“Trip to Changtai, vol. 4”

Dry leaf smelled like gently smoked leather, leaf litter, plum undertone. Humid storage notes such as baked bread, nutritional yeast and damp concrete came out when the leaf was warmed and more of those humid notes presented in the rinsed leaf — beets and carrots pulled right from the soil. I also smelled tangy currant and barbecued meat.

The taste and body were mild, underwhelming. I couldn’t come up with anything besides a citrus tone, light, baked plum sweetness, wood, fast-moving bitterness and some tingly tannins. It tasted kind of shou-y. Very mild aftertaste, no returning sweetness. Plenty of that chesty, heart-bumping energy. The prankster in me came out to play.

This is like a much-needed rest day on a journey, a time to process your recent experiences, but your goofy traveling partner is constantly urging you to just “go for a walk around the block…”

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Bitter, Black Currant, Bread, Carrot, Citrus, Leather, Meat, Plum, Smoked, Tannin, Wet Earth, Wet Rocks, Wood, Yeast

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If you’re an aspiring or current tea grower, let’s talk! I am slowly beginning a tea farm here in Northern California. Currently growing are young plants pulled from the ground and gifted to me after a visit to Fairhope Tea Plantation in Alabama. The parent plants are sinensis variety from a defunct Lipton research project. I’ve also started seeds from Camellia Forest Nursery in North Carolina. The types include Camellia taliensis, an assamica variety, and 3 sinensis varieties including “Small leaf” “Large leaf” and “Black Sea.” I also picked up 2 older plants from a a local nursery. They were grown from seed supposedly acquired from a tea farm in Washington. To learn how to process tea into different styles, I plan on traveling to China and Taiwan if/when COVID becomes a relative non-issue. I’m taking Mandarin classes to aid in this journey.

Tea became a hobby and my daily drink of choice some time late in the last decade. My introduction to loose leaf came, following a lone tin of some Tie Guan Yin oolong many years prior, in the form of dumpster-dived Wuyi oolong packets that somebody left upon moving out of an apartment building. From there, my palate expanded to teas from across China and the world. I used to focus more on taste and still harbor the habit, but after trying sheng pu’er, I tend to focus more on how a tea feels in my body. Does it complement my constitution? Does it change my mood or does it enhance my current mindstate? While I may not mention those effects in tea notes, it is what I value most.

Flavored teas are not a favorite but I do drink them intermittently. Drink a variety of teabags at work. Herbal teas/tisanes provide balance. Unfiltered tap water heathen (it’s good here).

In terms of who I am, you could consider me a jill of all trades. Specialty is not my strength, as can be seen in the spread of my tea notes.

One thing I will always love is riding a bicycle.


Sonoma County, California, USA

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