An unusual conversation convinces Ponyville's premier tea merchant to embark on a journey to find a tea plant with magic powers. To find ... the Scary Purple Dragon Tea! Or was it White Dragon Bush? Epic Tea Leaves? Oh brother ...
Tealove travels from the skies above Equestria, to the caves below, to its darkest, most dangerous forests. She contends with monsters, trolls, mad scientists, insane cultists, and teammates who aren't what they seem. But the greatest threat Tealove faces on her quest is the complete lack of consistency. The backstories, motivations, and allegiances of everypony she meets change at the drop of a hat. It's almost like she's being written by a team of authors who aren't communicating with each other at all. Who can Tealove trust, when she can't even keep the most basic details of her own quest straight?
Experience the madness here.
It also has a loose sequel, Diamond and Silver's Excellent Adventure, which follows a different set of protagonists but resumes a lot of the unresolved plot threads from this story.
Provides examples of:
- Alternate Universe Fic: In this version of Equestria, Applejack has a secret science lab, and she's been in conflict with an evil cultist who's secretly Pinkie Pie for some time. Apple Bloom is some kind of artificial being who AJ created. And the events of Derailed are still canon, too.
- Artificial Family Member: Apple Bloom is a "failed science experiment", not a normal pony, but is still regarded as Applejack's younger sister.
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Tealove's train ride is abruptly cut short when a giant turtle attacks.
- Batter Up!: Libra carries a baseball bat and is not afraid to use it. Rather improbably, she modified this bat by attaching a dozen rubber ducks to the hitting end.
- The Cameo: Very briefly, with no explanation and no comment from the other characters, Snowdrop replaces Snowcatcher during the tea party.
- Continuity Nod: Even though continuity within this story has more holes than a colander, three different authors reference the events of Derailed, establishing that this is a sequel. Vinyl Scratch mentions that her prior roommate, Octavia, moved into the Royal Castle at Canterlot, while Big Mac and Applejack mention the aliens that attacked Sweet Apple Acres.
- Cool Airship: Minty travels via a hot-air balloon that can transform into a glider. How does it even work? Magic.
- Cosmic Deadline: The sections leading up to the end do nothing but escalate the conflict—then an abrupt Deus ex Machina resolves the story out of nowhere. The Real Life cause for this: several of the people who were signed up to write chapters near the end, dropped out with little warning. So the only author who knew the story was almost over was the guy writing the very last chapter. And that guy was under a time crunch:I abruptly ended my chapter because I felt that time was wearing on and I needed to get it out asap. I should probably have done more with it but I'm glad I sent it out when I did because with the way my week is going it still wouldn't be finished if I had delayed it any further.
- Covers Always Lie: The cover art (pictured above) was deliberately made to be technically accurate but completely misleading. Yes, Minty and Snowcatcher are in this story, but they don't have any sort of romantic relationship. There's a cave troll in the story, but not a Homestuck troll; there's a cultist in the story, but not a Final Fantasy cultist; and there's a Baron Zeppeli in the story, but not the one from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure.
- Crippling Overspecialization: Snowcatcher's special talent is catching snowflakes. She says outright that she's not going to be much help on Tealove's quest. For some reason, she comes along anyway.
- Cuckoo Nest: Libra can't remember her life prior to the cave troll's captivity, and she tries to convince all the other captives that the cave is all that exists—anything they think they remember outside the cave was just a hallucination. They don't find her argument very convincing.
- Description in the Mirror: Subverted. Tealove looks in the mirror, and there's a paragraph-long description of the pony looking back at her, followed by: "In short, it looked nothing like her." (It's actually Pinkie Pie in the mirror)
- Deus ex Machina: Faced with a seemingly unstoppable enemy, Applejack calls for Fluttershy, who appears from nowhere (apparently she was hiding behind a cart the entire time) and summons fruit bats to save everypony.
- Easy Amnesia: Libra lost all her memories from eating one of the red flowers, but simply mentioning those flowers again was enough to completely restore her.
