Steep Stories

of the Lazy Literatus

Month: September 2013

Spouting Off About Tea Kettles

Samantha Joyce over at Seattle Coffee Gear was kind enough to do a guest blog for me, while I’m in fiction-writing land. And now, I turn the kettle/podium over to her…

The humble tea kettle is the common denominator in pursuit of a delicious cup of tea and mug of coffee. But because it is so very ordinary, its importance is often overlooked and taken for granted. What is the provenance of your kitchen kettle? When we start home keeping as young adults any upgrade from boiling water in a saucepan or a microwave is appreciated. After receipt of a ‘real’ tea kettle many people become complacent. They adapt their tea routine to suit the tea kettle, not the tea. A new tea kettle will make a difference in how you prepare tea. Technology and science have converged in your kitchen to combine fuzzy logic and fluid dynamics. Translation: there are many great tea kettles to choose from with features you may have not considered.

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Temperature is a key consideration for producing a tasty cup of tea. There are several ways to take the guesswork out of temperature. Many electric kettles come with temperature setting capability. Some have a selector knob with common pre-sets for boiling, Oolong, white tea, green tea and warming water. Others have digital technology that allows you to set an exact water temperature and hold it there. Either is a major step up in convenience and accuracy from how I used to do it with a glass measuring cup and a drink thermometer. Another handy feature of most electric kettles is that the bottom stays cool. The water inside the kettle is hot and yet there’s no need to use a trivet.

Tea kettles come in all shapes and sizes. Match your tea habit to your tea kettle capacity for frustration-free preparation. For the longest time I had an 8-cup tea kettle that was heavy and awkward to pour. I make tea (and coffee) for one to two people. When searching for the right size for my routine, I found everything from 2-cup travel kettles up to 5-gallon commercial dispensers. My wrists appreciate that my new 4-cup tea kettle weighs 1.4 pounds instead of 3.2 pounds. It is perfectly adequate without being overkill.
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Along with weight, balance and spout shape combine for the ability to pour accurately (or not). One of the most surprising revelations I had during “Kettle Search 2013” was how tea kettles handled differently when filled to capacity. A model I tried from Japan had an odd shape and cantilevered handle configuration. Once it was filled though it was balanced for a perfect pour. Lesson learned, don’t select a kettle based on classic looks. A gooseneck spout also has an advantage over a classic spout in a similar regard because the flow of water is restricted for better aim. This is a great feature for filling a single cup, a tight teapot aperture or (let’s be honest) watering hard to reach houseplants. Since I am accident prone, I also like the fact that a gooseneck spout directs boiling water where I point it without a splash on the counter or my fingers.

Like many tea and coffee drinkers, I didn’t give a second thought to my kettle at home. Now that I have found one well suited for my particular style of beverage preparation I find myself talking about kettles all of the time…to anyone who will listen. I can’t believe I waited this long. Do you need a digital variable temperature gooseneck kettle in your kitchen? Maybe, maybe not. But, the right kettle will certainly open up new tea avenues to explore. For taste, for ease of use and for your own safety…consider a kettle upgrade.
Upgrade

Samantha Joyce once spent a chilly Fall inside a wall tent in Homer, Alaska as a teenager. After that, the pursuit of blistering hot beverages became an obsession–and a survival skill. Now, she thrives in the comparably moderate weather of Seattle. She finds writing to be the perfect career because it allows for unlimited tea and coffee consumption. Often she can be found with a full teapot or coffee carafe on her desk. She must continue to remind herself however, not to make tea and coffee hotter than the center of the sun. Out of respect for proper brewing techniques, she uses a digital variable temperature gooseneck kettle to set the right temperature for the daintiest green tea to the most stalwart Pu-erh. Iced tea is still out of the question.

A Blog? I Would Never Have Guest…

Since I’m currently occupied with two other writing projects this week, I asked The Devotea if he could sub for me – and he obliged in his usual, wonderfully quixotic way.

And now, I turn you over to him…

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Image mooched from Kolchak

Writing a guest post has a certain feeling. 

