This post was inspired by a similar one over at Eric’s blog One Man’s Tea Journey.
The second I opened my eyes it began. From the other side of the bedroom door came the plaintive cry of a small, chocolate brown banshee, a mournful wail more wolf-cub howl than feline yowl, a pitiful lament telling of hunger and loneliness.
Alarm? I don’t need no stinking alarm, for I have a Burmese cat, and when it comes to waking me up he is as reliable as the tides and the sunset.
I make my way to the kitchen, and check the time. Thankfully my furry four legged overlord has erred on the side of caution today – 5am! To the accompaniment of much grateful purring and headbutting of my foot (he really is an odd little chap, my cat) I refresh his water bowl and give him his breakfast. Then, and only then, can I even begin to think about getting my own day up and running, with a cerebral boot-up enabling tea event…
Early Morning Pot
I top up the water level in my Fellow Stagg EKG kettle, and set the dial to 90°C. Whilst the water in the kettle is coming up to temperature, I fill up one of the Ikea Upphetta pots I’ll be using with hot water from the tap, in order to warm it up. I remove four good pinches of Bai Mu Dan from its caddy, and drop it into the warmed up pot, and set it off steeping.
Three of your earth minutes later I partly depress the plunger taking care not to stress the leaves, and decant the finished tea into the other Upphetta that will be acting in the role of a surrogate gong dao bei. I’ll then spend a very leisurely hour or so catching up with all the latest developments in the Teaosphere by reading my teamail, checking out the latest blog postings, and seeing what’s what on tea-related social media. I’ll then give the leaves another run through hot water – a five minute infusion this time. This will be the tea I slurp whilst I start to get things in order for breakfast. I rarely drink tea with my breakfast, but Mrs. Teaist will have a cup of whatever suitable, daily drinker type black tea we have in at the time, which currently means Emona Brand Ceylon.
Once Mrs. Teaist has gone off to work, Teaist Junior has cycled off to college, and the cat has settled down for his mid-morning nap, I’ll finish off the post breakfast chores, then prepare for my mid-morning session. This is always a gong-fu occasion, and often features one of the teas I’m getting better acquainted with before I post a blog article about it. This is a long, lazy affair, my best quality “me” time of the day. If I’m steeping longer lasting leaves this session can easily straddle lunch, although it can also be interrupted by Lord Meow waking up and demanding his lunch.
Necking a particularly potent sheng at this time of day and in the kind of amounts such a session can generate can have amusing consequences, such as reading an article somewhere or other and spending the rest of the day doing follow-up “research“, or posting surreal updates to your Facebook timeline, baffling friends and family alike, but reducing yourself to breathless hysterics…
This is usually a post shopping trip affair, serving as both a shattered nerve calmer and cold weather warmer upper. Six grams of something or other will be tossed into an Upphetta for a single shot Western infusion, and lately this niche has been taken over by a caddy clearing candidate for my on-going sipdown challenge. Just a few days ago, for example, I bade a hearty farewell to Vietnam Suoi Giang Green Wild Tea in this time slot. It’s usual for this mini-session to be delayed for several minutes because you-know-who needs making a fuss of to bring him out of his “I can’t believe you went out and left me alone..!” bad mood.
Early Evening Session
Here I have an ultra-casual gong-fu-to-go type of session, meaning that I steep and sip in-between semi frenzied bouts of activity aimed at starting preparations for our evening meal. Oolongs and black teas have kind of taken over this session. If time is not on my side the gaiwan might be left in the cupboard, and one of the clay pots I use for Western styling black and Oolong teas will come out in its place, and the longer session pared down to a single shot 400 ml affair. Unusually, the cat nuisance coefficient for this timeframe is low, seeing as he’s often busy watching YouTube at this time of the day. Look, don’t ask. Please.
Late Evening Pot
This, by tradition, is a Western style infusion of shou pu-erh, drunk as a post-meal palate degreasant and digestif. Since early October I’ve brewed up in the “Gothenburg” pot. The timing of this pot is important – if it’s taken too late then there is a very real danger that I’ll spend a good part of the night dans le WC. It is for this very reason that this part of my tea drinking day is no longer gong-fu themed – too much tea consumed meant that too much sleep was lost, especially when He Who Purrs heard that you were awake, and took this as a sign that you had risen from your pit of slumber in order to give him a midnight snack.
And so that, mes braves, is how a typical tea drinking day hereabouts pans out.
The only thing that tends to interrupt this daily rhythm of steep, sip, repeat (not counting the cat), is if we’re taking a timeout in the countryside, as we shall be doing over the Christmas and New Year period, but that, as they say, is quite another story…