Search the blog!
158 items found for ""
- 4 Year Anniversary (and Special Announcement)
Hello hello! Reflection Four years ago today on January 8th, I started ‘theoolongdrunk.com' where I set out to review tea. What originally started as a fun time-passing hobby turned into an obsession that brought out an adoring passion for all of tea and tea culture. I first got into tea when a client of mine (as a dietitian) told me about tea. I set out to the bougie grocery-store on my lunch break, bought an oolong for $10.00, and went to my nearest coffee shop to grab a cup of hot water. After making and drinking it, I was pleasantly surprised that this is what my client was ranting and raving about — mainly because of how bitter and gross it was. Disappointed that I felt like I had just wasted $10.00, I did an internet search, went back to get more hot water on my next break, and made it again. It was the deciding decision of whether I’d gift the tea to my client and never try tea again, or keep enjoying it for the future to come… Can you guess which one happened? Fast forward to the end of that year, I came across a company called Bitterleaf Teas. I first discovered what puer-tea was, and in that moment. was completely stumped. I kept on searching the internet for more answers where I landed on Yunnan Sourcing, and purchased a brick and a cake. Eventually, I came across White2Tea and made my first ‘haul’. Then after digging deeper, I came back around to Bitterleaf Teas. Bitterleaf Teas is important to this story, mainly because talking to Jonah is the reason why I got into blogging. I launched an Instagram account where I originally intended to name myself ‘OddiTea’, and drink odd and bizarre teas. But I eventually landed on ‘TheOolongDrunk’ — as a homage to the tea I had first tried. My first photo was my White2Tea haul, and my second-photo was from a Yunnan Sourcing tea. However, after discussing tea in a chain of back-to-back emails, I bought ‘Honeycomb’ — a 2015 Fall Bing Dao sheng puer. This was the moment where I realized that I needed to start my own site and start talking about the teas in front of me. After a few months of trying to find my voice, I finally got into a grove and got to Honeycomb seven posts later, back in May of 2016. That was the tea, and that was the review, where I realized that I had a deeper love for this drink and wanted to keep digging further. For reference, here are a few excerpts from my earlier posts, with a few of my own reactions… “The first thing I noticed when opening this cake is that, in my gayest accent possible, its beaUtifulllll!!!!!!” — Review of What-Cha’s first Sheng Puer February 16th, 2016 Oh my god. Why didn’t my editor stop me right there and then? (Below is a photo from that review) “ Poundcake is a tea produced by White2Tea’s very own puer master, Paul. If you’re a diehard fan of his work then you’d know that Paul is a hip-hop head.” — 2015 Poundcake Review March 20th, 2016 I think I grossly assumed Paul is a hip-hop head. I specifically remember thinking that the tea community was much larger, and now looking back in comparison, it’s so much larger now than back then. Only in reflection, it felt like a quiet time. (Below is a photo from that review) “I had a tiffany while lying in bed one night watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s and thought, “I write a blog called The Oolong Drunk and i’ve only reviewed puer. Damn,am I the only one who sees a problem with this?” Well the wait is over.” What-Cha’s Taiwanese Milk Oolong Can I pretend that I didn’t post that god-awful dad-joke? Or did that mean I was cool? Either way, I was trying too damn hard. Outside of that, I didn’t think past drinking oolongs when drinking tea and didn’t expect to fall for, well, everything else under the umbrella. However, three years ago, I took down my ‘Welcome to my Blog’ post, as the cringe was too much. If you’re one of the lucky twenty people who read it in January of 2016, then congratulations! (Below is a photo from that review) For the posts before, I kept silly and middle-school humor of a tone. But over the next few years, a more serious tone crept through. In four years, I have, Been a guest speaker at the Houston Tea Fest Reported on and spoke at the Mid West Tea Fest Be published in Fresh Cup Magazine Drink tea live on the radio Drink tea with Scott of Yunnan Sourcing and appear along-side him in a Youtube video Get blocked from several tea-companies on multiple platforms due to calling them out on shady business practices. Gain popularity on r/Tea Argue with people on r/Tea Lose popularity on r/Tea Got off r/Tea Met people from all over the world to drink tea with And make lots of friendships connections that is one of the most deep-rooted cornerstones to how I am as a person. This journey allowed me to open up to many different points of view, meet different people, and above all else, made me open my eyes to other worlds and get out of my bubble. So, what’s coming for the next? Special Announcement Dear Readers, This is where I have a special announcement. As you might know by now, writing is something that I believe to be incredibly fun and therapeutic. I’ve also ventured into writing some about my personal life on here, and although not too frequently, it’s something I’m continuing to do. Besides my goal of drinking tea with Lana Del Rey, I took on the project that will take up the majority of my time By the end of August of this year, the first draft of my book will be complete. The book doesn’t have a title yet but is a book of stories from leaving a past of trauma and jumping onto a clean slate. When you’ve lived a life full of devastating events, you lose yourself in staying in ‘fight or flight’ mode. This story marks a journey of a full single year and tackles my past, current social issues, a touch of politics, and the discovery of finding one’s self. When the waters have been a rough sea for so long, and you forget what calm water looks like, how do you move forward and where do you start the process of self-discovery? Some of this social-issues scope the prism of realms such as isolation, homophobia, child abuse, mental health, family, love, hate, and the overall LGBT community, and so much more. However, these are truths that are presented in a story, and this story is best described as a coming-of-age melodrama. The structure of the book takes on a structure of its own which is heavily influenced by British screenwriters Bryan Elsey and Jamie Brittain, along with other structural and writing influences from TV producer Damon Lindelof, musician Lana Del Rey, musician Lorde, and author David Mitchell. The structure will make you question and wonder what’s going on, and in the end, will tie together in a way that puts everything in perfect perspective. This is a project I started loosely started working on three months ago, and I’m already 1/6th of the way in. The book currently has 28 chapters and already 17,000 words down on paper. The book is projected to have 100,000 words upon completion. Although that is the current projection, things will change. Word counts will change. And overall, the story will be tweaked and refined. However, this is something that’s being poured out from the heart, and overall, is something that’s emotionally and physically draining. Certain past experiences are coming out that I don’t often talk about and is something that takes a toll on me mentally and emotionally when writing. When enough of the base-story is complete, I will share a drafted-passage from it on here. Although this requires a lot of dedication, I will keep my blog based on tea and will continue to review, blog, and talk about the world of tea regularly. You’re more than welcome to message me anytime about this project, and I will try and keep you updated as progress is being made. I thank you for your love and support. With love, —Cody
- End of Decade Top 10 Albums to Drink Tea To
Hello hello! Over the past ten years, a lot of us have gotten into tea — rather that be that you sell or drink it. Along with tea, a wide variety of music has also been released that’s helped influence culture and media. When drinking tea, it’s fun to meditate and get lost in a gong-fu session, and sometimes, specific albums in music can help you get there. Today, I’m going to cover a selection of albums from the past decade that I believe to be the top ten albums to listen to while having tea time. In the following, you’ll see an album, a description of the album, and primary and secondary tea suggestions to drink while listening to these albums. You can pick a tea based off the album, or, you can find the tea your drinking and listen to the album it's attached to. Before we start, let’s set a few ground rules. Although it’s not mandatory, this is the way I best recommend listening to these albums while drinking tea. Rule 1. You must listen to these albums in their entirety. These albums are a journey, and just like a tea session, you can’t jump in and start on the seventh track (or 7th infusion of tea). Rule 2. While listening to these albums in their entirety, don’t skip any of the tracks. To add, especially to add, listen to these albums in their intended order and not on shuffle. Rule 3. Do not listen to any samples of the songs on these albums, and let yourself be pleasantly surprised. Rule 4. For the fourth and last rule, take deep breaths, close your eyes, and try and physically place yourself in the music and the tea. If possible, wear headphones to immerse yourself further into the tea and music. ~ Now that we’ve covered a few non-mandatory but highly suggested guideline, lets get moving! The following albums are in no ranked or specific order... Note: Due to being afraid of copy-wright infringement of posting these album's covers, here's an assortment of some of my favorite photos that I've posted in 2019! Album: Reflektor Artist: Arcade Fire Year of Release: 2013 Tea Pairing: Gu-Shu Sheng Puer Secondary Tea Pairings: White Tea or Shou Puer About This Album: Reflecktor is Arcade Fire’s fourth studio album and is an indie electro-rock album that touches on dance with a slight touch of psychedelic influences. This album began production in a shed Louisiana and moved production where half the album was recorded in a castle in Jamaica. This album is great at adding a fun vibe to tea time because it not only puts you in a mellow-like trance, it also seems to help your mind escape further into the tea that’s in front of you. Album: Melodrama Artist: Lorde Year of Release: 2017 Tea Pairing: Sheng Puer Secondary Tea Pairings: Green Tea or White Tea About This Album: Melodrama is Lorde’s second studio album which goes further into pop with synth and electro influences. This album( which is literal perfection) explores themes of going out in your early twenties and takes you through a night of going out. This laid-back conceptual experience not only has its upbeat highs but also contains soul-eep lows that anyone can relate too — not just someone who's in their twenties. This is a great vibe-album for tea time because it not only takes you down a specific journey, it also evokes a wide variety of emotions that seem to make it all work. Album: Sound of a Woman Artist: Kiesza Year