- Eating the Eye Candy: Tealove really appreciates the view as she walks behind Big Macintosh in the forest.
- The End... Or Is It?:‘‘Wow.’’ said Skylark. ‘‘Anypony think we’ve seen the last of [the cultist]?’’
‘‘Nah, probably not’’ said Applejack.
- 11th-Hour Ranger: Applejack and the rest of her family join the adventurers just in time for the Cultist's final attack. And then during the attack, Fluttershy shows up to save the day.
- Faux Horrific:
You monster!” Snowcatcher screamed. “My mane’s already fabulous! I don’t need your help!”
- Snowcatcher's reaction to Big Jim brushing her mane.
“What is this?” she said, wiping her mouth off.
- Tealove's reaction to Big Jim's tea.
“It’s tea, silly!” Libra took another sip from her own cup.
“No, this isn’t! This is a crime against taste. This is an abomination. This is the stuff that tea growers tell campfire horror stories about!” She sniffed her cup, then recoiled. “Oh Celestia, he really did it. He reheated cold tea.”
- Gambit Roulette: Tealove and Snowcatcher's trip through the mountains, including their capture and escape from a cave troll, is somehow exactly according to Baron Zeppeli's plan.
- Gotta Catch 'Em All: If the cultist can get ahold of all three Epic Tea Leaves, she can brew a magic tea that will make her more powerful than all the princesses combined. Naturally, our heroes can't let that happen.
- Green Thumb: At the end, the cultist summons mobile plants to attack the protagonists.
- Heart Is an Awesome Power: Tealove's passion and special talent is brewing tea. She makes this useful in the last fight against the cultist: she brews a tea that can heal her wounded teammates, and she uses the boiling water as a weapon.
- Hulk Speak: Big Jim the cave troll. He never speaks more than three words in a row, and rarely forms complete sentences. However, Libra insists that his "GRUUUUUUH"s are actually very nuanced.
- Innocent Innuendo: In the scene immediately after the escape from the cave troll, the dialogue and narration are suddenly crammed to bursting with Double Entendres. Nothing remotely risque actually happens, and the real topics of conversation are completely innocuous.
- Love at First Sight: A one-sided case. Tealove falls in love, hard, the first time she lays eyes on Big Macintosh. Big Mac doesn't reciprocate until much later.
- Low-Speed Chase: Tealove and Minty flee in a hot-air balloon, and Baron Zeppeli pursues in a literal lead zeppelin. Neither vehicle is particularly fast. When Minty transforms the balloon into an unpowered glider, that's enough of a speed boost enough to escape.
- Mad Scientist: Baron Zeppeli wishes to experiment on Tealove and change her eye color. His two lab assistants, Cherry Pie and Waterfire, are even crazier than him.
- Mathematician's Answer:
"But what are you really?", asked Tealove. "Are you a ticket that can turn into a pony, or a pony that can turn into a ticket?"
- As Tealove wonders what exactly Minty is:
“Oaf? Oh, you mean the cave troll?” the white pony said. “Big Jim isn’t an oaf! He’s a real sweetheart. You just have to try to understand him.”
- In the cave troll's lair:
“GRUUUUUUUUUH,” Big Jim said. He scratched his armpit.
“Okay,” Tealove said. “Help us understand him. What did he just say?”
The white pony thought carefully, then answered, “He said, ‘Gruh.’”
- Mentor Archetype: Baron Zeppeli is introduced as this, but he gets wildly reinterpreted in the scenes immediately following.
- Moment Killer: As everypony celebrates the defeat of the giant pear tree:‘‘Pear-fect!’’ said Snowcatcher, looking very pleased at her pun.
‘‘Pear-fect?’’ snarked Libra. ‘‘Princess prancing Celestia, way to kill the mood Snowcatcher.’’
- Mythology Gag: Zeppeli's scheme to change Tealove's eye color is a nod to her inconsistent eye color in the tie-ins. The original Tealove toys had pink eyes, but when she appeared in the IDW comic, she had blue eyes.
