of the Lazy Literatus

Tag: beer

An Excellent Different Beach House Tea Party

The Road Trip Sextet, Part 4 – “An Excellent Different Beach House Tea Party”

For Part 1, go HERE.

For Part 2, go HERE.

For Part 3, go HERE.

I think I mentioned in the prior entry I only allowed myself one day at World Tea Expo this year. It wasn’t for lack of things to do, or desire, but rather a simple matter of timing and priorities. The overall trip had a twofold purpose – one was Expo, but the other was to see family members. As luck would have it, my cousin had a place a mere fifteen-minute drive from Long Beach. I stayed with him the two nights I’d allotted for everything Expo-ish. The second day – effectively the last day of Expo – was spent with him pal-ing around and getting into some sort of well-mannered mischief.

When we rousted, he brewed himself his usual coffee and allowed me to siphon hot water for some Doke Rolling Thunder.

Doke Rolling Thunder

It seemed only fitting that I end my Expo-ish adventure – brief, though it was – with a tea from the Lochan garden. One of the only regrets I had from my Expo brevity was that I didn’t get to talk with Rajiv Lochan more. We only had time for a brief meet-and-greet, totally my fault. However, there was another opportunity to see him, and a bunch of other tea folks, yet I was undecided about it.

So, while the last day of Expo commenced, my cousin and I (and a female friend of his) gallivanted around downtown Orange.

Downtown Orange

(Yes, there is a city called “Orange” in Orange County. I didn’t know that, either.)

While fellow tea bloggers marveled at the sight of cosplayers from a neighboring Comic Con at the Long Beach Convention Center, our little trio tried on various ancient battle regalia at antique shops.

Knight of Nih!

A fitting parallel.

After a sizable waffle sandwich lunch, though, something tugged at me. I received a few texts and/or tweets regarding a beach house party that night in Long Beach proper. Team Tealet had mentioned they were throwing a “World Tea Expo After-Party” following the major festivi-teas. I caught wind of it when I visited their booth the day prior, but was unsure about my own attendance.

By that afternoon, I had decided.

Team Tealet had rented out a beach house through Airbnb mere minutes drive from the convention center. Several other people had ponied up cash to be a part of the living arrangement – all folks I knew, including the aforementioned Rajiv Lochan. How could I not go?!

Beach House

Photo by Rajiv Lochan

The only regretful occurrence was Naomi “Joy’s Teaspoon”-‘s early departure. She had to be back home that night, but she did pass on a fond farewell via text. D’awwwww.

I arrived just in time to see Tealet’s Elyse ‘n Mike and a few others (including Tea For Me Please’s Nicole) making a beer run. Naturally, I joined in. Once that trip was done, it was back to the beach house. And I finally got to lounge back and shoot the breeze with RAJIV!!!


No, I can’t say his name without shouting.

In our conversation, I marveled at the fact that he had a Lochan Tea “tea-shirt”. I asked, “How can I get one of those with your face on it?” And he almost – quite literally – gave me the shirt off his back. That’s the kind of guy he is.

Shortly after, I made the acquaintance of one of the members of JoJo Tea – a wholesaler op out of Florida. And…we fist-pumped over our mutual love of Oriental Beauty oolong. Probably the only time a fist-pump was ever naturally-occurring.

As the night progressed, randomness ensued. Adventure Tea’s Alex graced us with his elfin presence. He and Snooty Tea Person’s Natasha carried on a conversation in fluent French, which boggled my mind. Teaity/Tea-Guy Chris and I talked a bit of shop. I was also introduced to World Tea House’s Phil Holman’s among many others. Tealet’s Rie “Oolong City” showed me basic kung fu forms. And throughout, tea and alcohol flowed freely.

The highlight was the true purpose of the party, which was a presentation on  Tealet’s latest trip around the world dubbed “The Amazing Tea Race”. One of their more famous stops was the Goe Tea Garden in Nantou County, Taiwan headed by Alfredo Lin.

