It is done! I found this tutorial (here) for treating new wood to make it look like aged wood, and it was amazing!
In the original instructions, it indicates that the longer you let the vinegar/steel wool mix sit, the darker the final color will be. I wanted it dark so I let it sit two days with the steel wool (then another day or two, without the steel wool, waiting for me to get in gear and paint it onto the wood).. so my mixture was well simmered.
Here it is before doing anything:
This is after the tea (i also doubled the ratio with the tea – used two bags of tea in one cup of water, just in case it might aid in making it darker in the end).. It didn’t really change, just looked wet..
Here it is, after the final stage:
The front side is even better!
Now I just need a bit of rope for my bit of fence and I’ll have weathered wood backdrop for picture taking!