of the Lazy Literatus

Tag: Norbu Tea

“What Happens at Expo…” – A Vegas Tea Party, Day 2

For Day 1, go HERE.

I’ll be honest, I was scared s**tless.

Expo Floor

World Tea Expo

Never in my life had I participated in something so…well…grand. The Las Vegas Convention Center was huge, and just peeking through the doors almost made me soil myself. It was like a Comic Con but for tea. I was so stunned by the sheer scale of it all that I nearly forgot to acquire my press pass.

Oh yes, that. I forgot to mention that. This was my first convention/expo/tradeshow/thingy as a member of the press. I picked it up at the World Tea Media press booth and just…stared at the thing.

Press Pass

For what felt like forever. Think Charlie when he found his golden ticket; that was me for a solid minute. Once I came to, I ventured onto the Expo proper, took it all in…

…and ran into people I knew from Portland.

Me, Chuck 'n Heather - The Jasmine Pearl Tea Merchants

Me, Chuck ‘n Heather – The Jasmine Pearl Tea Merchants

That immediately put me at ease. After that chance meet-up, I hit the Expo floor like a china shop-hungry rhino. My four-hour exploration of the vendor booths was a blur. However, amidst my frenzy, I can remember a few highlights. There were three booths specifically that I had to hit. Why? They were folks I corresponded with prior. And they were…


I actually have an odd history with the co-owner of this outfit. We met at random in Portland prior to Expo. His start-up’s tea focus was the same as my blogging shtick – odd teas from odd growing regions, hence the “Adventure” in the title. Plus, they already earned my favor by being a seller of Greek Mountain tea, always a plus. I sampled everything they had on hand – including an exquisite Himalayan oolong.

Himalayan OolongThey also had the most distinctly original booth of all the participants at Expo, even going as far as to don safari attire. Way to commit, guys! My female compatriots also took to calling them the “hottie” booth…for whatever reason, I could only guess.


Something about thermal underwear maybe? I dunno. Women are beyond me.


And speaking of Himalayan oolong.

Nepali Tea Traders

I’ve already written about this family-run outfit twice – once for a Nepalese oolong (with the word “Yeti” in the title), and once for a pu-erh. You heard right. I finally got to shake hands with Maggie Le Beau, the owner of the op who I corresponded with. And, of course, sampled some wonderful Himalayan black and white teas.


Future write-ups are…uh…in the future.

Norbu Tea

Greg (I can’t remember his last name) was a guy I’d been meaning to track down for a while. I’d reviewed several of his teas, and had spoken to him about meeting at Expo. One problem: His booth wasn’t even listed. Well, not entirely true. He was there in a sideline capacity, promoting the Taiwanese family of farmers that grew and processed his tea.

The Tsou-Vayiyana Alishan High Mountain Tea brand. So much easier to pronounce than Norbu. If I hadn’t taken to Twitter prior to searching, I wouldn’t have found it.

Greg Norbu

Sarcasm aside. It was truly a pleasure to finally meet him in person and to sample some truly wonderful Ali Shan teas. And the best part? The ones featured weren’t oolongs, but rather a black tea and white tea. Extremely rare. Truly a taste-tester’s wet dream.


The Taiwanese family were also incredibly gracious.

Great seeing you, Greg. Next time, don’t stay so hidden. Wear a tu-tu or something.

The Charleston Tea Plantation

Mere moments after leaving the Tsou-Vayiyana booth, I saw it. In all its glory was the proto-form for American teas everywhere. A couple of years prior, I had the chance of sampling CTP’s American Classic and Governor’s Gray. Both were good. However, what they had on display trumped both of those by several spades. Their 2013 single estate first flush American Classic was available for tasting, and it…was…



Have you ever wondered how angels taste? Or patriotism?

Something like that.

American tea. F**k yeah.


In my frenzied wanderings, I received a text from Mrs. Joy’s Teaspoon herself. She mentioned that Thomas Shu was going to do an oolong baking demonstration in roughly a half-hour. I poked around a little bit to kill time, tasted some more teas, got lost in the reverie…until I realized I was running ten minutes late. Typical of me.

