This was a tea from Old Ways tea club: a rock oolong in which the origin story was that it was secretly a cultivar of the famous da hong pao (discussed in this newsletter) mother trees. (Secret because of cultural revolution reasons.) Science has seen proven this completely false: the two aren’t genetically similar (at least in the sense of two separate tea trees: obviously, they’re pretty reasonably similar in other senses).
My thoughts: this tea tastes absolutely nothing like da hong pao. It brews a very deep amber, and tends to be sweeter and less complex. This is not to dismiss it: it’s a very lovely tea, one that makes for a delightful morning feeling the sun on your face.
But that doesn’t mean that the people who believed the old story were silly. Da hong pao isn’t just a matter of the genetics of the trees. It’s about where the trees live, how they gather moisture.
Tea grown in plantations tends to be younger bushes packed together, with root systems that don’t go deep, and you can taste the immaturity. Older trees are more spread out. Rock oolong is grown in areas where the trees can absorb moisture from the air: from clouds that descend to cover hills at high altitude, or from waterfalls that add droplets. Most of all, there’s a distinct taste of mineral in the leaf: this is what happens when you grow a tree in rock.
None of this can be easily replicated outside of the Wuyi mountains. The place matters as much as the planting.
It looks different!
This newsletter looks different because I got bored of how the last one looked. This look will last until I get bored of how this one looks. If you don’t like it, don’t worry—my ADHD won’t tolerate anything static. If you do like it, enjoy it while it’s here, because my ADHD won’t tolerate anything static.
Figure Skating (with Sherry Thomas)
A very, very long time ago, the amazing Sherry Thomas had a pay-it-forward query assistance contest which I, a baby unpublished writer, ended up winning. I truly did not know how to write a query and after multiple rounds she ended up asking to read pages in frustration. She read them and said they were excellent and helped me write a good query. In return, half a year later, I did a little legal research for her.
We’ve been friends ever since. About four or five years ago, we both discovered we were figure skating fans, and we made plans to go to a competition together as soon as we could. We had tickets and a place to stay in Montreal for the World Championships in March of 2020 and I guess you can imagine how that turned out. Everything got canceled and we didn’t get a chance to go until now. We spent last week at the Four Continents Championship in Colorado Springs, and we had a fantastic time together.
Sherry and I are friends, but I adore her books and I’m going to shamelessly plug them. If you haven’t read Sherry Thomas before, she writes amazing historical romances and intense historical mysteries with the premise of “what if there was a detective that everyone thought was called Sherlock Holmes, but in fact, he didn’t exist and was invented by Charlotte Holmes, the real brains behind the operation.”
The first book in the Lady Sherlock series is
A Study in Scarlet Women, and you can get it here:
I actually feel weird telling people about this book—so much so that I’ve removed it from my website. It’s my first published book, and at this point in my life, I can’t help see all the flaws it contains.
But it is definitely a part of my history, and this is the book that Sherry Thomas helped me write a query for. I should probably get over my own personal feelings of embarrassment. This book is by turns goofy and serious, which is basically the way I am, and while there are sections I would handle differently now, it’s probably not the worst first book I could have written.
I knew nothing about marketing when I published this book, and the only reason my publisher let me proceed with a title that was a math pun was because they didn’t know it was a math pun.
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