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- 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"
- Music Monday! A 'touch of this beat'.... Week of 5/17/21
Hello hello! Last week, we explored the modernized-greek tragedy of 'Melodrama' by Lorde! However, for this week, we'll be taking a left-turn into the realm of 1960's pop-rock disco infusion that came from a very unexpected place. Aly & AJ, who grew up as Disney stars, took a step back from the spotlight. After a 14 year long stretch from their last album, they came back together to make this wild blend of genres. This week, we'll be pairing tea with, 'a touch of at the beat gets you up on your feet gets you out and then into the sun'. (No, you're not tea drunk -- that's really the album title.) After 14 years from their last album, how do you re-emerge yourself back into the spotlight? Which teas pair perfectly with this 1960's flower-power-inspired groovy album? Get your kettles boiling, and let's find out! (image credit: Aly & AJ Music LLC) Album: a touch of the beat gets you up on your feet gets you out and then into the sun Artist: Aly & AJ Year: 2021 Primary Tea Pairing: White Tea Secondary Tea Pairings: Sheng Puer or Green Tea This album opens up to a melodic tune called 'Pretty Places' -- which opens up to a dreamy soundscape that echoes pop-rock themes of lucidity, and flower-power groves. As this album continues, it tries to break through its electro dream pop-rock undertones into the realm of disco-pop. Despite never fully committing to a disco theme, Aly & AJ both continue strumming to their guitars underneath California tie-die rays of the sun. Halfway through this surfboard of pop-rock groves, this album continues the momentum of committing to its theme. With standouts such as Paradise, Listen!!!, and a buddy-cop-themed saxophone-infused tune 'Break Yourself', you somehow find yourself tapping your feet at your tea table, especially with the god-tier song ''Don't Need Nothing'. Despite being a happy-go-lucky album for the majority of its run time, it also takes a step-down and humbles itself with sobering moments that seem to emotionally hit the spot at just the right moment. These sobering moment carry this album through the threshold from being good, to impeccable. After coming down to reality with 'Stomach' and 'Personal Cathedrals', this album slowly smooths out while leaving you wanting more... This album makes for an amazing pairing with tea time because it keeps a groovy beat that helps you keep your spirits high in your gong-fu session. This session also flows so smooth that it almost has tasting notes of its own, and seems to match a gong-fu session ever so perfectly. What do YOU think of this week's Music Monday? Click HERE to join the discussion on Instagram! ~The Oolong Drunk "Blissfully Tea Drunk"
- Music Monday! What Are Perfect Places, Anyways? Week of 5/9/2021
Hello hello! Now that I'm back after taking a short hiatus, and after moving 700 miles across the United States, Music Monday finally returns! On the last Music Monday, we took a trip down the 90's nostalgia with Kiesza's dance album 'Sounds of a Woman'! However, for this week's Music Monday, we'll be exploring a loosely-80's themed greek tragedy that takes the form of conceptual pop... This is Melodrama by Lorde. Melodrama is Lorde's sophomore album that explores one continual storyline from beginning to end and takes you down a Shakespearian journey of self-exploration, and the various stages of the very emotions that make us human. From ignorance to reality, we will be exploring why this self-contained narrative is not only one of my favorite albums ever made, but also why makes for a perfect pairing with tea time... (Photo Credit: Universal Music New Zealand Limited) Album: Melodrama Artist: Lorde Year: 2017 Primary Tea Pairing: Young/Fresh Sheng Puer Secondary Tea Pairings: Shou Puer and White Tea Melodrama opens up to the happy-go-lucky dance anthem 'Green Light' that tries to mask the impending doom of the demise of a failing relationship. While going out to party, Lorde expresses that she needs to be let go from the burden of what's to come. Instead, she goes out on the night and explores the themes of excitement and wanderlust of the party that's forthcoming. This excitement and flirtation of the night-out continue through masterpiece tracks such as 'Homemade Dynamite' and 'The Louvre'. Except, when realizing that the emotional depth of the friends at hand are seemingly as shallow as the bottles they just emptied, Lorde is struck with the reality that she's a liability to everyone around her. She emotes this, along with what it feels like entering adulthood fresh as an old-teen in the emotionally gut-wrenching song 'Liability' Then, halfway through the album, the impending break-up finally happens as Hard Feelings/Loveless and continues the journey with the song 'Writer in the Dark' -- a song that perfectly encapsulates the self-pity that usually comes right after breaking up with someone with a vocal performance that would have you believe that Kate Bush recorded the song herself. The album wraps up to an end with Supercut, where Lorde reaches the 'acceptance' phase of her journey, before re-joining the party (that she had previously left), realize that she's not a liability after all, and let herself finally live in the moment. The album ends where the album cover begins -- making it to bed after a long night as the sunrise hits her face through the bedroom window. The journey of the night is complete. This album is a perfect pairing with tea time because it takes you on an emotional path and places you on the night out that Lorde describes throughout the album. Not only is this album a fantastic stage-play for the ears, but it also flows effortlessly throughout a gong-fu session and happens to hit the tasting notes with every lyric sung. So next time you put on an album with tea-time, let yourself go down this journey of a single night with Lorde and let your tea take you to perfect places... After all, what the fuck are perfect places anyway? Click HERE to join the discussion on Instagram! ~ The Oolong Drunk "Blissfully Tea Drunk"
