Steep Stories

of the Lazy Literatus

Month: September 2016

A Kanchan View Darjeeling Pairing

The Kanchan View tea estate in Darjeeling has a rough history.

kanchan-view-of-the-hills

Photo by Rajiv Lochan

The garden was first established in the 1880s, where it first went by the name “Rungneet”. At the peak of its hundred-plus-year production, the 250-acre garden accounted for at least 100,000 kilos of tea a year. Now? It only does about ten percent of that. The reasons for this are long, complicated, and varied.

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Reading the Coffee Leaves

In the spring of 2013, I tried a tisane made from the dried leaves of a Hawaiian coffee plant.

coffee-plant

Arabica coffee plant. Image owned by Wize Monkey.

And I wasn’t a fan.

The flavor was not overly offensive, just . . . herbal. And nutty. Nutty-herbal. Okay, on “Internet” paper that doesn’t sound too terrible or unappetizing, but it wasn’t very palatable, either. It reminded me of nettle leaf that had gone slightly off. It would take another two years before I’d revisit the prospect of trying it again.

At World Tea Expo 2015, such an opportunity arose. The culprit? Wize Monkey.

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A Totem Tea Story

The definition of the word “totem” is thus: “A natural object or animal believed by a particular society to have spiritual significance and adopted by it as an emblem.” It is derived from the Native American language, Ojibwe; the word, dodaem.

The concept, however, is not limited to just Native American cultures and religious practices. Many cultures worldwide also place such significances on totems as well. Totem poles, on the other hand—at least to the tribes of the Pacific Northwest—use these objects and animals as family crests and as a way to recount stories of that family group’s past.

So why did a tea company use “Totem” in their name?

totem-tea-logo

I’ll get to that.

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Japanese Black Tea . . . from Brazil

It may be a surprise to a lot of people, but Brazil used to produce a lot of tea. As early as 1812, even. The ugly truth of it was, though, most of those old plantations were dependent on slave labor. When slavery was abolished in 1888 . . . tea production collapsed.

Enter the Japanese.

japanese-immigrants-on-a-brazilian-tea-plantation

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The Great Guan Yin Duel

Over the years, I’ve had some fun at the expense of Guan Yin—the Bodhisattva of Compassion.

guan-yin

Whether portraying her as having an illicit affair with Scottish botanists, or depicting her as a scorned goddess seeking vengeance against the writer of the illicit affair (me), I can’t say I’ve dealt with her fairly. Hilariously, yes . . . but not fairly. However, there is one area where her namesake is applied where I have held back my more idiot tendencies. That, of course, is in regard to the tea bearing her name—Tie Guan Yin, or “Iron Goddess of Mercy”.

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Summer Time Tea Montage

It’s officially the first day of September. The outside temperature has dropped twenty degrees. Skies are gray, and big-ass raindrops are falling. Yep, summer time is just about over.

And I couldn’t be happier.

Not that I bear summer any ill will in general, and not that this summer was bad, but—y’see?—I’m a fall kid at heart. However, to usher summer’s drunk arse out the door, I thought I’d reflect on the good moments of the last three heat-searing months. And, of course, all those great moments involved tea. And, sometimes, even people.

In order to wrap up the summer in a quickie fashion, Rachel “I Heart Teas” Carter gave me permission to mooch her “Photo Micro-Blogging” format. Just this once. Brace yourself, it’s time for a breakneck Summer Time Tea . . .

montage

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