I have no idea how to express how awesome this guy is, just watch this:

How can one not love a guy that sings to his tea plants?!

The phrase “Excellent Different” became a meme-like catchphrase and has since proliferated into every aspect of tea-related social media.

As an added bonus, samples of Goe’s Zhushan Oolong was served.

Goe Zhushan Oolong

It was extremely pleasant – lightly sweet, slightly buttery, and all-around aromatic. A great, greener-style oolong.

Before my inevitable exodus from the party, I was suckered into an unusual experiment. Since I somehow – over the course of the night ended up with a flower pin in my hair, Oolong City Rie felt my “transformation wasn’t complete”…or something. And then broke out her make-up kit. Being two beers and lots of oolong in, I acquiesced to this strange request.

The Great Mississippi Tea Company’s Timothy took over to finish me off.

bigger party


Wait, that sounded wrong. I mean, he completed the “prettying” with the subtle application of…well…I guess it was guyliner.

The result?

Eddie Izzard Look-a-Like

I looked like Eddie Izzard.

Make-up removed, socializing complete, and mildly sobered up, I finally had to take my leave of Chez Tealet. Fond farewells were made, samples were imparted, and I left with a general feeling of bliss. I’ve been to many parties in my time, but I can’t say I was so…in my element as I was with that crowd.

Over a month later, when I brewed up my own stash of Goe oolong, I got a little choked up when I thought about how generally happy I was there.


No other social gathering – save for a precious few – have had that effect on me.

I wonder when I’ll be able to experience even a fraction of that feeling again.


Huh…sooner than I thought.

Continued in Part 5, HERE.

“Tea, Beer and Bingley” – The Teabeer Trilogy, Book 1


This last Friday was the rarest of occurrences. It preceded an actual weekend off. I hadn’t had a weekend off since…uh…a long time ago. For once, a Friday was my Friday. While I did have plans on Saturday and Sunday, I hadn’t planned on any activity for Friday night.

Then my friend, NinjaSpecs, chimed in via text with, “Informal birthday thing tonight at the Green Dragon.”

Well, so much for no plans.

The Green Dragon is one of those bars where you take people to get a crash course in local Portland culture. Want a wide variety of breweries to choose from? Green Dragon. Want to play “Spot the Hipster”? Green Dragon. Want a teabeer? Green Dragon.

The last one was my reason for going. I was on a mission to track down a certain teabeer, and – hopefully – run into other things by accident. It was a reliable enough assessment.

The rest of the party were running late, but the moment I checked out the beer menu…I knew what I was having. The Green Dragon has an aptly-dubbed “botanical brewery” attached to it called Buckman. They’re often known for doing teabeers and other concoctions, including a to-die-for green tea mead. Today, not only did they have the mead, but they were also featuring a Roobios Red Ale.

I ordered a pint.


It tasted exactly as the name implied. The introduction and top notes were all red ale with no hoppy kick, followed smoothly by a wood-sweet finish – a red rooibos requisite. Rooibos is not my favorite my tisane, and red-style ales are usually a good standby, but the combination here worked really well. Another beer boast for Buckman.

The rest of the birthday gathering arrived about an hour later. I was already one pint in. Drinks and dialogues flowed throughout the night. I even welcomed a teardrop glass of the Buckman’s Green Tea Mead. It was different this time; it tasted like a sweet apple cider. Took me a moment to figure out what was different about it, but then it hit me – no jasmine!

Such a decision could only stem from the fact that Rogue – the folks that owned The Green Dragon (and Buckman by proxy) – were putting out their own jasmine green tea mead dubbed “Rogue Farms 19 Colonies”. No matter. This was better than their previous exploits, anyway.

I hadn’t “college student” partied like that in years. It also didn’t help that the waitress was hot, and told me of a “secret tap” that was not on the menu. Said worst kept secret was a triple-IPA named “Notorious”, from Boneyard Brewing out of Bend. It tasted like grapefruit and…awesome. What a way to cap the outing.