- Open Letter to [Redacted] (Covid Update)
Dear [redacted], You’re probably surprised to hear from me. I’ve been talking to a professional about moving past some of the emotional trauma I went through when I got sick, and since I’m nearing an end to my journey, confronting you is one of the last steps I need to take in my recovery. So, here we are. It’s been quite a while since we last spoke. In fact, you might find it seemingly difficult to communicate with me since I blocked you on social media. However, that wasn’t my intent. In fact, I’d like to imagine that we’re still on great terms and steeping ideas about tea and our place in the world of tea. Instead, all of that came to a screeching halt when I got sick. On August 6th, I went to bed feeling like myself. On August 7th, I woke up crippled from the fever that engulfed my entire body — a fever that lasted for almost a week straight. I was in the ER, and even blacked out when dialing 9-1-1…. I even found a will on my writing desk. This was a will that I don’t remember writing, and was also accompanied by a goodbye letter to my close friends and family... In my disillusioned reality, I must have feared that I needed to write this. Not only do I have absolutely no recollection of writing any of it, but I broke down and cried when I found it several days later. After two weeks of recovery I was released from quarantined, except, I wasn’t really recovered. I was eventually diagnosed with chronic asthma, chronic fatigue, blood-sugar issues, heart regulatory issues, loss of hair, and one of the most scary things of all — I lost my taste. For someone like you and I, it’s a devastating loss. We taste tea, we talk about tea, you sell tea, and I review it. The gravity of our weight in the tea industry is all dependent on our ability to taste tea. Losing taste didn’t mean I couldn’t just drink tea, it meant that I’d have to say goodbye to it. When the thought of losing tea forever crossed my mind, I was dizzy. I was even throttled into a panic-attacked that caused me to hyperventilate, shake, and vomit. Not only did going through Covid physically pain me, it financially crippled me too. I was feeling stress from every angle in my life. Once I recovered from that panic attack, I took a step back and noticed a large number of tea drinkers in our community had Covid and lost their taste as well — the same people who support you and I both. Seeing some of these people share a similar worry about losing taste forever encouraged me to make a post about my experience with becoming ill with such a deadly virus. Not only did I need to talk about my experience for my own journey, I needed to share it to reassure our followers that they’re not alone. I needed to show that we’re all in this together. So I wrote a lengthy article on my personal experience, made myself vulnerable and exposed myself to the world. I even added photos from my hospital visit, wrote about my own personal health, and shared it with our community. After posting the article, I was petrified what the reaction would be. Would I be questioned about my intent, such as doing it for attention? Or be questioned about looking for sympathy? Or, would I not connect with my audience like I had hoped? Talking about such a panicked experience with risking losing tea, and even my own life, was terrifying in its own right. Instead, I woke up to a flood of messages from our followers with people connecting to my experience on such an interpersonal level. Almost everyone who had Covid and drank tea reached out and showed support. They expressed how they went through something so awful and finally felt like they could connect with somebody and feel less alone. On the plus side, it was helping me feel less isolated over going through something so scary…. Until I opened your message. Yes, your message. “If the virus is real then ask yourself. Haven't I had a flu before? Is the truth in your cup of tea or in the digital media?” — you questioned. I was confused. After trying to decipher what you were trying to imply, and told you that I hoped that you weren’t trying to discredit my illness you replied, “Forgive me, one question, did you had flue shots in the past?” After I gave you an emotional reply you came back and said, “My intuitive way has led and leading to uncover things in many ‘places’ of my life.” Your last message, you insinuated that the problem lies within me and I need to stop thinking ‘inside of the box’….” I was shocked. Was this even you? I read it over and over again until it all became a blur. You not only betray our professional relationship, you betrayed something much more important — our personal one. With all of our conversations, all of our connection, all of our mutual admirations for each-other’s work, all of the countless hours I’ve spent making and drinking your tea... All of the countless hours I spent believing your vision, writing about it, and sharing it with my followers… You threw it ALL away with just a few messages through instagram. You tried to link my near-death experience to a conspiracy theory, and all it did was ruin the bond we had. I blocked you. I went to my room. I closed my door. And I cried. Despite all of the love and support form my followers, it wouldn't bring my taste back. With the loss of taste, and with such a damaging message coming from such a highly respected colleague, I almost quit my tea blog. I even questioned relentlessly, “What’s was wrong with me?” Thankfully, two months later I started to get my taste back. And thankfully, I was privileged enough to be able to taste tea in the way I used to. I’m writing you to tell you how you affected me. I need you to understand how you hurt me on such a painful and