All from Adagio. (Please note, in line with the Federal Trade Commission’s Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, I do not receive any material benefit from linking to merchants.)
photograph by chadao
Honestly, I thought I was going to hate Scorpio; I tend not to be fond of sweet teas, and chocolate tea is one of my bête noires. This is, on the contrary, a lovely complex tea, which steeps to a gorgeous warm color. The combination of flavors sounds so weird, but it works out really well, floral and smooth, and I ended up hiding the tin from my roommate so I could have it all to myself.
A Happy New Year blend
This Happy New Year blend was a gift from a friend, and my roommates loved it. I was not as fond of it as they; it was too sweet for me, and it did not take well to milk. When I say my roommates loved it, I mean that we went through a quarter pound in less than a month, and that was with me avoiding it in favor of pretty much anything else.
Oh, this Yunnan is a pleasure to drink; the leaves are pettable. They can be steeped twice, which always makes me happy, and there’s no bitterness in the aftertaste at all. I had to go light on the milk, but that did not stop me from wanting to re-order when it was gone.
photograph by J Wynia
This Ceylon is the lightest one I’ve got. I feel like I’m damning with faint praise when I say that this is a really nice tea, but it is. It is straightforward and delicious and nice, and I have nothing bad to say about it. I just…don’t have anything interesting to say about it, either. It is tea, and I like it.
This is a strong, smooth Assam, with a lovely color. It’s not as malty as some other assams I have had, which can be a good or a bad thing, depending on my mood, and the leaves really unfurl in the first steeping, which can also be a good or a bad thing. I will almost certainly be re-ordering this.
I am not a fan of this one — it tastes thin, is the best way I can express it. Glancing at steepster, I see people using the word “astringent” a lot, and I guess that works as a description for this Keemun. I have liked Keemuns in the past, most notably Keemun Panda #1, but this one does not live up to the precedent.
And now I am off to make a cup of tea!
Quick driveby as I finish packing up my kitchen for the second time in three months — USA folks, if you are tea addicts like me, try ordering from Revolution Tea with the promo code RT108; it should get you 10% off on online orders. They have some really nice white teas and I love the Earl Grey Lavender, especially since everything they sell is full-leaf in tidy little sachets; steepster has some more comments on their leaves.
Photograph by englishsnow
Like nervousness, and nausea, it dangles from my heart to hang in the empty space below my ribs. It is a fragile thing, or it looks fragile, glimmering organically like fish scales, a hollow thing; but it is heavy, so wet and slick with gritty oil that I cannot grip it to gauge its weight or what it’s made of.
The sensation is curiously doubled; I am both hollowed out and heavy, gravid, slow-moving, sluggish in my thinking, and yet the air seems to be made of razors. If I so much as speak to ask for comfort in my torpor, the response is like an underwire bra, meant to support, to bear me up, but I cannot breathe, and it digs into my skin.
Describing the sensation of menstrual cramps is easy — as if everything below my ribcage to the pubic bone has been scooped out and scraped away — compared to this. To describe it in terms of the body (here, here is where it hurts) ignores the fact that it is not me, it is something alien to me, and I feel it most strongly second-hand: not my body itself, but the space in my body. It is tucked between my ribs and curls and cuddles up against my organs, lying sleek alongside muscle fibers. It echoes in those space, reverberates inside my heart.
I live with depression; I live with anxiety attacks. I live with Churchill’s black dog at my heels. But I live with other things too, I live with a cuddly cashmere sweater the color of a lake in upstate New York, I live with a fountain pen that leaks black ink on my fingers, I live with an electric kettle at my bedside.
The thing, the parasite, that has claimed me as its current food source, rears up and demands attention, shoves on my lungs until I cannot breathe, stretches out and weighs down my muscles. But there is steam rising from the kettle, calling me back, and I have to concentrate to pour the water in a clean ellipse into my mug. Color, pale gold and tawny brown, begins to extend tendrils into the water, and I watch, mesmerized, until the tea is ready.
It’s too hot to drink, and the cup is too hot to hold; all I can do is wait, fingers curled around the handle, and let my thermodynamic clock run down. There’s steam coming off the surface of the water-turned-tea, pale wispy breaths of warmth and I swear I can feel them clean the inside of my throat, locked tight, ease back the bolts so gently I don’t hurt.
You’re supposed to breathe when you have a panic attack, but as anyone who’s had them can tell you: that’s hard to remember, much less do, when you’re panicking. My palms are warm where they’re wrapped around the mug, and when I press them against the tendons at the back of my neck, my spine loosens, my shoulders slump. I inhale and lean back in my chair, press the cup to my breastbone so the steam can rise and open up my windpipe, my lungs. By the time the cup is empty, I can remember what I’m supposed to do when this happens, how to assess the severity of it, have a tenuous grip on myself again.
I don’t mean to suggest that a good cup of Earl Grey or spearmint can or should replace actual anti-anxiety medication or therapeutic techniques that are far more developed and empirically supported than my homemade remedy. But tea has its own clock, its own timetable, one that’s slower than the racing mind of someone whose brain chemistry is sometimes out of whack, and that is, at least partially, what we need: an adjustment, of how rapidly we’re breathing, our heart rates, the world spinning around us.
Edit: I’m thrilled to announce that this post won first place in Felicitea‘s Coffee & Tea Conversion contest. It was, well, not a pleasure to write; reliving depression so rarely is, but it sure is a pleasure to read the other wonderful entries!