban kid was able to break free from the 'sprawl', the artistic and freedom of city life was not as glorious as once seemed. This song wraps up the entire album by showing that the suburban kids were rejected by the city life, and ends with the note that breaking free from your cycle doesn't necessarily mean an easier life. This album pairs perfectly with a tea session because as the album progresses and builds tension to its grand finale, a tea may build tensions until reaching its 'bliss point' in a session. This album is also atmospheric and creates vivid imagery which adds to the overall experience of your gong-fu session. It also helps you remember that you're not alone in wanting to break free from your rut and that having dreams and hope may be enough to get you through the next day... Do YOU agree with this week's Music? Click HERE to join the discussion on social media!

  • Music Monday! Get Ready for Daddy... Week of 5/23/2021

    Hello hello! Last week, we explored the modernized disco-inspired 60's pop-rock infusion with 'a touch of this beat' by Aly & Aj! Now that we're moving on from the 60's infusion, we're grooving on over to the 70's tie-dye's lava-lamp glow. With the psychedelic steel guitar and 70's Downtown NYC Stevie Wonder quirkiness, this week we'll be pairing tea time with 'Daddy's Home' by St. Vincent. Only a mere several weeks ago, St. Vincent dropped her 7th studio album which includes many inspirations of Dan Steely, Stevie Wonder, Downtown New York City, and of course -- a lava lamp. However, why is this album a great pairing to listen to with tea time? Let's go back to the origins of Miss Mary Jane at Woodstock and find out! Side-note: I wanted to give a shout-out to one of our very own, Luke! Luke is a tea drinker in our community and creates music himself. He released a new project title 'Music for the Dark', and is a wonderful listen! You can find it for free here, so go check it out after this week's Music Monday. (Image Credit: Property of Loma Vista Recordings) Album: Daddy's Home Artist: St. Vincent Year: 2021 Primary Tea Pairing: GuShu Aged Sheng Puer Secondary Tea Pairings: Old-Tree Hong (black tea) or Golden Flowers 'FU' Heicha Daddy's Home opens up to a clunker of a David Bowie-Stevie Wonder infusion titled, 'Pay Your Way In Pain'. This perfect album opener is perfect for setting the elevation and excitement that's about to follow -- which seems to mirror the beginnings of a tea session harmoniously. Next, the album drives in a 1979 Yellow Volkswagon Bus to the front of the gates of heaven with the angelic melodies of 'Down and Out Downtown' -- all while being accompanied by backup singers. Soon after, the album continues down this mellow path -- only to keep presenting nostalgic vibes of 'School House Rock'. Halfway through the album, this album keeps taking quirky turns with harmonious melodies, that make you question if you have tea, or mushroom, in your teapot. However, as your tea session starts to mellow out and chillax, so does this album as it slows down to the rhythm of a lava lamp. Towards the end of this album, which seems to align perfectly with the flow of a tea session, ends on the grand-finale '...At The Holiday Party' -- bringing this perfect journey to a close (with the addition of an encore track -- 'Candy Darling'). After the end of this album, and at the end of your session, you'll find yourself glad to have taken a step back in time with this modern masterpiece -- only wishing you could hit the ganja in your teapot once again... What do YOU think of this week's 'Music Monday'? You can Join the discussion HERE! --The Oolong Drunk "Blissfully Tea Drunk"

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