vulnerable level. I also needed you to understand that I still feel guilty for cutting ties with you — like it was my own fault. While my physical post-Covid symptoms may never go away, I’m writing you now so I can continue working on my post-Covid meath-health symptoms. I’m writing you so I can finish my healing process. I need to wrap up my healing process by telling you that I forgive you. Hopefully, now that I've confronted you, I can start feeling less guilty over what you did to me. When I go back to get my 2nd Covid vaccine in 5 days, I will remember that I was one of the lucky ones who survived. I’ll also think of all the people who I got to survive and recover with. I will be thinking about how much I love them, and how much I’m grateful to every single one of my followers for sticking by my side. I will also be thinking about the outpouring love and support I received from the greater tea community when getting my second shot... As difficult as it is to say this, I truly hope you never have to go through what I did and have to have a life-ending crisis on such a monstrous level. This has been weighing heavy on my mind and on my heart, but I have to try and let that go now. I don’t think it’ll be able to let it go all at once, but I need to start letting go of all this weight. I've cleaned my site of any mention of you, your teas, or your company. The audience that reads my blog deserves better, and so do I. With every cell of my heart, I truly do wish you are doing better for the people around you and for yourself…. ~ Cody The Oolong Drunk “Blissfully Tea Drunk” [Click on photo to read screen-shot of message]
- Error_404 Review Not Found (Tea Review)
Hello hello! Last week, I opened my mailbox to find a surprise package from 404 Tea -- a new tea company out of Melbourne Australia! 404 Tea made a debut appearance on social media on February 11th, and launched on March 31st! All over social media, this company has teased their release with 1950's Retro-futurism and trippy photo edits. With intrigue and hype surrounding this tea company, I knew I had to reach out to them and get my hands on a couple of samples for their launch. In all, they provided me with a first look into what to look forward to by sending me three of their selections. However, due to snail-mail, I received their teas after their launch. However, I must ask, how do their teas hold up? Are their teas as great as their marketing and graphic design? Let's find out! (Photo: Liminal) Tea: Liminal Price: $22.00 USD -- 50g Cake Steeps: 12 Dimensions: 4g of tea for a 60ml gaiwan Temperature: 200ºf Liminal is a 2018 Hekai Sheng Puer, and upon opening the sampler bag, I noticed the sweet smell of lemon-infused plum. However, with the first infusion, I tasted faint floral notes of vanilla. After a few more infusions, a biting bee-pollen and light honey tasting note overshadowed the vanilla notes. The texture quickly turned sharp, but slowly progressed to a velvet texture which left a bitter aftertaste. The more this tea opened up, the quicker and more energized I felt. By the twelfth infusion, I was buzzing and ready to on. (Photo: Transporter) Tea: Transporter Price: $22.50 USD -- 50g Cake Steeps: 12 Dimensions: 4g of tea for a 60ml gaiwan Temperature: 200ºf Transporter is a 2018 Mengku sheng puer, and upon opening the ampler bag I noticed a faint fluffy aroma that illuminated carnations. However, when brewing the first infusion, I first noticed a vanilla-like warmth on the back of the throat that carried a savory tree bark note across the tongue. After a few more infusions, I noticed a light sweet tangerine bite that balanced with a faint bitter after-tone. As the tea kept progressing, it kept opening up to more of a sweet woodsy moss -- which points to being originated form a more humid storage condition. By the last infusion, I was still buzzing from the energy that it possessed while feeling a slight tingle to the head. (Photo: Nexus) Tea: Nexus Price: $150.00 USD -- 200g Cake (also comes in smaller bags of maocha) Steeps: 16 Dimensions: 4g of tea for a 60ml gaiwan Temperature: 200ºf Nexus is their end of the line sheng 2019 puer that's blended from various regions. I forgot to smell the sample I had and jumped right into the session. At first, a rich and creamy texture of green grass quickly flowed over the tongue. After another infusion, the notes of grass sharply resembled a Japanese sencha, while leaving a faint buttery aftertaste of sweet flowers. However, this tea kept growing in size as this tea's texture and notes became louder -- causing me to repeat a few infusions. When this tea reached its peak, it left a strong atmosphere that left a slight tingling on the tongue. After sixteen infusions, I was hit was a head-high -- making me feel like I weighed two hundred more pounds. Conclusion: 404 Tea is a new tea company that jumped right out of the gate with a strong line-up. Without knowing what to expect, I was surprised to see that their offerings were as strong as they were. For me at least, I expected a larger selection. However, a larger selection to choose from isn't necessarily needed considering that their initial line-up is a pretty bold one. While trying these samples, I wished some of the bags included less tea-dust. However, I assumed that whoever tuns this company has been among us for quite some time -- considering the high quality of teas provided upfront. Overall, I believe 404 Tea has a strong start getting their feet planted in the tea industry. I believe that, for the selections, this company is very passionate about their craft -- something of which I wish we could see more of in our community. I think it's special to see a company start as strong as this one, and know that whatever they do next, they'll be doing it with a love of tea first. This only made me excited to see what they do next, and hope they keep up this momentum! Click HERE to join the discussion on Instagram!
