It is technically the morning before the actual day that houses the night before Christmas. Or as I like to call it, “A work day”. I found a brief amount of time between family visits, pajama-ing, whiny cat-sitting, and getting-ready-for-work-‘er-ing to reflect on something I’ve been meaning to for some time. 2011 has had a lot of ups and downs. Some of which were whined about ad nauseam over the various social media feeds I infest. One thing has remained fairly consistent – the e-tea world.

My tea world, as it exists in the intangible realm of cyberspace (and in small part, the real world as well) has been a source of escape and elation. And better still, it’s been steady. Drama has been light, and camaraderie has been lengthy. And, of course, let’s not forget the tea. There’s been plenty of that. So, I wanted to take the time and bestow gratitude to some fellow bloggers who contributed some pretty darn good tea to me this year.

Joie de Tea

Or as she’s known in some circles – Veri”Tea” Fisher – is a Tolkien-loving Aussie lass steeped in tea, baking, and adorable bookwormdom. I encountered her through another mutual “Teaussie” – Robert Godden (better known as The Devotea) – and have spoken with her at some length on various topics of nerddom. The real reason she’s featured here can be summed up in one word – “Daintree”.

She read my Tea “WANT!” List and saw that Australian-grown Daintree black tea was at the very top. Being the kind soul she is, she bought me some and shipped it internationally. And not just a dainty amount o’ Daintree – oh no! A lot! I’ve been sharing it liberally.

It was a very mellow black tea with a very generic OP palate, but it was ever-so-pleasant. Not very often you run into a black tea that actually embodies a taste best described as “soothing”. Thanks to Verity, I was finally able to notch it off my bucket list.

(And if Hodgkin’s Law of Parallel Planetary Development exists on a small scale, I can hopefully find her single American equivalent.)

You can follow her teadventures HERE.

Little Miss WifeyPurrMewCollar

Courtney Powers is a brave woman for putting up with more than one cat. She’s downright impervious for putting up with more than one online persona. I’m not even sure how to address her most of the time. One thing is certain, she’s a Jill of all Trades.

I wasn’t aware of her until around this time last year. She appeared like some sort of tea ninja from the Internet aether. Simply put, one moment …”POOF!”…there was a WifeyWoman in our midst. The lucky lass was able to attend World Tea East this year, and didn’t want to leave me out of the festivities. A couple of weeks after the convention, she shipped off a care package with samples from the featured wares.

Notable standouts were an English Breakfast variant from Royal Tea of Kenya (my first from the company) and an Assam from Lochan Tea – an Indian op that’d been on my radar for some time. Both teas were manliness personified. Ironic that it took a woman for me to see that.

In short, she’s lovable, she’s adorable…and if you mess with her, you’ll have the full contingent of the Beasts of Brewdom to contend with.

You can follow her teadventures HERE.

Tea For Me Please

Nicole Martin and I share a mutual tea-home in the form of the review site – She actually started her own independent tea blog long before I did. I chimed in on it every once in awhile to see if there was something on it I needed to add to my list. She is also in the oenophile business.

I meant to send her a tea care package, but life got in the way. (Hey, November and December suuuucked.) Nicole decided to beat me to the punch and sent off a care package of her own – a few wares from Chicago Tea Garden, including an orange-aged pu-erh that’d been on the illustrious List.

The pu-erh was fantastic and as citrusy as I hoped – not loudly so, but pleasantly understated. The aged, ripe pu-erh started off with a smokey/citrus forefront before melding into more of an earthy profile. Probably one of the more pleasant shou-type pu-erhs to hit my tongue. Grateful doesn’t even cut my reaction for finally having a chance to try it.

I don’t know much about Nicole outside of the tea-ing, but what little I do is ovation-worthy.

You can follow her teadventures HERE.

Head Cheerleader of the Portland Tea Enthusiasts’ Alliance

David Galli and I finally crossed IRL paths in the Fall of this year. Being the more ambitious sort, David had it in his mind to hunt down a tea group. Not being able to locate one, he decided to form one. Through him and his fledgling vision, I experienced something I hadn’t before – having tea with tea friends in real-time. Not just with casual friends who were humoring my absurd hobby.

On our first meet-up, he also imparted a gift from a teashop in New York. Knowing my love for obscure growing regions, he picked up a sizable bag of Guatamalan-grown black from White Heron Tea. I gave the black tea a couple of test-drives before I found the perfect brewing approach.  This was a tea that sorta looked like Japanese kocha, or the aforementioned Daintree, but required a strong brew-beating to bring out its true character. At a boiling temp and a five-minute brew time, the resulting tea was a floral and smoky cup worthy of wake-up.

I’ve got a lot to be thankful for, thanks to this dude. For one…getting me out of the house.

You can follow the Portland Tea Enthusiasts’ Alliance progress HERE.

Or follow David’s own tea musings HERE.

A Gift of Tea

And the last on this list – and the inspiration for the entry’s title – is Jo Johnson, a regular on Tea Trade with a fascinatingly eclectic blog with an alluring focus. On the side, she is also a tea consultant. I envy anyone who can make tea into a viable business model. I certainly haven’t figured out how to do that.

Some weeks back, she sent me the cutest care package imaginable – one bearing the logo of her company and their newly-released children’s book. The World’s Special Teaby both Jo Johnson and Joya Powell –is a book idea that I wish I’d come up with – a simple-as-could-be history of tea put to poetry. It is sheer genius dipped in honey. The tiny book only took me five minutes to read, but it skirted through the various milestones in leaf-steeping. (The uglier bits were passed over, obviously.)

Included with the book were a custom greeting card and a specialized, kid-friendly rooibos blend to go along with the book. My envy for this approach knows no bounds. Way to go, Jo. I have professional jealousy.

In addition to the “Gift of Tea” stuff was…well…even more tea. Jo passed along some a Shou Mei white, a Phoenix Honey oolong, and an herbal blend. I dipped into the Phoenix Honey while I was writing this – surprisingly zesty for a Chinese oolong. Lasted a good six infusions, too.

Put shortly, she’s a talented and driven woman. I don’t know much more about her than that – which seems to be a running theme for this article – but she’s light-years ahead of me in the life plan department.

You can learn more about her business and book HERE.

You can follow her “scandalous” blog HERE.

And that does it for this entry. I hope you all have a tea-filled holiday – whatever holiday that may be – and that the New Year brings even more steeped goodness. I know mine will.