Steep Stories

of the Lazy Literatus

State of the Minion Address #2: Revamps and Retirement

Image mooched from “Extra Credits

Greetings, fellow tea folks.

It’s time for one of these things again – a reflection on where this blog has been and where it’s going. Don’t worry, zaniness will resume again after I’m done discussing with you – fair reader(s) – a few happenings that are afoot…or at hand. (Whatever.) But let’s start at the beginning…

I started reviewing tea in November of 2008…and my maiden voyage was a write-up of Teavana’s Lavender Dreams. It was actually a redux of a blog I did back on Myspace in the bygone days. (Remember that site?). Since then, my palate – while not evolved – changed considerably. My horizons were expanded four hundredfold.

A wonderful side-effect of the reviewing gig was the tea-relationships that cropped up. I had no idea that doing blurbs on a drink would lead me to an actual community of people. From there, the ride has been wonderful and inspiring. But something was still missing…

This summer, I found myself at a bit of an impasse. My work schedule, other writing projects, and general discipline and drive were sorely lacking (read: laziness) – thus making my review output sporadic at best. Until last week, I’d gone a good month without any updates. That was my first clue something was amiss.

My second was that there were thirty-plus teas still waiting for a review write-up. There was a stack of boxes – some dating back to the winter – that required attention. Some were sent by vendors who’d seen my write-ups. Others were the normal allocation sent by the two (yes, two!) sites I contributed to. Given my propensity for procrastination, and the lack of speed with which I wrote, there was no way I was going to get through them all.

So, I threw in the towel.

Not officially, though. I tried to make the leap from tea reviewer to tea retailer. For some reason, I thought: I know A LOT about tea. I should be a shoe-in.

Well, turns out I wasn’t. I’m not entirely sure why. I applied for two tea gigs over the course of the last two months, and the results were less than stellar. Either the vendors were worried about damaging my impartiality, or they were concerned that my opinionated niche in the tea community would be a detriment to them. The rest, I can only speculate.

I went into the interviews thinking I came across like this:

 

When, in reality, I was probably more like this:

I never thought that being a tea reviewer would actually prevent me from getting a job. That settled it – final nail in the proverbial coffin. I had officially over-stayed my reviewing welcome. So, this is the official announcement: I’m retiring from tea reviewing.

That isn’t to say I’m retiring from tea writing, though. Quite the opposite. Some of you regular readers may have noticed a…uh…change in my blogging style of late. For the last three or four entries, I’ve been experimenting with meta-fiction. The process happened organically. Normal reviews have slowly been turning into tall tea tales – complete with demon kettles, were-cats, temperamental goddesses and undead botanists. In other words, these blog entries have – quite literally – turned into “steep stories”, as the namesake suggests.

And I’ve been enjoying the hell out of it.

The future is uncertain, but this is what may be happening with the new “Steep Stories” style. The idea is that I will be continuing to notch off unique teas on my “Tea WANT!” list. Those with a story to tell will be somehow incorporated into future meta-fiction entries. My hope is that these entries eventually evolve into one cohesive narrative. If they do so, and an ending is in sight, I will put them out as an e-book.

The best part? I’m inviting all of you to be a part of this new direction.

If you’re a blogger who is playing around with a new blend – and it has a story to tell – let me know and I’ll feature it as best I can. If you’re a vendor, and you’ve acquired a tea from a strange growing region –  or possess one that was prepared in some unique way – feel free to get in contact with me for a feature. The key word here is “feature”, not “review”. I want this blog to be about exploration, not [just] opinion. And it’s a journey I want others to take with me.

In the next week or so, I will be creating a page that outlines the chapters that are included in the “Steep Stories” canon of vignettes. Vendors that have already sent review samples, or have samples in transit – don’t worry, I will get to those. I still have a backlog of notes I have to sift through as I make the transition. Companies that have personally sent me teas will be a priority.

As for the readers (if there are any), feedback is always appreciated. If there is something I appear to be doing wrong, weird, or less-than-stellar, let me know. I appreciate constructive criticism.

There, I think that just about covers everything. Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a pu-erh matter I need to attend to.. That and I need to get out of my pajamas.

lazyliteratus

Tea blogger, professional cleaner of toilets, amateur people watcher.

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22 Comments

  1. First, I’m going to miss your reviews I absolutely LOVE your writing. Though I am happy to see there will be tea stories.