I cut into the giant Taiwanese tea booth, issued several kowtows and apologies, then took a seat. As a result of my less-than-inconspicuous entrance, Thomas Shu zeroed in on me. After showing us how the baking process worked, he guided us through comparing the baked and unbaked versions of an amber oolong.

Then he called me up to give my thoughts.

Me and Thomas Shu

Me and Thomas Shu

You know that feeling you used to get when your name was called while you were sleeping in class. The jolt I had was something like that. I got up nervously, took the microphone, and gave my thoughts. In the interim, Mrs. Joy’s Teaspoon snapped this still.


I sat back down, somewhat timidly. A woman across the table reassured me that I came across fine. I’m not sure exactly what I said in return, but I think it went something like this:

Cage match

She recoiled in horror.

Yep, still got it.


While participating in the Shu-led oolong tasting, I caught a tall sight out of the corner of my eye. A tall man, actually, in a black cowboy hat – strolling by contently. He stuck out quite awesomely. So much so, that I immediately recognized him. T’was Gary of Red Lodge Tea/Tea With Gary fame – a vendor and fellow blogger. I immediately ducked out of the booth.

We had discussed bumping into each other on the Expo floor, but I never thought it’d actually happen. I grilled him about his Lapsang-Earl Grey blend, and he related the entire story. Perhaps someday, I’ll reveal it to you, if he’ll let me. But only if I have permission.


Tall Montanan Is Tall


Once I was done making an absolute arse of myself on the Expo floor, the evening brought about my main excuse for coming to Vegas in the first place – The Tea Bloggers Roundtable.

Image mooched from TeawithGary.com

Image mooched from TeawithGary.com

It was an informal panel, but I was just stoked to be one of the panelists. The main subject we covered was, well, blogging about tea. Our missteps, our advice, our anecdotes. I thought it turned out rather well, and the audience turnout was better than I’d hoped.

Two dynamics occurred:

(1)    It was established that Michael J. Coffey and Robert “The Devotea” Godden were the “Abbot & Costello” of World Tea Expo.

Tea Geek and The Devotea. Tickets available.

Tea Geek and The Devotea. Tickets available.

(2)    It was also established that Chris Giddings and I were the “Beavis & Butthead” of World Tea Expo.

Beavis & Butthead Do Tea

“Beavis & Butthead Do Tea” – Pic mooched from An Int’l Tea Moment

Such is life.


Following the bloggers panel, The Devotea looked at me and said, “Are you going to the ITCC cupping?”

“I wasn’t invited,” I replied.

“I’m inviting you, let’s go.”

And off we went.

The moment I stepped through the doors, I saw a familiar face. He was an Indian man with a perma-smile on his face. The formal thing to do would’ve been to go up, introduce myself, and start a conversation. Um…that’s not what I did.

The moment I saw him, I shouted – practically at the top of my lungs, “RAJIV!!!

Me and Rajiv Lochan

Me and Rajiv Lochan

Par for course for my social skills.

You see, I’d wanted to meet the director of the Doke Tea  estate and Lochan Tea for well over two years.  And there he was, front and center. Luckily, he recognized me. Or else that would’ve been awkward.


After all the “teavents” drew to a close, a group of us bloggers went out for dinner to a place called Firefly. It didn’t take me long before I started humming the theme song to a long-gone space-western TV show. Rachel “I Heart Teas” Carter told me to stop, citing that it made her sad. I did so…once I couldn’t remember the rest of the lyrics.

As we were all deciding what to eat, we heard the distinct sound of a smart phone camera over our heads.


Tea with Gary stood over us, phone in hand, and said, “What happens in Vegas stays on Facebook.” The reaction from us was pure guffaw. How did a six-foot-something Montanan sneak up on us like that?!

Answer: Ninja training.

Without exaggeration, this was the best day of my life. And the event wasn’t even half-done.

