Steep Stories

of the Lazy Literatus

My Love/Hate Relationship with Wuyi Oolongs

I remember the first time I heard the word “yancha”. In an unlikely move, I was attending a local gathering of fellow tea folks. I was nowhere near as knowledgeable as I am now (which – admittedly – still isn’t much). In order to be social, I approached one random guy who was standing by himself, surveying the crowd, teacup hand.

“So,” I started. “What do you usually drink?” Typical tea-ish ice-breaker.

“Mostly yancha,” he said curtly.

My mind instantly went, Isn’t that a Dragon Ball Z character?


Nah . . .

“What’s that?” I asked, trying hard not to sound ig’nant.

He rolled his eyes, and let out a sigh. “It’s Wuyi. Rock. Oolong.”

“Ah,” I simply said. Why didn’t you just say THAT?!

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AKA Spike My Ceylons with Jessica Jones

NaNoTeaMo, Day 22: “AKA Spike My Ceylons with Jessica Jones”

Before reading the ramblings below, it’ll probably help you to visualize it being read by Humphrey Bogart. To set the proper mood.


If that’s too difficult, or way to serious a voice . . . then picture Garrison Keillor as Guy Noir reading this aloud.

Garrison noir

Both are applicable.


It was a chilly Fall evening, and I just finished a rather grueling work weekend. One that made me yearn for food that was bad for me . . . and women that were worse. Luckily, both were in great supply and very nearby. Fast food was easily found and consumed, and now it was time to binge on a fast woman. Faster than me, anyway.

For you see . . . Jessica Jones premiered on Netflix last Friday.

Jessica Jones (2)

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Getting Tea Drunk on Giddapahar

The Giddapahar tea estate rests near the center of the Kurseong Valley. The name translates to “Eagle’s Cliff”. While still considered high altitude in most respects, it represents one of the lower altitude gardens in that region. One of the most unique aspects of the estate is its size. Compared to many other Darjeeling ops, it’s rather small – 110 hectares total, 90% of which are covered in tea plants. Most of the bushes they use are small leaf Chinese cultivars.


Luckily, the garden had a website for me to look all this up. How many tea estates actually have a website? Not many, I’ve found – unless they’re huge. Granted, the site needs a lot of work. It was apparently made in 2013, but looks like it was rendered in 2003. Plus, there’s weird New Age music playing in the background. It’s eerily soothing. Those nitpicks aside, though, “A” for effort.

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A Look at Lumbini Tea

NaNoTeaMo, Day 20: “A Look at Lumbini Tea”

I’ve talked about World Tea Expo 2015 a lot the last few weeks, and that’s because . . . well . . . there was (and still is) a lot to talk about. Case in point: Lumbini Tea.


Robert “Lord Devotea” Godden tweeted all the Expo-attending bloggers and said (paraphrased slightly), “Visit the Lumbini Tea booth . . . or else . . .”

I did say it was paraphrased.

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The Making of Misty “Peat” Puerh, Part 2

NaNoTeaMo, Day 19: “The Making of Misty Peat Puerh, Part 2”

For Part 1, go HERE.

I last left off stating that I declared this experiment a success. The puerh leaves took up the bourbon scenting quite well. Almost too well.

When I got home that evening from my brother’s house, I even had my sister and niece smell the can. My niece’s commentary was, “It smells like a Sharpie!”

Oddly enough, it did. Very pungent liquor aroma. The following day, I did a couple of follow-up tests to see how even the taste was.

First gongfu test

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The Making of Misty “Peat” Puerh, Part 1

NaNoTeaMo, Day 18: “The Making of Misty ‘Peat’ Puerh, Part 1”

In the Fall of 2014, I did a write-up about Misty Peak Teas, and a tea session I had with its head cheerleader, Nicholas Lozito, in his backyard. I had a lot of tea that day, and some of the thoughts swirling in my head were less than conventional. One of them occurred when I noticed this:

outside tea

Photo courtesy of Nicholas Lozito.

He had a giant bamboo platter of puerh leaves just . . . lying there.

I asked him what they were doing outside.

He replied with a shrug, “Oh, I just want to see what it does.”

He called it his “outside” puerh, and looking at it gave me an idea. One I vocalized. “Hey, do you think you can spare 200-grams of loose sheng?”

“For what?” he answered.

“I want to put it in a bourbon barrel.”

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Bedroom of Tea Sugar

As a self-confessed fat man, I’ll admit I know about sugar. But I’ll also admit that I don’t know a lot about sugar. I just eat a lot of it. Perhaps too much.

If it weren’t for the amount of tea I drink, I’d probably weigh 300lbs. Yes, I know that’s no laughing matter. Who’s laughing? I’m not. And I look positively jolly. Need proof? Here’s your damn proof!


I’m just a little too jolly to be holding a Vietnamese puerh cake. And look at those chins. Those are well-earned chins.

Moving right along.

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Darjeeling Fit for an Emperor

NaNoTeaMo, Day 16: “Darjeeling Tea Fit for an Emperor”

The Singbulli tea estate has a very old history, like a lot of such Darjeeling gardens. It was established in 1924 by British planters, and then was taken over in 2003 by Jayshree Tea and Industries. The garden resides near the town of Mirik, and teas from there are certified organic.

The name “Singbulli” means “home of the birds”, but when I first heard the name several years ago, I immediately pictured this.

singing bull

But let’s stay focused here.

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A Baby Half-Heaven Goblin’s Flying Tea Couch Adventure

NaNoTeaMo, Day 15: “A Baby Half-Heaven Golbin’s Flying Tea Couch Adventure”

A couple of days ago, I may have mentioned I went to Seattle. While there I visited The Phoenix Tea Shop. That . . . was only part of the story. This is the rest.

Earlier in the week, my brother sent me a text message. He asked, “Hey, Geoff, are you available Thursday evening?”

I replied with a bro-ish, “Sure, what’s up?”

He said, “I’m bringing a couch home from Seattle in the truck, and will need some help getting it into the house. “

At first, I gave my affirmative that I’d be willing to help . . . but then an image popped into my head.


He was heading to Seattle that day, and I had the day off. BRO’D-TRIP!

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Pa Sa Puerh and More Tea Pet Hijinx

NanoTeaMo, Day 14: “Pa Sa Puerh and More Tea Pet Hijinx”

As of tonight, I am two-thirds the way through my NaNoTeaMo goal of doing one tea blog a day for a month. Much to the joy of a few of you, and annoyance to the rest. This has mainly been about establishing some sense of writing discipline, which I’m going to need going forward on some future projects.

Given that this is officially the two-week mark of that self-imposed challenge, it seemed fitting that I celebrate with a special tea. And also – given that it’s still Fall – what better way to do that than with a sheng puerh from my favorite mountain – Nan Nuo Shan. One that I almost forgot about, no less.

wrapped cake

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