Friday, November 28, 2014

Taco Tea Series 1 - 05 Yiwu Song Pin Xing

Back when the Yiwu Zhengshan Tea Company was getting off the ground, they first printed under the Yi Cheng(易盛) brand as well as the more obscure Song Pin Xing(宋聘興) label before they launched the wildly successful premium Douji brand in 2006.  Song Pin Xing appears to have had just a short one year run in 2005.  This wrapper looks similar to the Yi Cheng(易盛) which had been more readily available on the internet in years past- a frenzy started between MarshalN/Hobbes when they were still collaboratingto help us find better teas.

If you are a Douji fan and have never seen this one before, don't get too hot and bothered. There's good reason why I consider this a taco tea.  Seeing as how many times Yiwu Zhengshan is slathered on the wrapper,  is this round cake way more Yiwu than the Yi Cheng?  Lets brew!

This red label being an autumnal production is not the most captivating Yiwu to be had.  How do I know it's guhua?  My test involves popping most of the stems apart afterwards- fibrous stems are a sure sign as spring productions are much more juicy and give with out much effort.  Actually you can tell how woody the stems are on the raw cake without having to brew it up. The muted taste and weaker huigan of course complete the picture but I've also got that extra dry storage thing going on... But if you've got a sheng intolerance and you can glug it down, it's gotta be autumnal.

By Douji standards, these leaves are a mess. There's more burnt black edges and stems. Compared to the '05 Yiwu Montain Bamboo, these leaves went through some rough handling.

This Song Pin Xing entered my house summer of 2006 having been procured by a friend in Meliandao for about 10 bucks.   I would have preferred the spring pick purple label but beggars can't be choosers.  I know you youngsters absolutely hate it when I keep repeating that sodas were just a nickel back in the day.  Ironically back in 2006, on a Sanzui post on this particular tea, a forum member called this an expensive tea for 70 yuan(!).

Regardless of what these teas have become due to label and age premiums,   I relegate this particular Yiwu in my pile of taco teas- tasty enough for the cost.  It's mild enough that I can enjoy it anytime as my budget Yiwu option.  If I had paid today's high price on this baby, I'd be disappointed. But at $10, it's all good.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Following the Crowd

I went through a twenty day cycle of embracing weak teas and I snagged a few shengs that would be gentler on my body- a Guangzhou stored 2006 Changtai 65th Anniversary Ancient Tree and a 2005 Mengku Spring Tips.  Actually, Red Lantern Tea kindly sent me the 65 gratis after the unfortunate feather incident. They are both amiable easy teas.  The Changtai is not unlike the Douji Dayeqingbing full of long stemmed mature leaves. "Ancient tree" probably indicates older plantation and the mostly large leaves have no bites left.  However, they are both refreshing and probably can be served to unsuspecting lucha drinkers.   The two teas pose very little burden on the body but when you get what you want, it's not exactly what you wanted at all.

In a fit of feeling sorry for myself that I was stuck with such wussy teas, I swung the other direction and bought four samples from white2tea which arrived Monday.  My husband who has a cold and can barely smell gave me the hairy eyeball for having the radioactive White Whale(still inside an open plastic bag) on our breakfast table yesterday morning.  When wet stored cakes arrive in a plastic bag- you need to give 'em a few days or weeks to breathe out as the storage aroma intensifies into something more shocking during the journey from China.

This morning after a night of coughing fits,  I'm slightly delirious but want to brew up.  I only have myself to blame for getting this sick. My husband kept offering me preventative zinc and elderberry tablets all weekend and because the zinc completely numbs the palate and I wanted to taste my teas, I refused what was good for me.  Now that I'm sick, I can't taste that much.

The sheepish whale on the wrapping can win any frosty heart including mine.  This mini brick is cute enough for any Japanese school girl but not for what lurks beneath.  First off this little guy is tight- XG tight.  It does not want to give it up. It feels slightly wrong to be wrangling such a tiny brick as I hear tiny squeaks of "No don't hurt me!"  I'm only able to flake off mouse nibble bits for a tiny pot brew.

Man is this tea bitter. I like dandelion greens bitter not arsenic bitter.  I had resisted putting in an order to white2tea mainly because of Hobbes.  The man tends to like strong punchy bitter teas. He also likes 'em drank(dank and rank) and sweaty.  While reading about them is great fun, my unwilling stomach cowers before such leaf.  Cwyn did warned me but the WW is a tolerable stomach burner.  

