Steep Stories

of the Lazy Literatus

Category: Tea Features (Page 2 of 20)

Effie’s Tea Offerings

Australian Tea Week, Day 2: “Effie’s Tea Offerings”

This is Effie Gidakos . . .

She’s a tea nerd, like I am. She even takes to social media (and local radio) about her love of tea. She’s also obsessed with Christmas (obviously). And—per this week’s theme—she’s also Australian.

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The Arakai Estate

Australian Tea Week! Day 1: “The Arakai Estate”

Australia.

The Land Down Under. Oz. Or whatever other people (including the locals) call it. Our southernmost Pacific neighbor is known for many things: weird and diverse wildlife, a wicked sense of humor, numerous flora and fauna that can kill you in a heartbeat, sometimes good beer . . . and . . . women. Oh my, the women!

one-day-rebel

One day, Rebel. One day.

Where was I? Oh yes . . .

One thing people might not know, however, is that parts of continent have taken up tea growing as a trade. They’ve tried their hand at it since the 1880s. Of course, because Australia is . . . well . . . Australia, sustainable plantings didn’t take hold successfully until around the 1960s. However, since then, many operations have emerged—Daintree, Madura, etc.

Which brings me to the Arakai estate—a garden in Bellthorpe, Queensland, Australia.

arakai

Image owned by the Arakai estate

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Once Bug-Bitten, Twice Shy

Well . . . I guess it’s time to put a certain theory to pasture.

And it’s all because of these two.

team-unytea

Who are they? I’ll get to that.

What theory? Oh, I had this hypothesis that tea and dating (or courtship, whatever) didn’t “blend”.

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Tea Tales and Mocktails

Two weeks back, I received an invite to go here:

smith-tea-hq-storefront

Okay, I go to both Smith Tea locations quite a bit on my own, but this was a special occasion. Like last year, this was their media-only holiday pre-release party. They were going to be showcasing their upcoming blends, partnerships, and limited edition holiday offerings.  And I was convinced I couldn’t go. Work and all that.

I was so convinced about my lack of attendance, I even shot off an e-mail to lead blender dude, Tony Tellin, to see if I could mooch some of pre-release batches for an article. Y’know . . . to pretend I was there. I’m good at pretending. None of that was necessary because I was magically able to convince my work to let me off early that day.

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Puerh . . . After a Fashion

Shou (or cooked/ripe) puerh is difficult to market. Hell, puerh in general is difficult to spin. How do you convince people that something that’s fermented is something they want? Fermented leaves, no less; in cake form.

puerh-cake-chunk

The conundrum gets even hairier once you try to explain to people what the “cooking” process even is. Example: “Oh yeah, and over here we have some shou puerh—sometimes called cooked puerh. Not to be confused with raw puerh, which ages naturally. Unlike that stuff, wet leaves are composted by piling them together in a hot roo— . . . hey, where are you going?”

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Cooked “Puerh” from Laos

LaosTea—a wholesaler of heicha from Laos—had a booth at World Tea Expo again this last summer.

laos-tea-at-world-tea-expo

Image mooched from LaosTea’s Instagram.

And I didn’t visit it once.

In my mind, I kept saying, Eh, I’ve already tried everything they have to offer.

What I should’ve been thinking was, I really need to solidify some of my vendor networking contacts!

Hindsight and all that.

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Dark Tea from Burma/Myanmar

No one likes to talking about Burma . . . or Myanmar . . . or whatever it’s calling itself, now.

Photo by David Blackwell.

Photo by David Blackwell.

Even the name of the country is a hotly contested issue. At college parties, whenever some Eastern Philosophy major brought up Buddhism as an example of a nonviolent religion, all someone had to do was say, “Myanmar.” Or Burma. Or whatever!

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Dong Ding Near-Death Experiences

In 2009, Shiuwen Tai—the plucky owner of Floating Leaves Tea in Seattle—made her first trip to Dong Ding Mountain in Taiwan . . .

Shiuwen Tai on Dong Ding Mountain in 2016. Photo by Jake Knapp.

Shiuwen Tai on Dong Ding Mountain in 2016. Photo by Jake Knapp.

. . . And almost died.

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Mengku Puerh Plastered

A couple of weeks ago, while attending the Northwest Tea Festival in Seattle, a few tea connoisseurs hosted . . . after tea parties.

two-mengku-puerh

Basically tea parties removed from the regular events of the festival. One such small partyholder-to-be was my ol’ Agarwood puerh dealer, Jeffrey McIntosh. He planned to host two puerh tastings—one that Saturday night and one that Sunday.

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A Tiny Bit of Canadian Oolong in a Tiny Gaiwan

In 2003, husband and wife team—Victor Vesely and Margit Nelleman—purchased an old cattle and horse farm near the small town of Westholme. It was located in the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. Their first inspiration was to create an “Artfarm”, where they could grow herbs and produce, as well as sell some of Margit’s handmade pottery wares. In 2010, after hosting various events and attending others, they decided on a new focus. They would turn their tiny corner of Vancouver Island into Canada’s first tea farm.

Image owned by Westholme Tea Farm

Image owned by Westholme Tea Farm

And I’ve been stalking monitoring their progress ever since.

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Page 2 of 20

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