of the Lazy Literatus

A Forward Foreword to a Fermented Puerh

NaNoTeaMo, Day 29: “A Forward Foreword to a Fermented Puerh

I have a confession to make, but I’m going to do it in the most roundabout way possible. Don’t worry, I’ll get to a point (eventually), and I’ll somehow try to segue into tea. But I warn you, it won’t be pretty. And neither is my confession. It involves a spelling error, a really public spelling error that no one seemed to pick up on.

Earlier this week, I received this in the mail.

Myths and Legends of Tea

Myths & Legends of Tea by Gary Robson.

And I was psyched. Actually, I’ve received a few tea books recently, and I will get to all of them in due time. Including this one; but that’s not why I was so psyched. I immediately turned to the introduction. Why? Because . . . I WAS the introduction!!!



I’m sorry, for an aspiring writer, seeing yourself in print, even in someone else’s work . . . well . . . there’s no feeling like it. Forgive me for tooting my own horn, but this was the first time I’d seen myself in print. Like, actual print, not that soft and fleeting Internet version of print. Something I could touch.

I showed it off to everyone – my mother, my sister, my niece, my brother. I bragged, I feigned humbleness. Granted, it wasn’t my book. (I’ll get there . . . someday.) But I was finally somewhat important enough to introduce a book.

A year ago, when Gary asked me to do the intro, I was quite taken aback. No one had asked me to do that before. I didn’t really know how to write one. Plus, I was given a small window of time to do it in. But I delivered – right before the due date, even.

Now, the book was out in print. A couple of tea bloggers even made it a point to mention that my introduction was in there. Jen “An International Tea Moment” Piccotti was first to chime in, and I man-blushed. And a couple of days ago, Tony “World of Tea” Gebely told people to keep an eye out for my foreword.

World of Tea

Wait a minute . . . foreword? I had to look at that again.


Oh shit.

Was that why people were finding it so hilarious? Did they think I intentionally rambled on about the word “forward” in the introduction, among other flights of fancy? And if so . . . how can I tell them the truth? Should I tell them the truth?

I needed liquid bravery. When I got home from work at the end of my weekend, I got to digging through the backlog box. I wasn’t too sure what I was in the mood for. Nor did I have a clue what I was going to pick. My hands brushed past several things, but like a toy-grabbing claw, I picked something out at random. It was Wild Tea Qi’s Ancient Phoenix Fermented Puerh . . . and it was in disc form.

puerh disc

It’d been awhile since I talked about a shou (cooked) puerh. Let alone one that was pressed in such an odd way. I knew of several vendors that carried puerh “coins” that looked similar, and there were stories of pressed tea coins being used as currency. This was my first time running into one.

According to the tea’s bio, the leaves for this puerh were picked by a 70-year-old woman who went by “Grandma Yang”. She was part of the Yi Tribe, an ethnic group that can be found in China, Vietnam and Thailand. The ancient tea trees she tended to were certified organic, and a part a sustainable tea plantation located in the Wu Liang mountain region.

Unlike a lot of puerhs, which are stone or machine pressed, these were pressed with wood that affected the fragrance of the finished product. The result was a pressed – but not too tightly-packed – disked shou puerh that smelled like nothing else. Just putting my nose to the coin and sniffing garnered images of chocolate fields on fire.

puerh half

For brewing, they recommended using half of the disc, and then brewing it like you would any other puerh. Gongfu-style. I went with boiled water, the usual gaiwan, and the standard amount of steeps at a pre-determined time. They recommended tossing the pre-wash (or rinse), but screw that . . . I drank it anyway.

The liquor(s) brewed as dark as they possibly good. It was shou puerh, after all. The day I come across a shou that doesn’t darken to the color of a black hole . . . will be the day the Universe ends.

puerh brewed

The same sweet, chocolaty aroma from the dry coin carried over to the post-brew steam. There was no requisite fishy smell. I think there might’ve been some earth. But for the most part, it was mostly sweetness with a hint of wood. On taste, those notes traded places.

Woodiness was front and center. Pinewood, to be precise – the roasted kind used for some Lapsang Souchongs. That was what I was tasting. Followed closely behind with that same blanket o’ sweetness. It wasn’t Keemun wood-sweet, but something far more pungent. It was as if someone accidentally pressed a toasted cacao husk (or three) into the puerh.

Okay, now I’m ready to confess. Here goes. Deep breath.

Folks, I honestly didn’t know the difference between “forward” and “foreword”. I thought they were one and the same. It wasn’t until I saw Tony’s blog that I realized the error. The fact that everyone thought it was some sort of clever meta-joke is probably why no one called me on it sooner. Not Gary, not Jen, not Tony.

That said, it does add an extra (albeit humorous) dimension to that quick little blurb. And the tea I dug around for to act as liquid courage was rather good. I just hope the next time I see myself in print, there isn’t so glaring an error. If that happens, though, I’ll probably tea-treat myself to some “bravery” before confessing again.

Or was that too “foreword”?


A Bug-Bitten Beauty of a Black Tea


The White Forest Oolong Finish Line

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