7 Year Bloggiversary - You Sold Out Your Culture
Over the last few bloggiversary, I wrote about some of the biggest dramas in tea that I had experienced up to that point. While I was thoroughly convinced that the drama would even out, it did not. If 2020 taught us anything, expect the unexpected, and expect the ‘tea’ to be good.
7 years ago on this day, I started ‘The Oolong Drunk’ to write about my enjoyment of tea. Over the years, some people tried to make my cup of tea bitter. Along the way, I lost my narrative.
Now, it's time I take my narrative back into my own hands and tell my side of the story.
I solemnly swear to the book of tea, this is nothing but the truth, the whole truth, and my side as to what went down in the year of people trying to make my cup of tea bitter…
Note: If you want to catch up on previous-year's bloggiversary posts, you can catch up here,
Appropriation, or Sell Out?
Last year, one individual decided to break through into the world of tea. With a Chinese heritage to back her up, and experience working with one of the more popular tea companies within the blogging company, she exploded into the scene. While taking the world of tea by storm, she made sure to use her heritage as a point of marketing. With this, when you bought her tea, you’re also buying a piece of Chinese tradition and culture. Except, at a high markup…
After obtaining a virtual acquaintanceship with this woman, one thing became clear — there was only ‘one’ right way to honor her Chinese heritage. The gate to the door that opened up to her culture was the admission of $2-$5 a gram teas. While other tea companies sold the same teas for a fraction of the cost, those companies weren’t selling the guilt that came with the Anglo-Saxon treatment of Asian-American people in the West. To make up for an implied reparation, and $80 later, I did my diligence of making up for my society's racism…
However, that wasn’t enough. Once receiving my tea, I made a slow-motion pour video of it and synced it to hip-hop beats. And when this woman saw that I had broken away from her image of what tradition should be, she felt offended. With her being offended, came her telling me her thoughts on how I wrongfully culturally appropriated her culture. Tea wasn’t meant to be paired with hip-hop, or be spilled or wasted.
As a response, I replied to her — questioning if I had a say-so in how she spent my $80 after I bought her tea.
With that, I was blocked by her on all social media accounts.
Our acquaintanceship was over.
Let me lay this out for you — if you are going to be told by the industry that you should make tea to your own enjoyment, then should it matter how I enjoy it?
If this woman is going to up-sell her tea at a 600-800% margin and keep the access profit for herself, then how is she giving back to her own culture?
I beg the question, what is worse? Me culturally appropriating her culture, or her selling out her culture?
With my own culture of being gay, I have used my blog's platform to host several charity drives for The Trevor Project -- a charity that aids gay youth who struggle with suicidal thoughts as a result of the hate they receive for being themselves...
As a minority in my community, when I say I will give back to my culture, my claims will be met with action -- not with 'pick-me' claims on Social Media... I will not pocket the profit for myself.
As a lesson to this woman, if you partake in a capitalistic society where you will gate-keep the 2nd most drunk beverage in the entire globe, and pocket the extreme mark-up without contributing anything back to the same culture you’re exploiting for your own financial game, then you can kiss my gay-flat-ass as I pour tea to the sound of alternative hip-hop….
Tea Community God…. Complexes
In this year's high-school drama, the 2022 Graduating Class will perform a new play at the theatre this year. For myself, I will play the part of Momma Bear. But before we start this Shakespearian drama, I must provide some exposition...
Now and then, new tea bloggers will hop into the tea scene with a strong attitude that they’ll reach the top of the blogging community. They will look at photos of people gathering around a single person pouring tea. They will then think to themselves,
“I want to be that person that’s the center of harboring a community. I want to be that person sharing tranquility with everyone. I want to be important and be looked up to, and I want to be the god complex that all of these people are looking up to. I want to be the next Uncle Iroh from Avatar The Last Airbender.
I want to be important! Me! Myself! I CAN BE IMPORTANT! AHHH!”
So they start a tea blog and start out strong. They will create incredible content, take beautiful photos, write well-written blog posts, and have virtual tea sessions with other tea bloggers with the intent of, “Drink a cup of tea with us! We’re important! Look at me!” — masking it behind the narrative that they actually love tea for the sake of it…
And after 6-12 months, they start to realize one factor that they didn’t contemplate before starting their journey of "look how important and meditative I am!", is that within the West, the tea community is a small niche community.
The top rung of social media popularity isn’t in the hundreds of thousands... It’s just in the hundreds.
When these individuals see that they only have 2,000 followers on social media after blogging for several years, they become disappointed, quit their blog, and stop drinking tea altogether.
So what does this have to do with today's period drama?
This happened this year when a member of the tea-blogging community decided to quietly delete all their social media accounts.
This individual's main goal was to harbor a tea community of their own, and without realizing, they actually obtained dozens of friendships along the way (some that lasted for 2-3 years, including my own personal friendship).
I didn't blink an eye at his-quitting of blogging, until chatting with a mutual friend who was in near tears over being ghosted.
