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the weekly tea
from white2tea
Weekly Tea: Charlie
It's the middle of July, and that means that it's time to have Charlie again!
For those who don't know the story of Charlie (and why you would remember this from a newsletter a year ago, I don't know), I explained Charlie and the start of my tea journey here. To sum up: Charlie is the tea that set off my exploration of pu-erh. I keep the cake in humidity controlled storage ever since, with the intention of trying it approximately once or twice a year until I run out of the cake, so that I can see how it ages. At this rate, it will take me approximately 10 years to finish.
At the beginning of this Charlie time-lapse experiment, I thought I would write down my experience of the tea so that I could see how things have changed over time. It's still pegged to my subjective tastes, of course, and so it's not a perfect experiment, but at least the person making the observation should be constant. Or so I thought.
But over the last year, I've tasted a lot of pu-erh. So there are things I can say about this tasting of Charlie. It's sweeter than last time. Any of the hints of wild untamed aggression in the tea have slipped away.
It is also a little less complex than I remember. But here's the thing: I don't know if this is because in the intervening year, I have tasted so much more relatively high-end tea that my view of what “complex” is has shifted or if it's because the tea itself has changed. The tea-drinking me of 2023 is not the me of 2022.
I used to think that tea tasting notes that sounded like wine catalogs were just a little goofy. “Notes of fig,” my eye. I have had figs and it does not taste like fig. But now that I'm here, I realize that the only way to account for the fact that I'm never the same person when I drink tea is to make comparisons to other things, and what people really mean is less “tastes like fig” and more “I get fig vibes from this.”
The July 2023 steep of Charlie starts dark and a little rough, woody and velvety. These dark vibes are so intense that it isn't until around steep four when I started getting citrus vibes. I don't mean that it tasted like citrus, because it didn't. Not even remotely. I mean it more like this: you know how if you're cooking, and you taste your dish and you know that something's missing and it's not really salt, and you're like, oh, it needs just a hint of acid? Twist a little lemon in—not so much that you get a mouthful of citric acid, just enough to brighten the dish. That change in taste is less citrus, and more…citrus vibes.
Around steep four, the rich velvety soup of the tea starts to take on citrus vibes. It's still a complex tea, and it's more complex with successive steeps. Every steep from about three on is a different experience.

current executive function level: lol
I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was trying to not work myself to death in the editing process. Several weeks into the process, I have a better understanding of what was happening. It turns out that it was not just my terrible work-life balance that drove my bad editing habits. It was, in fact, also my goofy brain.
Being now in possession of a shiny label for myself (yay ADHD) and who knows how many hours of reading, I understand now that I edit a book in a state of extreme hyperfocus, one in which nothing exists except me and the manuscript. This is true whether I'm editing for one hour or nineteen hours. My husband tell me he's leaving to go to work while I'm editing and I will not notice until hours later when I realize that he is gone, has been gone, what happened?
Exiting hyperfocus feels like waking from a dream. I have to remember that the world exists in bits and pieces: first the room I'm in: what it looks like, what the sounds are, what I'm smelling. Gradually I adapt to the fact that I have a corporeal existence with feet and arms and…oh, am I hungry? I am. I am ravenous. When did that happen?
Even when I'm no longer paying conscious attention, the hyperfocus doesn't end, so much as it runs in a background window in my brain, sapping all my attention and will. It takes me several hours to get the processes to shut down and take a rest.
I understand better now why I just edited in one huge chunk. If I don't purposefully try to relax my brain, it simply keeps going. It wasn't just that I skipped sleep; my brain stayed in a constantly keyed up state, one in which sleep was only possible when I was so exhausted as to have no other option. The moment minimal sleep needs were met, my brain would wake me up, insistently thinking about the next chapter.
This is a very valuable brain state to have, but it is still not good for me to persist in it for weeks and weeks. Physically, I require sleep. I feel better if I get exercise and I eat well. I get back pain from sitting too long, and if I push through that back pain, I hit a new, more exciting level of debilitating pain. All of these things mean that doing things like I have been is not acceptable: every time I've done this in the past, the required recovery time afterward grows. My brain doesn't want to be reasonable? Too bad.
So I'm trying right now to take myself out of the state carefully: to stop and consciously remember where I am, to make a list of the needs I need to meet, and to meet those. To do so while fully present in what I am doing: to taste the food I'm eating, to feel the knotted hardness of hyperfocus in my brain and to imagine it unknotting and loosening, little by little, so that I can relax, eat well, sleep an appropriate number of hours, and enjoy time with my family.
I thought that I would give editing like a functional person a try, but it turns out, that's kind of beyond reach. So it's less that I'm functioning right now, and more like I'm imitating the vibes of a functioning person. Hopefully that will be enough.

Unraveled: currently 99 cents!
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Since apparently this is the newsletter of vibes, I just wanna say that this is one of the books where I most like the vibes: the hero is deliciously rigid, the heroine is delightfully challenging. Together they fight crime.
I mean, not exactly? It's pretty much only him on that, but there you are.
Get Unraveled for 99 cents on:

Until next week!
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