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.