Sunday, August 12, 2012

Bumper Years and Droughts

My foray into pu-erh coincided with the most difficult period in my adult life.  Most days I thought my life could not continue on like this yet I would find that another day had passed. I slept very little in those days and I would surf the internet for pu-erh knowledge till the wee hours. And having exhausted all new tea updates, I would then search for the most unimaginably sad stories from the spirit crushing corners of the world- Liberia, Sudan, Eastern Congo, and the West Bank.

A great part of the teas in my collection are from those harsh years I would not repeat again.  Most days I think nothing of it when I drink from those vintage years but some days it triggers a cascade of sharp memories.  Drinking really bitter young sheng in those days was a lifeline of sorts.  And buying up impractical amounts of young sheng back then was an act of pure optimism- that I would survive past all the burdens.

Our olfactory system is intertwined to our limbic system and when a scent or taste can conjure a blissful memory,  it is like having a magic transporter to your own cheerful happy place. That's why I always have a large canister of bacon bits in my fridge. (Yes I am that guy that's emptying out the bacon tray at the supermarket salad bar. )

The tea which I reach for now when things hurt is not pu-erh but the malty and ever smooth Yunnan gold.  Prisoners on death row tend to request comfort foods like fried chicken as their last meal.  I probably won't want to drink pu-erh nearer to the end.  This morning I brewed up a pressed Feng Qing pure bud.   I'm ever mindful of the cyclical nature of the universe but I know how to take comfort in drinking the teas I love.  And that takes me much much further than the esoteric tea knowledge I'm trying hard to gain.

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