Summer 2018 – Back Home

2018 summer - back home

Our plans for the latter stages of our end of vacation mini road trip were modified during a pit stop for ice-cream and cold drinks at the famous Håverud aqueduct.

After leaving Karlstad we’d intended to stay overnight in Gothenburg, in order to split the remaining distance left into two smaller chunks, but over strawberry Magnums and Coke Zeroes it was agreed that we’d double down, and cover the distance in one day, taking extra rest stops as needed.

And so it came to pass that after a lengthy break for shopping at the legendary Ullared mall as well as a meal at a conveniently placed Burger King we arrived home in the early evening.

Naturally enough the first thing I did was to get my travel stash and on-the-road kit unpacked and away before putting the kettle on. Instinctively I went for some Da Hong Pao for that all important, celebratory, “down and safe“, welcome home pot. Sat on our balcony enjoying a tea that had seen a fair bit of action while we were away seemed to nicely dot the I’s and cross the T’s, tying up the beginning and the end of the holiday.

The next morning I began my post-trip analysis over a session with some 2012 Bu Lang. I thought I might need a tea I hadn’t drunk on holiday to help me look back on the time spent away more objectively.

After that first meditative cup had hit the spot, I started off by weighing what was left of the leaves I took with me. I find this a very useful and interesting exercise. With a bit of post-trip perspective, you can spot trends and habits that aren’t always apparent when you’re too close to the trees, so to speak, what you got right and wrong in your planning, and besides, any excuse to start a spreadsheet, non…?

summer 2018 - came back with table

It surprised me to see how much Oolong I’d drunk, especially the Tie Guan Yin. Including the two types of Oolong had been a smart move, as it had obviously taken a lot of pressure off the Pu-erh sub-stash.

The Silver Needle never got as much action as anticipated because it didn’t really get on well with any of the water it encountered en-route – it ended up tasting flat and dull.

On the Pu-erh side my margin of safety had obviously been quite wide enough. The two Haiwan bricks I’d brought along as an emergency reserve had never been touched, but when it comes to one’s daily Pu intake it pays to be overly cautious.

The Emona brand Ceylon had as expected taken quite a hammering due to its role as the default breakfast accompanying tea.

I’d taken the green gunpowder along for early morning sessions on our bit of cliff, and no doubt much more of it would have been used if only I’d have found the Trangia spirit burner I use at those times earlier than I actually did.

In all honesty I probably would have used more of the Jingmai Cha Gao bricklets if they hadn’t have been so tricky to peel the foil off and deal with – these particular bricklets are so hard that they really do need cutting into smaller pieces before hitting hot water. I felt that that was too much of an intrusion into quality vacation time. This was a shame, because unlike the Silver Needle I found that the taste of the Cha Gao was really improved by the water at our summer house. It was only after I got home that I thought of a possible solution to this – rendering them to fine flakes with the aid of a nutmeg grater. Still, I can experiment with this at home, and if the technique works take it on the road with me next time out.

On the hardware side everything had performed as well as anticipated, but the addition of a vacuum flask had been the cherry on top of the cream cake, adding a most welcome degree of flexibility and wiggle room. That particular piece of kit really earned its place in my setup, and will always be coming along for the ride in future.

Another addition I’m considering is on the water heating side of things. I have my eye on 2 possibilities here, either a folding silicone kettle, or the more likely option, a dedicated immersion heater, with which I could handily transform the bottom bit of the Kamjove pot into a kettle. Watch this space, etc.

In the meantime, we have a big family party in the country to look forward to in a couple of weeks, only a long weekend away this time though.

I’ll still plan meticulously, of course. No true teahead wants to get stuck out in the sticks without good leaves in an appropriate pot, after all, do they? That would never do…

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