126946409_c580203d0a_b“Does Tony Nunez live here?”  The woman who delivers our mail peered at me from her white vehicle.  “ I came down here over that awful road, you know.  There was another package two weeks ago –“

“No, Tony Nunez does not live here, but if that package is from Taiwan, it’s for me.”

“Taiwan?  What are you getting from Taiwan?”  Taiwan had suddenly taken on planetary status given the awe in her voice.

“It’s tea, really good tea –“

“Wonder why you have to sign for tea?”   The inherent nosiness of the locals is either a blessing or a bane.  (Mail delivery personnel glean almost as much about us as the garbage collector, but neither could be faulted for accuracy.)

“It is very precious tea, but since the package that was supposed to come a few weeks ago never arrived, the sender probably –“

“Yeah, I returned that one.  But when this came again, I figured I better come down here and find out about this Tony Nunez.”  She peered over the left of her right-side steering wheel as if Tony were about to step from behind the oak tree wearing a cape and wielding a lightsaber.

“Tony is the editor of the tea blog I sometimes write for.  He arranged for the tea to be sent to me –“

“Oh, you write for a tea blog?  I love tea!  Sign right here,” she handed me a package as she repeated, “I love tea.”

I signed. “Since my house is the end of your route, why don’t you come in and I’ll brew you a cup of this ‘precious tea? “  A very large woman, she came out of the postal vehicle in stages, keeping up a running commentary as she shifted and shuddered and scooted out.   Soon she was in the house, taking in every detail, from the rustic kitchen to the woodburning stove to the variety of practical antiques.  She watched with interest as I opened the package from Dachi, still skeptical that the package contained tea.  At least a dozen beautifully labeled foil envelopes dropped out.  I handed one to her, “Iron Goddess Oolong, let’s try this one.”  She watched every move as I followed the brewing instructions.

“You mean you don’t just stick a tea bag in the water?”  She asked questions about the tetsubin, the zojirushi, and the brewing time.  She was amazed how different the tea looked before and after brewing, and more amazed when I steeped the same leaves twice more as we chatted.  When I told her I could steep the same leaves three more times, each steep tasting a little different, her deductive reasoning kicked in, “Wow, that means the tea isn’t so expensive if you can get a dozen cups of tea from a teaspoon!”  I had her sniff the leaves after we had brewed them twice, “Oh my, they smell kind of sweet, don’t they? They look like leaves! And this tea isn’t the least bit bitter!  What is the name of this goddess Taiwan?”

“Here,” I said, “You can have this one, ‘Iron Goddess Oolong.’ “

“I don’t have any way to make it,” disappointment in her voice and in her posture.

“Hold on,” I ran into my office-cum-tea-stash and returned with a brand new infuser mug still in the box.  One of the dozens of tea gifts I have received in the last several years, it felt good to give it to someone new to the world of whole leaf tea.  I also brought out some packets of black and green tea and a handy dandy guide to tea types and their brewing instructions.

She accepted everything gratefully as she carefully tucked the packet of Iron Goddess Oolong inside the box containing the mug.  “Thank you!  I am so glad I came down here to ask you about that Tony Nunez.  Can’t wait to make this for my husband!”  Slowly and deliberately, she made her way to her postal vehicle.

Part Two:  a review of three oolongs from Dachi.