It was a good weekend.
On the Saturday, in the style of Easy Riders I just knew I’d reached the right time to drink up the last of the very generous sample of Autumn 2018 Jingmai Gushu I received from Farmer Leaf. Those leaves were given a good send off during a lazy, three hour session, much of which was spent watching cold rain lash the living room windows.
In contrast Sunday dawned bright and sunny, a full 11 degrees Cee warm, with a barely noticeable sea breeze.
It seemed too good an opportunity to waste, especially this late on in the year with the back end shuffling its feet and coughing politely for attention, so I threw together a few bits and pieces into a pannier and a rucksack, and headed off on the family’s dayglo yellow velocipede to a patch of turf well known to me, which sits next to our local beach, in the shade of a small group of trees.
I set up my Terra Nova Competition 1 tarp, flopped down under it, and laid out my tea making gear.
My water was going to be heated up courtesy of my ever faithful Trangia Mini, and once the water was boiling I would be brewing up in a small infuser basket dropped into an Ikea cream jug.
On a whim I opted to take 4 grams worth of Georgia Etseri Wild Black Tea with me.
As I waited for my water to come up to temperature I spent the time flicking falling leaves from the outside of my shelter, and escorting a series of small spiders and the last of the year’s mosquitoes out of it.
I must have configured the tarp in stealth mode, because not one of the many dog walkers out and about enjoying the afternoon sunshine paid me the slightest bit of attention.
Suddenly an eruption of steam from my wee pan told me my tea water was ready, so I filled up my makeshift pot, and after a minute and a half’s wait removed the basket of leaves, and left it steaming away quietly to itself on the damp grass.
I filled my cup, and lay down, using my parka as a pillow, breathing in the twin aromas of “under canvas” and good tea. The wind picked up a bit, flinging downed foliage all over the shop, but I sipped on, tucked safely away under my protective layer of silnylon.
The combination of sea air and tasty liquor acted as an appetite booster, and I began to wish that I’d brought a few snacks with me, maybe even a tin of soup, or a sandwich for lunch.
Although this particular tea hit the spot like Billy Tell splitting an apple, I couldn’t help but think about how well a good, strong shou would have worked, or maybe even a few grams of the Lapsang I recently bought.
I was considering the possibility of trying to coax a second round out of the leaves, but eyeballing my water bottle I wasn’t sure if I had enough, and besides, my area was suddenly inundated with people, and some of their hounds were becoming a tad more nosy about my tentlet. I reluctantly decided to pack up and head off home.
I emptied out the used tea leaves on top of the gently mulching greenery on the floor of the copse behind my camp.
As I cycled home I found myself looking forward to the onset of inclement days, and a time when the fair-weather casuals abandon the outdoors to the lunatic fringe, the kind of oddball who enjoys making tea in the sort of conditions that would make a moorland sheep weep.