Drinking up teas

There are a few reasons I haven’t been updating much on my blog recently. The most basic one is I moved recently, so a lot of stuff got moved and many of my teas got moved offsite, because it’s easier to manage that way. The more important one is because of the big Photobucket blackmail issue. I have been slowly converting all my old Photobucket links to instead hosting the photos on my own blog, which is a slow process unfortunately.

However, the biggest reason is because I just don’t have a lot of very interesting things to say these days about tea. I mean, what haven’t I already covered in the 10+ years that this blog has been alive? Sure, I can update on some topics, and there are new things that happen all the time, but really, most of them are quite similar to what have come before. There are very few genuinely new things that I encounter these days with regards to tea (there’s one new black tea that I got a hold of recently that I will talk about at some point).

I also haven’t been drinking much new tea. After all, there’s only so much tea one can drink, and there’s plenty of older teas now that I have bought years back that are now at least drinkable. I’ve reached the point where I’m not really in the market for much new tea anymore – there’s really just no need. Why should I sample a whole bunch of new tea when I’m not interesting in buying almost any of them? It’s always interesting, of course, to do so, but that interest is tempered by the fact that many of them are usually terrible, or at least not great. When I can drink something that is great now, versus the high chance of having something that really isn’t very good (and often overpriced) …. the choice is obvious.

So I suppose that’s a pretty unsatisfactory explanation. I know if I were living in a city with a more interesting tea scene, I may be out drinking tea more, but then, having two kids will always crimp your style that way. The way the current market is though with tea, I just don’t see myself being that interested in buying anything much – and the few things I do buy, you can’t get easily online, making it a bit of a difficult thing to talk about where I’m basically talking about a pie in the sky.

In case you’re worried though, I do intend to keep this blog around, even if it costs me in hosting fees and what not. A lot of discussion of tea related things have moved from things like personal blogs to social media of various sorts, with some facebook groups being particularly active, and at least a few slack groups that I know of. There’s a problem with all those conversations though – they’re fleeting. Once done, trying to find it again is next to impossible, even if you yourself participated in it. Quite often people would tell me that they recently discovered my blog and have gone through a lot of my older posts, and have found them useful. You can’t do that with social media posts, not really anyway, and there’s almost no way to actually save any of those conversations unless you do some serious work to keep an archive of them, which is very unsatisfactory. This blog is by no means an authority on anything, but I do think some 10 years of tea writing is worth something. That’s the reason why I will bother to go through all my old posts to migrate the photos over, even though many of them are of tea reviews years ago for teas that nobody can find anymore, and for which my opinion is probably largely outdated if not completely invalid at this point. I guess that’s me being a historian, but I will at least try to keep the record straight.

I do, however, need to continue documenting my teapots, and have been lazy about it after the move even though it did give me a pretty good idea of exactly how many I have. So, in the absence of more interesting posts about tea, you can probably expect to see more teaware in the near future.

Happy new year

Happy new year to everyone, and I hope you all have a new start on a good year – drinking many good teas and meeting many new tea friends. I, for my part, am starting a new job, with a new office, and I think I can finally setup a work tea setup again, with maybe a Kamjove and a small tray. Perhaps, finally, I can drink some more tea at work again. That’s a good start to the year!

Emails sent

Last posting about the curated samples #1 in a while – I just sent out emails to everyone. You should’ve gotten an email either for 1) getting a sample, 2) not getting a sample, or 3) being on the wait list. If you didn’t hear from me at all and the email didn’t get spammed, then I probably mistyped your email address and you should contact me at mail@marshaln.com

I’ll probably post my own notes about the teas in a few weeks, but I don’t want my voice to colour what others might think of them, so I’ll wait until at least most people have gotten a chance to try them. In the meantime, the blog will be back to the regularly scheduled programming starting tomorrow.

Signup policy

Seems like there’s enough interest in the Curated Samples. I think in the interest of fairness, I need to institute some sort of lottery system, should demand exceed supply when I have the tea at hand.  Otherwise, it’s a “whoever saw the post first” deal and due to time zone differences, it’s deeply unfair for the parts of the world that is still sleeping, or are otherwise occupied and thus unable to write something before seats are all filled.

More on that later, when I actually have the teas ready and figured out the final pricing, etc. But my current thinking is that if demand does exceed supply, I’ll have a sort of lottery with names and the ones that come out will be the ones that get a seat, so to speak. Hope that’s all right with everyone.