- The Inconceivable Lie We've ALL Been Told About White Tea
“You won’t change it if you won’t be held accountable for it…,” is the how this chilling and ominous discussion began. “Everyone on every level knows it, and everyone goes along with it,” Derek continued. When investigating a claim that began as a wild conspiracy theory, to begin a conversation about tea with such a bold statement, I knew that the truth would be a lot more complicated than what any conspiracy theory would allow. Before we go further, let me preface all of this by taking you back to the end of November/beginning of December, 2020. I was drinking a brown-looking white tea-cake in a late night virtual tea session with close-friend Shawn. I tea-drunkenly stated, “Have you ever noticed how all the majority of all of the aged white tea we see are all from the same few-years? And how nearly every company we know started selling them in 2017-2018? Could you imagine if all of our aged-white tea is faked?” I sounded like a conspiracy theorist, Shawn laughed, and we moved on to other wild tea-related observations that would die with the end of our session… Until a little over a month later when I accidentally stumbled upon an online tea-shop that sold ‘browned-white tea’. This random 3:00am discovery not only lit a fire within me to research the topic, it led to me to a video chat with Derek. (Image: Fuding White Tea Market 2021 -- Source: One River Tea) Derek, who’s originally from Kansas City, now lives in Guang-Dong while being one of three who runs One River Tea. “I really got into tea back in 2009. I was quitting smoking cigarettes, and decided to replace the habit with tea,” he explained. After diving into the world of Big-Box Store-Brand tea bags, he transitioned into medicinal tisanes which later led to the world of loose-leaf teas. However, exploring the world of tea in China looked very different than you’d imagine here in the Western Market. After bringing up the tea he sold in his online-shop that sparked this conversation (which goes by the name of ‘Browned Shou Mei), he later explained how white tea can be processed to appear to be brown in color. Before I go into that, let me explain what the more traditional way of processing white process looks like: Tea leaves are plucked/harvested, then traditionally spread thin and evenly on large bamboo mats, while being lightly turned to air-dry in the sun — a process that both withers and dries the tea, before being sent to lightly cook to completely dry the leaves. However, unlike the more traditional process of white tea, producing browned-white tea goes through a process that looks like this: The tea leaves are plucked and harvested, before being spread thick on large bamboo mats. The tea also air-dries in the sun, but since teas are packed on the mats more densely, they create hot-humidity. The hotter the pile of leaves become, the quicker the moisture evaporates from the leaves — making the pile more humid in a continual cycle. In this continual cycle, the leaves turn brown. Derek explained that this process of making traditional white tea is very technical, it also takes more skill to master — whereas processing browned-white tea is not nearly as technical, it results in a much larger yield. Tea farmers and producers can move a lot more product onto the wholesaler, much quicker. The appearance and quality aren't nearly as important with browned-white tea as it is greened-white tea, because most of the flaws in processing are masked when the tea is browned in processing. It’s not only cheaper to process tea this way, it also makes more money. (Image: Raw Tea Being Sold at Fuding Tea Market 2021 -- Source: One River Tea) However, while this answers one question, it doesn’t quite explain another. While recalling my original thought to Shawn, I observed that the sell of aged white tea was a lie because it was all primarily aged from the same years. In my original thought, I pointed out to Shawn that aged-white tea is primarily sold in the western-facing market from the years of 2009 or 2011, and 2014 or 2015. While that’s not always the case, it seems to be the majority across many vendors. However, after explaining this to Derek, he had a great explanation for why I observed something that’s actually not a conspiracy — I observed something that’s very real. It can all be linked to the following term: 一年茶三年药七年宝 Or, Yi nian cha san nian yao qi nian bao Have you seen this term before? Or even heard it in passing? Well, for those who aren’t familiar with mandarin, the translation essentially goes like this: One Year Tea, Three Year Medicine, 7 Year Treasure But, how does this slogan tie back to my original observation? According