80

Sipdown no. 144 of the year 2014.

I would have liked to hold onto this one a bit longer since T&H doesn’t offer it anymore and it’s one of the better decafs I’ve had, but I have to be ruthless where sipdowns are concerned or I’ll lose my momentum. ;-) I’ve come dangerously close to losing it a couple of times recently and I know it’s going to be a fight to keep going.

The rest of this isn’t about tea, so skip if you’re not interested in my philosophizing for a bit.

Overthem00n and I were talking the other day about “serial obsessions.” Those things certain personality types, such as mine, throw themselves into for periods of time then max out on for a while and move to the next thing. Mine seem to rotate though they don’t follow any particular rotation order. Fiction writing. Voracious reading. Tea. Computer games. Exercising obsessively (i.e., every day without fail even if it means I do it at midnight). Involvement in various types of social media. (There are also the one-offs that I’ve been obsessive about but don’t seem to be in the rotation, like knitting and other needlework and gardening.) I really should google this and see if anything has been written about it.

Anna’s recent post about not drinking tea because then she’d have to write a note about it reminded me of how my serial obsessions tend to peter out and then I find myself going on to the next thing. The feel-good pay off isn’t as present as a feeling of obligation, drudgery or frustration. The last time I fell off the Steepster bandwagon for an extended period, it was because of this exact feeling. More work than fun. It happens to me with writing usually after a much longer period of time, but it’s the same principle. It stops being fun and starts being “work.” (It’s always work, but usually it’s fun.) But the problem is that if I stop for a long time, then I never know what would have happened if I kept pushing. Like what if I quit each time, right when it’s getting hard—but it’s getting hard not because of why I think it’s getting hard, I.e., the usual writer frustration and self-doubt, but because I’m about to break through to a new personal best of sorts? What if I’m keeping myself from continuing to improve because I quit when it gets hard?

So this last time it happened, as an experiment, I decided to make myself push through. Keep going to my class, keep doing the exercises each week even if I wrote nothing else. Keep doing that until the enthusiasm returned, because it always does. It’s just that in the past, I’d stop doing it for years at a time until the enthusiasm returned. Okay, this last time I went on hiatus I had a good excuse, two kids born within 21 months of each other and a full time job. But when I think about all the books I read about parenting small children, I recognize that my activities during that period were rather part of the obsession continuum as well. Yeah, I made my own organic baby food. That sort of thing. I’d do it again, too, but in its way, it was part of the same channeling of passion in a particular way.

And I think it’s working. I can feel the enthusiasm for fiction writing coming back. There have been a few external serendipitous things that have worked to push me back toward the enthusiasm, but mostly it’s just time, I think. So I think I’m learning to turn my serial obsessions into something less serial and less obsession-like.

(Now watch me disappear from Steepster for months after saying this. LOL. No, really, I’m not feeling that Steepster is work right now. I’m feeling more that my body is rebelling against too much tea-drinking for some reason. Burn out is another byproduct of obsession, so I intend to push through on this, too, and just drink as much tea as feels right, and write about it if I have something to say. How normal that sounds!)

Angrboda

I rarely write about a tea more than once. I can’t review the same thing three or four times like some people can without repeating myself, and then I figure the value of the later posts are very small. I will do it if I have something specific to say, but otherwise I do it once for each tea and that’s that. When I have something a third, second or twentieth time, I merely drink it.

__Morgana__

I used to do two notes, one for the first tasting and one for the last, and pretty much none in between unless something changed dramatically. But that seemed somewhat artificial and didn’t really reflect what was “in my cup” as the reminder posts say. Also, I became more interested in how I reacted to teas over time than I was before. So now I try to write a note after I’ve tried something the first time (or at least early in the process) and then write additional ones when I feel like I have something else to say about the tea or my reaction to it, and end with the sipdown note. Sometimes it’s more about the circumstances under which I drank the tea than the tea itself. But I get what you’re saying, having a system like that is probably a good hedge against the feeling of “work.”

Angrboda

This is also a big part of why I queue. I can still post something and be ‘present’ when I don’t feel like writing about new stuff. (And I never ever run into the ‘Steepster ate my very long post, boo!’ problem because if that should happen, I can just paste it again)

If I feel like I actually ahve something new to say or if I find I want to change my rating, I might do another post outside of the queue with that, but it doesn’t honestly happen very often. I’m not one of these people who will try the same tea with seventeen different parameter variations. I brew every tea the same way every time. If a tea can’t handle that, then imo it’s not a good tea. Finicky doesn’t appeal to me and I can’t remember all these different settings anyway.

__Morgana__

Yeah, I noodle around with mine if I feel like I can get more out of it than I did, and that’s often why I’ll write another note.

Jennkay

I definitely go through phases of obsession as well. Plus, I can never get myself to throw anything away, so my apartment is filled with random collections of whatever phase I was going through.

__Morgana__

Jennkay, I held on to a massive collection of pots from when I was gardening (I had a lot of potted rose bushes at one point) for a long time because I couldn’t figure out what to do with them. I finally found a university that had a community gardening program and I told them they could have them if they’d come get them. They brought a big truck and went away happy. ;-)

Ubacat

I’ve had the obsession phase too and feel I am in it right now with the tea. Since I started getting excited about how many teas there are, tasting all the different ones, and posting tasting notes on Steepster; I feel I’ve been drinking way too much tea. I figure things will eventually even themselves out.