Learning old lessons

This is, according to my new blog dashboard, the 1000th post on this blog.  I’m slowly going through the process of re-titling all my posts and retagging everything, because when I exported all the information from Xanga, those two things were lost in the process.  Xanga’s tagging system was particularly idiotic, so it is a nice change to have a much more sophisticated way of dealing with old posts.  I’m only back to early 2008, when I was living in the metropolis of Gambier, Ohio, and in the process of reading through old posts, I am relearning old lessons.  For example, I actually did a video on how to wrap a puerh cake, which some of you may find useful.  There were old experiments I ran with different kinds of water, which echoes a recent post on the relatively new blog Listening to Leaves.  I am also reminded of how my young puerh pot used to look like, and old lessons playing with toys that I don’t own.  Most importantly, memories of meetings I’ve had with friends, and teas on important occasions.

I am hoping that I’ll get this whole re-tagging business done before long, so it’ll be easier to refer to older things, which are probably not too useful for anyone else, but reading them again reminds me of things I learned over time.  Keeping a blog has helped me with organizing my own thoughts about tea, and of course, preserving a record of it.  Some people (Hobbes, for example) keep a physical record of it too.  Either way, I think it is probably the best tea-related decision I’ve ever taken.  If you don’t keep a record of your tea drinking, you should.  It will make you a better tea drinker.

Welcome

Welcome, all, to my blog’s new home.  Please say hi, and I hope you find this a more pleasant experience to deal with than the old site.  I think everything transferred here without too much of a hitch.  Some things, such as titles for posts, will need to be fixed, and so will categories/tags as well as other sundry minor issues that shouldn’t interfere with your reading experience in any significant way.

There has been one change though — my feed will no longer give you the full post, but only a snippet.  This is mostly to deter feed thieves who, in the past, have stolen my posts wholesale and published them elsewhere.

If you have any suggestions for how the site looks (or, for that matter, any problems with it, technical or otherwise), do let me know.

Emails

Once upon a time, everybody used Hotmail as their default free webmail address.  Then, Gmail came along…. and the world has never been the same since.

Long story short, today I just re-logged into my long unused hotmail account, and to my horror, there were a number of emails from well meaning readers to which I have never responded — obviously, since I haven’t seen them.  To those of you who’ve written to my hotmail address and never got a reply, I offer you my sincere apologies.  If anybody wishes to write me an email, please direct your emails to my gmail account (username + gmail.com).  In the meantime, I’ll have to go through my backlog of emails to try to rectify my errors.

Thanks

Turning to the dark side

No, I still don’t drink coffee.

However, I did format my harddisk and install Linux.  I was a Windows user (XP).  However, it gave me a nasty crash yesterday.  Some system files got corrupted.  When I tried to recover the computer using the pre-installed files that came with the computer (Lenovo doesn’t give you a recovery disk) the computer can’t seem to find that either.  So what that means is that I couldn’t load anything up at all.

I had two options.  I could wait for the folks to send me a disk, which can take three to five days.  Or, at the suggestion of the kind folks at my school’s help desk, I could use Ubuntu to boot up and recover all the documents/files I want, and then, well, wait for the recovery disk or just use Ubuntu.

I have been pretty fed up with Windows recently, and have thought of doing something about it.  This was enough of an excuse for me to make the switch.

That does mean, however, that I have to install everything again, and to re-learn some things, since I’ve never used Linux extensively before.  It also means I need to find the right programs for the right tasks again.

For the purpose of this blog, I need to find something that manages photos, and also does some simple editing — cropping, changing brightness, the basic stuff.  I don’t like toying with the pictures too much, because I feel like heavily edited pictures, for a blog on tea anyway, takes away the original flavour of the image.  This is especially true when you switch colour balances and that kind of thing.  You don’t want to see blue tea leaves, which sometimes show up on vendor pages because they did too much to alter their image.

So, any suggestions on software is welcomed.  Until I’ve figured this all out, however (hopefully not too long), expect low amounts of updates.

Moving sale

Being a young academic means you pretty much have to deal with the nomadic lifestyle, at least until you find a stable job. I have to move again in a few months, and as anybody who’s followed this blog for a while would know, I’ve accumulated a lot of things in the past few years.

So in the interest of lessening the load of things I have to carry, as well as putting some of these items to better use than sitting on my shelves collecting dust, here are some teaware that I’ve dug up so far that I am hoping will find a better home somewhere else.

In the interst of not cluttering up the blog with too many messages, please inquire about prices or ask for more details/pictures by emailing me. My address is marshaln at gmail. The list of items here are

5 cups
1 silver plated kyusu
1 tea caddy
1 tetsubin
1 teapot + yuzamashi
5 chataku (one set)

Most of these I’ve used at one time or another, some rather extensively. They are no longer items that I use for my tea drinking, however, and will probably be more useful to some others. I also have some other cups that I am thinking of parting ways with. If you’re so inclined, shoot me an email too.