Steep Stories

of the Lazy Literatus

Tag: Tea-Guy

Tea Grown in Guatemala

Before I get to rambling about black tea from Guatemala, I’m going to do something a little different to start this off. I’m going to turn the introduction over to my blogger friend, Chris “Tea-Guy” Giddings, since he’s the one who introduced me to the tea I’m about to discuss. Take it away, Chris:

“It was a dark and stormy night… no… literally… that’s what it was! You still don’t believe me? Whatever!

I got a message from William and Jace Longnecker from TRW Fair Trade. I kid you not! No, seriously! Would you let me finish!?!

So, it was a dark and stormy night, when I got the message offering a chance to review a black tea from Guatemala. GUATEMALA! I’d never heard of quality tea from Guatemala, so of course I was intrigued. I mean, wouldn’t you have been?

Anyway! When it finally arrived a few weeks later, it was beautiful! I couldn’t believe my eyes! Long black , twisted leaves presented themselves. OK I thought, this looks good… but IS it good? IS it really?

I’ll let Geoff take it from here. I don’t think you’ll believe me anyway.”

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Photo by Chris Giddings.

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A Teaity Chat Adventure

Let’s put things in perspective.

Last Tuesday, there was a Teaity-hosted Twitter chat, and it was amazing!

Teaity

I, however, wasn’t amazing in it. In fact, one could even say – albeit crudely/colloquially – that I was out of my f**king mind. Reasons being: Too much caffeine…and family.

I started off the day – a work day, mind you – at 6AM. Somehow, I had the bright idea to pre-funk with some Hankook Tea Gamnong Sejak “matcha” (read: Korean powdered green tea).

Hankook Gamnong Matcha

The stuff is amazingly tasty. Looks like a mid-grade matcha from Izu, Japan…but tastes like a high-grade Uji ceremonial. It froths up handsomely, has a velvety texture going down, and caffeinates you like an immortal battering ram. That would’ve been enough.

But then I brewed some Butiki Teas Taiwanese Wild Mountain black for the road trip to work. That…put me over the edge. I wasn’t just immortal; I was freaking celestial. Nothing could’ve penetrated my high.

Said work shift went by like an old-fashioned VCR on fast-forward. I was casually aware of time, but not affected by it. If problems arose, I handled it with all the aplomb of a pubescent spelling bee contestant. And best of all? No crash.

One would think that was enough caffeine for the day, right? Well…apparently my brain never got that memo. When riding high, better continue the party – right?

When I came home, I smelled the old Wild Mountain leaves. They still had life in ‘em. So, I brewed up a second infusion.

In the interim, my Mum was pacing and yelling at her phone. I asked what was bugging her. She had been on the phone with my niece, but the signal cut off. The 14-year-old had said she was walking home from school, but an hour had passed. Her school is a mere three streets away.

Forgetting about the tea, I grabbed Mum and we headed out to go look for the missing niece. Just as we were heading out of the apartment complex, we saw a teenage girl loping up the hill. It was the niece in question. After I told her to get in the car, she explained what had happened.

Her phone died…and she got lost in a cul de sac.

No, seriously.

How?!

After that li’l adventure, I saw mentions on Facebook and Twitter that Teaity’s Chat Party was happening.

Oh snap!  I thought. I forgot to RSVP.

I quickly shot a tweet to Naomi Rosen (Mrs. Joy’s Teaspoon) about how to do exactly that. She and Nicole “Tea For Me Please” Martin were co-hosting the chat session with Teaity’s founder – Chris Giddings. I knew next to nothing of how it was going down, save for the fact that it was happening.

I did the RSPV thing, looked on Google+ (thinking it was a Hangout or something), then did a proverbial “Derp!” upon realizing that it was a Twitter chat. People chimed in on it by using the hashtag “#TeaityChat” on Twitter.  Finally, I chimed in…still somewhat wired after tanking my over-brewed mug of Wild Mountain.

And it was like I stepped into Peter Griffin’s version of Bed Bath & Beyond.

TeaityChat

So many people. So many conversations happening all at once. At first, I joined in with a simple, “Ahoy!” But then I thought the best idea would be to answer one of the questions put out to the crowd.

teaity pants

Hey, I said it was my best idea…I didn’t say it was a good idea.

However, there was one problem. Here I was, in the middle of a tea chat, but I had no tea. For months, I’d been meaning to do a piece on Teaity and its “timer” function, and this was my excuse. The issue I was having, though, was finding a tea in my collection that was on the Teaity roster. Most of the stuff I had on-hand was downright esoteric.

All the while during the chat, I tore my collection apart looking for a brand and brew to join in with. About two-thirds the way through the multiple conversations, I found it. Teaity had AdventureTea’s Hawaiian Green listed. I brewed it up, using Teaity’s timer as a guide.

Teaity Timer

The results were even better than the trial-‘n-error brews I’d administered before. The flavor was like tropical fruit crossed with Hawaiian Mamaki leaf. Green, herbaceous, slightly citrusy, and nowhere-near-grassy. Probably the best green tea I’d had from Hawaii. (Although, granted, I’ve only had two others.)