Am I that "empty husk of a man subsisting on hatred and bitterness alone" that can't quite enjoy this tea?  Me? Drats. The overriding bitterness with the not entirely desirable storage taste coating my upper palate puts me on the fence.  I may or may not like it better after I give it a week to air out more and my proper palate returns after I rid of this dreadful cold.  Plenty of others will champion this tea and so Paul will need not worry about one oddly picky reviewer.  (Sorry Paul...) I look forward to brewing up the other white2tea samples and his Yiwu was quite lovely and worth getting if not for my budget minded ways. 

The White Whale is one of the must-try aged samples like the Hengli Chang just to get a sense of reference points for other bloggers.  You can predict with micrometer accuracy what MarshalN will say of this White Whale.  Nobody fork it over to him- I don't want us to get yet another brow beating.

Can a true tea wraith get joy out of looking at such cupcakes? Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Cheap Taco Syndrome and the Trouble with Expensive Sheng

I love Mexican food and eat tacos at least twice a week if not more. At the low end, there is the truck taco selling for less than $2 a taco. Because of the genre as a fast food- there is a 3x price ceiling on tacos and $12 is really as much as you can charge for plate of 2 tacos in the Bay Area.  At the higher end, I enjoyed two calamari tacos for $12 at Padrecito in Cole Valley where probably 75% went straight into to paying their exhorbitant SF rent.   Although a taco truck might employ lesser grades of meat,  even a truck taco is highly satisfying and quite tasty.

I eat out several hundred times a year from $4~$75 per head but because cheap tacos are so satisfying, it's becoming harder for me to enjoy expensive dinners.  I've had many a meal this year at $40+ that was only a hair better than my usual neighborhood $3.75 taco on a hand made tortilla. In hind sight I would have done better to save those thousands of dollars for tea. 

This kind of cost analysis is constantly disrupting my tea sessions since my tea closet if full of cheap taco tea.  Today I tried to enjoy an expensive aged Yiwu and it was good- the huigan lasted over an hour.   But because it was the most expensive Yiwu I've sampled,  my expectations cast a shadow over the brewing.  At a certain price point, i.e. over $300 a beeng,  I wrongly expect miracles in the mouth.  I am not the person to drop thousands on a beeng although I might drop a hundo on the right sample.  The current price of serious aged teas is such that it's an extravagant luxury in the province of rich businessmen.   Really, I don't mind drinking my less than stellar genres of tea which are often times as satisfying as the best tacos.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

90s XG Tuo And The Triangle Theory of Shengpu Premiums

In my younger days, Hugo my indomitable father would try to impress upon me various life lessons with a diagram only an ex-military economist could draw.  Foremost was Hugo's triangle theory of life where one's life was principally composed of
  • intellectual side- including work life
  • emotional side- love, friendship, family life, home life
  • muscle side
You had to secure at least two sides out of three before your life got wobbly and fell over.  Hugo has squeezed my unsuspecting husband's biceps and chided my man for neglecting his muscle side.   There was a time when all three sides of my life were teetering and my life did predictably fall to utter chaos.  The triangle pattern runs deep in my psyche for all sorts of things so I present to you the triangle theory of sheng purchase premiums.

When I buy tea, my analytical mind automatically tries to deconstruct the tea price roughly into three areas:
  • leaf quality
  • aging/storage
  • processing - including brand premium and I'm going to sloppily include the vendor premium here so I don't have to go quadrangle and mess up the analogy.
In the last few months, I've been mostly paying out an aging premium over so so leaf made by so so factories because that's what is basically available within my price points.  This morning after trying the 90s XG tuo,  I realize I need to break out of this rut as I've probably gotten enough of such ho-hum aged teas.

Yesterday I was pathologically compelled to almost buy a suspicious 90s XG tuo on ebay even though I have pounds of decade old high-end XG I wont' drink.  Then I remembered I already had a sample in my ebay kit so I brewed the tuo sample up this morning.  This 90s tea tastes like it could be even as young as ~2003 and whether or not it's really XG is moot. Even after a decade, this tuo reproduces with high fidelity the XG signature astringency but it's probably not that hard to replicate the northern plantation summer leaf taste.

