The pitter-patter of rain pelts the navy blue umbrella of a gentleman in a dapper suit as he thoughtfully hurries up the steps. He’s careful to not splash water from the rushing stream flowing down the street gutter. A seagull caws overhead seeking some semplance of shelter as it begrudgingly settles under the building awning beside me. Kids run with light jackets hung over their heads, darting across the dusty-turned-muddy baseball diamond just across the block from where I’m seeking refuge.
Refuge from a growing pandemic and various layers of uncertainty. The awareness of such concerns are not simple to hide anymore, as to do so would risk ignoring empathy and the collective turbulence felt on all levels of economic and social systems. Another day of difficult but necessary conversations and my break from work is over. It’s this evening that I decide it’s a fitting time to unwrap Umbrella 2020 from White2Tea. When this raw puer was released, the first 100 of these cakes were completely free of charge when paired with a code. It was Paul’s way of providing those who might be hurting finacially tea for the long haul that COVID has begun to bring. I purchased two as it was affordable and a way to support the kindess offered to the tea community.
So here I am, though I’m certain this post will go up months after this initial jotting of thoughts and feelings. I’ll look at this as an evolving written work since this tea’s relevance will develop and change over this year.
Let’s ease into Umbrella 2020 Raw Puer…
Picking/Processing: Aged maocha from 2015 pressed in 2020
My Brewing Parameters
Leaf to Water Ratio – 6 g for 150 mL
Starting Temp – 96°C
Infusion time(s) – 10 sec. +3
Eyes Dry: Silver-brown downy leaves
Nose Dry: Dried apricot, raisins, milk chocolate
Nose Wet: Warm linen, plum, petrichor,
Eyes Liquor: Carrot copper orange-brown, soft and clouded
Mouth Texture: Medium-bodied, warm gripping astringency
Mouth Taste: slight savory pull along the sides of the tongue, burning cedar, caramelized banana
Nose Cup: Brown sugar and forest wood
Mouth Finish: Sweet lingering notes of berry and stone fruits, thick finish
Eyes Wet: Soft and supple muted green, browns, and grey. Generally smaller leaves
Body Sensation: Warming and comfortable
ONE TEA FOCUS
While that brief experience provides a snapshot into three sessions prior to this full reflection, I chose to revisit this tea for a fun challenge in June, hosted by tea friend Rie Tulali through Instagram. #oneteafocus asked us to commit to one tea to brew over the course of three or more days.
Day 1: To have this tea first thing in the morning both resulted in a jolt to my body and a realization that I night need to change my brewing parameters to something more calm. A slow release that gradually grew as my body woke to it was a necessity.
Day 2: My experience was significantly better as I moved the brewing temp from 100 to 92 Celcius. Heavy with wood and stewed peaches, it was strong and complex.
Day 3: Ultra smooth with familiarity, any aspects of punching strength had diminished as I felt my body receive its effects. Like light shining inward, a warmth extended through my arms to my fingertips.
A beautiful exercise, I found my relationship fall deeper with this tea and discovered how I personally enjoy it. Often we may find ourselves trying so many teas that we are unable to really learn and receive what it has to offer.
Here I am, finishing this entry on yet another rainy day, drinking more Umbrella 2020. It’s September and I am thankful for the opportunity to enjoy this tea whenever I feel called. I think, while it’s fun to scope this tea and look at the inner workings that led to the craftsmanship of these leaves, I experience and taste the intention behind its release. The call to community, the act of kindness and generosity, and a chance to pass it on – knowing that those that share and drink Umbrella 2020 are fortunate to have heard and distill its message. That’s what sticks with me, that’s what stands out.
I hope you’ve had to chance to enjoy this tea. If not, let me know and I’d love to see how I can help pass this experience to you.