Friday, September 25, 2015

A Tea Addicts Journal: Part Two

I would like to remind everyone that this is fiction.

Part Two-

The Depressed Mask

I hate myself.

It is a stunning and painful realization to come to.

It's not even a "I wish I could do this better". 

It is a "I believe the whole world would be better off if I vanished."

I look at my ceramic teapot and sigh.

It has had the same tea and leaves in it for a week.

There is probably mold to no end.

I gag and take it to the sink.


And it smells like death.

I dump the contents down the dispose-all and turn it on.

Then I dump in a lemon, quartered, to kill the ungodly stench.

Then I fill the teapot with hot water and bleach.

Luckily the teapot is already white.

My whole tea nook is horridly messy.

My water boiler is empty and on its side on the hardwood floor.

I had knocked it over after emptying it, and I didn't even have the motivation to put it upright.

I just wanted to go to bed and pull the covers over my head.

I didn't want tea.

I didn't want food.

I hadn't had a bath in 4 days.

Hadn't changed my night gown in 5.

I probably smell just as bad as that teapot had.

I walk to the bathroom.

I start running the water.

I climb into the tub, immediatly tucking my knees to my chin.

The water was as hot as it would go.

I secretly hoped that it would burn me and leave blisters.

Pain was good.

It meant I hadn't killed myself.

Maybe I should make some tea after my bath.

I turn off the water.

I scrub until my skin was red and looked like I had been trying to scrape my skin off.

I washed my hair three times with shampoo.

I even used my conditioner.

I looked in the mirror as I dried off.

All I could see were flaws.

All I could think was how ugly what I saw there was.

I put on a clean cotton nightgown.

I pick my water boiler up off the floor and fill it.

I plug it in, turn it on, and wait.

Maybe a kid movie will cheer me up.

Maybe that one with the blue alien that nobody likes and the little girl with no friends.

That one has a happy ending, right?

I put the dvd in the player.

I turn on the tv.

I push play.

The water's boiling.

I pour water into the gravity steeper.

I put a little puck of cheap-ish raw puerh into it.

It sank, like it always does, and I watched the little girl put a voodoo doll into a pickle jar with a bunch of forks and shake it.

I understand her motivations.

Many people have good intentions.

But lots of times they just make things worse.

"Go for a walk! The sunshine will be good for your mood."

How could I go for a walk when it is a struggle to just drag myself from my bed?

I cried a lot during the movie, especially when the little girl got captured by the big alien and it looked like the blue alien wasn't going to save her.

When the dvd stopped, I pulled one of the couch blankets up to my chin, and turned to face the back of the couch.

I don't think I ever drank that tea.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Tea2Go, a review on their customer service and sales practices

I have been to the Tea2Go that is about an hour away from the town I live in 3 or 4 times now, and I feel that I can now give an accurate representation of the typical customer experience you will receive if you go there.

First off, there is a HUGE sign when you walk in stating the "health benefits" they claim for all their tea types. ( I was unable to take a picture, because when I pulled out my phone to do so, they jumped all over me saying they didn't allow photos of their business to be taken, which was the first red flag.)

Not only is there no disclaimer about the fact that the claims are not proven through scientific testing, but they treat the sign as absolute gospel. This really annoys me, for the very reason that other than the fact that if you drink unsweetened tea you will probably lose weight, especially if you are switching from a sugary drink laden diet, there are NO health benefits to tea that have been proven via long-term scientific study.

This past visit is most vivid, so I will use it as my example-

As soon as I walked to the wall of loose tea (the teas were in clear plastic canisters, some of which were foggy with moisture, ugh. red flag number 2) I got rushed by an employee, who IMMEDIATELY started pushing the most expensive teas they had, the white teas, saying how they would improve my skin tone and help me lose weight.

I basically played the uninformed customer and took him up on the Madagascar Coconut white tea.

 When I asked him about the origin of the tea, he hemmed and hawed and fed me some vague statement about how their teas are sourced from "all over the world" and that he didn't know where the individual teas come from (red flag number 3).

When I was ordering, he pushed me into getting both the largest size of iced tea (a 44 oz monster of a cup) and an extra scoop of tea leaves "because white and green teas are just too delicate in flavor to really be tasted without the extra scoop" which doubled the price of the cup of iced tea from $3.99 to almost $8. (apparently he had never experienced a gong fu brewed yabao. This was red flag number 4).

He also pushed me to get MULTIPLE 2 tablespoon scoops of coconut sugar. I told him to stop at one and I watched him put two in AFTER I insisted I only needed one (he wouldn't listen when I had said that I normally take my tea unsweet.) Red flag # 5.

