I was originally saving this blog space for a totally different write-up, but two occurrences have sidelined that extended anecdote. First was the advent of another Tandem Tea Tasting via Google+ Hangout, and the second…was a blog tag. And I’m not one to ever turn down either. As such, priori-“tea” dictates that I cover those before anything else.
Tandem du Hammam
It was that time again – time for another tandem tasting…over the Internet. For this session, the decided-upon tea was an offering from Palais Des Thés dubbed Thé du Hammam. (That’s a LOT of accents for one sentence.) It was a Turkish-inspired blend, or so the site implied.
At first, I wasn’t even sure I had the damn tea. My room’s tea corner was getting a little crowded, and I didn’t know if that particular tea sample – graciously provided by Jo “A Gift of Tea” Johnson – had been lost in the move back in June.
Luckily, I found it in the “new tea” grocery back. Yes, that’s how limited my organizational system is at the moment. Shush.
The usual suspects were all in attendance – Nicole, Jo, hostess Rachel, and Darlene. We all gave our impressions of the tea, but then quickly moved on to other subjects – namely overly-expensive oolongs and Lapsang Souchong variants. Rachel also showed us her brand new spawn – Ethan “ASOM!” Carter. Adorable li’l pup, he was.
Not sure how it happened, but the Hangout lasted for almost three hours. We started at 6PM, and I didn’t shut off my phone until well after 8:30PM. Subjects of discussion were a blur, but part of it was spent treasure-hunting tea sources in Taiwan. That. Was. Fun. So need to do that again.
All in all, one of the more lively Tandem episodes I’ve attended.
Cast of Characters:
Nicole Martin – Tea for Me Please
Rachel Carter – I Heart Teas
Tagged by a Tea Moment
Recently, I was tagged by Jen over at An International Tea Moment to answer a series of “origin story” questions about the beginnings of my tea journey. I can never say “no” to a good tagging.
(1) First, let’s start with how you were introduced and fell in love with the wonderful beverage of tea.
It’s…kind of an embarrassing and inappropriate story. And in true TMI fashion, I’ve already told it in full detail HERE.
Short version: It all started with male enhancement products.
(2) What was the very first tea blend you ever tried?
Stash’s Moroccan Mint. I was on a quest to find a green tea that I liked, and I hadn’t really developed a palate for…grass. Moroccan Mint was the first thing I came across that made me go, Hrm, I could get used to this.
(3) When did you start your tea blog and what was your hope for creating it?
The first tea blog I ever wrote was actually posted on Myspace back in ’07. That led me to seek out a tea review site (Teaviews) to contribute to. I made a few tea-related posts on my personal website, but they never quite “fit” with the rest of my geek rants. So, I opened up Steep Stories on Tea Trade in April of ’11.
When I started, I had no aim for the blog. Still kinda don’t. Slowly but surely, though, the articles started focusing on teas with unique stories to them. And that’s the niche I stuck with. Mostly…-ish.
To explore strange, new teas.
(4) List one thing most rewarding about your blog and one thing most discouraging.
Encouraging: I seem to have developed a bit of a name for myself in the tea community, and I owe it all to the blog. Some even look at me as an authority of some sort. (Shhhh! Don’t tell ’em the truth!)
Discouraging: Readership. As in, there isn’t one. Tea is such a niche subject still, no matter how many claim that it’s entered the mainstream. Most normal folks aren’t interested in reading stories centered around a “dead leaf beverage”. Let alone from a man. So, finding an audience has been the most discouraging aspect.
(5) What type of tea are you most likely to be caught sipping on?
It changes with the season, but recently I’ve been on a full-on oolong kick. I have a relatively stressful (and low-paying) job. And I need all the “happy” I can get. Oolong is instant happy juice.
(6) Favorite tea latte to indulge in?
London Fog. Earl Grey concentrate blended with steamed milk and vanilla syrup. Nothing like it.
(7) Favorite treat to pair with your tea?
(8) If there was one place in the world that you could explore tea culture at, where would it be and why?
The entire planet. I want to go on an international trip exploring every weird tea region I can. And hopefully die in a tea drunken stupor in the process – naked on some “shan” in Yunnan province, China.
(9) Any tea time ritual you have that you’d like to share?
Before I head to work, I tend to brew tea by the pint. Two teaspoons in 16-oz. of water. I have a preference for teas that can put up with a lot of neglect. Sometimes, I’ll leave a tea steeping while I’m in the shower. Then I’ll drink it on the go.
(10) Time of day you enjoy drinking tea the most: Morning, Noon, Night or Anytime?
(11) What’s one thing you wish for tea in the future?
I hope to be alive when the U.S. develops its own unique cultivar.
And now, it’s my turn to tag people.
– Naomi and Audrea of Joy’s Teaspoon. Because I think it’d be hilarious for you two to do a blog like that as a duo.
– Gary Robson. Because…mountain kilts. And poop books.
– Michael J. Coffey. Because I’m surprised no one has tagged him, yet.
– Natasha the Snooty Tea Person. Because I need to hear this superheroine origin story.