Let’s get right to the point, I’ve been a fan of the sencha brand, Mellow Monk, for years.
Pretty much since the early days of my tea blogging career. The only one who seemed unaware of this, however . . . was Mellow Monk.
Back in 2015, I was reading one of Nicole “Tea For Me Please” Martin’s weekly roundups. In those, she lists off her five favorite tea blog articles of that week. I happened to be reading it that day to . . . see if I made the cut. (Yes, I’m narcissistic.) But I soon got distracted by one of the articles she linked to. It talked about a tribe of people in Assam, India I’d never heard of before— the Singpho.
For most of this spring, I’ve been on a bit of a heicha kick.
Not puerh . . . heicha. As in, dark (or fermented) teas not from Yunnan province, China.
I’m not sure when it all started, but I have a feeling this dude had something to do with it.
In May of 2013, I finally met this tea-bro in person.
Tony Gebely—award-winning tea blogger, tea business insider, and all-around nice guy. When we first met, we did what any self-respecting tea people would do on first impression. We drank beer.
While we were downing pints, he mentioned he was working on a book, and ran the title by me. He wanted to call it: Tea: A User’s Guide. I told him I dug it, and that he should keep me posted on its release.
Editor’s Note: The following article is inspired by real events. I say “inspired” because . . . well . . . obviously a lot of it is totally made up. It should be pretty obvious which bits are pure B.S. Anyway, enjoy. (This took weeks to put together.)
Chances are, you’ve probably never heard of me.
To date, I’ve had three or four experiences with Georgian teas. As in, teas grown in the country of Georgia; not the U.S. state. However, there was one type of tasting session I had yet to do. That being, to try all the wares from one farmer/producer, in order to enjoy their individual quirks and artistry.
And then I read THIS.
You should read it, too. I’ll wait.
The folks behind Tea in the City (a UK-based online tea operation) made a sourcing trip across the entire expanse of the Caucasus range—from Azerbaijan, to Sochi, Russia, and then on down to Georgia. They visited many large producers in the country, and on their final leg of the journey, they ended up in the region of Guria. Specifically, they found a farmer in the small town of Ozurgeti, just outside of the larger resort town of Batumi.
The farmer in question? A guy named Davit.
The idea of an underground tea scene always intrigued me. Not sure when the notion entered the deep recesses of my tea-soaked brain; maybe it was Robert “The Devotea” Godden’s ebook Tea Story, or maybe someone mentioned the idea of it in passing? Whichever, whatever. Point being, the notion always fascinated me. I even envisioned an underground network of “steepeasies” in a story I had . . . yet to write.
Little did I know, though, there actually was such an underground tea network threading itself together. From Austin, Texas, to San Francisco, California, and further northward to Portland, Oregon; people communed over tea just under the radar. I had some affiliations with various members of this fledgling network, and in my various tea blog dealings, one name kept coming up.
This all started because of a tea cake.
No, not that kind of tea cake. An actual cake. The kind you eat; not drink.
Instagram has been a useful tool for several reasons. One, it put me in contact with new tea people across the world—some personal, others professional. But it has also helped me touch bases with old friends from the hither and yon. Case in point:
Meet Kristin Barger.
I don’t get out much.
Of course, with how “well” these brew-based blogs turn out, that goes without saying. In the last couple of months, I tried to make a concerted effort to step out of my comfort zone (i.e. my basement) and—maybe—explore new teashops. Well, that didn’t happen. I mean, there are places I need to check out, but they aren’t appearing here . . . yet. However, I thought I’d highlight two separate tea sessions—locally, as in, Portland-centric—I had with two tea-bros recently, instead.
What’s a tea-bro?
It’s a bro you have tea with. Duh.
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