of Release: 2014 Tea Pairing: Green Taiwanese Oolong Secondary Tea Pairings: White Tea or Chinese Black Tea About This Album: Sound of a Woman is the debut studio album by Canadian artist, Kiesza. This house album relies heavily on traditional 90’s house-electronic synths that immediately take you directly into the 90’s. In fact, despite how fresh it was, you could have guessed it was from the 90’s itself. This is a great album to drink tea to because it creates an easy vibe while still keeping a level of being mellow and as the album progresses, and as a session of tea progresses, it isn’t afraid to touch on the emotional side of what makes us human. Album: Ultraviolence (Deluxe Edition) Artist: Lana Del Rey Year of Release: 2014 Tea Pairing: Black Tea Secondary Tea Pairings: White Tea or Shou Puer About This Album: Ultraviolence is Lana Del Rey’s third studio album, and was recorded live with a 6-piece band — which was produced by The Black Key’s very own Dan Auerbach. This album was a departure from the dream/sad-core pop albums she had released previously and jumped into raw and stripped-back psychedelic rock elements that skate with a dream-pop and indie-alternative backbone. Ultraviolence is so brutally honest that it makes you question that everything in life is so black-and-white. While this album is honest and full of wit, there’s a venerability behind it since most of the songs were recorded live, and some of them, only once. This is a perfect album for tea time because it leaves you bare, and lets you face what's in front of you. Album: A Seat at the Table Artist: Solange Year of Release: 2016 Tea Pairing: Four Seasons Taiwanese Oolong Secondary Tea Pairings: White Tea or Lightly Roasted Oolong About This Album: A Seat at the Table is another literal masterpiece on this list— beginning to end. Solange’s third studio album crosses over into R&B, psychedelic soul, with traditional a touch of blues. This album, one of the best albums in the past decade, crosses over into art and leaves music behind. Solange touches base on many emotions that come from a black-America perspective. This album not only masterfully takes you into another aspect of our culture, but the undertones of love and passion also seep out form this album's cracks. This is an excellent album to drink tea to because it takes you above the clouds and makes you think about your own life in retrospect. Album: The ArchAndroid Artist: Janelle Monae Year of Release: 2010 Tea Pairing: Fresh sheng puer (up to a year) Secondary Tea Pairings: White tea or Korean Green Tea About This Album: The ArchAndroid is Janelle Monae’s debut studio album that has pop influences of neo-soul, alternative R&B, and psychedelic soul. This album tells the perspective of a rogue robot that makes her way through-out a dystopian city society that’s changing the oppressive government. From beginning to end, this album plays exactly like a picture less movie, and in certain spots of the album, you can almost see The Fifth Element (1997 film) playing in the background. This is a great vibe-album because it literally takes you to another world, and despite being almost ten years old, it still sounds like it was just released. In other words, it’s still way ahead of its time. Album: FEVERDREAM Artist: Of Monsters and Men Year of Release: 2019 Tea Pairing: Taiwanese Green Dancong Oolong Secondary Tea Pairings: Japanese Kyobancha or Bug-Bitten Taiwanese High Mountain Oolong About This Album: This is the Islandic band ‘Of Monsters and Men’ with their third studio album. Originally rooted in alternative indie rock and Islandic folk music, they took a huge left turn down a brand new path; a departure from their previous sound. Of Monsters and Men dove right into a European-indie electronic album that focuses heavily on their time spent in Latin America and across the globe. This album’s love letter coated in a technicolor haze really warms you up to whatever cup of tea you’re enjoying. Album: Junk Artist: M83 Year of Release: 2016 Tea Pairing: Fresh White Tea Secondary Tea Pairings: Any Taiwanese Oolongs or Aged White Tea About This Album: M83 by Junk is a French album that’s heavily influenced by a ‘Punky Brewster’ themed 80’s goofiness. Junk seemed to be a collection of songs that make you remember the times of going to big department stores and riding in the back seat of long summer-night road trips with Dad and his grass-stained white tennis shoes and a fanny pack. However, this album also hits hard with a retro-wave of electro-pop. Most importantly, and most impressively, M83 brings iconic electric guitar and saxophone solos. Hell, he even managed to beautifully perfect harmonica solo that flowed beautifully in the album. This passion project is a groovy journey that makes any tea-time fun, nostalgic, and will even make you smile in the end, and make you miss being care-free. Album: Days Are Gone Artist: HAIM Year of Release: 2013 Tea Pairing: Japanese Sencha Secondary Tea Pairings: Fresh Sheng or Taiwanese White Tea About This Album: Days Are Gone is an album by a sister-trio group that’s heavy in the indie pop-rock genera, and is an album that’s somehow upbeat musically, yet devastating lyrically. These songs start airy, upbeat, and smooth melody. However, as the album progresses a power emits that grows louder, which refuses to let you forget that you’re somehow bopping your head to a beat that still sounds fresh. This album is a great album to pair with tea time because it not only gets you moving, it also helps you focus and think about what you were, and who you ‘were’ whoever you were with. Album: In Colour Artist: Jamie XX Year of Release: 2015 Tea Pairing: Gu-Shu Sheng Puer Secondary Tea Pairings: White Tea or Shou Puer About This Album: In Colour is a heavy-hearted electric album that pulls at every bit of emotion you have in your body — all bathed in nostalgia for the good and the bad. Even when you close your eyes while listening to this album, it feels like you’re placed directly in the streets of Bristol and living the past that Jamie XX, well, lived. This isn’t ‘Skrillex’ electronic, but rather, a dream-pool of subtle and vibrant sounds that make the album dramatic in an instant. This album is perfect for tea time because, with a clear-enough mind, you can see the locations alluded to in the album. You can also see the gardens that the tea was harvested from. And just like that favorite harvest year of tea, you feel like you’ve just experienced something uniquely special that you may never come across the likes of which again. Ten Honorable Mentions: Here are ten more albums to listen to in case you burn through this list, and want a different journey not mentioned above… Lana Del Rey — Honeymoon (2015) or Norman Fucking Rockwell (2019) FKA Twigs — Magdalene (2019) Arcade Fire — The Suburbs (2010) Tame Impala — Currents (2015) Kacey Musgraves — Golden Hour (2018) St. Vincent — St. Vincent (2014) Lorde — Pure Heroine (2013) M83 — Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming (2011) SZA — Z (2014) Of Monsters and Men — My Head Is An Animal (2012) Let me know which albums, and which teas, you ended up selecting from this list and lets start a discussion! Thank you for a great 2019, and here’s to an incredible 2020! “Blissfully Tea Drunk”
- Go All Out. Go Full Frontal.... by Bitterleaf Teas
Hello hello! Bitterleaf Teas put the risk in risqué this year with the release of their 2019 Full Frontal — a 2019 Jingmai Sheng Puer that depicts a Renaissance-like depiction of Eve on this tea’s wrapper (Botticelli's Birth of Venus). Bitterleaf Teas has been flashing the idea throughout the past few years that nudity in tea or tea ware can be a tasteful event. And when it comes to tea, they always present their offerings in a way that’s pure and closet to nature. So for their 2019 Full Frontal, did they harvest tea from the right bush? Let’s find out! Dimensions — 4.6g of tea for a 70ml shibo Water Temperature — Boil Number of Steeps — 14 Price — $44.00 USD per 200g beeng Music Pairing — MassEducation by St. Vincent (2018) MassEducation is the follow-up to St. Vincent's 'MASSEDUCTION' -- which is an album about taking pride and gaining strength in your sexuality. The album touches themes of relationships and depression as well. However, St. Vincent did a re-recording of every single song off MASSEDUCTION' and recorded it with just her voice and a piano. She got word that people were misinterpreting her album as 'MASS EDUCATION', so she went with the joke and MassEducation was born! This classical and vocal stylized album is fun, sexy, and embraces the idea that it's not always okay to be okay. And for this tea being 'full-frontal', there's no better way to pair this tea with a stripped-down re-stylized version of a traditional pop album. Steeps 1 — 7 With the first infusion, Full Frontal disrobed its outer layer by providing the hints of fresh green grass with a cloudy and misty mouth-feel that radiated throughout the mouth. After a few more infusions, this tea became nippy in the mouth as a stripped-down note of stevia-sweetened that brushed the base of the tongue while leaving an echo of bitter and astringency behind in its trail. However, Full Frontal’s texture lubed the inside of the mouth with an oily finish as a floral note danced around the green grass notes of a soup. Steeps 8 — 14 Full Frontal’s bitter and astringency began to settle as this tea’s green-grass base began to strip down to notes of hay. The floral notes from earlier kept dancing with the body of hay, and as the steeps went on, the more of a lasting subtle sweetness it left. However, this tea’s body was robust and seemed to keep expanding — digging further in the cheeks of the mouth. However, by the end of the session, Full Frontal rounded up to hit a bliss-point that led to puer meditation, which left me feeling rather exposed. By the fourteenth infusion, this tea was fully-clothed and out the door. In Conclusion 2019 Full Frontal is a Jingmai sheng puer from Bitterleaf Teas that’s stripped down and gets straight to business. One aspect of this tea that I liked was how direct it was with its notes. Another aspect I liked about this tea was the price point for the quality you get. This is a tea that’s versatile in the sense that you can have a go-with-the-flow session with it and wing it, or study this tea in a more serious setting and it still is flexible enough to enjoy it both ways. However, one drawback for some of the pickier puer hobbyists is how fresh it still was. If fresh sheng isn’t your thing (which shouldn’t matter because this tea is excellent as is), then this might be a tea you should sit on for a little bit before diving in. Overall, 2019 Full Frontal has provided multiple enjoyable gong-fu sessions and is a tea that I’ll look forward to drinking again. However, if I recommend so myself I suggest you do what I did which is go outside, strip down in the freest form possible (without getting the cops called on you) and be at one with this tea and connect to the nature that provided this tea. We sometimes take for granted that tea is a beautiful gift given to us by mother nature. So get down to your birthday suit, go hug a tree, drink this tea, and fade into the air that surrounds you..
