Music plays a great part in everyday life, and sometimes can be more than just a collection of sounds to create a melody. What I mean is: some albums and some pieces of music transcends into the realm of art. When music becomes an art form, many people can connect with it despite their age, nationality, or even era that they live in. In these pieces of work, they can be so beautifully done that you can close your eyes and listen to the album from beginning to end in its entirety, just like sitting in a theatre and watching a movie.
Personally, there’s only been a few instances where an artist created something that impacted me in such a profound way — I didn't just listen to it, I felt it. When you’re able to connect with a piece of art that makes you feel such a wide range of emotion, it’s an intimate and euphoric experience. However, there’s one album that broke the barrier from sound to art, and made me feel like I was floating above the clouds. This was an experience that almost resembled a high, which is why we’ll be going over White2Tea’s 2016 We Go High…
Steeps 1 - 4
For this session, 6.6g of tea was used in a 100ml vessel, with a heated water temp of 180ºf. After a quick rinse, the first infusion was under way. At first, this tea presented a broth and savory like body with a clean and mouthwatering finish. As the steeps went on, a light bitter sensation started to form on the back of the throat, while dragging a light undertone of fresh milky fig. The tasting note of fig almost resembled an apricot, or a peach, which was held up by a medicinal backbone. With the continuing steeps, the broth became prominent in the mouth, and a tasting note of an autumn leaf pile started to creep out of the woodworks. With the end of the fourth infusion, this ensemble of tasting notes was all over the place as this tea was trying to find its voice.
Steeps 5 - 8
We Go High started to get itself together by finding a direction to go in. With the fifth infusion, the tasting notes began to polish off and form an orchestra of complexities. With the broth and savory base, this tea brushed the tongue with the undertones of sweet fruit which started to mellow out. Despite the tones of fig disappearing, a light umami backdrop began to replace it. Along with the sweetness changing, the medicinal tasting profile started to become more prominent, and pushed the notes of autumn leaf pile out in center stage.
Steeps 9 -12
Just like before, the base of broth was still present at this point in the session. Unlike before, the undertone of oil stepped up to the plate and let itself be known. The medicinal oiliness danced in the cheeks with the taste of a leaf pile, which left the mouth watering more than ever. While the notes were settling their way to the throat, the leaf pile left a strong room-filling aftertaste of bell and banana peppers behind in its wake. Up until the twelfth infusion, We Go High kept leveling out until there was nothing to level out anymore, and only the savory broth body remained. Technically, the session ended here. However, I kept going and killed the tea until I got every last drop out of it. After steep sixteen, I realized that I was tea drunk beyond belief.
Music Makes Us High
Growing up, music didn’t play much of an important role in my development into a young adult. However, there were other aspects of my life that called for more attention that wouldn't allow me to get distracted by the media. You see, my parents divorced when I was at a young age, and my father became ill when I was in middle school. My father had blood pressure issues, which affected his kidneys very negatively. Subsequently, he fell into a depression that alcohol could only cure.
After my parents divorce, they stayed good friends and I was allowed to visit my father anytime I wanted to. They both held a strong stance that my sister and I could connect with whichever parent we wanted to, without feeling caught between their marital problems. This meant that I spent every weekend with my dad, and growing up, he became my best friend. When we were together, he never drank but saved it for when I was back at home. Unfortunately, the alcohol took a toll on his kidneys. We always knew that his health was failing, but none of it became real until we got the phone call from him. He was in the emergency room, blind.
According to the doctors, his kidneys completely failed on him which caused him to go blind. However, if he waited any longer to go the emergency room, he would had died. To prevent any further damage, the doctors put him on emergency dialysis — which essentially is the process of filtering your blood to make it clean again. I was with him in the hospital room when they put an emergency catheter in his groin — which is a device that connects your artery to the dialysis machine. Since he didn’t already had a catheter, they had to fix him with a temporary one until he could get surgery to have a permanent one put in place. I stood by him as he laid in the bed while getting emergency dialysis. Every time he moved, the catheter would unhook. And twice it unhooked, and twice I watched the blood spew out of him all over the wall of the hospital room.
A year went by since watching that and I was a mess, but not nearly as bad as my father. He fell deeper into his depression, and became verbally abusive. He quit being the cool father that I grew up to love, and turned into a person that I no longer knew. He yelled more and more, until one point his temper got the best of him. I cut contact with him after that incident. Three months later, they found him lifeless in his apartment.
When he died, it didn’t phase me in the least. I was leaving middle school and was preparing for high school, but since I haven't seen him since the incident, I didn’t care at the time. I was in denial, and lived that way until I was seventeen when I started to write about him. I didn't think writing about him would do anything, but knew my anxiety and depression was ruining my quality of life. After writing about him, a wave of emotion came over me as I was crippled with sadness. I sat in my room that evening and cried about everything. I was hurt, angry, lonely, and confused. Everything that I repressed up until that point all came out at once, and it destroyed me. After a few months of exploring these new emotions and working through the confusion I had towards my dad, I came across an album that connected with me more than any other piece art.
Ultravoilence by Lana Del Rey was the first album that made me feel more connected with any other piece of art. Upon the first time listening to it from beginning to end, I was completely taken back by how much I connected with every song, every lyric, and every melodic tone. Lana recorded this entire album live, in a room with only 5 other instruments. Everything you hear, especially her voice, was recorded for the first and only time. The intimacy that came through in this album overwhelmed me more than I was expecting. It was more than a feeling of euphoria, it was a feeling of being high. In this album, this woman poured her heart out to sing the complex and complicated feelings of being in a love hate relationship, and described what it truly meant to love somebody who is toxic for you. Until that point, I didn’t think anybody else understood how confusing those feelings were.
This piece of music helped me understand why loving someone, regardless of your relationship to them, can be both good and bad to your overall wellness. With my father, it was confusing because he was a really good man. He made friends with everyone he met, and to see him take such a turn for the worst was truly heart breaking. He turned into someone I didn’t know, and if he wasn’t as sick as he was, he wouldn't have been as mentally abusive as he became. He was a tortured soul who didn’t know how his actions were affecting the people that needed him the most. And that’s okay, because he was flawed. He was human and did the best he could, the only way he knew how. I eventually drove nine hours to the beach, and spread his ashes while listening to Ultraviolence by Lana Del Rey.
Whenever I listen to that work of art now, I envision the sights of the beach. I can hear the ocean, smell the breeze, and feel the sand on the bottom of my feet. Whenever I listen to that album now, and when I close my eyes, Im back at that same exact spot on the beach. I was able to let him go and let go some of the feelings that I held onto, and Ultraviolence helped me through that. It’s a beautiful thing when you can listen to an album and feel the wide range of emotions you feel while relating to the artist. That’s not music, thats art.
We Go High is a fantastic sheng puer blend by White2Tea, and is one thats very well worth the price point that its listed. Although it’s released as a fall tea, I suspect that there could be a spring tea mixed within this beeng. I also suspect that theres a variation of Mensong puer within this blend, including the base of Jingmai with a touch of Yiwu. Overall I believe that We Go High is a complex tea that can’t be appreciated by all, especially by new tea drinkers because this is a difficult tea to understand. After spending much time with this particular tea, I can conclude that this is definitely one for the books, because it’s great in so many ways. So if you’re up to it, grab a sample of this tea and put on a favorite record because although other people go low, we can go high….