Steep Stories

of the Lazy Literatus

The Tea “WANT!” List

I received an interesting request lately. The Powers That Be at Tea Trade wondered why I had never done a forum post about my Tea “WANT!” List. Truth be told, I wondered the same thing. After all, it was the sheer basis for my “Steep Stories” blog in the first place. Said list was inspired by a now-defunct blog that catalogued unique teas from around the world. I wanted to take it a step further, track them down, and drink them. ALL of them.

This is that [current] list…in its entirety.

 

New Zealand-Grown Teas & Tisanes (Other than Zealong)

Manuka:

Around the time I was hunting down local shops that stocked Tregothnan’s British-grown (and blended) Earl Grey, I also saw scant mention on their main page about a Kiwi-borne tisane that tasted like honeybush. The Maori name for it was Manuka. Several health properties were associated with it – and it was often used to make honey – but I mainly wanted it for the honeybush comparison. Thus far, the only place I’ve been able to find it stateside is in teabag form. I’m not too keen on settling for that.

Possible Source: http://www.tregothnanshop.co.uk/ShowDetails.asp?id=452

 

Grain Moth Pu-Erh (Yunnan province, China)

I learned the existence of this through Steepster. From what I can gather, it’s a sheng pu-erh that is naturally aged, then fed to caterpillars. When the caterpillars…um…”pass” the leaves, they are then further aged. That’s right, it’s tea culture’s very own Kopi Luwak. Other than this entertaining article and a couple of others, I’ve found scant mention of it. It bears the infamous nickname of “Poo-Poo Pu-erh” for obvious reasons. And, yet, I want to try it. Badly.

UPDATE: There is now a possible source for this! Grand Tea now carries a young version of this, although they call it “Worm Tea”. Do WANT! http://www.grandtea.com/Chong-Cha-Worm-Tea-50-gram-p-240.html

 

 

Yaupon Holly

Ilex vomitoria – or Yaupon Holly – is the only plant native to North America that is caffeinated. It is a close relative to yerba mate and guayusa. The poor tree also has a dubious history, mentioned as the key ingredient to an infamous Native American beverage called “Black Drink”. Books have been written about this mysterious rite-of-passage beverage, and its apparent ill-effects.  I grew curious about it when I watched a YouTube video of someone steeping the stuff and mentioning its similar taste to yerba mate. I don’t really care for yerba mate, but this plant of ill-repute interests me.

 

Pakistani Tea

I might be imagining it, but I could’ve sworn I heard someone say that Pakistan grew its own tea. I have found very little mention of it anywhere. If it exists, though – by golly – I will find it.

 

Semi-Oxidized Rooibos

Would that be called “Roolong” or “Rooiboolong”? I dunno. Anyway…one time I was looking up information on the health benefits of green rooibos (my absolute favorite herbal) when I found a bit piece about a semi-oxidized variant. That definitely cocked an eyebrow. A discussion on the Teaviews forums with Alex Zorach peaked my interest further. I have yet to find one for sale…but the search hasn’t ended yet.

 

 

Loose-Leaf Greenthread (Native American-Grown Tisane from New Mexico):

Chʼil ahwééh – or Navajo/Hopi Tea – is an herbal infusion native to the high desert area of New Mexico. It is made from an herb popularly known as greenthread –a simple enough bush that is wild-harvested on the plateau. I had the pleasure of tracking some down locally in teabag form when I read an article written by a Portland-based holistic specialist. It was one interesting tisane. My goal now is to try it in the traditional bundle.

Source: http://www.highdesertfarmers.com/

 

Green Rooibos Matcha

The inclusion of this might be just wishful thinking on my part. Several months ago, I had an opportunity to review red rooibos matcha. It was a very unique sort of beverage – tasting like regular rooibos only thicker. The powder also cold-brewed well. Comments to my review lamented the lack of existence of a green rooibos variant, just as I had in the actual write-up. For the moment, I don’t think a stone-ground green rooibos powder exists…but if someone is reading this – a Nishio-based matcha producer, perhaps? – please get on this.

 

Suutei Tsai

I’m not sure who told me about this, or if I simply ran across it on a regular Internet perusal, but Mongolian salted milk tea held my fascination fast. Since pure water is a valuable commodity there, tea is boiled in milk instead. Salt and other things are added to low-grade, brick-pressed tea to form a concoction with an…eccentric character. Sure, there are recipes online for preparing it yourself, but I want it made by an actual Mongolian. And so, I wait.