- Two's a Crowd. Three's a Tieguanyin.
Hello hello! Over the past month a new tea company has been in and out, and all about. The Dr.Seuss in me wants to say they’ve also been here and there, however, not really anywhere. That's because Tributary Tea Co. is a relatively new tea company with a smaller tea selection which focuses on Taiwanese teas. For their 2019 line-up, they only provide twelve teas. One of the regions they focus on is Tieguanyin. With that, they were able to send me three Tieguanyin teas from different ends of the tea spectrum. These include a traditionally roasted and oxidized Muzha Tieguanyin oolong, a Muzha Tieguanyin black, and a Pingling Tieguayn white. So how do these teas differ from each-other? Let’s dive right in! Dimensions For all three sessions, I used a 70ml gaiwan with 4.3g of tea and water heated to a temperature of 190ºf. Muzha Tieguanyin Oolong (photo below) This tea started faint with a touch of floral hay, along with a smoothness that jumped right out from the beginning. However, by the third infusion, the fresh taste of charcoal started to carry this tea from the bottom up — leaving a creamy finish on the tongue. Halfway through the session, this tea floated between being smooth and bitter but consistently leaned towards the smooth side of the spectrum. By the end of the session, this tea was evening out but still presented a boldness that refused to back down. Muzha Tieguanyin Black (photo below) For starters, some of you may know that I just recently hopped on the hong train. Since black teas aren’t my forté, I try to reserve some level of judgment since I don't have a lot to compare it to. However, this tea opened up with a woody and light caramel body with a velvet-like smoothness on the base of the tongue. As this tea continued to open up, the notes of forest and woods got stronger and stronger with a faint undertone of honey. However, despite this black tea providing strength, it never crossed the line into the bitter territory. I kept expecting it too, but thankfully, it stayed behind the border. Pingling Tieguanyin White (photo below) Before jumping right into brewing, it should be noted that the leaves on this white tea were a lot more firm and dense that almost any other white tea that's made its way into my cup. For starters, a light velvet body of kiwi glided across my tongue with a distinct sharp finish of melon. The notes that resembled kiwi and melon were almost tart, however, a licorice roots-like sweetness snapped back to take over a lasting coating across the tongue. Even as the tea got stronger, a hint of jasmine hid underneath the tea’s strong sweetness. Towards the end of the session, the tea’s texture continued to soften to a diluted oil-like texture. Conclusion A lot is going on between these three teas. To start, the Mush Tieguanyin Oolong began this day of tea by presenting a session that felt more traditional. This tea’s boldness was a similar kind of boldness that’s best compared to a medium-roasted coffee. While being bold, the presence of its roast was still really fresh and would recommend waiting a minute for this tea to settle. To continue this journey, the Muzha Tieguanyin Black was a very pleasant surprise. For a black tea, it came off more delicate than I’d expect — especially considering its boldness. To end this journey, the Pingling White did take by surprise. While I’m not able to generalize Taiwanese white tea, this one specifically kept begging the question, “Is this really a white tea?” Considering it wasn’t from the other two tea’s regions, it was still a force that doesn't want you to forget of its exists. With the oddity of a white Tieguanyin, this one certainly takes first place as far as enlightening experiences go. Overall, this was a fun comparison and is something that I’d recommend for others to try. White Tributary Tea Co. doesn’t currently offer the Pingling White Tea on their site, it is a tea that seems best for a special occasion. Out of the three, the black proved to be the most calming and meditative (and my personal favourite). Seeing thus far how strong a start this company made, it'll be exciting to see where they take their strengths into the future… (no pressure guys)
- Dark and Exquisite Leaves
Hello hello! A little over a few months ago, I began airing out dark tea from Exquisite Leaves — a kind of puer tea from the Hunan province of China. Dark tea is usually fermented (or aged) and when made, is heavily smoked over locally chopped pinewood. While there are other factors that drive the process of this kind of tea, let’s just dive-in to three samples of the tea that Exquisite Leaves are fans of. However, upon opening each sample, the strong smell of smoke led me to air each tea out for several months. After airing out this tea, and giving it a chance to calm, let's dive right in! 2015 Gaoma Bailing Brewing Temperature: Boil Number of Infusions: 12 This tea started with a light tip-of-tongue tart sweetness that turned into the flavor profile of Kansas City barbecue. As the tea opened up, the mouth-filling expansion of smoke took ahold of the tomato-like sweetness, along with old basement-stored books and light forest moss. When this tea's session was full-on , it held a velvet-like texture that, although had a wide variety of odd fermented tasting notes, somehow managed to pull it all together and make it work. Towards the end, the tomato-like sweetness turned into a melon-like sweetness that still swam in the smokey background. Towards the end, and to my surprise, this tea began to resemble more and more of a black tea. 2015 Big Leaves Dark Brick Brewing Temperature: Boil Boiling Number of Infusions: 12 Upon the first infusion, the notes of smoke immediately took control of all five senses (yes, including sound). However, this tea seemed to stay on this light-smokiness for over four infusions because of this tea’s concrete-tight compression. However, once it opened up, the notes of green- grass and damp basement humidness became more prominent. However, once this tea opened up, it hit the tongue over the head and was so overtly strong, it brought on a trace of bitterness and astringency. After around fourteen infusions, this tea mellowed out and left me on the couch drunk. Out of the three samples, this one’s odor ranked the strongest odor and left me the most tea drunk. 2017 Qianliang Little Cubes Brewing Temperature: Boil Number of Infusions: 12 Upon this tea’s first infusion, a light leathery texture brushed over the tongue with a fluffy smokiness that was calming. With a few infusions. this tea’s texture became so soft that it made me question if it was still a liquid or not. With the softness came the balanced sweetness of an autumn’s leaf pile, smoke, and light forest moss. However, despite being several years old, you could get the sense that this tea was already making an effort to come out with an older note of fermentation. Despite this, this tea’s texture was the most balanced out of the three and left me more relaxed and meditative than I was before the session started. Conclusion After airing out three samples of dark tea from of Exquisite Leaves for several months, I dove right into trying two teas from 2015, and one from 2017. One thing I noticed with these dark tea samples as to how they were all noticeably smoky to a degree with humid-like notes of a basement, a forest, and a stack of books. With these notes, each tea managed to turn an oddity into pleasantness. Overall, each tea from the samples held strong on its own merit. Each one was unique and tasted like no other tea that’s come across my tray. These kinds of teas were a treat, and depending on who you are, it could be an everyday experience. While I still have a few grams of each tea left, I can 100% guarantee you that this won't be the last time I’ll make an effort to enjoy dark tea from Exquisite Leaves….