The birthday party had extended from The Green Dragon to one of the party participant’s houses, and some whiskey was involved. I only did one shot…but that was enough. The rest of the night belonged to water, and a vial of aspirin I had on hand as an emergency.

Still didn’t prevent the feeling of “uuuugh” the next morning. The worst part? I was supposed to attend a neighborhood beer party that evening.

By “neighborhood”, I don’t mean my neighborhood. Well, it used to be mine before I had to move over the summer. When I lived with my brother – prior to his marriage – there used to be monthly beer parties at the neighbor’s place. Sometimes we would host as well.

I hadn’t attended one since June because I didn’t feel like I belonged anymore. However, my brother informed me that he was hosting the October gathering, and that the other folks were wondering about me. I decided to give it a go this time. Kinda had to, since I was also the one that helped come up with October’s theme: “Dark beer”.


After running a few errands, picking up the beers per my contribution, and finding a quick bite to eat, I headed to my brother’s a little early. I even passed on a reminder to NinjaSpecs about the gathering. He was the dark beer sort. More the merrier.

The night was…a blast.

It was good seeing the old neighborhood gang again, and encountering a few new faces at the table. The biggest surprise was the quality of stuff everybody brought. Bourbon barrel-aged Velvet Merkin, regular Velvet Merlin, Back in Black…it was like a pantheon of all the best darks I’d ever had. All in one sitting.

Before everyone parted ways, we agreed on a theme for November: “Anything but pumpkin beers.”

Because…f**k pumpkin.


Thanks to my brother, I was able to epilogue the night with some chamomile to chase down the aspirin. This was in preparation for the last leg of my weekend. The arrival of one “Lady Bingley” (or at least that’s what I’m calling her) – purveyor Bingley’s Teas. I was due to pick her up at the airport that morning. After that, the goals were twofold – have tea and track down teabeer. She’d never had teabeer before.

Our first stop was the Tao of Tea’s main shop in S.E. Portland, one I hadn’t been to in a few years. She ordered a roasted Taiwanese oolong (of some sort), and I opted for an Darjeeling-ish offering – Kali Cha. The Indian black was light but pretty good, the roasted oolong was…well, let’s just say I was tea drunk by the end of it.


The second stop was an attempted teabeer jaunt to The Green Dragon. They’d told me there was going to be a pumpkin ale fest that day, but had informed me that they would allow growler fills of anything not pumpkin. I had wrongly assumed we could nurse a growler on the premises if we did so. Unfortunately, the bartenders informed us that was not possible for fear of “chaos”.

I said it once, I’ll say it again: “F**k pumpkin.”

We opted instead for the brewery adjacent to the Dragon – Cascade Barrel House. They specialized in Belgian-style sour ales, and Lady Bingley hadn’t tried one before. I don’t quite recall what we had offhand, but we both took a liking to the bourbon barrel-aged offering.

So did Mini Jane Austen.


Last on our “list” was a jaunt to the Belmont Station, a bottle shop/bar with a pretty decent selection. I was too stubborn to admit defeat on our teabeer quest, and hoped that Dog Fish Head’s Sah’Tea would be there. The cashier, unfortunately, told us they stopped carrying it.

Luckily, they did have an iced tea mead I’d never heard of – from a meadery in Portland, Maine! Ram Island. Both Lady Bingley and I agreed that it tasted like a lemon-wedged iced tisane. No detraction by any means. I’ve liked my fair share of iced tisanes, and this one had a kick. Oh yeah, that was the alcohol.


Lady Bingley’s friend (and host) for her Portland trip met us at Belmont, and we retired to her residence for one last tea leg. Lady B had in her possession, a 30-year-old black tea from Taiwan. What can I say; it was nothing short of exquisite. It calmed the caffeine and alcohol tussle going on in my head, returning me to some sense of Zen after the frenzy of the weekend.


