2018 was a weird year. Yeah, I know I’ve said that about prior years, but I really mean it this time. At present, it’s midnight on New Year’s Eve, a “chill-hop” station is on repeat-play, and I’m waiting for this 2013 Myanmar shou cha to kick in.
At the time of this writing, it’s been over a month since my last article . . . missive . . . er . . . whatever. Also, at the time of this writing, it’s Thanksgiving day. Due to a bout of illness that decided to show up the day before, I’m holed up in my room. In order to avoid being Patient Zero, I’ve opted to quarantine myself from the two Turkey Day invites I received; even the one taking place in my home. This entire first paragraph serves as a microcosm of how well this autumn has gone.
But I don’t want to focus on the bad, rather, I want to finally break my unintended blogging hiatus to highlight things I’m thankful for. They, also, just so happen to be stories I never got around to telling. So, this serves as a bit of kitchen sink catch-up as well.
Without further ado, let’s get to thankin’!
On September 20th of this year, I received an intriguing text from a fellow tea-brother:
I’d never heard American Vandal, nor was I aware that it had two seasons. My Netflix-fu was neophyte status at best. If it didn’t have the word “Marvel” in front of it, or could be easily searched in the anime section, I probably didn’t know it existed. But the thought of a series even acknowledging tea vlogging? That tickled my curiosity gland.
In the late-aughts (meaning: 2000-2009), my tea journey paralleled another hobby.
Since I worked the graveyard shift for most of the first decade of this century, I devoured a lot of content on that once-brand new streaming site. Even up to the present, this quiet addiction still percolates. Sometimes, it even cross-pollinates with my tea addiction, such as with my own under-used YouTube channel.
But YouTube and tea never really came in direct contact with an even older hobby of mine: etymology.
No, not entomology. Etymology; the study of words. More specifically, it’s the study of the meaning behind certain words and phrases.
“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?