- Tea Time With... The Radio
Hello hello! After interviewing a karaoke DJ, I realized that I was going in the right direction as far s getting to have tea-time with Lana Del Rey. I mean, after all, she does sing the music that is played at karaoke. After that interview, I had an epiphany… Lana Del Rey got more popular by being played on the radio. So what I need to do is find a way to a radio station. And that’s exactly what I did. A few Saturday’s ago, I made my way to The Ozark’s rock station Q102 FM where I met up with DJ Caleb — the area’s weekend DJ. As I pulled up to the station, I was a bit taken back by how industrial the area appeared to be. After listening to the radio all our lives, you’d imagine something in a high-rise in a downtown location. A few radio-station promotional vehicles awaited their next event in the parking lot, with a large radio-tower shadowing the complex. I was greeted by Caleb at the door where a front-desk reception area which sat under four portraits that were of Kurt Cobain, Kelly Clarkson, Michael Jackson, and Ozzy Osborne —four artists that play importance to how we view music today. I followed Caleb down the hall as he gave a tour of the complex. On every wall-way, which had posted its own unique name such as like Garth Brooks Way or Led Zeppelin HWY. Underneath the musical-themed street named halls, therein hung row upon row of autographed guitars from some of Music’s greats such as Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, and even Slash. One wall was lined with vinyl records, while another was posted with autographed photographs from famous artists like Ariana Grande, Katy Perry, and Taylor Swift. Upon seeing Taylor Swift’s autograph in several areas, I knew I was in the right place, given that Lana Del Rey and Taylor Swift shared a producer for their albums (Jack Antonoff). Even so, seeing Ariana Grande’s autograph instilled me with hope because of the artist’s professed love with admiration and friendship for Lana. The tour ended at one of the few studios where I set-up tea time. In the studio, several arms extended out microphones which led to a switchboard based under two computer screens. On the screens, there was a line-up of music which included breaks for commercial in-between. I turned on the kettle and began the first infusion of an aged white tea that was once listed by White2Tea. As Caleb took the first sip, he talked about how he got into radio himself over eight years ago. “I had a lot of friends in the radio and had worked with some of them when I was a karaoke DJ. They had a position open up and one of them came up and told me about it.” Caleb continued to explain how he applied for and ended up getting hired for the position. He started off on Sunday nights after one day of training, then gradually worked his way up to playing all weekend. “We were playing modern rock at the time. During my show, it could have been anything. We did a decent mix of old and new rock, but at the time the oldest was to the ’90s.” Caleb commented on the uniqueness of the tea opening up and mentioned how he’d never had tea made this way, muchness seeing and knowing about a tea cake. As we continued with tea, I asked him about how he views trends in music today. More so since he’s in the front-lines of main-stream media. “Attention spans have gotten shorter for a lot of people, so songs have gotten shorter. Bands are doing much less musically I think.” Before making his statement definitive he threw back in there, “…there’s still a lot of artists out there that do a lot of good musical stuff. As far as like what gets on the radio, I feel like there’s a lot less solos out there like guitar solos, etc. Stuff like that.” With a change in times, especially with times where freedom of speech seems limited with the rise of extremism of political correctness, I poked the question about censorship on the radio, especially when compared to television. “It’s harder to insinuate things on the radio because there’s no visual — it’s all audio. Whereas on TV you can insinuate some things through actions even though you don't come out and say it. So I think there’s easier ways to get around it on TV than radio.” As we kept drinking tea, Caleb pointed out how the aged white tea reminded him of something rum-barrel flavored and noted that it was much more complex than the stuff he’d normally drink. While drinking tea, I noticed he had the radio-station’s social media page pulled up, which led me to ask about the rise of music streaming’s competitiveness with the need for radio. “I think the difference is that radio, for the most part, is free to the listener.” After speaking live on air about an upcoming festival during a break in the music, Caleb continued. “…it definitely has changed how artists market themselves and feel like they can write or can’t wright. ‘Cause in the past, it’s always been like ‘how do I get this song on the radio?’ Because that’s the only way people are going to hear it. But now it’s anyone who can record a song and put it on Spotify.” Being unfazed by the streaming-stardom of artists like Billie Eilish, and the rise of major streaming services coming up in popularity, he didn’t seem worried nor fazed. “It is a symbiotic relationship [between artists and radio].” While bringing up advertisers in the context of how artists get played, he continued, “…So we don't need the artists or the music itself obviously, but there’s enough music out there to where, on a Saturday afternoon, we have nothing but 90’s for ten hours.” Caleb kept forward with how despite the instant gratification of streaming services, radio isn’t far behind the times than originally thought. “A lot of radio stations have an app. We have an app that you can download and stream us live if you’re out of the area. So if you’re in your car and you know you’re traveling…you can bring up our app and stream us live.” With another infusion underway, I took note of how small the complex was. It was obvious that although this was a small building, radio also branches out into the community. That’s where Caleb gets to meet other notable musicians himself. “Probably the most famous person I got to talk to was Scott Stapp from Creed, and that was just a couple of weeks ago. Skillet is another big one… The Deaftones were pretty cool. I didn’t get to interview them but I did meet them. Like I said, Scott Stapp was probably the biggest artist I’ve gotten to meet.” With ending on that note, he made it know that Scott Stapp was indeed, as cool in persona as he seems in his music. Speaking of extending into the community, radio stations like Q102 FM branch out into the local community through events and giveaways. With radio being synonymous with giving away prizes, I had to ask how a small operation like this could afford big prizes when branching out. “Record companies pay for giveaways.” With keeping tabs on their audience through multiple platforms, such as connecting through social media, Caleb was very self-aware on what his audience enjoyed. With his audience’s enjoyment, he seemed to be more in-tune with his audience’s needs. However, while touring the complex, a detail that I noticed was that the sound-booths were small and quiet. And without directly seeing the audience as you would at a live concert, I explored the question about how he knew people were listening. He explained that it’s a calculation of surveys, social media feedback, and the revenue of what advertisers are making from placing ads on the air. After looking around, I was quickly reminded that the cubicles that filled the building we’re indicative of this being not just radio, but rather a place of business. While finishing up tea, the next DJ came in to take over for Caleb. We finished the last infusion of aged white tea, the incoming DJ began talking on-air about the tea session that Caleb and I had underway. And without missing a beat, the microphone was pushed in front of me as I was being asked questions about the session itself. After talking about drinking tea with Caleb, and mentioning the interview, a small exchange that can’t seem to remember was had. Being put on the spot, along with being ‘live’, was enough to be a mix of excitement and intimidation. The DJ ended our on-air convo, played Sublime, and bid us good-bye as we left the sound booth. As I walked out of the studio, I reflected that I got to talk about tea with the greater mid-west. And possibly a wider range. But I also took Sublime playing after myself being on-air as a sign from up above that I’m making my way in the right direction into having tea time with Lana Del Rey. Because earlier, the artist released a cover of Sublime’s Doin’ Time. Was it a coincidence, or just me being blissfully hopeful that I was on the right path and it was meant to be? When I got in the car, I drove away with the reassurance that the radio was here to stay because they flexed with the change in times. On top of seeing this side of the media, I felt the mixed emotions of promise and hopelessness. Just as Caleb sits in his booth filled with hope —not knowing if he’s directly reaching the audience he’s aiming for or not, I drive away wondering if I’m ever going to reach Lana… — Blissfully Tea Drunk
- 2019 Midwest Tea Fest: Overview