To be continued…

In a Pickle

A week and a half ago, my brother/roommate (bro-mate?) and I decided to grab happy hour and a movie. It was our typical Tuesday outing. The theater in our neck of the woods sold cheap tickets on that day. Cheap food and good microbrews seemed a perfect pre-funk. Even if the movie was bad, the resulting fuzziness could lighten the suck factor.

Not this time, though. My brother had reign over our selection, since last week was my choice (the gods-awful Immortals). And what did he decide upon? Twilight: Breaking Dawn – Part 1. I was dumbfounded.

To be fair, I didn’t loathe the movies as most men do. Well, except the second one; that was pure alien shite. The first, however, was okay…if forgettable. The third – Eclipse – actually appealed to me on a visceral level. To its core, it was a war movie interspersed with crappy romantic moments. It also helped that it was directed by David Slade – an actual horror movie headliner.

This time around…ugh…

I could go on for pages on how awful the movie was. Even by Twilight standards, it was putrid. But that’s a subject for another blog. What I’m here to reflect on is what it did to me; that being, turn me into a blubbering manbitch.

After coming home, my brother and I got into an argument about housework. He commented that I didn’t take the garbage out correctly; I retaliated with something unintelligible. (To his credit, his argument was sound.) This went on for a good twenty minutes before ending in my passive-aggressive silence.

To escape the homebodied tension, I turned to the Internet. Unfortunately, I proceeded to get into a “dildo” fight over Twitter. Worse still? I was taking offense. To the Internet. I shut it off. What the hell was happening?

The realization hit me like a two-ton Avon delivery truck. That crapstain of a movie had vaginalized me. There was no other explanation for the whimpering pile o’ girl parts I was acting like. A cure was needed, something with a manly combination.

What is manly? I thought to myself. Something phallic? No, too gay. Something that implies “phallus”, that could work. What is shaped like a penis? Pickles! Wait, still gay. Okay…something that implies “pickles” that in-turn implies “phallus”…all for the sake of restoring manhood.

Image Owned by Norbu Tea

The answer was simple: Combat femification with something deemed feminine with a manly connotation. It was right in front of me the whole time. That same night, I reached for a bag of “pickle tea”.

To clarify, no, it was not literally tea made from pickles, rather tea leaves that had gone through a fermenting (read: pickling) process. I received a sample from Norbu Tea of a Japanese green tea that’d been on my “WANT!” list for awhile. Funny thing is, before they chimed in, I didn’t even know what the stuff was called. All I knew was that it was barrel-aged…and I wanted it for that very reason. Everything from a barrel was awesome – including monkeys.

The leaves for this stuff were huge, fanned out, lumpy, dark green, and possessed a kelpy aroma. In other words, everything a typical Japanese tea was not. There was even a vinegary aspect to the scent – not quite as offensively so as kombucha, though. Brewing instructions were also thankfully simple. This was a green tea that could take boiling water. Norbu recommended a pre-wash of ten seconds, like with a pu-erh to “open” the leaves, followed by a heaping teaspoon of leaves in a cup of fully-boiled water, infused for up to three minutes.

The result was a liquor that brewed almost completely clear save for a slight tint of yellow-green. Even the palest of white teas were darker by comparison. The aroma, however, betrayed its bold character. And its taste rounded out its odyssey of a profile. Unlike the usual vegetal, nutty, pan-fried-to-hell senchas I’ve had, this citrusy and tangy. I felt relaxed and revitalized, and a slight – er – tickle of pickle showed up on aftertaste.

This was the anti-sencha. Perfect catharsis for a movie outing that reminded me of bad sencha one finds in a conveyor belt sushi restaurant. Nutty and mulchy…like a chick flick that even women wouldn’t touch. I prepared this tea several other times until my testicular fortitude felt renewed. It took a week before I felt completely normal again, but the job was done.

I don’t apologize for being bad at machismo. I don’t regret being a male tea drinker. But I do regret subjecting myself to worst form of movie emasculation ever put to celluloid. As irony would have it, all it took was a tea to bring me out of it.

To buy Norbu Tea’s Awabancha, go HERE.

To Have the new Twilight movie spoiled for you in an entertaining way, go HERE. (There…I just saved you two hours.)

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