Baseball Closers, 99 Bottles of Wine (Drink Your Damn Tea & Buy the Good Shit)

In major league baseball a team’s best relief pitcher is nearly always their closer. For years, the closer has been only used under very specific criteria. (a) Their team is ahead by three runs or less (b) there is one inning left. As advanced statistics and improved game theory have seeped into the sport, some teams have realized that this is a mistake. For instance… Utilizing a team’s best pitcher sometime in the middle of the game can make a lot of sense if stakes are sufficiently high. This logic has slowly caught on amongst some analytical savvy managers, some traditionalists continue to prefer waiting for a “save situation” and have suffered the consequences. This infamously occurred in the 2016 playoffs when long-time manager Buck Showalter never put in the best relief pitcher of the year in a winner takes all game, waiting for a lead that never came.

Pumidor Containers.
Pumidor Containers. Don’t horde forever!

Many of us have expensive teas that we may think are too nice to drink. Or maybe we’re waiting for the equivalent of a save situation or that “special tea occasion”. This is not always a great way to think about it and can promote hoarding tendencies.. Tea is meant to be enjoyed and the unspoken alternative is that these teas will be horded and go to waste. It’s hard for many of us to explain our hobby to others. Imagine our loved ones trying to figure out what the hell to do with our treasure otherwise known as grandpa’s funky smelling tea stash. It’s better to just drink your tea. It’s bad game theory in baseball to let your best players sit on the bench and it’s just as much a waste letting our tea sit on our shelves untouched.. Are you a collector or a drinker? Why bother holding onto something for so long. As a good tea friend says “today is the best day to drink your best tea”.

  • In this sense, nice green teas or gaoshan are nice because they have an inherent timer ticking down. Dark oolong or pu’erh exposes hoarding tendencies in many of us.

99 Bottles of Wine

Common comparisons for tea are coffee or wine. These are usually highlighted to emphasize how cheap tea is in comparison. $5 gets you a decent sized latte, a standard sized beer but for a $5 session tea is some fancy stuff that will give out a number of steeps. This is true, but we also need to take into account quantity.

Let’s take an average cake of 357g. If the equivalent of a gong-fu session (usually many steeps) is about a bottle of wine. If we were to do 7g sessions, this would generate ~50 sessions. If we did 5g sessions, it’d be ~70 sessions. This puts a 200g cake at 28-40 sessions.

There are a couple implications with this mode of thinking. The first is that we should consider adjusting what we consider premium tea. Most tea people consider premium or special occasion teas are more affordable than we give it credit for. A tea might be around a $/g, but even then a gong-fu session is a not at all outrageous $5-7. The second implication is that 50-70 sessions is a lot of time spent with one tea and we need to think long and hard about what we’re trying to do. Before we buy, we should ask if really think or want to drink 50-70 sessions with a tea.

  • The same logic applies to tongs. A standard sized 2.5kg will be a whopping ~360-500 gong-fu sessions. A year’s worth of drinking one tea for many of us.

We should also carefully consider our drinking rate. Most of us don’t consume huge quantities of tea. Many of us pursue our pu-weirdness by ourselves. Some of us can only drink serious tea on the weekends. Despite working from home and having a blog, I drink on average about 10-12 grams a day, an amount that surprises some people. This should inform our buying. We’re not all consuming at Scott Wilson or TwoDog levels.. This does not necessarily mean we should opt to drink more tea, just that we ought to be picky and choosy when it comes to buying tea.

A common pu’erh joke/saying is “A Cake is a Sample” and there is truth to that if the long haul is to be considered. It also takes several sessions to get to know a particular tea. That saying does risk us taking serious quantities of tea for granted when a single cake is a month worth of tea for many of us. When we buy a cake that isn’t dirt cheap we should also ask if we are ready to buy X amount of sessions of that tea. After all 50-70 bottles of wine isn’t an insignificant amount.

A cake might be a sample but it’s also a lot of tea.

8 responses to “Baseball Closers, 99 Bottles of Wine (Drink Your Damn Tea & Buy the Good Shit)”

  1. James, you only drink about 10-12 grams a day? That actually seems quite low to me. I drink about 16-20 grams at home (sometimes more on the weekends) and maybe 4-8 grams at work every day.

    I’ve got a nice assortment of Puerh, with the vast majority being Sheng. If I were to drink a single standard cake as the only thing I had, it would last me perhaps 22-23 days. That means that if I were to stop buying tea, period, I would be able to last 3.5 years on just my Sheng alone, not counting my Shu or my handful of Oolongs. Longer than I would have guessed.

    I think that I fall near to the ability of being able to drink up my stash. And I’ve never really understood why people don’t drink their very nice teas. I drink tons of good stuff, but I also drink tons of cheap stuff. Like you said, tea is meant to be enjoyed. 🙂

    • Yep. I’ve found more and it eats away at my sleep. I also usually steep the teas til almost the very end, so I’m most all the caffeine out of it.

  2. One more point I’d like to add to this discussion, one that’s rarely brought up. A tea that is good and enjoyable now won’t necessarily be in the future . There are a lot of reasons for this but just holding onto a tea for a long time doesn’t mean it will automatically be great or amazing down the road. Even if it does age well it may not age into something you like or want to drink.

  3. Yeah….I think I’m the hoarder. I wish logic worked. But I have the thought that the government might take my tea away so you’re probably right I should drink it.

  4. You bring up some really good points. I’m a sort of a reformed tea hoarder. When I moved into my apartment a few years ago there was a great purge. I also committed to drinking the teas I enjoyed regularly rather than sitting on them. My fiance would likely argue that I still have too much though 😛

  5. If I could tolerate caffeine after 3-4 pm I’d drink more tea. Having said this, I’ve found recently that I can drink more tea if I use western steep parameters. I’m not sure if I want to apply this method to my best teas, though.

  6. I’ve actually been trying to reduce my consumption. I purchased a smaller (60mL) gaiwan. And when my coffee roaster comes in I’ll be switching back to coffee for a bit and letting my tea rest. I always find that a nice break helps rejuvenate the palate.

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