Hello hello! After a failed attempt at making it to the 2017 MidWest tea festival (primarily due to a disabling car-accident), I decided to re-focus my attention on the tea industry. Since 2017, I learned so much and honestly, I couldn’t let another opportunity to go to Kansas City pass. In turn, I decided to drive up to the 2019 Midwest Tea Festival! Besides serving tea for an hour to around fifty people, along with talking on the main stage, here is an overview of what went down! Before we dive in, this was the festival’s 5th year which fell on the weekend of the 7th and 8th of September 2019. This year, the festival had over 1,100 tea lovers in attendance with thirty-four vendors. On day one, I showed up about an hour early to get to the festival. It wasn’t planned that way — Kansas City traffic was much more forgiving than originally anticipated. After an hour and a long line of tea-fanatics, the doors opened and the festival was in full swing! ~ Day 1 Right on arrival, everyone was given an honorary tea-cup for attendance (which would later be used as a pass for the festival throughout the weekend) and a bag full of flyers. To my right, the first booth would Jing Is Tea which sampled a variety of Taiwanese oolongs and black tea — along with gummies made from the tea its-self. ~ Along the way, Mana Bar happily greeted me as they recognized me from social media. Being recognized as ‘The Oolong Drunk’ is something that I certainly am not used to, along with seeing familiar teas from White2Tea displayed for sale outside of their web store. Across the way was a familiar booth, which came in the form of Hugo Tea Company. What also caught my attention was that along the journey, they were one of the only booths serving tea in a gaiwan gong-fu style. With a custom-built combo of gong-fu table/kitchen island, they were presenting tea in a warm and welcoming manner. Along the back of the convention held the largest booth in the entire building — which belonged to Ann Marie’s Teas. This tea company sampled six different teas and gave hefty-samples at that. After wandering around, I decided to pace myself by attending the 1:00 pm lecture presented by James Orrock of Single Origin Teas. He went int depth of how he attends the University of Florida in the Department of Plant Pathology — specializing in introducing tea farming to Florida. After presenting his work and research, it was evident that James’s passion for beginning mass-wide US tea farming go from a pipe-dream to reality... ~ Day 2: Upon entry, I made a sharp turn towards the entrance to find Ross of Shang Tea serving samples of tea — made gong-fu style. Ross’s passion for tea and knowledge ended up leading me to buy four-ounces of Tangerine-Scented black tea. I even fell in love with a wild white that he was brewing up. I continued on to attend the International Tea Cuppers Club’s Cup Warming Social, where club founder Dan Robertson introduced the idea pf gong-fu to the festival in a presentation that included everybody in attendance to sample award-winning teas. However, I ended up leaving the talk early to rush down to the tea-bar where I ended up talking about and serving, Shang Tea’s Tangerine-Scented black tea for around fifty people. During these four fifteen-minute sessions, I ended up being recognized and greeted by a member of reddit’s tea subreddit! Continuing along, I bopped away to The Tea Smith’s booth, where I was swooped away from a floral tisane that left the impression of fruity-pebbles on the tongue. After being educated by the shop’s founder, it was easy for me to see why they fell in love with tea so many years ago. As for that floral tisane; Impulse purchase? You bet. However, I ended up leaving the festival-floor to go up to the Shang Tea Main Stage where I set up and talked about the marketing dangers of tea. With tea enthusiasts, and Hugo Tea Company in attendance, I presented my findings of how chamomile doesn't work, detox teas are a farce, and how deracinated teas aren’t 'really' decaffeinated. After thirty minutes of disproving the tea industries biggest marketing claims, I ended my presentation on the final note that dishonesty taints the world of tea as a whole… ~ Overall this was a very eventful, well, event! After meeting so many people who are as nuts about I am as tea, it felt like walking into an alternate universe that was in its own, a reality. Nicole Burris, who is the event’s organizer, did an incredible job of hosting this event, especially of this scale. When meeting Nicole, and driving back home, I was reminded that we all think tea with a certain level of passion. Despite all of our backgrounds, we all enjoyed being together for our love of tea. Although Lana Del Rey didn't show up (and my search to have tea with her will have to continue), hopefully, you and I will get to drink tea together at next years festival…
- GongFu2Go by Crimson Lotus Tea
Hello hello! Today I’m doing something a little different. Instead of reviewing a tea, I’m going to take a hard left down tea ware avenue. Usually, teaware reviews aren’t something that usually catch my attention. However, Crimson Lotus Tea notified me of releasing ‘GongFu2Go’, a new device that’s supposed to make brewing tea easier while on the go. So how did GongFu2Go turn out? Let's find out! Inspection: When opening GongFu2Go, a piece of paper came out that listed the instructions on how to brew tea using this device. I cannot stress enough that you need to follow the directions closely before brewing tea. Before writing this review, I used the device improperly and ended up burning myself. I don’t know why I did that, especially considering that the instructions were easy to read and follow. There seemed to be two lids (with handles built-in), two glass bases that are double-walled, and a connection piece that twists to the right to open, or left to close. This middle piece also has a build-in strainer that seemed to hold back the tea. After rinsing everything off with soapy water, and drying it, it was off to the races! Using: I measured out 7g of oolong for the top part and screwed everything back together. I then proceeded to unscrew the bottom part, poured water to the first rung of the teeth of the screw, and twisted it all back together. When I turned it upside-down at an angle, the water poured over the tea swiftly. After waiting a bit of time, I poured it back over and tea was done. I unscrewed the bottom part back off and was drinking tea. This went on for about eight sessions. Conclusion: GongFu2Go was sent to me by Crimson Lotus Tea to test their new invention out. Upon the first time using it, I was surprised at how much thought went into a seemingly-simple device went. One of those things was the fact that the glass-compartments we’re double-walled, so when handing this device, my hands never risked being burned. Another great aspect of this device was how simple it was to clean off everything. On another note, I did try ice-brewing tea (ice-cubes on tea leaves, and let it melt over the course of the day into the bottom compartment) and it seems to do well, as well. Overall, this is a pretty nifty device from Crimson Lotus Tea. It worked well with regular gong-fu along with ice-brewed tea. When I ventured out for tea time, all I had to carry was this device and a thermos for hot water. Now that gong-fu doesn’t require a lot to pack when on the go, this will motivate me to have tea time in more pretty places, especially nature….
- Bitch Imma BOAT by Bitterleaf Teas
Hello hello! A lot of different tea companies are already well underway with releasing their 2019 Spring teas. One of these companies, Bitterleaf Teas, released their line-up around a month ago. And with that release, I opened my mailbox to find a few samples from them! One of those samples is 2019 BOAT (Big Old Ass Tree) — a Hekai sheng puer that came from, well, big old ass trees! So what makes this tea so special? Is it really worthy of being apart of the 2019 line-up? Let's hop into this BOAT and find out Dimensions — 4.6g of tea for a 70ml shibo (1g per 15ml) Water Temp. — 190ºf Number of Steeps — 14h Price — $110.00 USD per 200g beeng Music Pairing: While drinking BOAT, I paired this tea with ‘Cuz I Love You’ by Lizzo. I recommend listening to this album[ in full] while drinking BOAT. Bitterleaf Teas provided a complex, brazen, and a tastebud-emotional tea with a lot of heart — which seems to illuminate Lizzo’s latest album. When paired, you’l get in a mood that can only be created when two talents come together… Steeps 1 — 7 Upon opening the sample bag of this tea, a very noticeable aroma of craisins made itself know. Despite the cranberry-like aroma, the first infusion let off a faint sweet-grass like note on the base of the tongue. After another infusion, BOAT began to pick up a savoriness that coincided along with the grass notes and left an echoing impression of gardenia. After a third steep, a white grape fruitiness also struggled to bring itself forward. However, by the fourth infusion, this tea’s big ass really opened up and its liquor quickly darkened. The faint brothiness quickly took over the tongue’s palate, and almost came off as a brass. This tea’s newly found strength left a bitter impression on the sides of the tongue, but was quickly masked by BOAT’s original sweetness. Steeps 8 — 14 This big ass tea motor-boated my tastebuds across Lake Fuxian — taking be south towards Menghai. This tea’s body left an imprinting mist in the mouth — a feeling of humidness that seemed to resemble a sauna engulfing the tongue. However, by the tenth infusion, BOAT’s brassy strength began to lighten up as my palate started to sail in the currents of calm water. By the time the twelfth infusion arrived, the sweet notes of grass began to lighten up again, and by the fourteenth and last infusion, this tea docked at the nearest port, awaiting to set sea into the next adventure that would be awaiting it…. Conclusion 2019 Big Old Ass Tree is a new sheng puer released by Bitterleaf Teas and was sourced from Hekai. One aspect about this tea that I enjoyed is the clarity the leaf-juice possessed. Throughout the session, the liquor, along with the notes, seemed to shine through as clear as crystal — which made it easy to dissect this tea’s notes. Another aspect I liked about this tea was its depth. This tea’s notes were more than something that was surface level, and even drinking it a second time, I was still picking up on things I didn’t notice the first time around. When I open a sample box of tea from a company, I sometimes worry that what the company sends me won’t be as good as they think it is. And that’s difficult sometimes because you want to be able to highlight what makes someone great, not their mediocrity. However, Bittereaf Teas did the opposite made it evident that they were more than capable of making a tasty selection this year. If this is any indication of what more is to come, then I'm confident in saying that 2019 will prove to be an positive year for them. To add, it’s even bigger assed than Nicki and Cardi combined so bitch please, step aside and let me ride this no-filler real-curved BOAT off into the next session….
