Another box of tea I picked up for work. Normal price at Sprouts is $10.99?? I never bought it because of the price but last week I saw the two YAYAYA yaupon teas they carry were on clearance for $1.99. For such a deal, I chose to buy this one, having never tried yaupon before, the only caffeinated North American plant, which is in the holly family.

Something about the mix of that laced-with-smoke, I-dont’-know-what, kind-of-like-yerba-maté character of yaupon mixed with the peppermint, nettle and oatstraw… It confuses my brain. Like an arthritic finger appearing from the shadows, summoning one to “Come hither.” It feels like a forbidden witch’s brew. Sweet and cool, malty and nutritious. I don’t know what. Really difficult to describe but utterly fascinating. And utterly caffeinating. The coworker who shared his First Street black tea with me, as soon as he opened a packet of this, said something about the scent made his caffeine receptors tingle.

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If you’re an aspiring or current tea grower, let’s talk! I am slowly beginning a tea farm here in Northern California. Currently growing are young plants pulled from the ground and gifted to me after a visit to Fairhope Tea Plantation in Alabama. The parent plants are sinensis variety from a defunct Lipton research project. I’ve also started seeds from Camellia Forest Nursery in North Carolina. The types include Camellia taliensis, an assamica variety, and 3 sinensis varieties including “Small leaf” “Large leaf” and “Black Sea.” To learn how to process tea into different styles, I plan on traveling to China and Taiwan if/when COVID becomes a relative non-issue. I’m taking Mandarin classes to aid in this journey.

Tea became a hobby and my daily drink of choice some time late in the last decade. My introduction to loose leaf came, following a lone tin of some Tie Guan Yin oolong many years prior, in the form of dumpster-dived Wuyi oolong packets that somebody left upon moving out of an apartment building. From there, my palate expanded to teas from across China and the world. I used to focus more on taste and still harbor the habit, but after trying sheng pu’er, I tend to focus more on how a tea feels in my body. Does it complement my constitution? Does it change my mood or does it enhance my current mindstate? While I may not mention those effects in tea notes, it is what I value most.

Flavored teas are not a favorite but I do drink them intermittently. Drink a variety of teabags at work. Herbal teas/tisanes provide balance. Unfiltered tap water heathen (it’s good here).

In terms of who I am, you could consider me a jill of all trades. Specialty is not my strength, as can be seen in the spread of my tea notes.

One thing I will always love is riding a bicycle.


Sonoma County, California, USA

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