Puerh in the winter

Fire Pits and Winter Worms – 90’s Traditionally Stored Shu

Manliness & Winter Tea

Nothing increases the masculinity of an activity like building your own fire. For example, the brewing of tea: generally not considered to be a very masculine endeavor. But, what if you build your own fire to heat the water? Boom. Instant masculinity. Ditto for fetching things. Turning on a faucet is a pretty mundane activity. But, what if you go to a spring to get the water? Bam. Instantly more manly.

A sign I have never seen in China

My father and I set out to be the manliest of manly tea men and prepare some old fashioned-ish tea; the process involved some laborious tasks that give you a bit of perspective on what it means to have tap water and an electric kettle.

spring water for puer tea
Fresh spring water

Step 1: Get Water

There is a free flowing natural spring in the area, so we took our horse drawn wagon car with hand-thrown ceramic plastic jug in tow. (Perhaps not everything about the process was as old time-y as i led on) The spring, however, is old fashioned. Nothing more than a hose leading the spring out of the ground into a creek. We filled up our jug and embarked on the journey back to the fire pit.

Filling a jug with ater
Fetching water
Kettle for Tea
Filling the pot

Step 2: Make Fire

We lugged our axes into the forest, and fell a tree, thrice the size of a cabin. Our mules pulled the tree through the woods to our cabin, where we chopped for hours until…ok, none of that happened. We  had old firewood in the garage and built a small fire. We began with a tripod to suspend the pot above the fire. It took a little while for the bed of coals to be significant enough to heat a full pot of water, but once it was going it was efficient. The times in between brewing lead to some whimsical occurrences, such as a teapot covered in a thin layer of ice when a few minutes elapsed between brews. The enjoyment of a small fire heating a pot of water in a quiet surroundings more than makes up for the increase in wait time and ice on the yixing [teapot].

Tea fire
We began with this tripod until the coals settled
Homemade tea
Then we moved to the coals, expediting the boiling

Step 3: Brew Tea

My father has recently taken to drinking a bit of ripe puer and I decided to bring him a traditionally [see: probably too wet] stored 90’s cake for Christmas. I opened the wrapper and a small net of webs covered one corner of the cake. Upon further examination, it seemed to be the home of a small grub, who I dug out for a photo. Nothing like giving the gift of worms for the holidays. The worm must have been supremely confused, a large steel blade, digging him from his cocoon and lifting him in to a snow-covered forest.

Bugs in tea
My wormy friend on the tip of a knife
tea worm
The worms vanquished homestead

As for the tea, the cold weather and smooth warming effects of an aged shu intertwine nicely. A little bit of damp humid aroma injected into the chill of the snow. A bit of a humid warehouse, a chunk of mountain grown tea, and a winter wonderland. That contrast is a gift that I wish I was able to experience more often, but the rarity of the experience makes it all the more precious.

Steaming teapot
The steam was thrown off in thick bursts
warming yixing pots
The cold air kept us pouring onto the pot just to keep it warm enough to steep



  • shah8

    Hobbes…is a bad influence on you, man…

    • Not as bad an influence as violent video games

  • Gero

    hurr hurr hurr – that’s some down to earth manly tea, just what a Slayer of Monsters (=excavator of worms) deserves! Not that sissy girly tea of the vegan variety (=whitout grubs).
    No seriously – being a major tea nerd and minor bbq freak I love boilng tea water on the coals of a grill. But thats oh so slow 🙁
    In German we have a saying which might be translated as “be patient and have some tea” … but in your case I guess it was more like: be extremely batient in order to have some tea 😉

    • TwoDog2

      Haha, you are right, it is painstakingly slow. It does give some nice time in between steeps to appreciate huigans, though.

      The patience required to heat water over coals at least gives us some perspective on what it means to have gas stoves and electric kettles. Our ancestors would be very jealous

  • Nick H

    Very nice. I have brought yixing pots on camping trips–really the perfect thing when you consider horse nomads in china were probably doing just that–clay pots and compressed tea bricks–1-2K years ago.

    I have made tea from water I collected at the top of a mountain in Taiwan. I thought that was pretty special.

    • TwoDog2

      Water from the fresh natural sources is always so much more interesting than the bottled stuff or tap water. I think anyway who has a great water source for regular use should consider themselves lucky!

      • Nick H

        Yes; although here in the SF Bay Area, we are lucky to have some of the best water around, short of tapping it straight from the springs. It really does make a difference. I don’t even trust most bottled water; in CA it is not subject to the same regulations that tap water is.

  • ChengduCha

    I’ve seen drinking water signs on some touristy mountain… with tourists washing their shoes in the water from the well instead of drinking it. 😀

    • TwoDog2

      Mmm, delicious boot water.