- The Wanderer by Totealy Tea
Hello hello! Not too long ago I acquired a full 200g being of The Wanderer — the first shou production from Totealy Tea. Totealy is a tea company based out of California and was able to get their hands on some 2018 puer for their shop. For their shou puer, The Wanderer, they released a shou tea from Lincang — a region on China typically known for it’s sweetness. Since trying this tea, we got together and decided to do a giveaway on social media. So for their first shou puer, how did The Wanderer turn out? And who won the giveaway? Let’s find out! Dimensions — 4.3g of tea for a 65ml gaiwan Water Temp. — 212ºf (boiling) Number of Steeps — 12 Price — $42.00 USD per 200g beeng Steeps 1 — 6 Upon receiving this tea, The Wanderer still had a ‘fresh’ scent to it. Before the initial session, I let the tea sit and air out in the living room for several weeks. After getting a chance to breathe The Wanderer found its way into my gaiwan. For the first infusion, this tea let out a light woodsy sweetness that seemed to glide easily past the tongue. However, the biggest surprise came within it’s second infusion when the colour of it darkened so much that light couldn’t protrude through the sharing pitcher (see 1st and 2nd infusion difference in photo below). With the second infusion, up to the sixth infusion, a heavy cocoa/dark chocolate bitterness exploded in the mouth with the heavy felt-like texture that continued to get louder with its abrasiveness. Steeps 7 — 12 The Wanderer’s profile seemed to reach its peak with the strong notes of cocoa powder on the base of the tongue. However, the abrasiveness and bitterness began to mellow out as the colour lightened up. As this tea lightened up, a mouth-watering flavor that best resembled a black tea kept becoming more and more prominent. Surprisingly, towards the end I could have easily been convinced that I was drinking a hong. By the twelfth infusion, The Wanderer was ready to wander off. By the last infusion, this tea was gone and it was time to pack up and travel on… Conclusion The Wanderer is Totealy Tea’s first shou puer, and is a Lincang shou that best exhibits a dark chocolate-like bitterness that came right out of the floodgates. As the session progressed, the most notable thing that jumped out was its continually changing texture. The Wanderer even had me believe that I was drinking a black tea after the abrasiveness mellowed out. However, this tea’s main complex was the texture that kept changing through out. It showed how the same few notes can make you believe you were drinking something different throughout — all due to the different textures that made their-self present. In conclusion, The Wanderer is a tea I’ll continue to drink, along with seeing how it’ll age through out time. And as far as the giveaway goes (the reason why half of you made it this far), we had dozens of entries through out the past few days. As much as we’d like to have given out a tea to everyone, @ros_strange on instagram is the lucky winner! And for those of you who didn’t win, hopefully you’ll try this tea and let yourself wander off into Totealy’s first shou with The Wanderer…
- Tea Time With... A Musician/Karaoke DJ
Hello hello! Today is the start of something brand new. Change can sometimes be a good thing, and depending on the change, things have potential to turn out for the better. As you may know, I’ve spent a lot of time drinking my vice while reviewing and analyzing tea. However, tea isn’t just meant to hoard and drink by yourself. When you drink tea with others you have the opportunity to learn from and share with others — rather that be a viewpoint or new factual information. So for this change, I’m starting a new segment called ‘Tea Time With…’ where I drink tea and have a conversation with someone unique or notable to our society. Notwithstanding, this journey is a journey that has an expiration date. When is that? I can’t tell you a specific date and time, but this journey of tea with others will end when I reach the goddess of my heart — the one and only Lana Del Rey. So until the day happens where Lana and I drink tea together, go with me on this journey to meet new people, gain new perspectives, and hopefully take something new away from joining us as we drink tea together. A few Saturday’s ago I was fortunate enough to meet with Asa Graeff — an up and coming artist whose also doubles as a local Karaoke DJ legend. Asa pulled up to find a gong-fu session laid out on a table between two chairs. Unaware of the gong-fu process, he was quickly introduced to the options of oolong, sheng, shou, and white tea for him to choose from. After going over the description of each tea, Asa gravitated towards the white tea cake that laid out in front of him. For this session, he picked the 2018 Censers by White2Tea. After heating up the kettle, and measuring 6.5 grams of tea for the 100ml teapot, the first infusion went underway. Asa grew up in the mid-west and breathed music from a very young age. To Asa, growing up with music included his sister’s talent for the piano and his father’s passion for the banjo. Besides playing the banjo, his father sang in their churches choir to which he quickly followed suit by singing his first solo to the congregation at the age of three. Besides being apart of a family that lived the art form, he grew up listening to music everywhere he went. This including being introduced to a wide-variety of artists while riding in the car with his parents at the radios controls. His parents kept him and the entire family engaged with each other, and connected through what they were listening to. And that engagement turned into him picking up a wide-variety of instruments, including being self-taught with the harmonica, learning percussion, and even mastering the guitar. Upon the opening steeps of Censers, Asa continued to talk about growing up listening to classics like Rod Stewart, Simon and Garfunkel, and the Beetles. But with time, and with developing his own personal tastes, those early influencers turned his interests into Santana and The Moody Blues. While developing his sound, he found other connections through artists such as Breaking Benjamin, A Day to Remember, and Suicide Silence. While sipping on the first infusions of Censers, Asa confessed that his first introduction to loose-leaf tea was an earl grey at age seventeen. While recounting his first experience with loose-leaf tea, we trailed the conversation back to music. Besides writing and singing his own music, he became a Karaoke DJ along the way — which began with him winning a local singing contest that sent him to Nashville. While in Nashville, he got his first hands-on experience with recording his own music professionally. Me: Being a karaoke DJ, I’m sure you’ve seen it all. And as far as seeing it all, there’s a lot of songs that people sing from all over the spectrum. So I must ask, what’s the worst possible song choice for people to sing? Asa: Don’t sing Picture [Kid Rock feat. Sheryl Crow]. There’s not a Karaoke DJ in the US that has not hard that song every night they work, for however long they’ve worked. So is that — That is a terrible song. Kid Rock is a terrible artist, and nobody wants to hear you sing Picture with your third boo of the month. Nobody wants to hear it. [laughs] Don’t sing that song. Besides Kid Rock, what kind of music do people choose that people absolutely shouldn’t choose, because they cant sing it but try it anyways? It always comes down to the person with your abilities and your history. For example, there’s somebody that come’s into my bar that when they sing, it doesn't matter what it is because they’re phenomenal. She could walk in and sing ‘Creep’ by Radiohead and her very next song is an operatic-like number. And she nails both of them with ease. There’s some people that just needs to stick in their lane. But I’m not the one to tell you what your lane is. Coming from a karaoke DJ, what songs would you recommend that people should sing/pick to get the whole atmosphere in a good mood? Well there’s the classic karaoke songs like Bohemian Rhapsody [Queen] or Sweet Caroline [Neil Diamond], but they’re overdone. If you want to get people in to what you’re doing/what you’re singing, you need to read the crowd. If you’ve got a crowd of forty-to-one hundred college kids, you don’t need to go out there and sing Billy Joel. But sing stuff that’s appropriate for the age group that you’re seeing. If you got a big mix, throw something random in there such as Tennessee Whisky [Chris Stapleton]. It’s about engagement with the audience, not about singing the right song. Its about performance /capturing attention. There’s singers out there who can’t really sing their music but because they perform really well, they get away with it. Don’t just sing. Perform. When it comes down to the song, according to Caleb [other local karaoke DJ], you should never sing The [US] National Anthem. I once chose a song called ‘National Anthem’ by Lana Del Rey and he had a moment where, “Is this the actual National Anthem? No one should sing The National Anthem.” Why is that? The whole job of a karaoke DJ is to maintain. Maintain the crowd, maintain the energy, etc. If you sing The National Anthem everybody is going to stop what their doing, like stop drinking and stop their conversations. Because if you don’t give respect to it, you’re insulting people and you’re basically taking that energy and telling everybody to pause and stop what they’re doing. And you expect people to go back to what they’re doing. That’s not going to happen. You’re going to kill the crowd/energy, and that should never be the goal of singing karaoke. [Photo credit: Matt Loveland Photography] Asa and I were on infusion four of Censers, and according to him, he could see and taste the difference. Asa not only pointed out that tea was getting thicker with each infusion, he even pointed out that the flavor profile kept expanding in the mouth. Despite that the rinse/first infusion was week, we traded notes back and forth between what we were experiencing with this tea. Nonetheless, after losing our train of through to the liquid in hand, we found our conversation back towards the music industry… So being an artist in the music industry my next question to you is going to be… Did Courtney Love do it? [laughs] Ummm…. [laughs]. You know, to be completely honest, I don’t care. And there’s a couple of reasons why I don’t care. One, I have to stake in it. Two, does it really matter? Kurt Cobain is gone. It’s a fun conspiracy theory. But I hate Nirvana. They’re awful; they’re not a good group. I don’t understand the hype beyond Kurt Cobain being dead. But I do respect them for the band that they were. I respect them for doing their sound and doing it their way. And that’s awesome. Speaking of artists who’ve died before their prime, and back to Nirvana, is there an artist who died before their prime whose more deserving of their fame? Amy Winehouse is a phenomenal musician… Was a phenomenal musician. Was a phenomenal Vocalist. She had mental health issues. Drug issues, and addiction issues that inhibited her ability. Of course, we can talk about Jimi Hendrix — phenomenal guitar player. But he served his purpose. The thing you understand about music is that you get what you get. You could ask anyone for more music, but maybe they didn’t have it in them. Maybe the people who died so young like Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Amy Winehouse, Jim Morrison of The Doors, etc… didn’t have it in