What I've always appreciated about run on the mill XG tuos is that they are no nonsense teas not aspiring for imperial tribute designation or rare old tree cachet. Plantation blend and proud of it.  At their best, the sand paper roughness and astringency can give way to leave only the trademark XG smoke and leather which is unabashedly masculine.  XG tuos are a taciturn northerner and it seems wrong to talk too much about it.   But I'm glad I didn't clutter up my collection with yet more tea I won't drink.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

90s CNNP Storage Learning Kit

After some deliberation, I contacted the ebay seller about this moldy CNNP brick which was advertised as being dry "Lucifuge" stored.  To my happy surprise, he promptly shipped me another replacement.  His reassuring words exactly "Hi, Friend, So sorry. May be stored close to the ground. The ground is so wet. Don't worry. I will resend. Before sending, I will carefully check."  And carefully check he did as the second brick showed absolutely no signs of mold.  I'm assuming he sniffed up the replacement brick as the original wrapping was unmolested.  Actually it doesn't take a hound dog and I personally needed only one continuous whiff between the two bricks to differentiate that moldy shicang "wet storage" smell.  

You can imagine inside a storage warehouse crammed full of massive amounts of tea- not everything gets evenly rotated. So even in the same lot of tea from the same vendor we have this kind of disparity.  The original brick with shipping cost me ~$48 which is too steep for what it is.  But I am inadvertently the lucky recipient of a storage learning kit.  Probably this nothing special brick was no more than a yuan when it was newborn.  At $24 each, it's a palatable price for drinkable albeit mindless undemanding sheng and I will be comparing it against that famous White Whale in a week or so.

When I brewed these two examples side by side, I surprise myself by enjoying the furry version more. The "wet stored" version conjures up a more dynamic taste compared(!) to the drier brick. But as the brews progress- the two more or less become more similar.  But drinking the teas cooled amplifies the storage taste- I cannot stomach the furry brick once cold.  Drinking teas cold is also how I gauge quality in shu- a good shu you can drink cold as the heat can mask the storage flavors.  A shu that you thought was not so bad can be gross at room temperature.

In the search for last of the cheap aged sheng, I probably am scraping bottom in 2014.  I have mixed feelings about drinking (originally) cheap bricks like this one - I would not stoop to buying a newborn CNNP brick now.  But the spectre of a continually shrinking pool of aged tea combined with ever inflating prices makes me grasp at these last chances. I've been buying at today's fool's prices because even in a few years from now I would have been a fool not to.

We're lucky that most Chinese puerh investors appear not to have much interest in this moldy tea. That shicang smell and flavor- it really can be instinctively off-putting at first- your brain can send all sorts of pre-wired warning signals not to drink it.  It took well over a year before I went over the hump.  It's more likely that there will be increasing market demand for such traditionally stored tea and not less. Whether it's worth investing $300+ on a better aged cake instead of a $50 brick, I've sent away for more samples to investigate.  I'm working through aged samples tea friends have sent me, and I'm leaning towards having a representative range from low to high.  I'm not obsessed with having only top end cakes because for me I mostly want daily enjoyment of easy sheng I can drink. Knowing what you want even for the present is really a big step alone.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Lapsang Souchong Finale

Some genres of a tea have a taste ceiling after you reach certain level of quality.  I've found that with dianhong- the world's best dianhong and pretty good imperial dianhong are not that far apart so paying more than a 1.5x premium is not really worth my while.  But with teas like puerh and oolong, even a 10x+ premium might be warranted. So what is the case with Lapsang Souchong.

There is leaf quality and then processing.  Xiaozhong is a smaller leaf Wuyi varietal which can be grown in Wuyi outside the designated region at similar altitudes of 1000-2000m. The cold winters which supposedly allow for a deeper rest also is not limited to Tongmu village.  Then to the smoking- despite the claim of ancient secrets handed down generations and such, smoldering pine wood appears not to be rocket science as I've tasted better done smoking in a Waishan than some Zhengshans.