That feeling you get when you are staying over with someone you know. We’ve all had it. Not family, where you can be yourself; not a hotel, where you can be an anonymous self-centred jerk, but somewhere where you feel you have to be on your best behaviour.

Well, today I’m guesting on someone else’s blog. And that makes it a little different.

The “observer effect” is often confused with Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle: whatever. Let’s just say that act of creeping around someone’s blog is the same as when you get up at 2:30am for a bathroom break in someone else’s house and start considering the likelihood of encountering someone in the hall versus the sheer hassle of trousers. It’s bound to make a difference to the way you think.

So my choice is either a raw, untrousered version of my usual offerings in the hope that I don’t offend, or being on my best behaviour.

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I go way, way back with Geoffrey who is custodian of this blog, and therefore the householder in the metaphor I am currently beating to death. By ‘way back’ I mean at least 3 twitter years, which in real terms is several decades. We met in person at the Las Vegas Tea Expo of 2013; where he was the town tea-drunk and I was the out-of-towner. (Hell, I may have just changed metaphors there to a Western movie, but if so, then Michael J. Coffey was the sheriff). 

So, I had to consider what to write about. 

I considered talking of teas that both Geoff and I love, so as to share a lovely moment with my host. Sounds a little dull, though.

I considered talking of teas that Geoff has never heard of to impress with my host, but I’d probably have to make the teas up

I considered talking of teas that both Geoff and I hate, so as to share a lovely moment with my host AND rant a bit. But that’s a bit predictable, and besides we could always do that on ‘Beasts of Brewdom’. And our tastes are not entirely similar.

So, I’m left with guest posting about guest posting. I’m more uncertain than Heisenberg.

When you go and stay with a friend, sometime you are talking of it afterwards in terms of the visit to local attractions. The restaurants you visited. The unusual events that don’t worry the locals – such as feral pigs in the street or fighter jets going over every three minutes – but that seem unusual to out-of-towners. Or you talk of the house, the family, the garden. And of course, the tea you have shared.

I’ve often found, though, that best part of staying with someone is the bits that occur after you logically should have retired for the last night. When you’ll all said “Well, I really must be off to bed” and then pour another cuppa, sadly all too aware that the morrow will bring the sorrow of parting.

So you stay awake, or mostly awake, squeezing each minute and pretending that if you manage to stay awake, the morning will never come.

And so, in a guest blog I should have finished 7 or 8 sentences ago, I find myself finishing the last drop in my cup, and sharing another anecdote, trying not to fall off of the chair and thereby ensuring that the morning will never arrive.

Of that I’m certain.

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You can find out more about The Devotea – and his wares – by going HERE.

Into the Wild…Arbor

I’m still in the midst of a bit of an oolong kick. It “mostly” started because I was attempting to whittle down my backlog of unique teas. However, for some reason, the oolong-ing just…stuck. I do have my guesses. They make me feel really good.

Chip

And not just “ZOMG-IMMA-CAFFEINE-MACHINE!!!” good – like, “Zen” good. A coworker even remarked that I had an unusual spring in my step one day. I never have a spring in my step; it’s more of a subsistent shuffle.

My only response to them was, “It’s the oolong.”

“Long what now?” was the almost-inappropriate reply.

One of the culprits for my recent bout of “good-mood-itis” was an offering from a new operation called Tea Setter. A few weeks ago, I watched one of Tea For Me Please’s podcasts. She was interviewing the purveyor of Tea Setter – one Matt Kitchen.

(Sidenote: Great name, dude. Seriously. You must be a foodie girl magnet. The tea biz is just icing on the cake.)

Around the same time, I noticed Matt had commented on one of my blog entries. See, vendors, that’s how ya do it. Engage the communi-“tea”. Ego boosted, I decided to peruse his start-up’s site. Given my current penchant for all things oolong, that was the section I went for. He only carried oolongs and pu-erhs. (Edit: And soon, green tea.) Hardcore.

Then I saw it…like some kinda dark, leafy beacon. Four words gave me an instant tea-boner. Too inappropriate? Who cares! It’s true. Those words: “Wild. Arbor. Oriental. Beauty.”