to Derek, this famous slogan can be seen all across Fuding. Due to popularity, this slogan is commonly found all over, and can even be found when labeling tea-packaging. However, it’s not just a second-hand account either. Tea entities such as Teavivire and Tching even referenced this slogan going back to 2014. According to one of the tea-farmers Derek works with, they personally didn’t start seeing this slogan until around 2010. In fact, this farmer didn’t start seeing it in 2010 by mistake — it was a deliberate marketing tactic that can be tied back to Chen Xinghua, the former director of the Standing Committee of the Fuding Municipal People’s Congress. In 2007, Chen led a development group of the Fuding Ding City to overhaul the region’s development of white tea. To help gain traction of the push for white tea, Chen displayed the world’s largest white-tea brick at the first tea expo in Fujing. However, it wouldn’t be until three years later in 2010 when Chen took over an initiative at the Shanghai World Expo to present a re-branding of Fuding white tea. This massive rebranding of Fuding white tea not only put white tea on the industry’s radar, it exploded in it. At the time, Fuding only had around 11 companies who branded and produced white tea. Now, there are well over 400. This massive overhaul proved to be profitable and spread like wildfire all over China. This re-branding not only ties back to the famed slogan 'One Year Tea, Three Year Medicine, 7 Year Treasure', it’s also where our current dilemma lies. This is where the famed slogan comes into play with my original observation. It goes something like this: We only started seeing aged white tea from the years 2009/2011 and 2014/2015. In my original observation of tea-companies, these teas started being released by a wide-variety of tea companies in 2017-2018. In my original, in 2017, a white-tea from 2014 would just now start becoming medicine, and white tea from 2011 would now start becoming treasure. After linking pieces of the puzzle together, I ran my theory by Derek. While catching on to something that’s very real, but not having enough data to back my observation, he did say I was correct on one thing: We are being lied to about the age of our white tea when it's sold to us. (Image: Fuding White Tea Market 2021 -- Source: One River Tea) We are being lied to about the age of our white tea. “Going to the whole-sale market, you see a 2020 Shou Mei. And some of it is green, some of it is brown — from the same producer. They’ll say, ‘We can make it green or we can make it brown depending on your needs’” When asking what the needs are, Derek continued, “The famers at the wholesale market will even say brown sells better because it looks older.” After pausing from hearing this jaw-dropping admission, he continued, “To hear it directly from producers like that is really miraculous.” Now that we know where the marketing of white tea starts, I asked Derek how far up the chain this goes. “One family, or one clan — usually in one village, will pull their resources and land harvested and process it together. The goal here for them is to sell their tea. The goal for them is to sell their tea, and make money,” he added After a moment, Derek continued, “It starts at the farmer, then to the wholesaler, or the wholesale market. Then people will buy that tea loose, [process it], and label it however they want.” Derek then gave an example about how false marketing doesn’t only start with the farmer — it can also start with a vendor. “We were looking at some really nice BaiMuDan — spring harvested tea that looked really good. The label said, YeSheng.” (野生, which means ‘Wild Harvested’) "I asked them if it was wild and they said no, [a vendor] just wanted them to put that label on there," Derek concluded. Given that Fuding has subsidy programs for farmers to encourage the promotion, sell, and growth of white tea, you’d want to make the most money you can. If it were possible to produce a tea that'll bring in more profit without the extra effort, a lot of farmers and producers might be inclined to sell tea that way. After talking to Derek further, I learned that lying about the age and origin of our white tea may not be the simple choice we all think it is. Derek proceeded to show me a video of a tea-plantation in a farm in Fuding being cut-down for failing to pass a herbicide test. Derek claimed that Fuding takes the production of their products very seriously at the farm. So when it comes to repaying the Fuding government for their subsidized loans, they may not be as reluctant to be as strict for what happens to the tea after its processed, as long as its sold. This suggests that people