Back in 2015, I was introduced to the world of pu’erh.
Tea was something that I’d liked since I was a kid. My dad drank coffee — double-double — which was something I was curious about. Then, one day we were at a restaurant for breakfast when the server brought him a cup of black coffee. He offered me a sip and me, not knowing better, decided to take him up on that offer.
The strange dark bitterness kept me from drinking coffee that didn’t have a lot of chocolate and sugar in it.
But the same couldn’t be said for tea.
Earl Grey and Lady Grey were my go-to teas for a long time. When I went away for university, I bought whatever coloured pack of tea caught my eye in the morning. My cousins knew to get me tea for Christmas.
Black tea with sugar and milk and regular green tea got me through my university years.
Everything came to a halt after I graduated. My plan to become an ALT in the JET program needed a back-up after I wasn’t selected. I scoured a lot of post-graduate programs, trying to think of something to do in the meantime. I came across the Boulanger and Baking Art program at Nova Scotia Community College.
My mother’s side of the family lived in Nova Scotia, but most importantly my — at the time — 99 year old Nana lived there. After only spending about two weeks out of a year with her, I decided that living close to her, if only for a littler while, would be worth it.
So I moved out to Nova Scotia for a year and learned how to make bread. Lots and lots of different kinds of bread. The small class size meant that I could get closer with the people in my class. I managed to come out of my shell quite a bit.
One weekend, my aunt invited me to go to a tea tasting party at her friend’s house. Her friend’s son and his wife were visiting from China and had established a tea company, better known as Bitterleaf Teas. Coomi brewed tea for me and a handful of other people.
It was a whole different taste than any tea I’ve drank before. Watching Coomi sit and brew in silence felt so peaceful despite all of the people talking in the room. As a person who lives with depression and anxiety, sitting quietly and watching the tea leaves slowly grow in size and change the colour of the liqud in the gaiwan kept me in the moment, kept me thinking about the anticipation, the excitement of trying the tea, how the flavour would change with the current steeping.
My favourite ended up being the Dragon Blood Raw Purple Pu’erh, which I still have two tongs of stashed away.
I began to mimic what I saw Coomi did that day, while also following other instructions I found online. Those times I would turn on some video and just sit and vibe. As I drank my tea, I felt my insides warm up and a strange feeling of energy as well.
It didn’t help that I would drink about 2 litres of tea (or about 15–20 steeps) of tea in one sitting.
The feeling of floating inside my own body might be what others call being “tea drunk”. A clear sense of calm and relaxation was given to me by the tea and time seemed to flow more slowly. But the sensation of being tea drunk washed away my constant feelings of anxiety and some of my depression.
So now I drink tea pretty often.
And there are so many more teas out there in the world that I want to try that I don’t think that I would be able to truly enjoy them all.
I guess that just means I have to drink tea more than once a day.