Alright, a bit of a history lesson.

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Oriental Beauty (or “Dong Fang Mei Ren”) is a style of oolong originating from Taiwan. The leaves for this type are allowed to have bugs – known as leafhoppers – attempt to pick at the leaves. For protection, the leaves take on a bit of a characteristic change to deter the pests. However, as a result, the flavor profile of the leaves also change…for the awesome!

Oriental Beauty also goes by the more common name of “Bai Hao Oolong”, which was the first way I ran into it. It is probably my favorite type of Taiwanese oolong, with Ali Shan-produced ones rounding a close second. So far, I’ve tried several from Taiwan, and a variant from Fujian province, China.

The one on Tea Setter’s page…was from Yunnan. Wu Liang Shan, to be precise. Instead of a smaller leaf – like with its Taiwanese forbearer – this one utilized a larger tea leaf cultivar (or group of cultivars) known as “Wild Arbor”.

This is a fuzzy term referring to cultivated varieties of tea trees that have “gone feral”.

TreebeardatIsengard

Not quite like that…but close.

In China, it is not uncommon to find tea plantations abandoned for centuries. Of late, these have become a treasure trove. Many of the once-cultivated tea trees have returned to their more natural state, and – thusly – their flavor profile is affected…for the awesome!

Teas made from truly wild (or “ye sheng”) tea trees fetch a pretty high price. Wild Arbor teas go for much less, but – in some cases – taste just as good. Such tea trees often produce exquisite pu-erh-ready leaves. I tried a few in my time. I even notched off a few wild-crafted white and black teas. An oolong, however…

That was something new and weird.. And – as this blog indicates – I’m all about the new and weird.  I even zapped Mr. Matt a message wondering how he came across this variant. He said:

“We offer a small variety of hand selected teas that I have chosen from dozens and dozens and dozens of tastings. And that is how I came across this Oriental Beauty. From a large group of oolongs that my distributor had to sample. I kept getting dark oolong after dark oolong that was just too intense and I know wouldn’t appeal broadly and then I cam across this and it was like a breath of fresh air. Sweet and crisp, a little bite, and the grilled peach notes were subtle to intense depending on what infusion I was on. I actually had to email the distributor to make sure this tea wasn’t artificially flavored.”

I dug into it about a couple of days later.

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The leaves themselves were long, twisty, with the occasional tippy piece in the fray. There wasn’t much of an aroma to speak of, alas. So, I had no idea what I was getting into. For the first infusion, I did what the instructions told me to. I steeped the leaves in a gaiwan for twenty seconds. The second time around, I added…uh…I forget how many seconds. I think it was thirty. Third time: About forty-five. The results were strangely staggering.

First infusion (twenty seconds): The liquor was yellow-gold without much aroma. However, the taste was straight fruit – tart and sweet all at once. Very much like I expect from an Oriental Beauty – variant or no.

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Second infusion (thirty seconds-ish?): Bolder notes of…bergamot? How odd. Definitely a citrus lean. The darker liquor was also a shocker – more mahogany than gold. There was also a mineral note to the end, not surprising from a Chinese oolong.

Third infusion (forty-five seconds): Still strong on the fruit notes, but with the added verve of a roasty appeal. Just a shade darker than the second infusion. Mineral and earth still showed up at about the mid-point yet were quickly pummeled by a feeling of “plum”.

I kept steeping this until I forgot how many infusions I was at. The fruity lean never let up until the very end (whenever that was). Any notes I would’ve had on the successive sips were lost amidst groans of tea drunk delight.

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This was one wild oolong.

But I’d at least buy her dinner first.

Chip off

A (Jasmine) Pearl of Wisdom

Since I’ve been paying lip service to tearooms lately, I thought I’d finally tell a story I’ve been meaning to for a long time. That tea tale being about a teashop I frequent regularly, but haven’t covered extensively on this blog. It’s a place I visit about as religiously as I do Smith’s, and I support them fully for one reason in particular. They are one of the few tea places that strike a near-perfect balance between blended/flavored teas and small batch, single origin offerings. Plus, their origin story is adorable. I – of course – am talking about the husband-‘n-wife op, The Jasmine Pearl Tea Merchants.