in the industry might not be lying by choice, but instead, may be lying out of necessity. (Video: Farm being cut down. Source: @sweetestdew / instagram) After ending my conversation with Derek, I went to my white tea stash and separated the tea into two-piles: One pile was tea I bought that was advertised as fresh at time of purchase, and another pile that was advertised as aged at time of purchase. Shockingly, I had a mix of both greened and browned-white tea on both ends. This even became more dizzying and confusing when I pulled out a cake of black tea and couldn’t make out the difference between the black and white tea in these cakes. However, in the pile of tea that was advertised as ‘aged’ at the time I purchased it, the only variation of greened-white tea I owned came from Bitterleaf Teas. After making this realization that these might be the only ‘actual’ aged white teas I own, I reached out to the co-founder and co-operator of Bitterelaf Teas, Jonah for comment. I started our conversation by asking him if the age of white tea is being lied about. Shockingly, he replied, “Yes, definitely.” He continued, “It’s probably safe to assume that if there is money to be made off something that can’t be verified, someone, somewhere, is lying about it, unfortunately.” When talking to Derek, he mentioned that the issue lies with every level of the tea industry — from the farmer, to the vendor. This made an even deeper impression when Jonah mentioned that the the issue is much more muddled than we think. “Some people are just relating the information that they’ve been given about the tea,” Jonah said. I started our conversation by asking him if the age of white tea is being lied about. Shockingly, he replied, “Yes, definitely.” However, in my mind, the simplest solution to this issue would be transparency. When mentioning this to Jonah, he indicated that the road to being transparent is an inherently problematic one. He said, “You can share as many pictures of tea trees, processing, sourcing trips, cakes, etc. on social media, but not a damn bit of it can be used to prove that's what your tea is in the end. Anyone in Yunnan (or other provinces) can find a garden with gushu in it, walk around, shoot pictures and videos, then buy some junk roadside maocha.” While conversing with Jonah, I realized he made another point that Derek had made before. White tea was bottle-necked in the industry, and Fuding white tea didn’t explode onto the scene until after 2010. What this means, any aged-white tea that’s before 2010 is almost guaranteed to be a fake. More specifically, like I had found out before, only a small handful of tea-companies were driving Fuding white tea. Event that, white tea wasn’t as profitable then as it is now. Farmers rarely produced and kept white tea for long-term storage, and it often got tossed. If the white tea was saved, it would be incredibly rare. We wouldn’t be able to easily access it, given that we could. Jonah and I ended our conversation about how to spot fake-aged white tea long before buying it. With an exceptional piece of knowledge, Jonah advised,”If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Or in the same vein, you get what you pay for. This couldn't be more true with tea. People need to treat the $25 Laobanzhang cake or 2005 white tea cake on Amazon the same way they would a Gucci bag being sold out of someone's trunk.” Later, I looked back at my own stash, and one question was left to be answered — how do I know which one of my aged white teas is a fake? We already know that if it originates past 2010 it should automatically be assumed to likely be faked. However, what else can I look out for? After reaching back out to Derek, he touched on something that Jonah later echoed — there’s really no ‘true’ way to know. (Image: Pile of loose-leaf browned-white tea at Fuding Tea Market -- Source: One River Tea) Despite so, Derek did suggest to perform a smell-experiment that works like this: When a browned-white tea is processed, it won’t ever obtain all of the delicate notes that greened-white tea has. However, if a greened-white tea is aged naturally, it’ll still hold all of the notes that comes with a fresher tea, such as grass or flowers. The older it’s aged the more woodsy it’ll become, and despite it being aged, it’ll still have traces of grass/flowers mixed with the wood. Whereas, browned-white tea will never have the floral/grassy aspect to it. After talking to Derek and Jonah, I went back to my piles of of tea that I had bought that were advertised as aged at the time of purchase and performed a smell experiment. Then, I went back and performed the smell experiment with the pile of teas that I had bought that