Sunday, September 23, 2012

Finding Mr. Tong

Unlike some of you who might confidently purchase a tong of tea without batting an eyelash, I remain a one-of-everything postage collector.  I really do want to meet that one special sheng that I want to get a whole tong of.  At my rate of consumption, seven beengs in a tong means I'll probably drink it until the end of my days. I know I'm not marrying this tong but whoof- it's been much more difficult to find an ageable tea that really captures my heart than I originally thought it would be.

All my tea friends have been actively and perhaps even unknowingly playing matchmaker to find this Mr. Tong. You can see in the photo below that it can take years for me to even to seriously go through the candidates.  (But a pu-erh drinker can never have too many samples especially when one is trying to stick to a two month no-buy pact...)

Instead of storing samples by region or year, I reserve a special basswood box for each person. Ira represents the right half of this picture with two large boxes.  (You can click on the image to see the flickr original and hover click to see which boxes belong to each tea fellow.)  Each box represents unknowable hours of research  from the sender and surprisingly there is zero overlap even without explicit coordination.

Puerh collecting is one of the few unique hobbies where you can share so fully with another collector.   I appreciate how each box is a time capsule of that person's particular palate.   A majority of these samples come from the internet and many are no longer so readily available.  After being out of the scene for six years, I'm grateful to be able to makeup for lost time.

Multiple times a day I'll peer into each box selecting a tea to drink.  I enjoy imagining each person peering intently into their computer often late into the night studying reviews to make a purchase decision.  I like to figure out their collecting habits, which was their splurge purchase or impulse purchase.  Even if I don't find Mr. Tong, I'm ever grateful that I'm even able to try such a bewildering array of teas.  Thank you.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:48 PM

    I've actually started properly tea blogging now so that I can review more teas that may or may not offend you:千叶蝶1000-butterflies/