A few weeks back, on Blue Sky, someone mentioned to me that they were getting really into purple tea.
Brief explanation: Unlike designations like “green” or “black,” which tell you about processing methods, “purple” tells you about the kind of plant it comes from. The varietals (three in total, all different) that produce purple tea acquire anthrocyanins, a color that tinges the leaves toward red and purple. Saying a tea is “purple” isn’t enough: you still need to know how it was produced. There are purple pu-erhs and purple black teas and so forth and what not.
I had heard of purple tea before, but I’d never tried it. I don’t know why. When I get interested in a kind of tea I tend to hyperfocus and come back to it over and over again. It’s just never happened with purple tea before. This mention was the thing that pushed me over the edge.
Yue Guang Bai is a purple white tea: the leaves are from a purple varietal, and the tea is produced by allowing the freshly plucked leaves to lightly wilt, before drying them in a wind tunnel.
This was the first purple tea I’ve ever had, and it was extraordinary. The scent of the leaves was heady. The flavor was sophisticated: floral and sweet and spicy. The first steep—a mere 5 seconds—felt like it was kissed with a tiny touch of Meyer lemon—not sour at all, but a fleeting taste that felt like floral walked right up to the edge of a lemon and waited. Subsequent steeps grew spicier, before that gave way to a long, lasting sweetness. This tea is magical.
Hyperfocus engaged. I’m going to be spending time exploring purple tea, particularly because this is probably the cheapest tea I’ve ever found that has made me feel that sense of delight at something surprising and wonderful. I got a 25 gram sample for $5.50 from Yunnan Sourcing. Since white tea ages well, this one is certainly going in the stockpile.
Steps, Intentions, and The Thing
I’ve had two intentions combine recently. First, I have my thing that I am going to be doing this summer (originally planned for summer 2023, delayed one year due to broken toe). Second, I’ve been thinking about ways to reduce my climate impact little by little. Ever since I wrote the last-linked newsletter about 2% solutions, I’ve been trying to look at what I’m doing and figure out one thing I can change every month or so. I’ve found it’s easier to change one thing at once, and wait until it “sticks” (or figure out why it isn’t sticking for me). At some point when I’m a year in, I’ll probably send a list over.
In any event, I now have two things I want to do: first, gradually increase the number of steps I’m walking every month as we head toward The Thing (as yet undisclosed) (along with other things necessary to make it work). Second, I want to reduce my climate impact.
(We are not, at this point, going to talk about the fact that The Thing is not 100% in concert with good climate reductions. I am turning myself inside out trying to figure that one out).
One of the things I’ve decided to do this month is (a) get 10,000 steps a day as training for TheThing and (b) because this takes time, and time is weird and squirrely, walk anywhere that is within 2 miles of my house, rather than use a car.
This is something that’s easy for me at this moment—I mention this not to make anyone feel bad for things they can’t do. The area I’m living in is rapidly (very rapidly) densifying. I have five places where I can get grocery items within a 1.5 mile radius, four coffee shops, and at least twenty restaurants. That number is growing and will continue to grow. I also live less than a mile from a lightrail station, so “two miles of walking” includes the entirety of Denver downtown.
I’m about 7 days into this intention, and three or four trips to the store. We had a massive semi-surprise snowstorm hit this last weekend, and while I managed to walk the dog when it was still rain, I had to finish the last of my steps by going to the grocery store (which I needed to do) in six inches of snow.
I absolutely would not have done that without both those intentions, but the truth is, I loved it. Nobody else was around. The way to the store takes me through a local park, and there were trees and snow and silence. Walking in snow uses a lot of energy, so I didn’t get cold. I ended up taking the long way back just to make sure I got my steps in, and at the end, rather than cursing myself and my foolish goals, I felt the warm glow of endorphins.
I don’t think my brain is set up to make goals that I hate doing, but sometimes setting goals encourages me to do things I’d rather not do in the moment, but which I end up being very grateful for after the fact. Finding surprising joy in something that should be hard is perhaps one of the cheapest way to be happy.
The Countess Conspiracy
For a number of reasons, fiction tends to favor protagonists who have goals that they want to achieve against difficult odds. When I think of my most driven heroines, I often think of Violet: a woman who set out to do something impossible, who is deeply driven to do it, so much so that she has a hard time accessing who she is outside of the goals she has set for herself.
I absolutely loved pairing Violet with Sebastian—someone who was an intellectual match for her, but whose ambition was tempered with a desire to find joy in the world, and who was able to see Violet for all the facets of herself, not just her ambition and desire. If Violet is sometimes too cold and too focused, Sebastian is seen as too frivolous. Learning that the way they’re seen isn’t who they are is my favorite part of this book.
One thing that’s important to me in writing romance is to write protagonists who are a match for each other: people who bring not only strength and support to each other, but also delight to each other’s world.
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