The most pricey LS in our line up is Jin Jun Mei(golden eyebrow) and if you haven't gotten swept up in the jin jun mei craze last decade, no need to rush.   Xiaozhong jin jun mei is the thinnest rolled leaf I've encountered ever.  It brews up delicate and refined- with a fleeting lingering aftertaste. It's worth trying once at least.  For those who drink Yiwus- this kind of delicate aftertaste is rather frail and such a drinker might irately mutter to themselves "Is this it? Come on! This is $40 per 100g."  But if you've never had a lingering aftertaste with black tea- you might get a short-lived thrill.

So on the Zhengshan vs Waishan debate, I'll say it's not important for me.  Given the market, I prefer a quality AA+ Waishan($9/100g) at over a middle grade Zhengshan($20+/100g) that is twice as expensive and not even half as good.  The JKTeashop Zhengshan Imperial grade was too obviously smoky and pooped out quite early after a few brews.  You can see how thick and chopped the leaves are from yesterday's post and in the above drawing. I'm dubious this can be counted as imperial grade which requires more golden bud and no chop.  The 2012 AA Zhengshan I had from Chawang Shop is the best LS I've had(beside the JJM) as it had the dried fruit high notes and subtle smoke for which I'll gladly pay $20 (although the cost was much much less).

Since the Zhengshan LS supply is limited, you have a high chance of getting lower quality leaf for top dollar.  I didn't purchase any more Zhengshan for this tasting because I could see the from the leaf  size and chop from other vendor photos that their commanding price was too high(~$30/100g) making the jin jun mei at $40/100g a bargain.

More Reading If You Are Inclined:

Friday, November 14, 2014

Tale of Ten Lapsang Souchongs Part I

Ever since Jakub turned me onto good LS, I have ditched Yunnan dianhong for the charms of that wonderfully subtly smoked tea from Fujian. Although lapsang souchong was once an elevated drink for European royals and their court, I'm a lucky commoner to enjoy it almost daily with my pork laden breakfast.  I normally keep at least two leaf grades at home- a higher grade leaf for guests and for chocolate pairings and a more robust leaf for casual and mindless morning brewing.

I'm quite happy with Chawangshop's offerings but Honza often sells out of his AA+ and he doesn't carry Zhengshan Xiaozhong currently. I kick myself for not hoarding a few kilos of his fabulous ZX then as LS is good for at least three years. Chawangshop holds the sweet spot of quality vs price, but a girl can look around from time to time... Can't she?

Top on my mind- is it worth the extra premium to buy the original Zhengshan LS from Tongmu village or is the surrounding regions(Waishan meaning outer mountain) produce tea just as good? Are two or three year old LS better than current year LS? If your LS is vacuum sealed, can you age LS for longer?  Lastly, what are reasonable prices for a quality LS? To solve some of these riddles,  I assembled a Zhengshan vs Waishan standoff:

2012 Zhengshan Xiaozhong AA $12(? cannot remember)/100g tin (shown right)
2012 Fujian Waishan Xiaozhong AA  $8/100g
2013 Late Spring Fujian Waishan Xiaozhong AA+ 
2014 Fujian Lapsang Souchong AA 

From jkteashop - all Zhengshan/Tongmu

2014 Spring Mingqian Jin Jun Mei  15g/$6.50 or $40/100g tin
2014 Spring Organic Imperial Traditional 100g/tin $20.00 (shown center)
2014 Spring Organic Premium Traditional 15g/US$2.40 or 
$16/100g tin

The above photo lineup is incomplete- three other samples I excluded for the following reasons:
  1. Organic "authentic" LS from an American vendor was so shockingly smoky and undrinkable,  I've banished the offending tea from the house.  I would probably advise tea drinkers to skip buying LS stateside. 
  2. LS from ebay advertised as LS but the tea was clearly just another type of hongcha. It was a decent hong cha that guests have enjoyed but not the LS I crave.
  3. Vicony's LS via Hobbes- I want to buy more from them as they have a diverse selection of LS including laozong or leaves from older bushes. However they are a wholesale outfit and  I'm not quite ready to buy a kilo as a minimum order.
I normally eschew formal tea tastings because a lack of discipline on my part. Also the tea drinking becomes too much like homework.  My tastebuds get fatigued easily so I rarely do more than three teas at one sitting so today I picked a Waishan and two Zhengshans.  

Before the big reveal, I thought I would leave the reader with some guessing.  In the three types of leaf below (1. Top left, 2. bottom left, and 3. right ), can you guess
  • for each- which leaf grade is it - Jinjunmei, Imperial, AA+, AA, Premium? 
  • for each, is it Zhengshan or Waishan? 