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Image mooched from their website

The inkling to start a teashop first occurred to Chuck Bauman and Heather Agosta  (the hubby-wifey team) on a 2002 trip to Spain. Both had quit their respective jobs and chose to gallivant around the globe for a spell. One such stop was the small region of La Coronada, where Chuck’s parents owned a house. While there, they were inspired by a small “teteria” (teashop) they visited, as well as blends in the region that used native herbs.

Upon returning to Portland, they began seriously discussing the idea. Originally, they wanted to open a teashop specializing in single origin teas, but they both felt they lacked the know-how to launch one. Instead, they decided to go the wholesale route. The name for the start-up occurred to them after a period of brainstorming. (At one point, even “Tea Brothel” was discussed as a potential name. I would totally visit a tea brothel. )

Eventually, The Jasmine Pearl stuck, due to Chuck’s fondness for the strongly, floral-scented blend. It was the first one he was introduced to that truly grabbed him. Oddly enough, the domain and name weren’t taken – not even by Chinese companies at the time. They officially launched the wholesale end of their business in 2004.

I personally met Heather Agosta through a mutual friend in 2006. Around the same time, I caught her husband’s name mentioned at just about every tea place I went to when I asked for something completely esoteric.

“Do you have [insert weird tea name here]?” I would ask.

“Oh, that? No.” Would be the common reply. “You should speak to Chuck.”

It was like he was some shadow-veiled tea wizard or something.

In 2010, they moved their base of operations from the basement of their house to an actual brick-‘n-mortar store. And I’ve been a permanent staple there ever since.

Tasting Room

Image mooched from The Jasmine Pearl’s Facebook page.

While it was a difficult drive from my berg; it was well worth it. Since they did their own custom-blending in-house, the shop always smelled like an herbarium. Plus, they blended and brewed one of the best Earl Greys in Portland. I think I’ve lost track of the number of times I went in this summer for an Earl on ice.

Blends of awesomeness aside, what I really wanted to emphasize was there commitment to small batch, single origin teas. Since opening their shop, they’ve made it a point to carry a fair amount of eso-“tea”-ric offerings for the more discerning palate. One of the first Yunnan Golden Needles I ever lusted after was through them.

However, even before their retail space, they dabbled with the weirder side of tea. They carried pu-erh tongs as early as ’04. Well before “the pu-erh bubble” came and burst. The first “sticky rice” tuo cha I ever sampled was one of theirs. More recently, they even began carrying their own Jasmine Pearl-branded pu-erh cakes. I tried the Dehong Ye Sheng, and it was…to die for. Especially for a young sheng. Still need to pick one up.

Ye Sheng

A second, more recent item that grabbed my attention was the addition of their first yellow tea. It was from a private grower, and it was done in a style that was completely unique. I had the pleasure of sampling it before it went on the market. It was neither a Jun Shan Yinzhen, nor a Huang Ya. The name that was given to it described it perfectly – Yellow Mu Dan.  Seriously, it was a yellow tea with white tea traits, if you – fair reader – can imagine such a thing.

Yellow Mu Dan

A bit of an aside: At World Tea Expo this June, Chuck and Heather were the first people I ran into on the show floor. On the second day of the event, the following occurrence happened:

I was wearing my “Pot Head” tea-shirt, one I purchased from The Jasmine Pearl. It is an epic shirt. Grabs attention every time I wear it.

Epic Tea-Shirt

When I was wandering around, I heard Heather behind me, “That’s a nice shirt. I wonder where you got it?”

Within minutes, four people came up literally begging me for info about the shirt. I had to point at Chuck and Heather to handle further inquiries.

As I write this, I’m currently on steep…oh…seven of an aged, charcoal-roasted Dong Ding – eleven years old.

Aged Dong Ding

The notes are hickory, slightly coffee-like, and strangely medicinal. The latter trait being a common occurrence in decade(s)-old Taiwanese oolongs. Such items aren’t that easy to come by, yet I was able to “yoink!” some from The Jasmine Pearl. It’s nice to know there’s a place nearby that’s “wise” enough to cater to eccentrics like me.

