This year, I went to World Tea Expo in Las Vegas with a mission.
“I don’t really do tea blends.”
It’s a phrase that I never thought I’d find myself uttering, but one day—a couple of years ago—I did just that. A blending outfit wondered if I would be willing to cover some of their wares, and I politely turned up my nose in e-mail form. As far as I was concerned, at the time, I had moved past blends of disparate teas mixed from different regions. Oftentimes, the fusion of palatial deliveries confused my poor tongue. Single origin teas offered uniformity, consistency, and nuance. Or so I thought . . .
As of this year, I’ll have written about tea on the Internet—in some capacity or another—for eleven years.
It boggles my mind that I’ve been at it for this long. A part of me even wonders why I still do it. Honestly, not much has come of it. The blog itself really hasn’t changed much. I cover weird teas, and share my weird stories about tea. A part of me felt the blog itself peaked in 2016, and that my irreverent joy of it petered out long before that.
And as far as it leading to professional writing projects? . . . Eh . . . we won’t get into that.
But, lately, I felt the tug of burnout. When would my last strand of proverbial tea prosaic rope finally fray and break? When would I put this here blog to rest and become a mere blip in the annals of tea blogging history?
I chose a weird time to talk about autumn flush Darjeelings.
For one thing, it hasn’t been a typical year for the region. (An understatement, true.) But before I get into that, I should probably explain what I mean by “Darjeeling autumn flush”. Here’s a bit of a primer.
In May of 2017, I asked tea peers on social media a simple question: Is Vietnamese sheng puerh style heicha a thing?
At least . . . I thought it was a simple question.
That query sparked a minor debate about the nature of heicha, and whether or not sheng puerh (or sheng puerh-style tea) was considered as such. At the time, I rested firmly in the camp that it was. After all, heicha (or “dark tea”, as it was more commonly known in English) encompassed all fermented teas. Sheng (or raw) puerh, following a long period of aging, went through a microbial change similar to heicha from other parts of China.
Or did it?
If I were to sum up 2017 in one image, it would be . . .
Yeah, that about says it.
The year wasn’t quite the dumpster fire that 2016 was, but it did have its ups and downs. Winter flew by like a brisk, cold nap. Spring reverberated with optimism and hope. And summer, like an oppressive heatwave, took that hope and crushed it with a sweaty fist. Autumn tried to resuscitate some shred of exuberance, but flat-lined by the time the holiday season rolled around.
Through it all, my mood soured on salvaging even a shred good cheer. That dour outlook permeated throughout my writing work; and my various social media feeds. Some even wondered if I needed a really long hug. (To which the answer was a resounding, “Yes!”) However, looking back on the past year, I realized there were many positive occurrences that I completely skated over—moments of pure tea whimsy that I forgot to document.
Christmas is usually my favorite time of year. But this year . . . I simply wasn’t feeling it. And it wasn’t for lack of trying.
A week or so before the impending, I found a green bow on the floor of the parking lot at my work. It pretty much summed up how I felt. I tried to find yuletide joy in the little things around me, but even that proved difficult.
I’m not entirely sure if it was because I had to work through the majority of it, or because my finances were severely depleted—thus not allowing me to buy gifts for close family—or some combination therein. As December rolled around, I simply wanted it all to be over. Even Christmas music couldn’t lift my “bah humbag”-ish demeanor.
Then it hit me.
A couple of days ago, a fellow tea acquaintance asked me for some advice on puerh. Naturally, I provided it, based upon my own subjective experience. But I also had to preface something. I was not the most . . . uh . . . mature, sophisticated, or “learned” person on the subject of puerh.
If I were to sum up this summer in one word or image, it would be . . .
Yeah, that’s apt.
Sure, there were good things that happened over the course of those three months, and I’ll probably get around to writing about those some other week. But there’s one thing I have to get off my mind first . . . and that is, well, my mind. For the last three months, I have suffered from a headache.
Not headaches plural; one headache.
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