 

 

Po Cha (Yak Butter Tea from Tibet)

Similar to Mongolian tea, po cha – or “butter tea” – is an infusion out of Tibet. It is prepared with melted yak butter, salt and (again) brick tea. Recipes exist online on how to prepare it, but – like suutei tsai – my goal is to try it in a Tibetan restaurant. One did exist in my hometown for a time, and they did serve po cha, but said eatery has since gone out of business.

This will be a permanent page on the blog. I finally formalized all of this so as to have a public record of all the teas I want to notch off. It will be constantly updated as more teas catch my fancy and others still are sip-conquered. If you have any leads on teas I need to add to the list – and/or possible sources for those currently on it – shoot me a line. There might be a blog plug in it for you. (I’d offer more…but I’m poor.)

Thank you for reading. I’m going to pass out now.

27 Comments

  1. Ken

    Very interesting post~ Thanks for taking the time to do it for us. It’s appreciated. Sakura Tea for me!!

  2. Profile photo of LatteTeaDah

    I can vouch for the Sakura tea from Obubu. The saltiness can be mitigated by a simple pre-rinse if you find it’s not to your liking, but it’s not so overpowering, just makes things a bit more ‘brothy’. There’s nothing quite like the floral/cherry combination of steeping the bloom itself.

    The Po Cha and the Daintree are on my list of must-tries as well. There are several Nepalese/Tibetan diners in my local downtown that I’m convinced I’m going to try as a holiday treat before the end of the year. There was a BBC documentary that aired on PBS last week with Michael Palin (Monty Python) where he set out to climb Everest and was served Po Cha mountainside. In a big steaming cauldron of buttery intrigue.

    Perhaps if us non-natives raised enough of a fuss we could get some Daintree imported here one of these days?

    Great post – I’m sure it will have everyone’s tea gears turning!

  3. The nectarine is definitely worth a try and so is the sakura tea. They’re not things I would drink all of the time but the experience was interesting to say the least. You can have the poo poo puerh all to yourself though 😛

  4. Margo Hutchinson

    I do not even know enough to have a “wish list” so good for you!

    M

  5. Cevie

    Really useful and, as always, entertaining. Thanks !

  6. Profile photo of jopj

    Great list. Keeps me on the lookout for additional teas to try. I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying Yak butter tea an unforgettable experience.

  7. Profile photo of lazyliteratus

    Believe it or not, the list is *already* out of date. I have to add three and subtract three.

    Really want to try the yak butter stuff. Was it any good as well as unforgettable?

  8. Bob

    We brought some loose tea back from our visit to the Dagomys Tea plantation in Russia and loved it. I’ve been looking for a way to buy it here in the US ever since – but without luck. I can attest to it’s wonderful flavor, and it’s lack of availability.

    • Profile photo of lazyliteratus

      Thanks for the input, Bob. What I find funny is that every Russian I talk to says the region’s tea is crap. Still…I want to see for myself.

  9. Geoff! OMG!! Check out what’s back in stock over at Grand Tea: http://www.grandtea.com/Chong-Cha-Worm-Tea-50-gram-p-240.html

  10. I have seen “Pakistani” tea in an Asian store. It was CTC. But I suspect the tea was actually only packaged in Pakistan after being imported from India or elsewhere.
    No evidence they produce tea.
    By the way, drinking of po cha for the uninitiated can be a challenge. It has about a tablespoon of yak butter per cup. You sure need to climb Everest to burn it all up!

    • Profile photo of lazyliteratus

      I haven’t seen evidence of it, either. Nor of an Afghan variant.

      Speaking of Po Cha, I did try a black heicha that was stored in Tibet for over ten years. Pretty darn tasty.

  11. How about Hopi Tea from northern Yavapai County Arizona, I gather it myself and also have SnakeBroom.

  12. Ali

    About your list, hate to disappoint you but tea is not grown in Pakistan. It’s widely consumed but all of it – black tea, green tea, and kashmiri chai leaves – are imported from other countries.

  13. Hey there, I’m one of the co-founders of Lost Pines Yaupon Tea (http://lostpinesyaupontea.com). I’d love to send you a bit of our light and dark roasted yaupon. We wild harvest it all ourselves in the Lost Pines Forest of Bastrop, Texas. Harvesting yaupon from this area helps restore habitat for the endangered Houston Toad. It also helps restore native plant community balance as the pine forest struggles to recover from the horrible fires they experiences in 2011 and 2016. Feel free to send me an email with your address and I’d be excited to send some for you to try!

  14. Margo Hutchinson

    Have you “updated your wish list” recently?

  15. Yat

    Contact me if you need a sample.
    :)))

  16. Saq

    Got a lead on tea from Pakistan and will be happy to share, sending an email with details.

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