2006 Changtai Bird Feather Nannuo From Red Lantern Tea

Today I blanched a bit when I saw a bird feather embedded on this Changtai beeng. I don't mind hair, string, straw, pebbles, insect wing, or even live bugs. But a bird feather is one level below what I'm willing to tolerate. I know, I know. You are saying at least in wasn't a rodent tooth but if you have ever kept a flock of chickens- the offending feather looks to be a chicken down feather- you have real cause to be grossed out. Chickens and maocha should not mix.

When I requested to initiate a refund and an exchange, I was curiously assured thusly by Red Lantern Tea:

Dear Buyer,

First, we would like to say sorry for the inconvenience caused you.
The tea was from the ancient tea tree and it happens sometimes.
It is the same logic with bird nest swallow saliva which is sell thousand dollar.
Kindly no need to worry and we can guarantee you that the tea wasn't contaminated and won't harm at all. :)
If you noticed that most of aged pu-erh tea have tea bugs inside but that's not a problem at all.
Everything will perish by using boiling water (212F)
You can ask about this to some tea junkies on the tea forum as well.
Kindly let us know if you still have problem.

Best wishes

Red Lantern Tea does charge an extra premium on their prices which I presumed was for customer service. Including shipping, this 2006 Lao Chen Nannuo was $50, not cheap for what it is. This Changtai is not ancient tree as it tasted blended.   

Dear Readers, was I wrong to expect a different response?   I was taken aback to receive this lackadaisical reply when I clearly requested to replace the cake.  Such a reply is one sure way to lose a customer and I'm sure I'm not the first to have received those exact excuses. Surely this is a sign for me to stop buying this year.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Puerh Video Junkout

I spent all Sunday morning in bed watching the video footage which accompanies Puer Tea: Ancient Caravans and Urban Chic by Jinghong Zhang.

In case you are in a hurry, I'm embedding my favorite section here:

It's available on youtube(better streaming):

The footage was originally posted on(in case youtube copy gets taken down):

In lo-res low-budget glory, the author takes us from Hong Kong to Yiwu showing us the entire food chain from tea farmers/middle men/more middle men/producers/vendors/tea houses/drinkers.  You will never trust anything anybody says about the quality of your tea again.  I've had my suspicions but the video footage made me think it was even worse than I had imagined.

The most intriguing character is Mr. Zhun(?), a producer who is serious about the taste of tea. I like how he serves the tea back to all those who come to sell him tea even to the kid who's peddling a puny bag of forest tea.  If Mr. Zhun kept a tea blog, I'd be all over it. Actually I'd buy his tea.

Many puerh tea farmers and middle men know little about the taste of tea.  When Mr. Zhun brews up for a middle man the best plantation tea to contrast against the rubbish he had brought, the clueless middleman said it all tasted bitter to him and he couldn't tell the difference.  Mr Zhun really crams his gaiwan full of maocha and I wonder how strong his brew is. The middlemen were heavy  chain smokers and really- you cannot detect Yiwu delicacy with a cigarette dangling out of your mouth.

When another producer goes to gather maocha in Yiwu - he admonishes the farmer and his wife for mixing their tea with some other low quality taidicha they had bought.  It's evident most farmers just want to make money and could care less.  I also see so many hands shoveling maocha around in the tea sacks that you definitely want to rinse that tea at least twice.

I came home today to this happy scene. I was trying to snap a photo but then my husband appeared out of nowhere to pose uninvited as a hand model.  He also grilled delicious aji-Spanish mackerel for our supper so I really could not expose my new beengs to such abuse.  Thwarted! 

Saturday, November 08, 2014

06 Mengku Gu Hua - Search for More Weak Ass Teas

I used to avoid buying "labeled" autumnal sheng productions with gusto.  Autumn flush or gu hua is picked any time after the summer rains in September and extend as late as early November.   I crudely thought gu hua cha was for suckers that didn't know any better.  Why bother with weaker leaves that lack the vigor and pique of their spring counterparts?  A tea tree puts forth it's plumpest qifull(I just made up that word right now but when I looked it up it's some wireless charging product name) leaves in spring. By the end of the season, the tea tree becomes quite depleted especially if it's been over harvested as is common since the puerh boom of 2006.  The tea tree prepares for winter rest by retracting nutrients from the leaves back into the tree and as a tea drinker, you want those nutrients in your cup.  