- Never Trust a Title: In spite of promising "Steamy Adventure", this is Insaneponyauthor's tamest story to date, and the only one to get an "everyone" rating on Fimfic.
- Not Worth Killing: A hooded unicorn attacks the protagonists in the forest, knocking Colt Skylark, Libra, and Snowcatcher unconscious. He decides Tealove isn't a threat and ignores her to deliver a killing blow to Libra instead. Tealove attacks while he's ignoring her, distracting him just long enough for Libra to wake up again and take him out for good.
- O.C. Stand-in: Snowcatcher is based on a toyline-only pony. Tealove was originally based on a toyline-only pony too, but became a Canon Foreigner in the comics. Either way, large parts of both their personalities were invented from whole cloth for this fic.
- Orcus on His Throne: After directly menacing Tealove and Minty in one scene, Baron Zeppeli simply sits back, watches events unfold, strokes his pet cat, twirls his moustach, and ominously declares that everything is going according to his plan.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Big Tiny Little takes the cake for lazy impersonation. He tries to impersonate Colt Skylark, who he looks nothing like, and he doesn't even wear a disguise. He just uses Insane Troll Logic to argue that he really is Colt.
- Rant-Inducing Slight: While in Big Jim's captivity, Tealove endures being treated like a toy for several hours. What finally makes her snap at Big Jim is the bad tea he serves at the tea party.
- Rescue Romance: Big Mac is initially rather put off by Tealove's advances. Then she rescues him, pulling him away from the front lines when he gets injured during the last fight. After the fight, they celebrate by making out.
- "Save the World" Climax: At the beginning: Tealove goes on a trip to find some rare tea leaves as a favor for a friend. At the end: Tealove and her friends battle to prevent the Cultist from using those rare tea leaves to conquer Equestria.
- Science Hero: Applejack has a secret science lab, and is apparently Ponyville's best hope of defeating the evil cultist.
- Shipper on Deck: Big Jim shouts "SHIP PONAYS!" as he picks up Tealove and Snowcatcher, then tries to mash their faces together.
- Shout-Out: See here.
- Speaks In Shoutouts: Apple Bloom is an artificial pony, and due to some kind of mistake she communicates entirely through song lyrics. She quotes The Beatles, Chumbawamba, Thomas Dolby, The Transformers: The Movie soundtrack, and R.E.M. in rapid succession.
- Spot of Tea: As you might guess from her name, Tealove really loves tea. The entire plot kicks off when she recommends a specific tea blend to help Pinkie Pie feel better. At several points later in the story, she deals with stress by brewing a pot.
- Stylistic Suck: The cover, in addition to not being entirely accurate, was deliberately kludged together by simply copy-pasting different pictures on top of each other.
- Summon Bigger Fish: Menaced by a giant, mobile pear tree, the heroes ask Fluttershy to summon a swarm of fruit bats. The bats make short work of the pear tree.
- Treacherous Advisor: The story stops just shy of saying outright that Pinkie Pie is the evil cultist, the final villain of the story. Pinkie was also the one who sent Tealove on the quest in the first place and gave her advice for the trip.
- Undead Author:[Pinkie Pie said,] “Don’t you know that the Eight Sea is patrolled by the Dread Pirate Pipsqueak? He never leaves anypony alive!”
Tealove had not in fact heard this. She was a bit skeptical. Really? If he never leaves anypony alive, how do you know?”
“Because he told me! Duh!”
- Villain: "Exit, Stage Left!": After her minions are defeated, the cultist flees the scene—on a Segway, no less—and the heroes don't even try to chase her.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Minty can shift back and forth between the form of a pony, and that of a train ticket.
- Western Zodiac: Libra's motivated to "maintain balance", and she's on a first-name basis with Capricorn and Virgo.
- When Trees Attack: The cultist's final, Giant Mook is a mobile pear tree. “Cower! And dis’ pear!”
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Subverted. The duchess ominously tells Colt Skylark that the time has come to terminate him... but she's just talking about terminating his employment. In other words, firing him.