were fresh at time of purchase. Surprisingly, none of the aged browned-white teas from the stack possessed any grassy or floral notes. However, when comparing the aged greened-white teas with the fresh ones, there was noticeable similarities in odor between the two. With this in mind, I then pulled the aged browned-white teas with the new browned-white teas I owned and performed a smell experiment for a final time. In conclusion, I found there was absolutely zero difference between the two… Reaching this conclusion was not only concerning and devastating, it was out-right damning. However, as we may enjoy these teas, the way in which it’s marketed and sold to us is a massive problem. After realizing that so many of the tea companies that we know sell versions of aged browned-white tea, I reached out to a large number of western-facing vendors. Surprisingly, not one company who sold tea in this was agreed to speak with me regarding the topic. This is not only when I realized that many of the tea companies we know not only have knowledge about the issue, they partake in it too. In conclusion, I found there was absolutely zero difference between the two… Reaching this conclusion was not only concerning and devastating, it was out-right damning. With this, I fear that many tea-drinkers may jump to defense and say, “Well I don't know about anyone else, but I believe my tea is actually aged.” If you think that your tea is the ‘only honest one’ for whatever reason you have, unless you aged it yourself, then your bias already made you buy into the lie. Even if the source of your aged white tea reassure you of the validity of it, and you believe it, then you’ve already been pre-conditioned to carry on the lie. Like Jonah mentioned before, your source could unknowingly be lied to as well. After reflecting back on times when I talked and reviewed about aged white tea on my blog and social media, a harrowing question came to mind…Did I unknowingly help carry the lie? With all of this new information, I became sad. White tea in the way in which we know is so new to the market that we don’t inherently think to question it. We can assume that the larger lies within the market haven’t touched it yet, when Instead, it’s rooted in it. Unless we do more to educate each-other, the problem will only continue to get worse. While packing up all of my white teas, I put aside the tea-cake that originally sparked this journey — the brown-colored white tea that I had when having late night tea with Shawn back in the winter. With a whiff of the 2020 cake, all I smelled was a sweet woodsy bourbon, laced with brown sugar. Despite not picking up on any grassy or floral notes, I remembered an excellent point that Derek previously made, “Just because it’s browned, doesn’t mean it taste any less. It’s still good tea, and there’s a reason why it’s so popular.” And you know what? He’s absolutely right. This tea is one of my absolute favorite white teas that I own and the fact it’s browned never affected my enjoyment of it. After finishing my investigation, I took that tea cake before storing it away and pried myself a few grams for a solo session. I then sat down on my papasan, turned on my kettle, and pulled out my phone to call Shawn. Upon Shawn answering the phone, I started in, “Remember that wild conspiracy theory I once came up with back in December about aged white tea? Well, I did some research and you’re never going to believe what I’m about to tell you….” ~The Oolong Drunk "Blissfully Tea Drunk" (Image: Virtual tea session with Shawn / Sharing my findings) If you find any typos/mistakes in spelling, please notify firstname.lastname@example.org I'd like to personally thank Derek, Jonah, and Dylan for their contributions to this report. I would also like to thank Neldon H. and Sarah H. for assisting with editing. I'd also like to personally thank Shawn S., Tabitha S., Joshua Z., Neldon H., Alex H., Jann, and Joe L. for the love and support they've given me while writing this report. This report took 5 months worth of work across several countries and dozens of people. This was truly a community effort. To all of those who talked a big game and couldn't show up -- fuck you... and thank you for the motivation. With love, ~Cody Source/References: Derek of One River Tea. Interview. Conducted by Cody ‘The Oolong Drunk’, 26 March, 2021 Jonah of Bitterleaf Teas. Interview. Conducted by Cody ‘The Oolong Drunk’, 5 April, 2021 M.sohu.com. 2020. Chen Xinghua: White tea lives up to its original intention. [online] Available at: [Accessed 30 March 2021]. M.sohu.com. 2020. Chen Xinghua: White tea lives up to its original intention. [online] Available at: [Accessed 28 March 2021].