After seeing this friend heartbroken and confused as to why this individual would leave the community they created and ghost everyone without an answer as to why (or much less without saying good-bye), I decided to go back to my high-school Drama/Theatre ways to play the role of ‘Momma Bear’ and go step in it…
After digging around, I discovered that there was a point of contact for this individual — to message him through his girlfriend’s account.
The only way to contact this blogger was to message his girlfriend who would play telephone for you.
In ‘Cody’ fashion, I sent her a message — asking where this chicken-shit went. She replied, stating that he decided that they weren’t receiving the type of response they wanted and their blog wasn't as successful as they hoped.
She indicated that they were disappointed that they didn’t obtain a larger audience for the tea community and didn’t get what they wanted out of it. Her message ended by expressing that her man-child-of-a-man would be rebranding and returning soon.
I was in disbelief.
After giving it thought, I remembered that he did harbor a community of people around him. He had a dozen committed friends who were always there for him whenever he needed it. The love these people had for him was real and was not conditional…
Except, to all of our surprise, it was a condition to him. He cared, but only if he was able to obtain the popularity he sought after. Only if more people looked up to him like a meditative-harboring God.
Now, in this part of the play, this is where I got my stage debut with my performance of 'Moma Bear', and ripped her/him (them?) to shreds...
I replied to his femme-human-shield that he conditionalized his friendships with everyone he knew by deleting all of his accounts and ghosting his inner circle with no notice, by tying their friendships to his personal success.
And if he were to come back to the community and re-brand, he should be embarrassed to show his face for being faker than all of Harvey Weinstein's illnesses that only ‘just so happen’ to appear on any given court date…
That is when I took home the award for 'Most Melodramatic Acting by an Understudy'.
What was my prize, you may ask?
I received a very shiny 'block' from her...
In retrospect, I do feel like an actual high-schooler for inserting myself into something that never involved me. I did take on the role of ‘Momma Bear’ way too seriously.
But the moral of the story?
First, this is the last drama I inserted myself in a drama that never involved me. I need to grow up.
Second, as a tea blogger, you’ll never reach the heights of any of the beauty-brand social media influencers. The tea industry doesn’t tend to the garden known as ‘bloggers’ (…this is another can of worms for another time).
But if you think you’ll be breaking into the tea industry as the next Uncle Iroh from Avatar The Last Airbender, with the purpose of ‘me’, then you won’t be harboring a tea community — you’ll only be tricking it…
Burning Bridges, Let’s Repair Them
On one Tuesday morning, I woke up with a fever of 103°f. My body was in pain all-over, and I was delusional (…more than normal).
I crawled to my car and managed to drive myself to the ER.
However, upon pulling up to the ER, I realized I was in too much pain to get out of the car. I called for help, was wheeled into the ER, and was immediately pumped with fluids. After several tests and awaiting results, I had a harrowing thought… The next physically closest person in my life was around 800 miles away
I’m in the middle of Colorado by myself.
I left the ER later that evening with the diagnosis of a nasty virus that I can’t spell or pronounce. But with this virus, came along a panic-attack that lasted for well over a week.
The idea of loneliness became a virus of its own.
However, after I called and talked to my best-friend Luke about my existential crisis, I made a realization… He picked up the phone on the second ring when I called him.
He listened to my fears.
And he validated them.
And shortly after, my panic began to fade away.
Later that week, another few friends named Molly and Karissa and I talked on a 3-way, and they asked me about my well-being. And they really listened, and truly cared about what I had to say.
And not long after, I flew to Chicago to host an event with Spirit Tea. While there, my friends Chase, Marco, and Nicole took me around the city and we had our own adventure.
And earlier in the year, I got to meet my close friend Neldon for the very first time at World Tea Expo. And at World Tea Expo, I met my other close friend Nicole for the very first time as well.
And in September, I got to serve tea at Luke’s wedding and celebrated his wedding to a wonderful person named MacKenna.
And a month later, I was in Oregon — having a massive tea party with Luke and MacKenna.
I also met friends such as Ethan, Molly, Chris, Karissa, Geoffrey, and a few others who were also there — spending time with me.
Now that I’m reflecting at the times I spent alone and isolated in 2022, it was evident to me that I wasn’t really alone — I was showered by the care of the individuals who made a conscious effort to love me for who I am.
And to add to these individuals, there’s a huge sleuth of others who I have yet to meet in-person. Despite being virtual, these friends show love to me all the same.
These people have shown me love, light, and friendship.
I might have been hundreds of miles away from the people who I care about, but their love covered me like a warm blanket.
Their love gave me the strength to climb up and out of my crisis, and continue forward.
Now that I’ve been in tea for 7 years now, I gained one thing that I never imagined ever obtaining and never sought after— a family of people whose love and friendship made me a special person.
And it’s all because of one common interest….
With them, I know my 7th year in tea will be a remarkable one <3
So haters, if you’ve made it this far… Remember to not hide behind your girlfriends to end a half-dozen friendships for you, and to not tell me that I can’t listen to whatever the hell I want to when drinking tea.
And haters, fuck you… and thank you for the motivation.
With much love,
Aka The Oolong Drunk
“Blissfully Tea Drunk With…”