The other day I had what I can only describe as some kind of a tea flashback.
Out of sheer boredom I’d written a Bash shell script (tl;dr: a kind of computer program) to randomly select and play an mp3 file on one of the external drives I use for backup purposes.
I sat down with a freshly made pot of Lyckoblandning, and plugged in my headphones to test my work.
Weirdly enough, the first song the program decided to play was a rather spooky callback to shou pu-erh, “Moon Over Xun Yang River“, a piece of traditional Chinese music.
Once upon a time, quite a few years ago now, I used to unwind after a hectic work day and a long bicycle commute by listening to this very piece of music whilst supping on a restorative cup of shou pu-erh. This was at the very start of my tea adventure, and was a time when I was both learning how to handle my first gaiwan as well as appreciate the finer points of that class of tea.
As I drank my tea in the here-and-now I had a strange feeling of bilocation, as if I was both simultaneously sat at my desk at home and yet also wallowing in a huge armchair half a continent away and over half a decade ago in the past. Even the tea seemed to be taking on some of the flavours of the tea I drank back then, which was much more straw and forest floor in nature.
Then the song ended, and my program destroyed the illusion by filling my ears with The Dickies at their shouty best.
To drink, a chance to steep…
Whilst idly surfing around I recently came across a poem about tea by a Swedish poet, Karl Vennberg, who was new to me, but in my defence my Mother-in-law, a teacher of Swedish no less, had heard of him, but was not familiar with any of his work.
Anyroad, here’s my own translation of said poem…
The real tea connoisseur,
Prepares their tea thus:
The real tea connoisseur,
God connoisseur, people connoisseur,
Rinses souls properly,
With boiling water.
On the nose…
You know that you’re thoroughly familiar with a tea (in this case Kenya Rhino) when you decide you need 6 grams for a session, and after grabbing two good pinches of the leaf you hit your target exactly…
I fired off another tea order yesterday, and to keep things as simple as possible in these complicated times it was placed with my usual suppliers, House of Tea in Stockholm. So far so good – House of Tea have prepared and dispatched my order as per usual, so let’s see how the Swedish postal service is holding up, which has normally meant next day delivery.
I decided against ordering more Bai Mu Dan, because with its fluffy nature that increases the risk that the package will be shipped in a box too large to fit into our mailbox. That, as I explained in my earlier post, would mean breaking isolation and picking up the package at our local supermarket, which with things as they are just now is not our preferred option.
In putting together the order I included a couple of black teas that I thought I’d try out in the early morning, pre-breakfast slot – a Keemun Congou and a Keemun Mao Feng. Another factor in favour of including these two teas was that despite them being rock solid daily drinkers, I’ve never drunk either of them, a terrible omission and something I thought I absolutely had to put right!
Another objective with this order was to shore up the Pu side of my stash, and to this end I included a sheng and a shou.
The sheng was a 100 gram tuo of Xia Guan Jia Ji. I’ve looked at this tea before, but that was a 2001 pressing, whereas the one included in this order is from 2009. I thought it would be interesting to compare the two vintages.
I also bought a full sized 357 gram beeng of shou. Although it doesn’t quite fall into the Mystery Beeng category, I don’t know a great deal about it, although what I do made it seem worthy of a punt.
I’m managing to stay stocked up, there’s a little organic shop still open in Manchester. They do Assam and whatnot. Tea has been rather vital during this whole crisis thing.
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It certainly has.
Every time I catch myself beginning to worry about it, I put the kettle on…