them. You know, you got what you got and we love it. You may love it for the fact that they died. Or you may love it for the musicality, or you may love it because everybody else does. But that’s what you got. So it seems now that with the rise of social media, there’s a line of ambiguity that seems to be crossing the mystery behind who an artist is with the rise of Facebook, Instagram, twitter, etc. Kanye West is a good example of someone who really crossed that line of being in the media where people saw past him being an artist. Do you think that the rise of social media is helping or hurting the music industry? It hurts it. In what way? Well, actually it does both. It helps it in the fact that sharing music is a lot easier. You can get more of a crowd and you can get yourself out there better. Music sharing and promotion. You can hear bands you may have never heard of without the use of social media. Luke Combs got started online. Phenomenal. Phenomenal artist. But like you said, Kanye or Three Doors Down almost hurt theirselves musically with social media. And in my opinion, and in my personal approach, social media will not be for anything more than promotion. There’s a song that I wrote called ‘Dark Road’. If you sit down and read the lyrics, you’re going to realize that I wrote it when I wasn’t necessarily in a good place mentally. It can be a very scary song if you just read the words. But the way I deliver it with the emotion and with the music backing behind it, it gives it a different kind of delivery that enhances the reason why I wrote it. Instead of just being words that are locked to me forever. Back to that song you you wrote whenever you were in a very dark place, whenever you listen to it or play it now, does it bring you back to that place? Or are you able to appreciate it for the time that you were in when you wrote it? Um. Ohh [sigh]. That’s a really good question. Music has an affect on me that’s very strong. Preforming the song, I never go back to that place. I might visit it while singing it to get that emption out of it that I need, but it’s not about dragging me back there. It’s about me realizing that his is where I’ve been. The song is called ‘Dark Road’ because it’s about a decision at a fork in the road, and I made my decision so going backwards isn’t going to help anybody. It’s not a song for me to rewind and listen to and sing. It’s a song to remember why I was where I was. Or why I made the decisions that I made. Censers was at a point where its strength was at its peak. And with the tea hitting its peak strength, Asa pointed out that he felt a sharpness on the tongue. It reminded him of what it felt like to notice the differences between levels of spicy food. Censers was not only helping create a calm atmosphere, it was creating the tone and the feeling of relaxation. After turning down an offer to part with this tea and dabble into trying shou, Asa and I continued sipping on Censers and carried on with our conversation… Now that we’re in a time of ‘Me Too’ where more things are being shed to light, such as artists personal lives, where we see Kanye West’s political views or R. Kelley’s actions coming to light, do you think it’s still a good idea to support these artists and listen to them? Like when the accusations about R. Kelly came out, Lady Gaga pulled [Do What U Want] from every platform she had the song on. It’s no longer apart of her album. This reverts back to the previous question about what social media is doing to music. I don’t think any song should be pulled. I don’t think anything that has been done and recorded should not be allowed to be listened to. And in my opinion, it’s a personal opinion if you’re still going to support someone after they’ve done something of the sort… And the whole problem with social media, the whole problem with pulling a song after it comes out, and the whole problem with Kanye becoming a political figure of sorts is the fact that people are judging everybody based off what is now the media — instead of what they actually stand by or what they want to talk about. Nobody actually knows the conversations that happened between Kanye and his close friends about what was happening. The only people who can really judge are those who actually understand everything and have taken the time to sit down and listen. For all we know, Kanye being all political could have been a marketing tactic just to get his name back in the media and make him more relevant, but we’d never know if that’s what he really believes in or not. Exactly. You and I are very different people and we probably have very different opinions on things because we come from different places. And if I were to share my opinions in a manner that was a definitive end, especially beyond any reasonable doubt, that’s going to change your opinion of me. That’s what social media is doing, and that’s what this all stems from. We don't have conversations anymore. Its always ‘this is it’. And this is what harms music at it’s core because now we have lost artists like Kanye. Or people have shunned Three Doors Down. Or a lot of people wont give Nickelback a second chance. A lot of people won’t listen to Lady Gaga, or Katy Perry, or whoever it is who has made a statement. Taylor Swift is now getting into the political side of things and that’s when we start losing the true meaning of music. If you want to listen to music that’s going to influence you, then listen to music that’s going to make you happy. You’ve got to find that you want to listen to, regardless of what people have done. So when the Dixie Chicks made their comments about Bush, or when Sinead O’Connor ripped up the photo of the pope on SNL, do you think when artist’s make these kind of statements that it’s justified that their careers gone down? Or even if they lived in a time of social media, would their careers have even gone down? Nobody’s career is going to end, unless it is ‘the final action’ like killing yourself. You can go to prison and still make music. You’re going to gain or lose fans based on everything you do. You’re going to be criticized on everything. Your career doesn’t hinge on one moment. Your career hinges on how you carry yourself beyond that moment. That’s the easiest way to put it. Nobodies careers has just completely shut down, because you’re still going to hear about them. And if you still hear about them, then they’re not shut down. They may change what they’re doing, but that doesn’t mean their career is over. So ‘Cancel Culture’ isn’t really ‘cancel culture’. Think about it — Elvis died and he still came out with an album. Johnny Cash is now having another album coming out of previous unreleased recordings. So even death isn’t necessarily the end of a music career. Michael Jackson for instance. When he died, his album sales jumped by forty-fifty percent, and look at all of the shit that he did. People still bought his stuff despite the allegations and the trials. It didn’t matter. You have to decide rather if you’re going to support or listen to someone based on how you feel about something. Because in the end, they don't necessarily need that one person to listen to them because of all of the other people they’re influencing already. It’s about what makes yourself feel good. That’s what music is all about. It’s about the listener. It’s all about the listener. If you want to keep listening to Kanye, then keep listening to Kanye and go for it. If you want to keep listening to The Dixie Chicks, even after the Bush comment, go for it. Or if you don’t want to listen to them, then don't. It’s your choice. A person’s career isn’t going to hinge on one flash of a moment. It’s not going to matter. Nipplegate ended Janet Jackson’s career in a flash of a moment. [Laughs] One final question about where you fit into the musical landscape. You write music, you perform music, and you are very talented. Now when you get larger, you realize that the name Asa isn’t going to work very well. Someone already took your name. Who? The actor Asa Butterfield. How do you feel about him making the name ‘Asa’ popular in the media? How do you compete with that. …Never heard of him. [Photo credit: Matt Loveland Photography] It was evident by this point in the session that a caffeine rush was already put into place by Censers. The kettle went on for one last boil. Then the tea went on for one last infusion. And upon pouring the last infusion, my mis-targeted pouring made the tea tray overfill onto the table that it was placed on. After our mouths echoed with the floral and faint honey notes of Censers, and after dabbing off the overfilled tea liquor, we went in for our last impressions of this particular white tea and wrapped up our conversation. So I took to social media to take in a few fan questions. The first question reads: Brendon Urie and Taylor Swift collaborated for the new hit song ME!. Do you think spelling is fun? No…[laughs] A viewer asks are there any pop artists that you should never sing at karaoke? Don’t try and sing Mariah Carey. You’re not Mariah Carey. And don't sing Whitney [Houston]. Unless you know you can nail Whitney, don’t sing it. Everybody knows Whitney. Don’t sing her. The next question asks: Is it better to sing karaoke when drunk or sober? Are you more confident when drunk? Are you going to give a better performance when drunk, or are you a better singer when sober? Do what you want — it’s karaoke for a reason! Next reader asks: What artist do you want to collaborate with? In the music genre that I’m apart of right now, it would either be with Drake White or Chris Stapleton. The music genre I want to move to would be Mark Tremonti, or Miles Kennedy — Hands Down. The next one asks: Whenever you get more big and famous, would you ever perform the Super Bowl Halftime Show? Probably not. The reason why is that I feel like there’s too much conflict surrounds it. It doesn’t matter how good an artist is or how popular they are, there’s always going to be conflict around it. I would just rather not. The last question of the day: How would you resolve the civil conflict in Yemen? Uhhhh… Asa stood up and stretched as he continued to comment about how he was pleasantly surprised by the overall setting of the gong-fu session. After a bit of small talk, he made his way back to the car. In fact, Asa’s journey as a Karaoke DJ was about to and end as that specific night was his last night to host. The next morning, Asa continued his music career in St. Louis; starting a new life altogether. As I looked back and started cleaning our tea session, I began to reflect on what it means to sing karaoke, be an artist, and what it even means to drink tea. I even reflected on his journey along with my own. In his journey, he helped connect people with each other over karaoke along with connecting others with himself through his own art. Where as for tea, as it is for music, it allows us to bond over something that we share as a whole. People from all walks of life and all kinds of backgrounds can put everything aside to just let themselves connect, and just be with each-other. When I looked out the window and saw Asa drive away, I thought about how this was the best way to not only enjoy music — but tea as well. Not alone. Together…… ~ Blissfully Tea Drunk ~~~~~ You can listen to Asa’s music here: https://www.facebook.com/asa.graeff.music/ Photos provided by Matt Loveland Photography: https://www.facebook.com/mattlovelandphotography/ Disclaimer: Some parts of this interview were cut short for the length of the article. However, none of the dialogue presented has been altered or manipulated in any way. ~~~~~
