Hitting The Mainstream

Pu-erh tea bags

It’s every music lover’s nightmare. A band you’ve followed from their early years suddenly, inexplicably, becomes popular, and you know that based on past events the end is probably nigh.

I remember with a heavy heart reading an article in the British tabloid Daily Mirror about the band Japanall too aware that their “overnight” commercial success was probably the kiss of death.

I experienced the tea lover’s equivalent of this feeling this morning.

I was in a local supermarket looking to score for Cornish sea salt and eco-friendly Chorizo, when what did I spy with my cynical eye in the tea section but Pu-erh tea bags.

Up until today if you wanted to buy Pu-erh in this town your choices were one of the Chinese supermarkets for some average quality, loose leaf shu Pu-erh, trusting that the one “proper” tea shop that might stock it would have some in, or jumping on the internet and flashing the plastic.

But here it was, Pu-erh the elusive, the mysterious, the tea you had to work at to get hold of, sat on a shelf between the whole wheat pasta and the free range eggs from happy hens.

It was a bit like going into a Mickey D’s and seeing Gordon Ramsey flipping the burgers.

Presumably the clamour for Pu-erh from readers of lifestyle magazines who had read that it is a do-it-all elixir that will make them thin, healthy and irresistible to all has become too much for the shop’s management to bear.

Good luck to those who might want to experiment with Pu-erh having read about it in **insert name of glossy magazine =>here<=**. I know from bitter experience that Pu-erh is not a tea that takes too well to being used in this form. Trust me, I once tried Chinese Pu-erh tea bags several years ago. Trust me, but don’t judge me – I was desperate…!

Hopefully the escalating popularity of Pu-erh won’t result in yet more of the lowering of standards and hiking of prices that you can read about. Counterfeiting is becoming a serious problem, I’ve read, with even real experts getting their fingers burnt.

I’ve also read about old time Pu-erh connoisseurs lamenting the good old days when very few people outside of China who weren’t tea industry insiders even knew that Pu-erh existed, and that developing a taste for the tea meant a serious commitment in terms of time as well as money, years of research, study, and tasting, and was akin to joining a religious order as a devotee.

I think tonight I’ll have to tease a few grams off of my Pu-erh brick, and wallow in the sound of Japan at their very best…

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