Not the typical mass produced and pile fermented dark liubao. Raw may be a misnomer, but calling it green doesn’t quite seem right either, and some folk have even suggested this tea qualify as a yellow tea or some hybrid unfermented heicha. In China people often call it nongjia or farmer style, though it is rarely sold on the open market due to small production sizes and lack of proper accreditation. You will find similarities in this tea that spans genres – green tea, yellow tea, heicha, raw Puer – there is a reason you can’t pin it down easily.
There is something about defined categories that makes me want to reach in and shake them up. So I'm a sucker for a tea described as, “who even knows what this is? You, if you try it.”
This is a lovely tea, even if it is hard to describe. The initial taste does kind of hit like a new heicha, robust and heavy, but the lingering sweetness is more like green. And there’s something of its own, something soothing so that sitting through four steeps of this tea felt like being snuggled in a warm blanket while someone pats your head and says, “there, there. It’s all right.”
June is Pride month, and this one is—as I expected—starting out a doozie. The last year has seen so much of what I would call, for lack of a better word, hatred, although I know it’s more complicated than that.
Occasionally—and I do mean very occasionally, because I am not much one for regrets—I wonder what would happen if I’d handled myself differently when I was younger.
I grew up in a church that was—how do we put this?—not queer welcoming. To be entirely fair, it was not exactly affirming of heterosexuality, either. But you could be straight and get married and that was okay. But there was no cure for not being straight.
Bad thoughts were as bad as sinning in the flesh. And sinning was like having someone pound nails into your soul—forgiveness could remove the nails, but you’d always have those ugly holes afterward. (An actual analogy I remember from a fun summer camp.)
So when I first hit puberty, and met a girl who I thought was really cool and really pretty and I just wanted to spend a lot of time around her… It took me years to admit to myself what was actually happening. My journey was made bearable because I had amazing friends who were queer-friendly.
But I went through a lot of anguish trying to come to terms with the fact that no matter how hard I prayed, the chemicals in my brain didn’t swirl the way they were supposed to.
My parents were…well, honestly, for the ’90s, they were pretty good. I felt like I had to give them some definitive statement about why I was never going back to their church again. They told me that they loved me, and they treated me like they always had.
Except every so often they also told me that they believed I was wrong. I understand very much where they were coming from. And I was happy that they didn’t cut me off. I figured—hey, well, I’m okay with guys, too. Why rock the boat?
Like I said. Not one for regret. I don’t regret anything about how my life has turned out. But decades later, now that I’ve had time to settle into my skin, I wish that I had understood that it was my boat, not anyone else’s. I wish I’d understood that it was a damned good boat and it was going to withstand storms I couldn’t even contemplate. I wish I had known how to fully love myself, all of myself, when I was younger.
That’s what I wish for this Pride: that everyone who needs it is able to love themselves, all of themselves, without fear or shame.
The Pursuit of…
I don't ever really put any of the important things I've felt directly in a book. I always have to slide them in sideways. But I do love Henry in this book, an absolute sweetheart whose father finds his obvious gayness so inconvenient that he sends him into the military to be absolutely surrounded by virile specimens of manhood with scarcely a woman in sight, all in hopes that this will cure him.
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