Posts in Reviews

Clickbait Tea: For Shame

teabagThis is for all of you fans of tea bags, teabagging, and juvenile humor!

Please join Johnny in taking the clickbait on this new product: scrotum-shaped tea bags.

This is a product I would never use, nor condone (unless there are extreme, specific correlations between any crime and this “punishment”… and you’re, say, fourteen years old).

These teabags, apparently, come pre-loaded with marigold leaves and Darjeeling… which begs a question or two:

  • How did they choose such an odd blend for this far-from-esteemed purpose?
  • What tea would you like to see in this form?

Tell Johnny what you think.

[Please note: no teas were actually bagged during the writing of this article]

Our Lady of the Flowering Teas

I am ready for an incomparable experience, a Divine Tea that Blooms. No jasmine pearl this, no hongcha cone. Green orb streaked with promise of new hope.

A gaggle of tea spheresAwaiting the scald 

Even here, in the lair of Johnny Teacup, smelling the exhaust of cars and yellowing newsprint, water pours on this orb in its prison of glass. Intimacy evolves its alchemy. A solemn marble stairway leads to corridors covered with red carpets, upon which the tea steeps noiselessly. The blooming of the tea shocks me, and I fall swooning to the ground, head full of delicious songs of passion and pain.

The tea is still brewing, and now I am afraid. The promise of a delicious and delightful brew pursues me and I pursue it patiently. The blooms are clearly bent on destroying me.

flower-brewedA single petal

Didn’t I see, on my way to the tea shop, seven tea-picking monkeys resting weary from their fierce impossible pickings, questioning the stars through seven pots of teabag tea as they sat around a table that perhaps turned; then, a sun bear on a bicycle who was carrying a message from god to god, holding between his teeth, by the metal handle, a round, lighted tea kettle, the flame of which, as it reddened his face, also heated the water? So pure a marvel that he was unaware of being a marvel. I turn myself from this fantasy of bear and monkeys to the tea at hand, it has bloomed, these underwater fireworks threaten to torch my love for all other teas and leave me bereft and silent…

On me, under me, with my mouth pressed to the cup of blooming tea, I sing to it uncouth songs that move and shiver through its lovely leaves. To no avail: the flavor is gone, if it were ever there.

Bloom of the seaBeached teaSlowly but surely they must have stripped this tea of every kind of flavor, and so made a saint of it.

[this post was inspired by Our Lady of the Flowers, a very special novel by  Jean Genet]

Our Lady of the Flowers (Cover)


Sheng, for shame

One thing has always bothered me about the tea world. Sheng Pu-er is supposed to be GOOD? Every time I’ve ever tasted it, it’s been totally DISGUSTING.

Improvised Tea Festival Gaiwan

Today, I got pissed at myself for staying away from the Sheng, not doing battle with its ugly mystery just because it “tasted gross.” When have I shied away from a challenge?

Heck, people won’t realize that I’m a Cool Tea Manly Man unless I can choke down the stuff like a champ, right? So here goes!

Sheng pu'er tuocha

I’ll be using my trademark Gongfu-for-Johnny set: an improvised gaiwan made from a Northwest Tea Festival cup and the lid from a broken travel gaiwan; and another NWTF cup to pour the steamy results into. I’m sitting on the floor, with a copy of this week’s Stranger underneath to catch the inevitable spilling. If all of this doesn’t bring out the magic of this tea, nothing will.

The tea is this tuocha, something cheap, not very old and sporting that acrid scent on the dry leaf that whispers “Beware, beware, I’m a young sheng pu’er!”

Dry dusty leaf

Not wanting to damage the blade of my precious pink Leatherman, I try to break off a chunk by hand… to no avail. Luckily the tea has already been broken into, and there is a pile of dusty leaves in the bottom of the box–just enough for a smashing brew in my NWTF cup.



I start with what I hope will be the ultimate palate-cleanser: jarring the leaves awake with boiling water for a 1.57 second rinse, which I drink in a single breathless gulp.

212 F reading

Whoah–this is GOOD! Those supposedly “cool tea cats” don’t know what they’re missing, throwing away the rinse.

But that sweet, pleasantly green seaweed-compost flavor and mouthfeel isn’t what I wanted from this experience. Where is the testosterone and toughness? Where’s the challenge in describing something terrible as “the best thing ever”?


I’m disturbed now, and realize that  if I want the toughest, manliest tea in the world, I need to slow down and brew this dusty magic ad absurdam. So: boiling water and a leisurely steep while I clean newsprint off of my fingers and wipe up the excess spillage (good thing I don’t actually READ The Stranger, this one’s pretty messed up by now).

pouring tea

This brew, and the next few brews, are more like what I expect: hot, treacherous and bitter. By the 5th infusion, I hope to approximate a kuding level mouthfeel and stomach upset, but sadly even with my mad brewing skills this goal is outside my reach.

Now  the sheng pu’er experience has done the truly  impossible:  made me even more of a man.  Satisfied, proud and slightly sickened, I knock the spent leaves onto The Stranger, crumple it up and toss it out in the general direction of the garden, leaving the cups and spent leaves in the corner to rot until my next Gongfu adventure.

spent leaves


Best of all, I never have to drink this stuff again.

Tea Goblins Strike Again

I was going to post a review of a new tea today, but (unsurprisingly) it SUCKED so badly I had to spit out the first steep.
However, still searching for a tea that makes me angry enough–this one had nothing interesting about it at all, it might as well have been newsprint.

Wait, maybe it was newsprint… DAMN IT!  The tea goblins are at it again. When Johnny Teacup gets his angry hands on those twisted, tea-totalling supernatural fuckers… he can’t even SAY what he’ll do to them!

I’ll be back as soon as I take a long hot shower, spend some time with my ADORABLE reflection in the bathroom mirror, and sleep off this nearly-traumatic experience.

Oh, AND find some tea worth talking about.  It may be years, with my luck. But you, my precious readers, WILL be patient.

the natural effect of bad tea

behold the natural effect of bad tea