Back in August…What? Yes, I’m still on August. There’s a backlog of blogs to get through. Quit yer whinin’, I have to do these in order!
Back in August a local tea event came to my attention. Local tea events never come to my attention. It may come as a surprise (or not), but I do very little tea-related socializing in my neck of the woods. One could even consider me Portland’s most uncharacteristically vocal tea hermit. Heck, I may even want to put that on a “tea”-shirt.
That isn’t to say I don’t know of local tea folks. I’ve even met a few. Nearly all of them are extremely nice, and sometimes I even get invited to things they host. Case in point…
Team Tealet announced back in July that they were snaking their way up the Pacific Northwest, and that Portland was one of their intended stops. Their green-braided tea fairy, Elyse, informed me personally of this, and mere moments after, I received an invite to a tea-tasting/meet-and-greet.
Marilyn “Delights of the Heart” Miller offered her…well…delightful backyard for the event.
Photo credit: Delights of the Heart, blog
I was the first one there. Tealet brought many teas for the sampling – offerings from little-known gardens in Nepal, Assam, and even some new biodynamic Nilgiri. I’ll get back to that.
Tealet’s own “Oolong City” Rie did the pouring, co-founder Mike did the schmoozing, while Elyse elaborated upon their paradigm shift of a business model. I’d heard the spiel at World Tea Expo, but Elyse’s command of a crowd was always a sight to behold. Must’ve been the green braids. Had to be.
But, Almighty Writer, you ask, what about the teas?
Fear not, fellow reader(s?), I’m getting to that.
Of the many teas featured, all were wonderful. No, that’s not a cop-out answer; simply the truth. However, the most memorable teas came from Teaneer’s Vijayalakshmi garden in Nilgiri, India. I’ve talked about Teaneer before. Roughly a half a year ago, I had the pleasure of trying some of their greens, whites, and even a yellow tea of peculiar design. This time? My tea drunk tongue was treated to a Nilgiri take on a sheng pu-erh.
I’ll let that idea sink in for a moment.
Granted, a tea can’t be considered a “pu-erh” unless it’s been (a) fermented, and (b) hails from Yunnan Province, China. It doesn’t even meet the basic qualifications of the blanket category – Hei Cha (Dark Tea) – unless some amount of microbial change has occurred due to aging. Well…I’ll be damned if this didn’t taste like it qualified.
While the Nilgiri terroir was present on taste, everything else about it reminded me of a raw pu-erh – wilderness-y, earthy, with a developing sensation of wine. If that ain’t a heicha, I don’t know what is. I think I went in for at least two cups of the stuff.
Unique as that was, it didn’t even compare to Teaneer’s flagship black tea, which was just…so much wonderfulness. Easily the best Nilgiri black tea I’ve ever had. I one time noted that Teaneer still hadn’t reached its full potential, yet. Well, I’d like to officially amend that statement. With a declarative “YUM!”
Just like with a good microbrewery, I was the first one there, and the last one to leave. It was good catching up with some of the local folks, and even better seeing Team Tealet in their element. I also accomplished a secondary goal of networking a little bit. (Who knew?!)
I should probably get out of the house more often.
As long as the tea is good…and I get to have all of it.