I was running out of stash storage space, more specifically tea caddies.
I needed an empty container to house a recent purchase. It always makes me a tad nervous and slightly stressed to have new leaves sat around in the packaging they were shipped in.
I was facing an inverse Old Mother Hubbard situation – when I got there, the cupboard was most definitely not bare, and that was the problem. The cupboard, in fact, was jam-packed full, as was the overflow cabinet, and the overflow overflow area in our bedroom’s built-in wardrobe. No room at the inn, Camellia.
I started rooting around in a drawer, looking for a caddy of the right size that might contain leaves no longer fit for purpose. I stuck in my thumb, and rather than a plum I pulled out an old “Harrod’s” caddy. I shook it. There was something inside, but what exactly? I’m normally quite good at labelling caddies, but this one wasn’t. I opened it up.
It looked like Silver Needle. Eh? When had I purchased this cargo? Then the penny dropped.
Not this summer just gone but the one before I’d embarked on a bit of a heatwave inspired white tea bender, and at some point in time I’d popped into one of the tea boutiques in town to see what they could do for me. I’d been offered this batch of Silver Needle, but only after the salesperson had done a lot of sniffing and are-you-sure-ing.
After a bit of my own nasal aromatic inspection I’d agreed to buy the tea, and once I was back at home I assembled some kit for an inaugural session with it.
I remember feeling comprehensively underwhelmed by the experience. It all came back to me as I stared at the leaves in the open caddy, the sense of disappointment. Maybe the shopkeep’s reticence to sell me the tea had subconsciously negatively biased my expectations, but whatever the reasons had been for my feelings of “oh, is that it…?” I’d put the caddy away, planning to try again at a later date, but actually forgetting all about it. The caddy and the tea in it had slipped to the bottom of the drawer, like that crate containing the lost ark at the end of the first Indiana Jones flick.
A year and a bit later the caddy was once again open, and rather than encountering divine retribution I found long lost leaves.
Wondering what to do with them, I remembered a post I’d seen over at Steepster.
Steepster sadly seems to be in a state of terminal decline these days, with the discussion forums regularly spammed three pages deep by the usual pedlars of dodgy products and services, although a hard-core of old timers seem determined to take out the trash as best they can.
I still take a look-see every now and then for old time’s sake, and one post caught my eye on such a visit.
It was a post about a sipdown challenge, where participants clear out and drink up those stubborn last few remaining grams of leaf that have been hanging around their stashes for far too long.
This batch of Silver Needles I’d just rediscovered would be a perfect candidate for such a campaign. They looked to be in reasonable condition. No visible signs of mould or insect attack. My nostrils reported nothing out of the ordinary. What the heck, get the kettle on.
Given that my earlier appraisal of the tea had been a bit “meh”, I decided to go heavy. Six grams in a 400 ml pot, water at 90°C, 2 minutes Western style.
The results were, well, alright. Nothing earth shattering, of course, just a nice balance of sweet and hay with just a touch of a lurking malty something that rung the doorbell before running away.
I even went for a second, 4 minute long infusion. Perfectly drinkable, but that was clearly that as far as the session went. Fair enough.
In the post-session glow a plan started to emerge. There’s roughly 6 weeks left of 2019, why not spend the time on an extended sipdown challenge, clear out the old in the stash to make room for new gear in the new year.
Watch this space, etc…