So my experience was pretty awful, and I witnessed two other underhanded sales tactics I had previously thought only Teavana used.

I watched an associate tell a pair of older ladies that they recommended buying loose leaf at least 4 oz at a time "so that they could have some room to figure out their favorite brewing parameters". Seeing as their CHEAPEST teas are being sold at around $4 an ounce, this was a ridiculous situation for me to see.

The other sales tactic was actually done to my husband and sister-in-law, who decided they wanted to buy one of their "level 2" teas in loose leaf. (it's called crisp apple strudel, and only includes fruit, almond slivers, and hibiscus). It costs $5 an ounce. The associate assisting them did not even mention they could put the tea in a foil backed heat sealed zip bag but insisted on selling them a tin for an extra $4.99. She filled the tin with FIVE ounces of tea and rung them up for the $30 purchase.

I said nothing, because my experience had already been so soured by their behavior toward me that I felt that if I had said something it would have come out as snappish and I would have been told by my husband and sister in law that I was being unreasonable.

OH and I forgot, red flags six and seven were as follows-

On the BOTTOM of the tin that was bought by my group members, they wrote the instructions for the tea. it read "Temperature: 203 - 222 F, brew time 10-15 minutes" See anything wrong with that?

When I asked what temperature they were brewing the teas at (because they only have one water "boiler" in the shop and I was wondering what it was set at), They said- "it doesn't matter because we are putting it over ice anyway"

As for how the tea tasted:  I couldn't finish it. It was too sickly sweet and had that bitter taste you get when you use water that is too hot on an inexpensive white tea.

I have made better iced tea using a Lipton tea bag.

I am really trying to be fair, but SEVEN red flags that tell me that they both don't know what they are doing and that they don't care about the customer experience as long as they make money, are too much.

My husband. his sister, and her husband all like it though, so maybe it is just me being too hard on a company meant to bring tea to people less educated on the subject.

As a business I give them a review of  0/10, my suggestions are as such:

They need to remove the health benefits sign and actually TRAIN their employees to do more than toss massive amounts of loose leaf tea with massive amounts of sugar into a gravity steeper, set a timer for the max time that they list, and then put the tea over massive amounts of ice to disguise the bitter taste from too hot of water and too long of a time in the hot water.

Their teas I give a 2/10, because I feel if they were actually prepared properly they may have actually been halfway palatable.

Friday, September 18, 2015

A Tea-Addict's Journal PART ONE

This is that little booky thing I am writing, I will be posting a new installment every Friday.

It is fiction.

Part One-

The Apologetic Mask

The tea tasted off this morning. 

I don’t know if that was due to the work that had to be done today, or not. 

Cardamom and ginger-spiked Nilgiri black tea with fat-free evaporated milk, and for once, real sugar. 

I was preparing for a shipment that was to enter the US at any time now. 

I guess when they say “slow boat from China” they aren’t kidding. 

I was already itching to make another order, and I hadn’t even received the first one yet. 

But the spring teas were starting to be harvested, and any week now, I’d receive word that “Yes we do have that Darjeeling from Namring estate in.” and “Yes, the new sheng pu’erhs for this year will be ready to ship any day now.” “Yes, you can pre-order the Jin Xuan oolong for this season, would you prefer scented, or unscented?”

For most people, this might be an easy choice. 

My problem is that I like them all

The mellow smoothness of Darjeeling, the bite of a young sheng pu’erh, the creamy milky-ness of a true Jin Xuan. 

There was also so much more to my habit than this. 

Beyond the drink itself was what it was presented, prepared, proffered, and eventually drunk in.

 Pots, Gaiwan, cups, bowls, mugs, and the occasional saucer were scattered around my little nook of a tea room. 

The only pity was, there was only one chair. 

Because of that, the tea room felt very lonely and isolated despite being less than two steps away from the living room, where my husband entertains any friends who come over. 

I wished it was a room I could close off. 

A room I could have poufs and bean bags strewn around, comfortable chairs everywhere, yet still with a focus on tea. 

Because despite all of my beloved husband’s efforts, I was lonely. 

Sad isn’t it, I had most everything I could ever want, but I was lonely. 

Lonely and afraid. 

Afraid to reach out, afraid to try. 

I had been burned by people so often that I had completely given up on making friends.

It's hard, being different. 

Ever since I was a young girl I have been ostracized for being "weird". 

It was everything from a bully "accidently dropping my textbook in the chem lab sink full of formaldehyde, to them slamming a locker door in my face. 

I was lucky if I didn't have to replace my glasses every six months. 

