Steep Stories

of the Lazy Literatus

Russian Tea Garden Profile: Host

Well over a year ago, I tried a green tea from a Russian tea garden that just . . . blew my mind.


Russian green tea

The garden—according to the vendor, What-Cha—was called “the Host tea estate”. I corresponded with the company owner for some time, and he informed me that he could find no information on the garden. This wasn’t much of a surprise.

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All Four Doke First Flush Teas In One Day

Begin Doke Diary transmission.

I’ve already written about the Doke tea estate in Bihar, India on several occasions. Everyone who reads this blog already knows my leanings toward it. That being, it’s my absolute favorite Indian tea garden. Yes, in all of India.

Photo by Rachiv Lochan.

Photo by Rachiv Lochan.

But out of the countless tea profiles, taster notes, and lapses in narrative judgment, there is one thing I haven’t done. I haven’t had the opportunity to try all four of Doke’s teas from one season, in one year, in one day. That is, until Lochan Tea supplied me with such an opportunity.

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An Awakening on a Meghalayan Tea Cloud

I seem to be on a weird streak lately, talking about growing regions that shouldn’t exist. First, it was puerh variants in the hills of Thailand, then it was Kickstarter projects in India, and last week, it was mystery gardens in Russia. (I’m not done there, yet, by the way.) This week, we’re heading back to India, and a little-known state called Meghalaya.

Seven Sister Falls

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Russian Tea Garden Profile: Solohaul

A few months ago – as some of you have undoubtedly seen – I received samples from What-Cha. Many of them were from Russian tea estates in Krasnodar krai, specifically the Dagomys region near Sochi City. Yeah, the place where the Winter Olympics were held two years ago. I’ve written about Russian teas rather extensively in the last couple of years, but I had yet to do a profile on one specific garden.

What-Cha’s owner, Alistair Rea, sort of nudged me to sample a couple of black teas from the so-called “Solohaul Tea Estate”. As with any tea company or garden, there was very little information available online. And unless I somehow managed to become fluent in Russian (and the Cyrillic alphabet), that wasn’t about to change anytime, soon.

Alistair, however – in his usual, resourceful way – did find an article about the garden, complete with lovely pictures . . . one of which I mooched.

Image owned by Tea-Terra.

Image owned by Tea-Terra.

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Times I Actually Left the Apartment for Tea

I don’t get out much these days. For tea or anything else.


Not sure if it’s by accident or by design, but in the last couple of months, I’ve preferred to take tea at home. Perhaps it’s the allure of the natural light hitting my personal tea tray, or the sheer ease of never having to leave my pajamas. Or, maybe still, it’s the given fact that most of my tea friends are in other parts of the country – nay, the world!

There is one drawback, though.

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Journeys and Passings

In case anyone missed it, there was no update last week. Reason being, I was at a wedding in Southern California. (No, not mine.) That left very little time to write anything, and on said trip, I only had one minor tea adventure.

It involved a batch of 2014 Second Flush Castleton Moonlight and a hotel Cuisinart coffee machine.

cuisinart tea

Hilarity and messes ensued.

The trip also meant that I was out of the proverbial tea world loop. No news reached my ears until the Sunday I got back. And . . . geez . . . what a news day it was.

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A Kickstarted Kumaon White Tea Story

A little over a year ago I made the acquaintance of Raj Vable of Young Mountain Tea.


We met up for lattes at Tea Bar PDX (where the above picture was taken), and he passed some samples on to me. Including an interesting Nilgiri black tea that I took a liking to. But that wasn’t the only reason for his visit. He was also starting up a rather ambitious Kickstarter campaign, and he wanted some help spreading the word.

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Several Cups of Kamairicha

Kamairicha literally means “pan-fired tea” in Japanese.

I first tried it a year ago, and I dug it. I even wrote a poem about it. The less spoken about that, the better. Moving on . . .


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Tea Grown in Guatemala

Before I get to rambling about black tea from Guatemala, I’m going to do something a little different to start this off. I’m going to turn the introduction over to my blogger friend, Chris “Tea-Guy” Giddings, since he’s the one who introduced me to the tea I’m about to discuss. Take it away, Chris:

“It was a dark and stormy night… no… literally… that’s what it was! You still don’t believe me? Whatever!

I got a message from William and Jace Longnecker from TRW Fair Trade. I kid you not! No, seriously! Would you let me finish!?!

So, it was a dark and stormy night, when I got the message offering a chance to review a black tea from Guatemala. GUATEMALA! I’d never heard of quality tea from Guatemala, so of course I was intrigued. I mean, wouldn’t you have been?

Anyway! When it finally arrived a few weeks later, it was beautiful! I couldn’t believe my eyes! Long black , twisted leaves presented themselves. OK I thought, this looks good… but IS it good? IS it really?

I’ll let Geoff take it from here. I don’t think you’ll believe me anyway.”


Photo by Chris Giddings.

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Dark Tea from Thailand

Well over a year ago, Tony “World of Tea” Gebely posted a photo of a dark tea on Instagram.

It was an aged moacha (i.e. the rough stuff used to make puerh cakes) . . . but it was from – of all places – Thailand.

Used with permission by Tony Gebely.

Used with permission by Tony Gebely.

For obvious reasons, it grabbed my attention.

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