Let me tell you a little about my “Tea Uncle”, Austin Hodge.
Why is he wearing a Zhong Shan Zhuang, and how did someone convince me to wear a suit? I’ll get to that.
World Tea Expo, 2016, Day 2 . . . started early.
Really early. Okay, maybe not that early, but it felt early. Sleep was a rare commodity that week, thus far. I immediately hit the Teas Etc. booth and grabbed an oolong to refuel.
If I was going to spend the morning attending core panels, I was gonna need it. My attention span was rocky at best, already. Add lack of sleep to that, and I was useless to the world.
A month ago, during a tea-‘n-matcha-fueled dinner pairing, a university educator asked me this:
“What do you do?”
“I’m just a tea blogger,” I replied.
She sort of tilted her head, confusedly—like a Saint Bernard.
Then asked, “Why?”
The follow-up question caught me off-guard. I was both hurt and offended by it. Not because she meant it as a slight (it wasn’t and she didn’t), but more because . . . I had no clue how to answer that question.
But I’m getting ahead of myself . . . let’s get back to that tea pairing I mentioned at the beginning.
Returning to World Tea Expo this year felt like a scene right out of Return of the King.
You know the one—where all four battle-weary Hobbits came back. Everything was the same . . . but they weren’t. That’s how the first day of Expo felt to me. This was the first one to be held in Las Vegas since 2013, and it looked like 2013 all over again. However, a lot had happened to me in the ensuing three-to-four years.
I was not the same tea drunk Hobbit. Still tea drunk, sure, but more . . . I dunno . . . worldly? No, that’s not the right word. Perhaps I’ll come up with a better descriptor as I write on.
I needed a vacation.
And I needed it as soon as possible.
That was probably why—when I planned it—I decided to leave for Las Vegas four days earlier than I really needed to. The original intent was to go down just for the days of World Tea Expo. Well, I decided to tack on a few additional vacation days to that. And Naomi “Joy’s Teaspoon” Rosen was to put me up (and put up with me) for those extra days.
What occurred could best (and simply) be described as “tea-fueled tourism”.
In 1939, the United Kingdom officially declared war against Nazi Germany. Punctually early, as was the British way. In order to keep public morale high, the Ministry of Information designed and distributed posters to strengthen British resolve in advance of wartime peril. One of which was this:
It was a very British slogan.
In late 2013, I thought I tried the rarest, weirdest, most unheard-of tea unicorn out there—a heicha (dark tea) from Taiwan.
After three years of palatial growth, though, I’m now convinced that it was a Yunnan grown puerh that was merely stored in Taiwan. Still unique, but not quite the unicorn I thought it was. However, I learned of a group who might have created one.
I’ve gone on record as saying that Mizuba Tea‘s matcha line is one of my favorites.
Both for their quality . . . and convenience. Convenient, how? Well, “they” are located in my neck of the woods. That’s right, I have a local matcha (read: crack) dealer. If I need a fix, I know who to call/text/e-mail/smoke signal.
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