    Second, I’m sorry you didn’t get the job offers you were hoping for. Seems maybe it was an issue of being over qualified.

    Lastly, with your plate opening up a little would you PLEASE be a guest speaker at our Ladies Tea Trade Google+ Hangout? We have wanted you one for ages. Please thinking over. I promise most of us won’t bit. I don’t make promises when it comes to @Jackie. Just kidding, 🙂

    • I appreciate the praise. 🙂

      As to the job stuff. No, it wasn’t an issue of over-qualification. I think it was more of an issue that I seem “set in my ways”. For both places I applied, their ideal candidate was someone that was “enthusiastic about learning about tea”. Not someone who had set notions about it. That…and I’m not a smiling female. *heh*

      I would love to speak at a Hangout…just as soon as I figure out how to work the damn thing. I’ve been trying to do it from my phone with little success.

      • As to the hangout I am so happy to hear that. We meet every Thursday night. I’ll talk with the girls and see what’s next on the schedule. We can take the rest of the conversation via DM. Let me know what day would work best for you there. 🙂

  2. Glad to see you’ve stopped wasting your time trying to be a serious reviewer. There’s no shortage of those. Instead, you’ll stick with what makes you unique. A good move.

  3. margo

    Do a review of folks that work at the places you applied to and see what you missed, maybe it wasn’t that much.

    Ask on your blog for ideas of jobs that deal with tea and any contact that you could talk to about it. They has to be a way!

  4. Thank you for such great reviews over the last few years!!

    I’m too saddened by how “clique” the tea community and tea companies have become. On a whim I recently served a generic tea bag’d sencha tea to a “certified” tea sommelier – And lo and behold the reviews were fabulous for a 10 cent teabag – It just shows that credentials coupled with a blind taste test don’t make a tea expert.

    Tea is about the taste AND the experience.

    As a person once said to me: “When you think you know everything about tea then you should be drinking coffee”

    Looking forward to your next adventure – Whether it be tea or not to tea!!

    • I’ve addressed the issue of tea sommelier-dom in the past. I’m not sure there is such a label. There are – as you said – experiences and taste. That’s about it. I’m nowhere near a sophisticated drinker. However, I have broadened my horizons.

      Not sure if I necessarily think that tea community is clique-ish. I found ’em very welcoming. And if they can welcome me of all people, they have to be. *heh*

  5. Tiffany

    I look forward to reading more of your wonderful writing!

  6. There are tea experts, people with a deep knowledge of the different teas and eager to share it with others.

    As for you, I think the “not being a smiling woman” is way too much to overcome.

    Whatever you do, I am sure it will be interesting and fun to read.

  7. I like the thought of “feature” vs “review.” It’s not that reviews don’t have a place, it’s just that they don’t do your amazing writing talent justice. An imagination like yours shouldn’t be constrained by the structural demands of a traditional tea review.
    Can’t wait for the tiger to be set free.

  8. Thanks for the support. I like it, too. It gives a chance to have the stories “sponsored” (so-to-speak) by a unique tea, rather than put it under a microscope of scrutiny. And opens it up for a story to tell. 😉

  9. Was so pleased when I saw this yesterday. I made a mental note to come back and comment when I had a chance.

    I think this is great news, indeed. Although your tea reviews are (were) entertaining, it was the writing I most enjoyed. And when you focus on the writing, in whatever form, the tea blogging community is better for it.

    Am looking forward to this new chapter. Your blog is one I always gravitate to when I’m on Tea Trade.

  10. Your reviews will be missed, but I do look forward to reading your future writings. Sorry that the jobs didn’t pan out for you, however, I believe that those kinds of things happen for a reason. When I first moved here to the Pacific Northwest I worked very hard to get a job that I really wanted and would have been very beneficial for me and my family. Ultimately, I didn’t get the job, and looking back, I don’t think I would have been good at the job. It would have taken too much from me.

    So, things happen for a reason… those jobs, for whatever reason, weren’t just the right fit for you.

    But, writing about tea is right for you, because you have a great talent for it. And even though I won’t be reading more of your reviews, I think that your stories will be quite entertaining.

    I look forward to them.

    • Thankee, m’dear.

      I’ll leave reviewing in your capable SororiTea hands. You’re far more diligent and disciplined at it than I. *heh*

  11. You were already beyond normal tea reviews when I first read your blog. Don’t let your past writing hold you back and don’t close yourself for that same past.

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