But this was just the beginning…

Continued in Book 2.

Soba Up, Buckwheat! You’ve Had too Much Oolong Beer!

Obviously, I’m still playing catch-up. This is a flashback to late-January. I assure you, though, it’s totally worth it. Well, if you like tea in your beer. Moving along…

Tea and beer are my two favorite beverages in the world. Yes, the entire world. Both are also extremely habitual and have a lot of history to them. As a result, becoming geekily obsessed with the minutiae surrounding either drink is an obvious conclusion. So, what happens when I learn that both have been – somehow/someway – combined?

Answer: Geek overload.

I have tried several examples where tea and alcohol have been combined. In some cases, it was merely scented teas – either smoked or aged in a barrel – but on the other end of the spectrum are the alcoholic drinks that use tea leaves as an ingredient. My favorites of those, to date, have been an Earl Grey/tangerine zest ale and a jasmine green tea mead. I had yet to run into a brewery that found a creative use for oolong, though.

In the Fall, a friend brought to my attention that Oakshire Brewing out of Eugene, OR. had done just that. Alas, I was a whole week behind the times. The stuff had long since been drunk dry. Fast-forward to January: The purveyor of J-Tea – the pivotal “J” himself – brought to my attention that it wasn’t all done yet. In fact, the beer in question had a second go-around left. Better still? It was a gin-barrel-aged, Belgian-style saison that was brewed with Taiwanese greener-style oolong as an ingredient. An oolong provided by “J”.

Josh Chamberlain brewing oolong in a keg!

Josh Chamberlain brewing oolong in a keg!

My brain exploded.

The tasting itself was being held at a cheese bar in Southeast Portland, and – as luck would have it – it was also one of my days off. Only one small snag, though. I was still sick from the second round of “Le Plague”. I didn’t care; this was worth leaving quarantine.

I was able to form a mini-posse with two other friends to make the trip. Matt Van Wyk – Oakshire’s brewmaster himself – was also on-hand to answer any questions about the brew itself. (And pick his brain, I did.) The name of it was completely awesome: Frederic’s Lost Arm. I couldn’t tell ya what it meant, though.

The brew itself? Needless to say, it was superb. The Oakshire folks know how to brew a damn good beer, and this was no exception. It was strong on the juniper note toward the front, followed by the sour Belgian-ish-ness in the middle. The aftertaste was both sweet and bitey. The only disadvantage was, there was no sign of oolong to be found. I guess all the cask-conditioning willowed away any punch the green Formosa could deliver. No surprise there. Taiwanese oolongs can be on the gentle side. However, if I tried – even through my clogged state – I could remember a bit of a honey-like texture to it.

Short answer: “Dayamn”.


On a completely unrelated night that same week, I finally tore into a sample that was sent my way by fellow writer/blogger, Jo Johnson. She had seen mention of soba-cha on my “Tea WANT!” list and decided to impart some to me. I knew it wasn’t a rare tea to come by, but I was extremely grateful that she beat me to the punch.

For those who don’t know, “soba” simply means “buckwheat” in Japanese. I don’t know much about the grain other than the name being applied to idiots. That said, when I took a whiff of the stuff, I was greeted by a pungently nut-sweet aroma that could rival rooibos in its delivery.

Alas, the taste didn’t quite reflect the aroma’s sweetness, imparting a nutty brew that reminded me of rice, barley, and sweetened peanuts. While surprised with the change in profile, I still rather enjoyed it. The little granules held up to a boiled-water/five-minute brew-up with surprising sturdiness, and it was a far cry better than some rice-laden teas I’ve tried. (Yes, I’m talking to you genmaicha.)

Speaking of genmaicha…recently, I had an epiphany to one day try this blended with a kabusecha-style tamaryokucha (heavily-shaded, curly green tea from Kumomoto) and maybe a dash of Nishio-grown matcha. Maybe I’ll give it a try soon and record the results…but that’s a subject for another schizoid rambling.

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