However weaker leaves make for less bitter palatable sheng that's easy on the body and that is where I am. I've read that many spring labeled beengs are actually blended with autumn leaves to tone down the bitterness so most likely I've probably got plenty of autumn leaves in my collection.  I've often suspected that most of my gu shu labeled as spring flush is mostly gu hua and that's why they taste so smooth.  Late autumn leaves can contain more lignins giving that mellower woodier base but even autumn leaves can be young buds that sprout after the rains.  Gu hua can in general brew a thinner body and hence is not ideal for aging but is easier to consume newborn.  You can really cram your teapot with gu hua leaves and brew for longer.

In the multi-tiered world of puerh leaf quality,  gu hua is second to spring flush as generally reflected in the price. However they are considered better than summer leaves which contains the highest amount of bitterness and astringency due to the intensity of the summer sun producing more polyphenols. You rarely ever see a sheng proudly billed as summer flush. If a tea is not forth coming about the season it was picked, it's probably a blend of summer and autumn.  Is it as straight forward as a spring first flush gushu being the highest quality? I could definitely see a summer plantation Bulang being the triple whammy of mouth puckering bitterness, but perhaps a little blend of autumn leaves may not be a bad thing.

I forward the reader to for further reading. the article has some interesting nuggets about theanine being produced in the roots and it is the sun which forces the leaf to convert theanine into the bitter and astringent polyphenols and catechins as a defense mechanism.  Hence the first spring flush has the highest levels of theanine present.

These Mengku Gu Hua samples which arrived yesterday came sealed in 10g packets. No one was home yesterday so the postman left a delivery notice and my husband dutifully went to the post office without being asked so I could come home to a tea package waiting for me.  That's a man who loves his tea-loving wife.

This tea was aged in Guangzhou and the dank stale basement taste is in full force- imagine such flavors being sealed up to intensify. So a predictably weak tea paired with a strong storage taste is not a winning combo.  I need to air this out for months if not years.  I'm not sure I want to downgrade myself to drinking full-on basement gu hua cha no matter how desperate I am.   Ironically, the only other Mengku in my collection is an autumnal LBZ that I bought long ago just to have some subdued LBZ I can drink.  I need weaker tea but there's probably better ways to getting there than this Mengku Gu Hua.

There is a lot of gu hua out there and tea vendors have to sell all kind of leaf. For red hot regions like LBZ and Yiwu, producers can sometimes only get their hands on autumn and summer maocha. All I can say is don't pay top dollar or spring prices for gu hua cakes. But gu hua can be a more affordable approachable entry into a crazy over inflated area.

Despite all this autumn tea bashing,  I did encounter one very special gu hua -  Tea Urchin's Mr. Gao's Yi Bang (2011?) that had a unique thick savory brackish broth and I would try more of their autumn selections.  So processing can count for much. But I would not gamble to age pure autumn cakes. 

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Conference Shui Xian

I was in SF all week for yet another pole dancing conference.  Yesterday morning I was foolishly practicing U bend moves in my precious seat on a crowded subway train and made the terrible mistake of forgetting all about an open thermos in my purse.

I drenched my subway seat mates and my little glitzy outfit I had so carefully picked out. Dear readers, having a full cup of lapsang souchong soak into your cotton bloomers is no way to start your day.  A tall imposing woman in the back was just shaking her head back and forth "tut tutting" me for a good twenty minutes.  She probably doesn't approve of pole dancing either.  I was in such a dark mood all day but at least I consoled myself that I did not spill a cup of smelly fishy shu.

So to right the wrong of yesterday, I took the roasted Shui Xian/Shui Hsien and TLH that Su sent me to brew in situ.  I'm attending a rather a high class conference compared to the one in Las Vegas and hot water and mugs were provided all day long. I came up with a small improvement.  I figured out when the servers would bring out the fresh batch of hot water.  I would warm up the mug by pouring hot water into it first, dump it in a second mug and then do a proper brew. I think such effort adds a few degrees of heat but it makes you look more like a total germaphobe than a serious tea drinker.

Still the joy of being able to evade bagged Earl Grey is priceless.