I hope all is well with you these days — as well as things can be right now, you know?
On my end, I’ve been busy hosting the Pu’erh Love Challenge (where we’re almost at 100 total teas shared on IG and Discord!) and dealing with the funny things that happen when you drink that much powerful tea.
Like getting tipsy while streaming on Instagram Live.
For those of you who follow the lives, you’ll might already be aware of this: one day I’m running a thousand miles a minute, while the next day I’m barely able to string two words together.
God knows what’ll happen with the next tea we drink together.
And let me tell you, it’s not because I’m having vastly different days here. We’re in quarantine for Pete’s sakes: the days are all the same.
It’s because of the gosh darn tea.
I understand that this is a kind of weird topic to discuss.
Tasting notes and nerdy stuff about tea processing and origin are much more quantifiable than tea feels… or as you may have seen here and there, cha qi, which literally means “tea energy”.
But while I don’t know why one tea makes me feel loopy and happy while another one makes my hands go ice cold, I do know that:
- I’m not the only one who notices these effects from the tea, and
- Just because something isn’t quantifiable right now doesn’t mean it won’t be some day.
After all, there are thousands of compounds in tea, any of which could be exerting certain influences on our brain chemistry as we drink. Caffeine is just one of those compounds.
Imagine just how complex the chemical profile of some old tree pu’erh might be: a Lincang gu shu sheng, post-fermented for 10 years, stored in the super humid environment in some tea shop in Hong Kong.
Lots going on there.
So while tea energy may seem super mystical and un-explainable at first, there’s certainly ways to explain it.
Now, if we can accept that tea energy might exist, there’s another challenge: how do we study cha qi?
Or even feel it at all, if it’s just never come up before?
That’s a bit more complicated. For one, it seems to take more time for these sensations to show up: it took me a good 3-4 years before I ever noticed tea energy at all, which makes sense since it’s just less obvious than flavor or aroma.
It’s also something that’s not talked about much here in the West, so it’s often hard to discuss.
All I can say is just keep drinking — oh, and maybe try describing the tea in more ways than just taste.
Sure, it’s floral and fruity and mineral and sweet… but is it cheerful? Somber? Relaxed? Upbeat?
Does it make you want to go dive into a long, thoughtful book or go binge watch Tiger King like your roommate keeps telling you to do?
Is it warm or cold? And most importantly, is it comfortable to drink?
Don’t worry if nothing comes to mind at first.
Like everything in tea, time and practice will yield results, I promise.