Steep Stories

of the Lazy Literatus

A Different Dark Tea on Black Friday

NaNoTeaMo, Day 27: “A Different Dark Tea on Black Friday”

As I’m writing this, it’s the night of Black Friday. To most tea people with a pun gland, though, it’s Black Tea Friday. So, in honor of that, will I be talking about another unique black tea?


Forget it, I’m going to talk about dark tea, instead. That’s right, heicha! And not from China, either. This time? We’re going to look at a little known tea growing country called Laos.

Don’t tell me you’ve never heard of Laos. Ever watch The King and I? That’s Laos!

The King and I

Well, Siam to the time period it was portraying and . . . y’know what? Bad example.

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Obligatorily Weird Thanksgiving Tea Post

NaNoTeaMo, Day 26: “Obligatorily Weird Thanksgiving Tea Post”

I think it’s mandatory that if one is going to post a blog on Thanksgiving Day, they actually have to give thanks to something or someone. And, trust me, I will do just that. But not right this second. You see, I have a weird Camellia species to talk about first.

Photo owned by Seven Cups

Photo owned by Seven Cups

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Cáscara Té Amo

NaNoTeaMo, Day 25: “Cáscara Té Amo”

When I first started doing “NaNoTeaMo” at the beginning of this month (i.e. a tea blog every day in November), I also chose use it as a hashtag. What I didn’t know was . . . the hashtag was already in use for something else. And I had no clue what it meant.

The hashtag in question was “#NaNoTeAmo” – the “A” was capitalized. It was Spanish for something. I asked my sister – who was fluent – what it stood for.

She said, “Um . . . Nano Loves You (?).”

I dunno who “Nano” is, or who he presumes to love, but I chose to stick with the “NaNoTeaMo” moniker for this little self-challenge, anyway. It was too late to change it up, now. Regardless of how confusing the Spanish derivative of it was. And speaking of confusing Spanish things, that makes a great (if awkward) segue into my next topic.


Coffee Berry

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Three Words: Puerh Tea Paste

NaNoTeaMo, Day 24: “Three Words: Puerh Tea Paste”

Cha Gao is weird.

weird al

No . . . weirder.

The concept behind it is weird. The backstory is weird. The whole damn experience is just . . . weird. And this is coming from a guy that thrives on all teas weird. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

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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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