Citation: Woodsman. "Saw 'til We Fall: An Experience with Black Tea (exp69618)". Erowid.org. Dec 18, 2016. erowid.org/exp/69618
Here is a story about what happens when I made a quart of tea with over an ounce of loose leaf.
I was working a job clearing trails in a large Wilderness area in the Western US. We had one trail left to do late in the season, a real champion ass-buster that gains about 5000 vertical feet in about five miles. Word was that there was one large log blocking the trail and a local hunting guide could not move his stock past the log. Therefore, we absolutely had to clear this log.
The morning began with a mule ride up to where the work began. Not to the Big Log, but to a 300-yard section of trail that was completely covered with burned jackstraw. The trail was covered with fire-hardened logs ranging from three to twelve inches in diameter. This being a designated Wilderness area, my coworker and I had to use a six-foot crosscut saw instead of a chainsaw.
Anticipating a heavy workload and a hard hike, I had prepared a strong batch of tea in a heat-safe water bottle. Based on my readings of Solzhenitsyn and Shalamov's Gulag literature, I knew that prisoners would make small batches of tea with an ounce or more of leaves for recreational purposes. My coworker and I split a quart of this stuff, made with what we guessed was an ounce or so of loose black tea. It was disgusting, and made us both nauseous. Eating small amounts of salty snacks helped with the immediate nausea, and the feeling subsided completely after about 30 minutes.
Once the work began, we flew through the jackstraw. We cut over 70 logs in under two hours. It was hard work, but we kept at it, seeming to make decisions almost telepathically as to which log to cut next and whether a log needed one, two, or maybe zero cuts prior to removal. The pile-up was so bad that we often could not stand on the ground while sawing the topmost logs. The tea was definitely helping things along. I did not feel jittery at all, as I sometimes do when drinking too much coffee.
The tea was definitely helping things along. I did not feel jittery at all, as I sometimes do when drinking too much coffee.
It was more like I felt natural, but I knew in the back of my mind that I would not be working or thinking so quickly without the caffeine. I have avoided other legal and illegal stimulants, so I cannot compare this experience to that. However, a Russian barfly I used to know called this practice 'Russian cocaine'.
In the end, we got to the Big Log, and it was over three feet in diameter, and broken such that we had to move two pieces of it. We cleared it in about 45 minutes, using a system of levers, chocks, and slides. We then walked five miles and 5000 vertical feet back to camp. It was an epic day, and we could not have finished the job without the tea. Alas, it also kept me from falling asleep, even after all the hard work.
I have tried it a few other times when I have had to work on little sleep, but never again when faced with such a workload. I can't imagine doing it for fun, not because my experience was unpleasant, but because I don't see it making a situation more enjoyable.
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