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A Tearoom Trilogy

I do a lot of talkin’ about unique teas I’ve notched off, but I haven’t properly paid lip-to-cup service to the more interesting tearooms I’ve encountered of late. If you’ll bear with me, fair reader, I shall highlight the last three I’ve ventured into, and what makes them unique.

Tea Chai Te – Sellwood Location

On one of my days off I was tasked with taxi-ing my sister to a job interview. There was a two-hour window for me to do…whatever…before picking her up. My first instinct was to go to a tearoom. (Isn’t it everybody’s?) However, I was in an odd part of town, and morning rush hour was still at its peak.

I took to Google Maps and promised myself I’d choose the one that was closest. Oddly enough, the first one that came up was Tea Chai Te. At first, I groaned. I’d already been there. While they had a good selection, I wasn’t a fan of the part of town they were in – the “Trendy-Third” side of Portland. Then two synapses fired off reminding me that Tea Chai Te had more than one location.

Tea Chai Te’s Sellwood location was simply awesome even before entering. Why? It was a caboose. S**t you not, an honest-to-Buddha caboose.

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I’d never had tea in a caboose before.

Upon entering, I was also taken aback by how spacious it was on the interior. There were many places to choose from to nurse a cuppa. Since it was a nice day, I opted for the patio area. And that’s where the awesomeness continued.

Not only did they have a faux-waterfall for ambiance, but the denizens of said outcropping were the real treat of the property. Garden gnomes dotted the waterfall centerpiece.

I’d already written about gnomes and tea to some extent. So, I considered myself a bit of a connoisseur on the subject.

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I could think of no better way to enjoy a jade oolong.

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Chariteas – Sandy, Oregon

I first heard of Chariteas when I met the owner – the titular “Charity” of the name – at a PDX Tea Enthusiasts’ Alliance event several months back. I’d meant to make a trip out to Sandy to visit her actual shop, but time and travails pushed such a jaunt to the backburner. On a random day off of work over the summer, I got the gumption to finally make the trek.

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My main reason for going was for an Indonesian white tea they had listed on their website. My other reason? Well, I was hungry. Like, fat man hungry.

First thought I had when pulling into Sandy, OR, This place is like right out of Northern Exposure. The town was quaint…if slightly off. No wonder Steampunk Couture used this place as their base of operations. (And why do I even know that?!) It was a lovely (if weird) little berg – rustic and eccentric.

As far as teashops/tearooms go, Chariteas was topnotch.

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It was adorable, but not in an entirely feminine way. The pinks of the interior décor were muted. Men needed not feel uncomfortable upon entering. It was spacious, welcoming, and comfortable. The staff were friendly and doting, which one expects in a tearoom.

The food was spectacular. I went with one of their salmon sammiches, a scone, and an espresso brownie as a chaser. I expected all of that to hurt my wallet – as would happen in most tearooms – but the very opposite happened. Very competitive prices

Oh yeah, the Indonesian white tea. Superb. Kinda reminded me of a Yunnan Silver Needle or a Kenyan variant there-in. Slightly fruity and fluttery.

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Before leaving, Charity reminded me to send her an e-mail the next time I was in. There were more weird teas for the sipping. Totally my kinda shop.

David’s Place

One of the more lamentable occurrences of this last year was the unfortunate storefront closure of the Portland Tea Enthusiasts’ Alliance HQ. While not intentional, it also caused a gap in time between tea visits with the op’s former (or rather current) head cheerleader, David Galli. In the early part of the summer, I decided to change that.

I took to Facebook and informed him that I possessed a Nepalese pu-erh that required sipping. He countered that with, “I have a Taiwanese pu-erh.” Within minutes, tea-bro time was scheduled.

The one good thing that came about from PDX Tea’s storefront closure were what it did to David’s new base of operations. His condo is literally a tearoom. All of his PDX Tea wares were set up in such a perfect way as to instill a sense of gongfu feng shui.

