Fall is just around the corner, and with a change in seasons comes a change in tea. Just like in our personal lives, tea changes. A tea won’t taste the same if made seasons apart, much less months apart. Right when you think you’ve figured out a tea or a region of tea, theres always something that comes up which defies what you previously thought. Just like in life, people change and people grow. However, with change and growth, there are still things hiding in the depths of our soul that we want to face, or may never face. It’s a facade, or another aspect of yourself that you may never discover. So in today’s review, I would like to share with you how I had to change and how we can all relate to Alter Ego by Bitter Leaf Teas…
Here in front of me I have a 250g brick of 2016 Spring Mansa Huang Pian. While looking at this tea, I see two cats in disguise on the wrapper. However, when I opened this tea, I was met with a neifei , which is a small paper slip of paper that’s typically used to identify a puer. What struck me as odd about this is that this neifei is that it was a completely different style and design than Bitter Leaf Tea’s traditional neifeis. This is because this tea was sourced by Bitter Leaf Teas.
I liked this brick because it was particularly easy to break apart. Typically bricks have a tight compression, but this one was very simple to pry apart and was nearly hassle free. Alter Ego was off to a good start.
Steeps 1-6 -
I started my session with Alter Ego with a quick rinse, the proceeded to my first steep. I used 6.5g for a 100ml vessel, with water at a temperature of 180ºf. My first impression of this tea is that it has a light and broth-like body, with a salty aftertaste that left echoes of moss in my mouth. After steeping this tea a few more times, a plush sweetness emerged from the saltiness which helped leave a warm lasting sweetness in the cheeks of my mouth. As I continued onto my minute-long infusion at steep six, this tea was in full swing. Although this tea was full bodied, it was still very smooth and left a sweet impression.
Steeps 7-12 -
My session with Alter Ego started to wind down around the eighth infusion. Unlike other puer teas, every single tasting note in this soup was still detectable. One thing about these later steeps that really caught my attention was how warm the broth was. Although this tea was fading out, it was still warm and until my last steeping with it. It made a nice transition from full, to weak, then disappeared completely. It had an incredible transition, which is something thats hard to find in most newer puers.
Overall, my session with this tea was very memorable. Not only did it make me think, I was blown away at the quality of this tea, especially for the price. These bricks weigh 250g, and for the price of the brick its one hell of a steal. If anything, this tea is probably one of the best values of tea that I’ve seen all year. Sometimes with tea, you sacrifice quality for price. However, Bitter Leaf Tea’s did an amazing job at sourcing a tea that doesn’t sacrifice anything. Yet again this is another offering from Bitter Leaf Teas that won’t leave you disappointed.
Alter Ego -
Through out my session with this tea, I took the time to reflect into my own life and particularly looked back at a time in my life when I had an alter ego myself. Back when I was younger, there we’re many aspects of my life that I was never completely happy about. The main thing that comes to mind is how my heart suffered for a great number of years until I finally came to the self realization of who I was. On the outside you would say that I was outgoing, confident, and pretty happy overall. Well, just like this tea, there we’re many things different on the inside than on the outside. When I was younger my personality was completely different; I was scared, shy, nervous, and unsure of what was to come of my life. What do you do when you think one way but feel a different way? What would you do when your mind and your soul tell you two contradicting things? Would you say you we’re hiding your inner truth from yourself more than anything else?
As I kept drinking this tea, I kept reminiscing to the moment that I new I had to be myself. Although something may look traditional on the outside, like this tea, the truth of it all is something completely unexpected ended up turning out for the better. I remember growing up such a certain way, that I was afraid that something horrible would happen to be if I was completely honest with myself. But the moment that really made me face my inner self was a great and momentous depression took over and made me look at myself in a way that I never had before. But when I started to look at these inner truths, I started to get sick. Like I said, my brain was so focused on telling me one thing that when my heart and soul tried to tell it something different, it created a storm inside me that I was instantly thrown into.
I spent two weeks incredibly sick — unable to eat, drink, or even leave the bed. The stronger the storm got, the sicker I became. Thunder turned to sadness, lightening turned to vertigo, and the hurricane brought on nausea. This ‘hurricane’ was so large and so strong that there wasn't even an eye to this storm. After three weeks have gone by, I questioned if this storm would ever end, and would I ever see then end of it. There was an alternative to leaving this hurricane, but that meant saying a fine goodbye to everything else I knew and love. That meant I’d have to let this storm consume me, and say goodbye to life altogether. Do I live through the storm or do I end it by ending ‘it’?
At the brink of my sanity, I battled the storm as long as I could. I had already lost a bunch of weight and I was missing so much of life that I was ready to exit the storm. Then, I looked in the mirror one last time and came to a last and final conclusion — I may be tired putting up this fight but I'm not goddamn quitter.
So, with one foot in font of the other, I tried my hardest to walk out of this storm. I realized that the best way to walk out of this hurricane alive was to accept the truth that was trying to kill me — the truth that created this inner storm. With all my strength and all of my might, I looked in the mirror and took a long and hard look. Was I saw was a version of myself that looked neglected, and all I needed to do was love it to make it well again. After thinking long and hard, I pushed my mind aside and poured out as much love as I could to the guy standing in font of me in the mirror. I held the truth out in front of me, and all I had to do was say it for this storm to be over. With a deep breath I said it with every ounce of strength I had. “I like men.” As soon as I said it, the storm clouds started to fade away and soon after, the storm was completely gone. I opened my bedroom window and was met with a ray of sunshine, all with a sense of pride and satisfaction. With enduring everything that I went through, I survived.
Just like this tea, there are many things about ourselves that we will continue to discover which will defy any exception we had thought of previously. Alter Ego by Bitter Leaf Teas redefines what Huang Pian material can really do. This tea, even after multiple sessions with it, still manages to surprise me with a new expectation of what it means to be drinking tea. So take this tea, sit down, relax, and try to think more about what it means to be the truest version of yourself. Look in a mirror and be sure to love the person thats always looks back at you…