You get jaded in that kind of situation.

 I got to the point where I only didn't have my guard up around maybe three people.

 Only three people I felt I could trust enough to where I wouldn't have to wear that mask.

Everyone has one, a mask, I mean. 

Some people have several. The mask you wear when the boss tells you to come in on a Saturday. The mask you wear when your mother starts talking about your weight.

My mask is very simple. A fake, hollow smile that doesn't reach to my cheeks, let alone my eyes. One corner higher than the other, almost a smirk.

I have a pretty tough outer shell. I hold in emotions until the little bottle I keep them in bursts under pressure. I make sure not to burst around others. 

You wouldn't like me when I explode.

I say things I don't mean.

Things that are purposefully built to hurt feelings.

Things that would make even Lisa Lampanelli say "That crossed the line, WAAY back there".

I don't mean to.

But sometimes, that's the only way to get the hurt out.

Maybe that makes me the biggest bully of them all.

If I still believed in a god, I would probably ask "why don't you fix me?"

But that doesn't fix anything.

So I have been trying to fix things.

With tea.

With meditation.

With therapy.

With medications that more often than not make me feel ill.

But that's better than just letting it sit where it is, right?

Back to the tea.

I figure I should dump it and start over.

Maybe that blend with the lavender and jasmine.

So, I brew that.

It still doesn't feel right.

I set the mug on my tea table and start doing what maybe I should have been doing all along.

Writing apologies that I will never show anyone, and never send.


                 I am sorry I was such an insufferable person last night. I should not have argued about taking my medications on time. I was wrong. I hope you can forgive my rudeness and impudence. Please don't hate me.

             I am sorry I did not get the dishes done. I have no excuse, but I hope you can forgive me for not taking care of my responsibilities in a timely manner.


I did that for about an hour.

They were not all grave offenses, and I had already verbally apologized for most of them.

It made me realize my mistakes, I guess, to write them down.

I can't stop smiling right now- here's why!

A couple of weeks ago I lost my previous therapist because of reasons I both do not know and can not discuss.

That Monday, when I found out I wasn't going to have therapy for a while, I was rather upset and mentioned it in the general discussion forum of Reddit's /r/tea.

Several very sweet Redditors took it upon themselves to check on me, and I was even offered tea by more than one person as sort of a "gee that sucks have comfort in knowing we care" package.

I ended up talking to another Redditor in a similar situation that Friday, and I would have felt fine just knowing I had helped someone else.

That's what's the most important.


Since then I have gotten several packages from those people I spoke to that week, and it's so nice to see that people care, even if it is just an "are you ok? PM me if you wish to talk. I am here for you." That's what means the most to me. The offer of a listening ear/ reading eye. The "if I lived closer I would have you come over so we could chat and have tea."

The knowledge that people care enough about ME, a person who is still struggling with self-worth and anxiety, who can't help but say "sorry" even when it isn't their fault, the person who was so bullied throughout school that they never recovered the "I'm worth it" mentality, is so surprising that at first it made me cry, and not in a sad way. It was the first time I cried because I was happy.

I just want ALL OF YOU to know- Thank you.

I am sorry (ouch, not supposed to use that word anymore) for the lack of posts as of late. life's been crazy. I WILL write more.

And I am going to do weekly posts that aren't exactly about tea, but are little stories, like a book in installments.

I hope you all like that.

This Wednesday I met my new therapist, Ms. S. She is so good natured and kind. She reminds me of my aunt that I was named after. (much younger though)

Today we went for a walk. We walked TWO WHOLE MILES while drinking some chestnut royal milk tea I had made for us. We also talked a lot about my in-laws having a baby on the way, and how was I doing with that. (I am both super nervous, and super excited)

When I got home, two packages were on the front porch for me.

I won't say who they are from, I don't want to put any sort of pressure on them to reply to this, but the care they took in picking what they sent to me was very evident in what I got.

I am drinking a very lovely cup of a Wuyi yancha right now and waiting for my Zojirushi water boiler to heat back up.

The plum notes are so evident, and the fragrance so heady, it almost makes me giddy.

The fact that people care is so important.

So I am going to make a request of all of you.

If you see someone who looks down, or sad, or like they are just having a rough day-

Tell/ask them-

~ I hope your day turns out better than you could ever hope.

~ Have a wonderful day.

~ You look so great in that sweater, where did you get it?

~ I love your nails. who did them?

~ Do you need a hug?

~ Do you want to talk about it?

~ Can I do anything for you to make your day better?

You may just save a life.

Oh, and I am listening to ZZ Top right now. I love "Cheap Sunglasses", it is just a fun song.