- Air Force by Soyuz Chai
Hello hello! This past month, Crimson Lotus Tea introduced me to a new tea company called Soyuz Chai. This tea company is based out of Russia, and at the moment, all they carry is black tea… As many of you may know, black tea isn’t my first choice for drinking tea and is something I recently just got into liking. So when they sent me their line-up, I was hesitant to see that it was only black tea. However, since I’m trying to get more into hong, I figured it would be best to be open minded and try it anyways. After trying and enjoying their sample of their ‘Navy’ and ‘Army’ black tea, how does ‘Air Force’ hold up? After all, it’s the most expensive tea on their site. Let’s dive in! Dimensions — 5.3g of tea for an 80ml shibo Water Temp. — 190ºf Number of Steeps — 12 Price — $17.58 USD for a 150g brick Steeps 1 - 6 For this session, I broke-off a square section of the brick — which measured to 5.3g. For the first infusion, the faint tasting notes of caramel flew their way in, which trailed a creme-like hint on the sides of the tongue. After a few more infusions, the notes of creme and caramel became more prominent in the mouth and left an echo of flavor in the mouth for a small period of time. After the fourth infusion, a new profile of bell pepper and hay crept forward with the base of freshly-cut wood. By the sixth infusion, there was a light astringency that orbited the tip of the tongue and the insides of the cheeks. Steeps 7 - 12 By the seventh infusion, Air Force was carrying a strong jet-propelling punch in the mouth as the notes of creamy wood ejected a mild bitterness on the base of the tongue. After two more steeps, an Unidentified Flavor Object (UFO) of creme jetted back into my pallet, which mixed beautifully with the woodsy notes of hay. Despite this tea’s strength, the ninth infusion proved that this tea’s notes were ready to make its way to a landing pad. By the twelfth infusion, this Air Force’s satellite was ready to come to a full stop and fall safely back to Earth. Conclusion Air Force is a 150g tea brick which was the top-tier black tea in Soyuz Chai’s Russian 1950's militia-style line-up. After their debut, I was intrigued to see what this tea company was about. Air Force started out faint and sweet, and as the session progressed, it became more powerful with the taste of lumber. One thing I liked about this tea was how bud-heavy it was. This is a great aspect because it contributed to a good balance with this tea’s aggressiveness. Another aspect I liked about this tea was its ability to still have flexibility with the water temperature used to brew it. Overall, Air Force is a new favorite on my (very) short list of favorite black teas. However, one thing I’m excited for is to see what Soyuz Chai comes up with next. After being in the tea community for a period of time, you start to notice that a lot of people get into tea and seem to fall out of it. There’s a lot of companies that try and without the right amount of passion, seem to fail and move on. Soyuz Chai is transparent through their posts on social media and communication through messaging that they’re passionate about what they’re doing, and this is one tea company that, if chosen to continue this path, will end up being very successful…
- 2012 Fu Ding Shou Me White Tea from Path of Cha
Hello hello! I’m back! I apologize for the delay in updating this blog Life has been hectic and it got to a point where drinking tea wasn’t an option. This was largely due to the fact that I moved across several states. Now that I’ve been settled, now seems like a more than perfect time to dive into some Fu Ding Shou Mei White Tea from Path of Cha! This tea has been aged since 2012, and yet eight years later, here we are. Does an aged white tea really taste as good as aged puer? Let's find out! Dimensions — 4.7g for a 70ml Shibo Water Temp — Boil Number of Steeps— 14 Steeps 1 — 6 Usually, with aged teas, some people recommend doing a rinse of the leaves to rid of dirt or dust. However, I dove right in! Upon the first infusion, there was a faint sweetness along with a light amber color. After a few more infusions, this tea opened up to a woodsy note that left a sweet-like finish on the back of the tongue. At the fifth infusion, the tasting notes of a rum-barrel came through along with a brown sugar-like sweetness. Despite the sweetness, the sixth infusion brought a strong punch that almost left a bitter impression on the sides of the tongue. Steeps 7 — 14 This tea was in full swing as the infusions kept making this tea stronger and stronger. To help balance out the strength, I repeated an infusion. Even at that, the powerful punch this white tea possessed was enough to surprise me. Around the tenth infusion, this aged white tea started to let up as the brown sugar notes because more and more noticeable. However, despite this teas earlier strength, the tea session was ready to come to an end at the fourteenth infusion… Conclusion 2012 Fu Ding Shou Mei White Tea is a tea that came from Path of Cha. This tea started out light, and after a few infusions, became stronger and stronger. One thing I liked about this tea was the fact that it was very clean and crisp. Another aspect I liked about this tea was it’s the ability to last more than ten infusions. Along with the lasting infusions, this aged white tea had a unique sweetness that was very pleasing to the tongue. However, Path of Cha no longer carries this tea as of now. Despite being gone for around six months, I’m more than happy to be back. I’m glad to be back and re-pick up this journey with an aged white tea, especially from Path of Cha. For now, I’ll be sitting on the porch and taking tea photos in the cold, and remind myself that at the end of the day, aged white tea is just as good as an aged puer…
- 2018 Honeymoon by Crimson Lotus Tea
Hello hello! Earlier in the year, Glen of Crimson Lotus Tea and I began talking about different tea regions, and what would happen when blending different tea material. After a few messages back and forth, Glen came up with a blend idea that he would later press into a cake. After talking to a tea friend (Steph — @evilducky77 on instagram) about creating a wrapper design based on several different ideas, and after a few messages back and forth, she created the wrapper for 2018 Honeymoon Sheng Puer — a sheng puer that’s made of Manzuhan based material which uses old tea tree material. So after all of the communication between Glen, Steph, and I, how did Honeymoon turn out? Let’s find out! Demensions — 4.7g of tea for a 70ml vessel Beeng Price — $94.99 Water Temperature — 190ºf Number of Steeps — 14 Steeps 1 - 6 Honeymoon first opened up to the light grassy tasting notes of wood, which left a faint impression of oil on the tongue. After another infusion, a sweet fruity undertone of moss made itself known on the back of the tongue. By the fourth infusion, Honeymoon continued to thicken. However, by the sixth infusion, this tea was a full on broth. Steeps 7 - 14 By the seventh infusion, Honeymoon’s tasting notes reminded me of a thick wooded forest. Its texture was broth-like, and after another infusion, it didn’t let up. This tea’s tasting notes seemed to transform from a grass-like tasting note into a hay-like tasting note, which left behind the sweet notes of moss, wood, and an autumn leaf pile. However, despite the heavy and thick tasting notes of moss, there was still a light undertone of sweet fruit that still tried to come though this tea. However, by the tenth infusion, this tea began to lighten up on its thick texture. By the fourteenth infusion, Honeymoon was finished and was ready to be put away… Conclusion Honeymoon was a collaborative project between Glen of Crimson Lotus Tea and I, which began with the two of us talking about different blends of tea regions. Honeymoon is a 2018 sheng puer that is a Manzuhan based blend, and is a tea that also contains old tea tree material. One thing I liked about Honeymoon was its energy, because after having a session with this tea, I felt very relaxed and mildly sedated. Another aspect about this tea that I like is its tasting notes that continually changed throughout the session. However, despite that this tea sits at a higher price tag, it certainly reflects the qualities of a tea that’s higher end. In conclusion, Honeymoon is a great experience to have regardless if you’re a new tea drinker or not. Despite that it was a collaboration that involved me, I’m very surprised at how the final product turned out — which really points to how talented Glen is of Crimson Lotus Tea. So next time you have dreams of sitting on the beach with no where to be, spend time on yourself and give yourself a little honeymoon….
- 2013 Shou Mei White Tea from Yunnan Sourcing
Hello hello! Around a month ago, I was fortunate enough to meet Scott and his wife of Yunnan Sourcing! Besides drinking a lot of tea together, we filmed two youtube videos as well! One of those videos was of Scott and I drinking a 2013 Shou Mei white tea. This white tea is a tea that has been aged for over five years, and is a tea that will be released in a 100g beeng for around $10.00 USD. Since the tea has yet to be released (as I only have a small sample that was gifted to me rom Scott), what can we expect whenever it is released? Here’s all you need to know! Dimensions - 4.7g of tea for a 70ml vessel Beeng Price - 100g for around $10.00 (estimated) Water Temperature - boil Number of Steeps - 12 Steeps 1 - 6 Right off the bat, this 2013 Shou Mei gave off light tasting notes of sweet sugarcane and honey. After another few steeps, the tasting notes became more and more woodsy. With the caramel-like sweetness, it heavily resembled a rum barrel. By the fifth and sixth infusion, this tea’s texture thickened like a beef broth, and started to heavily resemble a roasted GABA oolong. Steeps 7 - 12 By the middle of the session, this tea began to lose its gentle sweetness as its texture became thicker and woodsier. It still lightly resembled a rum barrel, but still left a broth like texture in the back of the throat. However, towards the end of the session, I started to feel a head-rush of energy that came from this tea. This head-rush made me feel a bit tea drunk, as its energy made me break out in a sweat. However, by the twelfth infusion, this tea was finished and it was time to be put away… Conclusion Yunnan Sourcing is about to release a 2013 Shou Mei white tea, and while the tea is not out yet, Scott and I were able to film a youtube video of us drinking it together! First off, one thing I liked about this tea was its wide array of tasting notes. The tasting notes of a rum barrel pleasantly surprised me, and it also held a sweetness the came from within the rum barrel tasting notes. Another aspect about this tea that I like is the fact that it’s affordable. Although it’s not out yet, Scott did speculate that this tea will be around $10.00 upon its release. However, despite that it’ll only be around $10.00, this was a very easy tea to drink and could potentially be a gate-way white tea to get others interested in aged whites. In conclusion, this tea is affordable and will certainly warrant a purchase from me. So while I had this tea originally with Scott of Yunnan Sourcing, when I had this tea again (for this review) I was reminded of the hospitality that I was shown when I paid my visit to Scott and his wife.… Below is the Youtube video I got to appear in with Scott!