- Music Monday! Tea and the 90's? Week of 4/12/21
Hello hello! Last week, we went through a spiritual transformative journey in the outback with Harley as we paired tea with Flume's 'Hi This Is Flume' mixtape! While going through this soul-searching spiritual journey was heavy and transformative, we'll continue this week with another spectrum of electronic music. This week, we'll be diving into a modernized throwback to the 90's house with Sound of a Woman, a 2014 head-bopping album by Canadian artist Kiesza! Music prodigy Kiesza brought back the 90's with a forward punch by reviving Haddaway, while putting her modern twist on the genera. Kiesza even supported this new re-branding of the '90s by covering 'What Is Love' with her jaw-dropping re-image of the song. With this, Kiesza also filmed the lead-music video for Hidaway with a freshly broken rib and powered through while promoting this album. So what makes 'Sounds of a Woman' such a fun pairing with tea time? Dust off your boombox and dive right in! (Photo: Property of Island Records, a Division of UMG Recordings Inc.) Album: Sound of a woman Artist: Kiesza Year: 2014 Primary Tea Pairing: Young/Fresh Sheng Puer Secondary Tea Pairings: Black Tea or Green Tea Kiesza throws us back to the early '90s with oversized jeans and crop-tops with room-filling sounds by opening the album with goofy sound-board dance floor beats that make you want to move with your session. While continuing where Haddaway left off, we continue this journey of 90's escapism by being thrown into another dance-anthem with a flair of seriousness, and cow-bell silliness. However, we come to a slow halt with the next few tracks to introduce nostalgic low-fi beats that made you want to be in a hazy room with LL Cool J and Tupac. As this album progresses, everything comes to a halt with Kiesza's jaw-dropping reimaging of 'What is Love' by Haddaway. This cover not only stripped this 90's anthem to its bare bones, but it also blew a breath of fresh air to it and made it fresh again. Before gaining speed, this album gains traction as it continues to mosey along (while even sneakily throwing in a famous-guest appearance by the 'Orchestral Hit') before wrapping up with a piano-ballad that sums up the entire theme of the album - now that the fun and flirtation of our secret midnight lover has come to the surface, it's time to get serious and cut us loose. Despite the album wrapped up beautifully, we never wanting Kiesza's godly vocal performances and 90's retro-ism to be cut loose... This album is fantastic to listen to with tea time because it not only reminds us to have fun in life, it makes it okay for us too. Distracting the chaos of our lives is not only fun, we can also enjoy doing so while being reminded that the music revolution in the early '90s can still be funky fresh in our world today. It'll also make you question why we pushed these fresh beats out of the soundscape to begin with. So turn on your kettle, turn the bass up, and be reminded that we can drown ourselves in another reality that's not just tea.... Click HERE to join the discussion on instagram! ~ The Oolong Drunk "Blissfully Tea Drunk"
- Music Monday! The Ultimate Australian Mix-Tape.... Week of 4/5/21
Hello hello! Last week, we rose the sinking skip of Weyes Blood's 4th studio album, Titanic Rising! While we got a taste of psychedelic vocal-pop, this week's tea and music pairing will make another 180º turn with modernized experimental psychedelic-electronic hyper-pop. This week, we'll be pairing tea-time with Australian artist, Harley Streten -- popularly known by the stage name 'Flume'. Flume's third project, 'Hi This Is Flume', is not just an album -- it's a mixtape. This album is classified as a mixtape because Flume took control over his artistic freedom by having every chapter of this album bleed together. It's safe to say that this an album that's one continual track. With this, Flume took a break from the public eye and made 'This Is Flume'. Every detail in this album was not only sweated over -- it was meticulously planned. To add, one of the added bonuses is that Flume also published a short film with this mix-tape. Not only can you listen to it, but you can also watch it as well! Now, with all of this said, grab your headphones, turn your kettles on, and let's get brewing! (Photo: Property of Future Classic) Album (Mix Tape): Hi This Is Flume Artist: Flume Year: 2019 Primary Tea Pairing: Gu-Shu Puer Secondary Tea Pairings: White Tea or Green Tea Visualizer: Click here 'Hi This Is Flume' opens up to an experimental soundscape that not only captivates you from the second it starts, but it also throttles you into this journey. While we manure our way into this one-of-a-kind soundscape, we're swiftly thrown into a rap verse, before slowly transitioning to a remix of a song by the late hyper-pop, SOPHIE. After the remix, we keep driving down this road by being introduced to another rap verse. The rap-verses not only accompany this album with perfect melody, the carry over the emotions given by this acid-trip of a car ride. While this album continues, and with the visuals, this Cartoon Network-raised shroom-child keeps digging deeper down into the rabbit-hole of self-exploration -- one that would have even made Alice smoke hookah with a blue-caterpillar. While this album continues, especially accompanied with eye-bugging visuals, the album somehow manages to come off raw, sensitive, and spiritual. By the end of the album, our emotions are pushed overboard as we start to feel like we were on this soul-searching drive across the Australian desert with Flume himself. This album is perfect for pairing with tea time because not only is it impactful and emotional, it also works alongside your tea session to help bring you to these emotional self-evident truths. After this album ends, you'll not only feel raw, you'll strangely feel and at peace with yourself. Flume did an incredible job with exploring loss and isolation in his mixtape, he does it in such a way that you feel comforted and reassured as well. For myself, I shed a tear after every time I experience this album. When pairing this album with tea time, you'll see what I mean by that this is one of the greatest electronic, experimental, and soul-searching ethereal albums ever made. However, it's up to you to decide to hop in the car with Harley and go on this journey with him... Click HERE to join the discussion on Instagram! Look out for next week, as we'll have a very special gust taking over next week's 'Music Monday'! Stay tuned! ~ The Oolong Drunk "Blissfully Tea Drunk"