Hawaiian Green Tea

If I wasn’t over-caffeinated by then, I certainly was now. I couldn’t even recall how many pints/pots of tea I was in at that point. All I knew was, it was almost 9PM…and I was nowhere near tired.

Then I saw them on my tea shelf.

Ants. Tons of ‘em. Going after the whole whoppin’ two flavored teas I had in my collection. They smelled like vanilla and chocolate, so – naturally – the critters bee(or ant)-lined to them. With how much caffeine I had in my system, I panicked. I tore all the teas off the bookshelf, and moved everything aside.

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Then I grabbed our one vacuum and combed the room with it. Unfortunately, the damn thing was clogged to the gills with dust and debris from the last major suck-up. I began to curse

Mum, sis, and niece each inquired as to what I was doing.

Phrases I…may have uttered.

“There’re ants everywhere.”

“I had to blow out the vacuum pipes with my mouth!

“I’m going to get herpes from this!”

Er…the last part was because I actually knew a guy who did get an STD from a vacuum. Long story, won’t go into it here.

After gutting and rearranging my room, I finally sat down – having expended all my excess energy. All that was left was a slight buzzing feeling in my brain. That and an odd sensation of feeling both hypochondriac…and accomplished. Very strange.

Moral of the story: There is such a thing as too much tea.

But, boy, it makes for an awesome story to tell.

The Infusiast’s Book Launch and a Meeting of Beasts – A Vegas Tea Party, Day 1

Brace yourself, this is a three-parter. Maybe four. Depends on if I get the information all organized. Liking herding cats, it is. Kittens, actually. Hyper ones.

First and foremost, I need to get a few acknowledgements out of the way. Planning for this World Tea Expo trip has been nothing short of murder. Four fantastic folks made it as smooth as possible. My mother spotted for the plane ticket to Vegas as an early “birthristmas” present, and my dad helped put spending money in my pocket after a mutually beneficial business transaction. I’ve written about both occurrences.

The other two, I have not written about. Naomi Rosen (aka Joy’s Teaspoon) was gracious enough to put me up for the five days I was in Vegas. That kind gesture alone saved me hundreds. Second is Jo Johnson (A Gift of Tea), who acted as a mentor as I took it all in when I needed it. She kept me apprised of the expo goings-on so that I could maximize my experience. Both went completely out of their way for a schmo they’d never met in real life. Gratitude abound.

And now for a picture of the Rosens’ Basset Hound sitting on my feet.

Teej

With that out of the way, on with the show.

The Meeting of Beasts

I didn’t arrive on the day of World Tea Expo proper, but rather a couple of days before. My “official” reason was to help Joy’s Teaspoon out with the U.S. book launch of The Infusiast: Diatribes of the Devotea by Robert Godden. However, my ulterior motive was to finally meet the writer for the first time and trade barbs. Oh, and buy his book. Gotta show support and all that.

The wacky Aussie and I had e-known each other for over three years. We even (very occasionally) collaborated on a “manly tea” blog – The Beasts of Brewdom. This was to be the first meeting of the minds.

Lord and The Lady Devotea arrived – not by chariot, as one would expect – but by humble Vegas cab. The moment I saw the fedora’d, suit-clad Aussie, I said: “We don’t serve your kind here!” With a smile, of course. Dunno how well that joke translates Down Under.

And the Universe didn't explode.

And the Universe didn’t explode.

He immediately grasped me in a hug. Like we were old friends. And technically, we were.

The rest of the evening consisted of him regaling tales of teashop ownership and anecdotes from his book, while his captive (of their own free will) audience drank some of his blends – Lord Petersham and Rose Blush, respectively.

Said book launch and tea party provided another delight – chance meet-ups with The Tea Stylist’s Linda Gaylard, Teaity’s/Tea Guy’s Chris Giddings, and the aforementioned (and striking) Jo Johnson.

(Left to Right) Me, Chris Giddings, Jo Johnson, and Lady Devotea

(Left to Right) Me, Chris Giddings, Jo Johnson, and Lady Devotea

My favorite exchanges:

The Devotea: “Oh, Geoff. I have a present for your Mum. Because I give her such a hard time on Facebook.”

…And…

Jo: [to me] “You’re going to the tea and beer pairing…”

Me: “I dunno. It’s a hot commodity, plus I’m not sure I can afford it.”

Jo: “That wasn’t a question. You’re going. It’s already been arranged.”

Me: [pause followed by grin] “Okay, then.”

The book launch ended with as much fanfare as it had begun. Teaity Chris and I opted to do Joy’s Teaspoon a favor and pick up her cousin, Lady Earl Steeper. Thus completing our unintentional Vegas Tea Party quartet. Once that task was done, we retired to Chez Joy for a generous dose of a card game called…well…Cards Against Humanity. Think Apples to Apples, only sick and wrong.

We were up until 2AM.

And this was only Day 1.

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To be continued…

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