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We nursed cup after cup of both “pu-erh” oddities. While he couldn’t confirm if the Taiwanese pu-erh was actually grown and processed in Taiwan, it was still good. At least as far as cooked pu-erhs go. It had more nuance than the young Chinese types, so I’m betting that it was Formosan in origin.

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We blew through several ounces and a couple of hours, easily.

What these three places showed me was that the environment where you have your tea can be just as meaningful as the cup itself. It’s no wonder that teashop owners/operators take such time with the décor. Creating the perfect environment helps the overall sense peace while nursing a cup.

Which reminds me…I need to clean my “tearoom”.

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I Can’t Believe It’s Almost Not Oolong

Norbu Tea has been one of my go-to hookups for weird teas for – well – almost as long as I’ve sipped. Greg Glancy seems to have a palate similar to mine, or at the very least an unrelenting geek-ish lean for teas with stories behind them. I finally had the pleasure to meet the man behind Norbu at World Tea Expo in June. Finding his booth was like hunting down a Wonderland rabbit-hole, but once I did I was glad for it.

Greg in garb.

Greg in garb.

One of the strange, new items I picked up from the Tsou-Vayiyana booth he was co-hosting was something dubbed, “Ali Shan Hong Cha”. It already had my attention for having my favorite Taiwanese tea mountain – Ali Shan – in the title. The leaves were ball-fisted like an oolong but darker in appearance. The aroma it gave off reminded me of unsweetened chocolate and oak barrels.

It was one of the first teas I tore into when I returned home.

Without exaggeration, it was unlike any black tea I’d ever tried. When I brewed it Western-style, the first characteristics that emerged were malt and (the aforementioned) unsweetened chocolate. With further infusions, the sweetness kept creeping up until it was indistinguishable from a black tea from that region. A bit of oolong minerality showed up by the third steep. Yes, this lasted three strong, Western-style steeps.

I also found that the longer I steeped it for, the sweeter it grew. Even more so than a Ruby 18. There were quite a few times when I infused this sucker before taking a shower, came out fifteen minutes later, headed off to work, and it was still good. Nary a tannic overtone.

Western-style

Something was amiss about this so-called “Hong Cha”.

Greg informed me via Twitter that he and the growers had agreed to redub the tea “Ali Shan Red Oolong”, and asked for my thoughts on it. I put my teasnob cap on (more of a metaphoric fez, really), and asked if it was fully oxidized…or only mostly oxidized.

Max

He informed me that it was the latter – 90% oxidized, just shy of being a “Hong Cha” of its prior title. This prompted me to experiment with it some more. I had yet to wrongfu the heck out of it.

One particularly low-key and experimental day, I decided to do it “gongfu-ish”-style to see what would happen. I dusted off my ol’ gaiwan, took about a teaspoon of the ball-fisted leaves, boiled some water (then let it sit for a minute), and played with multiple infusions.

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Done this way, the oolong-ish characteristics really showed through. Not in a typical Ali Shan-ish sorta way, though. Far from it. A first infusion gave a medium-to-full-bodied brew like a brandy oolong, while further infusions darkened, felt roastier on the mouthfeel, and developed an alternating palate of wood, leather and…well…more dark chocolate.

If I were a choosing man, though, I would say I preferred the Western approach. It was just dark enough to handle the longer steep times, and more of the flavor was imparted per cup. That…and it handled lazy brewing perfectly.

My kinda tea.

Lazy Teapot

Teapot Image Mooched from Yanko Design

A “Tea”-ny, Tiny Fanboy Crush

A few weeks back, the unthinkable happened. In a summer where my average work day was ten-plus hours, I got off shift by 3PM. This had happened – maybe! – three or four times in the last three or four months.  It could be more, but I’m not willing to research my “check-ins” to find out. My first instinct on such unicorn days was to make good tea. My second was to find a place to make that tea for me.

Smith Teamaker was usually the answer.

That day, instead of going for my usual first flush Darjeeling mainstay, I looked at a sign in front of me for a “Chai Cola”. I’d seen mentions of it on their Facebook page. Their Masala Chai fused with ginger beer. I stepped out of my comfort zone a bit and ordered it.