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Comments

Angrboda

I rarely write about a tea more than once. I can’t review the same thing three or four times like some people can without repeating myself, and then I figure the value of the later posts are very small. I will do it if I have something specific to say, but otherwise I do it once for each tea and that’s that. When I have something a third, second or twentieth time, I merely drink it.

__Morgana__

I used to do two notes, one for the first tasting and one for the last, and pretty much none in between unless something changed dramatically. But that seemed somewhat artificial and didn’t really reflect what was “in my cup” as the reminder posts say. Also, I became more interested in how I reacted to teas over time than I was before. So now I try to write a note after I’ve tried something the first time (or at least early in the process) and then write additional ones when I feel like I have something else to say about the tea or my reaction to it, and end with the sipdown note. Sometimes it’s more about the circumstances under which I drank the tea than the tea itself. But I get what you’re saying, having a system like that is probably a good hedge against the feeling of “work.”

Angrboda

This is also a big part of why I queue. I can still post something and be ‘present’ when I don’t feel like writing about new stuff. (And I never ever run into the ‘Steepster ate my very long post, boo!’ problem because if that should happen, I can just paste it again)

If I feel like I actually ahve something new to say or if I find I want to change my rating, I might do another post outside of the queue with that, but it doesn’t honestly happen very often. I’m not one of these people who will try the same tea with seventeen different parameter variations. I brew every tea the same way every time. If a tea can’t handle that, then imo it’s not a good tea. Finicky doesn’t appeal to me and I can’t remember all these different settings anyway.

__Morgana__

Yeah, I noodle around with mine if I feel like I can get more out of it than I did, and that’s often why I’ll write another note.

Jennkay

I definitely go through phases of obsession as well. Plus, I can never get myself to throw anything away, so my apartment is filled with random collections of whatever phase I was going through.

__Morgana__

Jennkay, I held on to a massive collection of pots from when I was gardening (I had a lot of potted rose bushes at one point) for a long time because I couldn’t figure out what to do with them. I finally found a university that had a community gardening program and I told them they could have them if they’d come get them. They brought a big truck and went away happy. ;-)

Ubacat

I’ve had the obsession phase too and feel I am in it right now with the tea. Since I started getting excited about how many teas there are, tasting all the different ones, and posting tasting notes on Steepster; I feel I’ve been drinking way too much tea. I figure things will eventually even themselves out.

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Bio

I got obsessed with tea in 2010 for a while, then other things intruded, then I cycled back to it. I seem to be continuing that in for a while, out for a while cycle. I have a short attention span, but no shortage of tea.

I’m a mom, writer, gamer, lawyer, reader, runner, traveler, and enjoyer of life, literature, art, music, thought and kindness, in no particular order. I write fantasy and science fiction under the name J. J. Roth.

Personal biases: I drink tea without additives. If a tea needs milk or sugar to improve its flavor, its unlikely I’ll rate it high. The exception is chai, which I drink with milk/sugar or substitute. Rooibos and honeybush were my gateway drugs, but as my tea skills and tastes developed they became far less appealing to me. I do not mix well with tulsi or yerba mate, and savory teas are more often a miss than a hit with me. That said, I’m not entirely a purist, and I enjoy a good flavored tea, particularly flavored blacks.

I like all kinds of tea depending on time of day, mood, and the amount of time I have to pay attention to preparation.

Since I find others’ rating legends helpful, I added my own. But I don’t really find myself hating most things I try.

I try to rate teas in relation to others of the same type, for example, Earl Greys against other Earl Greys. But if a tea rates very high with me, it’s a stand out against all other teas I’ve tried.

95-100 A once in a lifetime experience; the best there is

90-94 First rate; top notch; really terrific; will definitely buy more

80-89 Excellent; will likely buy more

70-79 Very good; would enjoy again, might buy again

60-69 Good; wouldn’t pass up if offered, but likely won’t buy again

Below 60 Meh, so-so, iffy, or ick. The lower the number, the closer to ick.

People have sent me tea on occasion, and I was once persuaded to send some Tazo Om to AmazonV. I’ve also done at least one group buy here on Steepster, the famous Doulton-led Dammann Freres experiment years ago. But mostly, I don’t swap. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that I have way more tea than any one person needs and am not lacking for new things to try. Also, I have way too much going on already in daily life and the additional commitment to get packages to people adds to my already high stress level. (Maybe it shouldn’t, but it does.)

That said, I enjoy reading folks’ notes, talking about what I drink, and getting to “know” people virtually here on Steepster so I can get ideas of other things I might want to try if I can ever again justify buying more tea. I also like keeping track of what I drink and what I thought about it, though I don’t put samples in my cupboard and not everything I have at any given time is showing in my cupboard. I do try to remember to remove things from my cupboard once I no longer have them.

I was an early internet adopter and have been online in various environments since around 1990. Steepster is one of the nicest online environments I’ve ever been privileged to participate in and that is saying something. :-)

Location

Bay Area, California

Website

http://www.jjroth.net

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