Tea Reflections During a Global Pandemic

This has easily been the weirdest year I’ve been alive. Living in a global pandemic has not just shifted our regular routines and status quo, it has completely destroyed them. Denny and I worked from home before the pandemic and on any sort of ranking of people impacted by the pandemic, we would both rank quite low.. Even still it is a very different world for us as well as our tea drinking has had a powerful impact. Here’s a few personal reflections on tea during this pandemic.

The Hobby Status Quo is Broken

I’ve heard of lots of people picking up different hobbies during this year. It wouldn’t be surprising if there’s a decent influx of new tea drinkers. Tea drinking can be relatively affordable and solo drinking is a compatible activity for everyone stuck at home for more hours than they were previously. The one caveat is the clogged toilet of international shipping, which now seems to have sped back up. There’s a huge turd that’s causing normal 1 week EMS shipments from China to take 3-4 months, there’s enough domestic facing vendors that should easily satisfy any newer drinker. This is cool in my opinion and while I haven’t followed closely to see a huge difference amongst the community, it is always good to have the energy of newer tea drinkers. International ship also is back to relative normal, with a few packages still stuck.

For myself, I’ve actually had less time and interest in just thinking about and spending time with tea overall this year. This is the first set of articles I’m writing this year after the pandemic began. Much of this is independent of the pandemic. My wife and I moved this year which sucked up a good chunk of time in early summer. I’ve also been drinking tea as a more serious hobby for nearly a decade, with TeaDB in year 8. With lots of videos and articles it’s inevitable that fatigue hits and I have a lot less new ideas coming to me than year 1 or 2. I do plan to write articles around once a month or so, which is a little slower than the past.

On the plus side, my tea spending and hoarding will continue the long-term trend of going downwards, both in quantity and $ spent. My big buy of the year was a few Wistaria cakes, and I suspect that will end up being the bulk of my spending on the year.

New Tea Setup

The West is Filled w/Tea Hermits but Tea has become a Social Drink for Me

I think another reason for a relative decline in interest in tea is also being more difficult to meet up and drink tea together. Gong-fu was not designed with respect to social distancing or mask wearing. We drink tea indoors unmasked and undistanced most of the time. It would not meet the recommended public health guidelines in most places in the US.

Infamously Chinese tea drinking is a solo, hermit-like activity in the western world. I’ve realized that drinking tea with others has slowly become an important part of my drinking. There’s quite a few friends I meet up with regularly for tea that I’ve acquired throughout the years. Denny and I hadn’t missed a week for episodes since 2013, and had to halt filming for several months and are still getting caught up. Denny is one of very few friends I’ve actually met up with in person indoors now and we’ve been very cautious in doing so (limiting exposure to others). I’ve sincerely missed these tea meetups and without them my interest level in talking about tea on zoom or online simply isn’t as high.

Here’s to hoping that we’ll have some more group tea sessions in a year or so! Let’s get to 2021 already.

I still drink daily and very much enjoy it, but I think I experience my greatest joys with tea and others. These memories of drinking tea almost always exceed my most memorable solo sessions.

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6 Responses to Tea Reflections During a Global Pandemic

  1. Tiago says:

    I know we can’t ask for much. Your contribution has been amazing already. Having said that I can trully say that a world without teadb episodes, jianshui jokes, mum tests, epic please subscribe endings is a sadder world.

    • Nathanael says:

      Ditto!

      I didn’t have anyone to drink tea with pre-pandemic, and it doesn’t look like that will change any time soon, so all I’ve known is solo, eremitic tea drinking. But watching the teadb videos give me a sense of what it’s like to drink with friends, and that is a very valuable thing.

      Your videos and posts have helped me better understand what I’m drinking far more than anything else. Even if you were to stop making videos completely, you’ve already helped so many people better understand and appreciate tea. But I am grateful you haven’t!

  2. Micah says:

    This year has been so chaotic personally I’ve just found it hard to focus. I feel like I only have so much mental capacity and while I still drink and enjoy tea, trying to have a mindful session this year has been damn near impossible. It starts out well then my mind turns to mush and I just feel exhausted. A few times I’ve tried to force it in an attempt to restore some normalcy, but it never lasts very long. Yesterday I wrote my first tea review in six months and I’m hoping to do another today, but I’ve definitely realized the importance of giving myself grace and not pushing something that I don’t have the space for.

  3. Lol, the closest I get to drinking tea with others is online and reading and watching all your guys blogs and shopping the stores. I did gongfu nearly 15 years ago in santa cruz with the hidden peak dude (used to be called chaikhana or something like that back then). The little cups annoyed me, he took too long to pour them. I worked a regular retail job and would drink my bricks and cakes up in no-time, so my tea drinking was more erratic back then due to funds. I also did some trips to San Fran and did gongfu at Red Blossom with Alice (John watched) back then also.

    Oh, and the only other time was New Century Tea Gallery in Seattle back in 2014 where I bought my first 500 gram sized cake. Funny story bout that nice fella and his pretty wife, is he watched me and stared at me intently while drinking my first cup and then a second cup of tea, almost creepy freak-like, and then after a breath-holding pause he jumps to his feet and blurts out “You like tea!” I respond confused, “W-w-what are you talking about?” He repeats “You like tea! People, westerners, think they like tea,” as he shakes his head in disgust, “…but you like tea!” his face quickly turns to a big smile as he nods his head, quickly pouring several more cups as I slam ’em back. How could I not buy a cake and a handful of samples?

    I wouldn’t make much of tea drinking partner, since I drink too much tea, and would probably lose my patience. I yell at myself for not drinking enough and bugging out, so I don’t make much of a good partner to myself. But I come from having-to-drink tea after 20 years of drinking lots of tea, more and more as time goes on. But, I think western tea drinking isn’t as popular due to diet and supplementation and overall metabolism. I eat over 200 grams protein, mostly meat and eggs, and 350 grams fat, mostly butter, and a few tablespoons of salt, sometimes in my tea. But if I don’t drink tea, I starve. If I don’t have tea, I don’t eat, I get weak, I start panting, and I would probably soon die.

    Recently, John at King Tea Mall confirms I am like a western version of a Mongolian barbarian due to my meat eating, even though I requested that I might drink tea like a Tibetan Monk. John is probably right.

    So after all those thoughts, I have good forever lasting memories of gongfu, but in the end tea is my only partner present when I am drinking tea. Maybe sometimes my wife. Her too. But really it’s just the tea.

  4. birb says:

    I am glad to hear that you all are doing fairly well during these hard times. Anyway, I would like to thank you for all of your amazing content you have made, it really helped me to get into chinese teas in the past. This blog is truly an irreplaceable source of tea knowledge.

  5. Dildo Baggins says:

    Please keep up the great work you do with TEADB!
    It is greatly enjoyed. I have learned a lot through your videos and articles.

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