Epic tea adventures have to start somewhere. It is sheer coincidence (I think?) that a lot of mine start at Smith Teamaker. Some seemingly uneventful week in late-Spring, I received a message from Tea MC Tiff saying she’d be working the tea bar that Saturday. Those were usually my busy days at work, so I wasn’t sure if I would make it before the shop closed. By some stroke of fate, I got off around 2PM.
When I arrived, the place was hoppin’. I’d seen Smith’s busy before, but this was – like – microbrewery busy. Luckily, there was a free seat available up at the tea bar proper. Tiff was deep in conversation with a very elfin, silver-haired man as I approached.
“And speaking of Greek Mountain,” Tiff began. “This is the guy I was telling you about.”
The man she was talking to – Alex Davis – turned around, and we began discussing the sheer awesome-o-tude of Greek Mountain “tea”. I’d written about it extensively; Alex was starting a tea business that would carry it. This, of course, led me to inquire about his new start-up. He was opening an online op called “AdventureTea, LLC”. Their focus was to be teas from growing regions most people don’t associate with tea.
Greek Mountain was on their roster, as was a certain Washington-grown white tea I coveted as a favorite, a Nepalese oolong, and a Malawi black among a few others. Quite a unique list. And totally in line with my blog’s mission statement: “To explore strange, new teas…etc.”
We ended up shootin’ the cuppa for a good two hours. Several Ceylons, Darjeelings, and other things were consumed in the interim. I left far more tea drunk than I intended. Alex and I promised to keep in touch, and to touch bases at World Tea Expo in a month or so.
Not like his company’s booth was difficult to spot at Expo.
The AdventureTea collective went all out. While not the largest display at WTE, it was – by a fair margin – the most memorable. The “adventure” theme was adhered to – to the core. I ended up walking by it at least three or four times. On my last day, while making my final rounds, I picked up some Greek Mountain for posterity. Because…well…Greek Mountain!
I didn’t dip into this stash until early September. My roommates were coming down with various versions of the flu-plague, and I needed something to bolster the ol’ immune system. Finally, I pried open the box o’ Greek I got from Expo. And…decided to gongfu it.
Dunno why I hadn’t thought of brewing it this way before. The herb was strong enough to put up with differing forms of punishment. My only concern was whether or not it would impart flavor after only a thirty-second infusion. Those fears faded when I whiffed straight lemon wilderness upon pour.
AdventureTea caught wind of my tweet about this experiment, and replied with, “Amazing!!! We have a care package for you…”
Well, that had me really curious.
As the week passed, a general sense of melancholy set in. My financial situation was turning dire. Hours at work were being cut. And I was less-than-productive on the writing front. A far cry from the “oolong happy juice” days of weeks prior.
On a Sunday, one day after my birthday, I checked the mail like I always did. A big box arrived. It was from AdventureTea. I hurried inside and pried it open. Several individually packaged boxes were inside, along with a note.
To complete your collection! “Tea will get you through times with no money better than money will get you through times with no tea.”
More-than-slightly man-teary, I brewed something up immediately – their Malawi Black. Yes, it was late at night, but I didn’t care. And in true adventurous spirit, I gongfu-ed it.
Turned out darn well near perfect and lasted a good six infusions. It reminded me of a fully-oxidized version of a Malawi white tea I tried several years ago. Nutty and fruity with a blanket o’ malt.
The following morning, I hit the gaiwan hard again with several infusions of their Himalayan Oolong.
Another six infusions of awesomeness – floral and muscatel with a tickle of…mountain? I dunno how else to describe it.
Both teas were my mainstays over the last three days, and – in short order – my “happy” returned. Tea people are the best people. Tea stories are the best stories. I can think of no better, continuous adventure I’d rather be on.