At my “peak”, for want of a better word, I posted over 100 blog posts in one year. But lately that has tapered off a little.
I say ‘a little’, but this is my fourth post for 2019.
I know it’s been hard for the rest of the world, particularly other tea bloggers. My friend Nicole has had to work extra hard to fill her ‘Friday Roundup’ of the week’s best tea blogs without my contribution . My friend Jo has had to fill in the time that she’d normally spend reading my blog, so she’s been forced to pursue a successful modelling career to while away those hours. And my friend Geoff probably just cries himself to sleep every time he hits “refresh” and sees it’s still the story about a Hong Kong Teahouse.
And so, lately, I have been wondering if I should return to tea blogging.
Life’s been hectic of late. There has been a bit of illness around me and I have started a phenomenally absorbing “real job” i.e. I have returned to actually working for someone, full time, not on a short term or part term contract, for the first time since 2008.
Lady Devotea and I also made a few decisions.
One was that we would no longer routinely do our tea events. We love them, but they absorb a big chunk of weekend, and with both of us working, it can be hard to get it together and deliver what you want.
The last two events we did were for History Month, and they were phenomenal. We are thinking at this stage that we may just do an event or two during that festival each year.
I am giving up my teaching about tea at a local college, I have just a couple more sessions to go later in the year.
And we decided not to sell our own blends any more.
The Devotea is, and always was, a hobby business. It was always supported by our other activities. Sure, we had some successes along the way, but financially, it was never much cop, to be honest, because we invested every cent it made, and more besides, in travelling around and meeting people and drinking tea. Which is a fine aim in itself, especially if you include cake.
Now, none of that implies that I am going to drink any less tea, or moderate any of my opinions, or keep them to myself. Not likely!
But enough about me, let’s talk about something I posted on Facebook.
I read something about someone drinking one favourite tea every morning*, and I started to think about the tea that I drink every morning. Because I do start the day with the same tea, day in, day out.
Of course there are exceptions. Sometimes there might be some leaves in the pot from a late night steep and I might decide to go round two instead. Once recently, I didn’t have any made up and so had a cheeky little Assam.
But for at least two years I have been starting the day with the same tea.
When I say “starting the day”, my habit is to get up stupidly early, do some things for an hour or two, then have a little nap before getting into the day proper. So, I don’t actually require something with a kick like a mule first thing.
I posted on Facebook inviting people to guess this tea. And what I learned was that my perception that I’m the only Facebook troll I know was sadly mistaken.
A few people threw up “hilarious” choices, such as Lipton Peach Mango teab*gs, Lychee teas*gs or ready to drink Assam Melon Milk Tea**, whatever in the name of Our Saviour Robert Fortune that is.
There was even – and I am not making this up – some sort of Tumeric Matcha Latte. Of the sort that should be punishable with death and a warning for a first offence.
A few people tried to wind me up with their inside knowledge of teas I hate, so “sencha” was mentioned more than once.
But there were many serious guesses. Doke (Green) Diamond was one guess. Sadly, I’m not much of fan of Doke Green Diamond. But the leaves for that tea can be made into Doke Black Fusion, Doke Rolling Thunder or my all-time favourite Doke Silver Needle, so it’s not a terrible guess. Funnily enough, my next blog post*** is about that tea.
Sikkim Temi got a mention, and oh boy, I do love that tea. But nope.
The overwhelming consensus was Lord Petersham.
It’s a blend that is very special to me, and I do love it. I also categorically state that it’s my AFTERNOON blend. In the early days I used to create most of the blends, before Lady Devotea’s inspired work, six of the initial eight blends were basically black tea, and I had to deny that they were all English breakfast! But I digress.****
So, you’re all wrong.
Let me tell you a story….
Two years ago, I was buying some tea, and it was from a wholesaler that offers margins based on quantity. I needed about ten kilos of tea, but I had to buy 12 kilos to get the price I wanted. So, I looked through their clearance stock, and I read something wrong.
I thought I read “Jasmine Pearls”, which in case you don’t know, are little tiny balls of tea that cost about $300 per kilo in shops. And these ones were on special, not just at my usual wholesale price, but at about 20% of my wholesale price.
FOUR kilos left. Might as well have the lot, I can make a killing.
When they arrived, I immediately spotted my mistake. Quite easily, as the balls were about twenty times bigger than I expected, and while I may indeed be the author of the hilarious tea poem The Joy Of Big Balls , this was not an occasion for joy. So, what I had was quite reasonable white and green tea leaves from Yunnan, hand rolled and tied like those “Artisan Flower Teas” without the flower, with a smidgen of osthmanthus and calendula.
Yep. Green. White. Osthmanthus. Calendula.
Ok no problem, I can sell these.
So, I made up a label, and an experimental plastic bag, and quite frankly it looked like an overpopulated scrotum.
After briefly considering marketing that tea with exactly that name, I hit upon the idea of filling the, er, sack with some nice herbals to alter the look. As I had rose petals and lemongrass on hand, I made a prototype up and it looked… interesting. I left it for a few weeks to see if the tea would pick up a herbal flavour and it was really, really subtle. But interestingly, the “leftovers” – rose, lemongrass and bits of stray tea – brewed up sensationally.
So… Dreamer’s Balls became part of our range.
We decided to fill a canister with them and use them for a tasting event, and when we got home, the canister ended up in the kitchen. And one day, I decided to have myself one first thing.
I’ve ever looked back.
I chuck a ball in, heat my water to 85C, pour and I’m off. Sometime I’ll steep up to four times over the morning. When I’ve used every single ball in the canister, I spend a week or so drinking though the herbal mix using an infuser, and then start again.
And that’s my first cup, everyday.
I’ve got less than a kilo left, though, so every day isn’t going to be everyday forever.
*it was Kevin Gascoyne and Darjeeling First Flushes, if you really must know
** I have no idea how to milk a melon, so don’t ask
***Your line at this point is “Yay, there’s a next blog post”
**** Of course I digress, it’s one of two things I am most well known for*****
*****The other being endless footnotes