Spectacular.

I’m not usually a masala chai guy, but when cut with something else, I’m more than willing to admit pompous defeat. That and I’d never tried ginger beer (like a spicy root beer) before. The combination proved to not be overpowering, not too sweet, and only medium spicy. Ginger obviously took point with the added oomph of fizz, but the result was pure refreshment. Not heartburn, which was usually my reaction to heavy ginger.

Chai Cola

Alex, the tea-mage behind the Chai Cola recipe came out to “shoot the cuppa” for a moment between tasks. He was one of Smith’s everymen – part sales guy, part tech guru, and an all-around nice guy. Plus, his tea leanings were similar to mine. That being, notching off weird s**t.

In the midst of our usual oddi-“tea” ramblings, Alex asked, “Hey, have you heard of The Snooty Tea Blogger before?”

I racked my brain, going through the list of bloggers I knew. I knew a lot of bloggers. “Uh…no.”

“She’s reviewed a few of our samplers,” Alex continued. “The black tea sampler write-up alone was four pages long.”

“Wha-really?!”  I said, feeling…slightly threatened.

“And soooo many puns,” he finished.

I shrugged. “Tea people love their puns.”

(Seriously, we do.)

After about an hour of cola-nursing, I headed home. Who was this mysterious woman who was almost more verbose than I? After some not-so-difficult perusing, I found the person on Twitter. Apparently, we were already following each other. That and we had “circled” each other on Google+. Shows how observant I am.

With the length, polish and puns in the tea articles, I half-expected a woman in her seventies surrounded by hamsters. The eyes on her “About” page said differently.

Miss Tea-Rious

 

That and the fact that she had a Tumblr page. No one over the age of thirty had a Tumblr page, nor did they have good use for it. Well, other than Doctor Who GIFs and Harry Potter fan art. Hers featured tea grower profiles and other tea-related minutiae. I could think of no better use for Tumblr. Whoever this gal was, she ran the social media gamut.

Then I found her YouTube channel. I wish I never had.

Five minutes went by.

Watchin'

Then twenty.

Then forty.

By that evening, I’d watched all of her videos, save two. And felt slightly warm in my tummy. It wasn’t the oolong I’d just ingested, either.

Happy

Aside from Tea For Me Please’s vendor spotlights, The Devotea’s wonderfully eccentric videos, and an English Breakfast vid my brother and I made, I never really used YouTube for tea. The Snooty Tea Person’s videos were about on par with any of the other big-time vloggers on that accursed time-wasting site. That (and obviously)…she was adorable.

Best. Rageface. Ever.

Best. Rageface. Ever.

In the following days, I perused her other articles. Being the ever-enlightened tea man I am, I took particular notice of her “Sexuali-tea 2013” article. (Oh, like you wouldn’t have looked?!) In it, she provided a wee bit more insight into her interests outside of tea. And I gulped. She was into anime.

So. Not. Fair.

My not-so-inner fanboy squealed with delight, while my brain tried to wrap its tendril-ly gray matter around the concept. Okay, I told myself. The interest here is purely peer professional. Heck, you’ve met A LOT of smart, attractive, and fascinating tea women in the last year. This is just like that.

That little pep talk seemed to work.

One day, I got ready for work in the way I always did. I awoke around 6:30AM, meandered to the kitchen, put the kettle on, and perused the tea tins on the counter. This particular day, I opted for Zen Tara Tea’s Orange Spice Black. It was perhaps the only true Orange Spice blend I’d encountered because it actually had a “spicy” taste to it. Others placed more emphasis on the “orange”, which was fine in some circumstances. This morning, I needed a bit more verve.

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I primed my to-go thermos, hopped into the shower, then took the pint of orange-spicy goodness and headed out. It was a good half-hour drive to work, plenty of time to nurse a mug on the road. Not sure why, but on this day, the infusion turned out absolutely perfect. A hard thing for me to admit about a flavored tea.

When I pulled up to my work’s parking lot, I made the following tweet on my phone.

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Then I thought back to The Snooty Tea Person’s usual vernacular.

I’m doomed.

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