I stand in front of the kitchen sink, looking out the window. There aren’t any leaves on the trees anymore. The branches look frail and longing, like thin, sad fingers reaching for something it will never touch. It starts to get pretty gloomy in Upstate New York around this time of year. The sky turns the color of ash and everything loses its color, becomes muted against the cold snow that is about to fall. The weather gets to me a little more than most people. I start to get those “winter blues” around this time of year. It doesn’t last long but it affects me. I think this year is going to be different, though. I’m drawing my comic again (after a five year hiatus), I’m in better health and shape, and I have two new things in my life that I admire, appreciate, and am a better person for knowing them. Tea and…well. Someone who I like to share my time with…and my tea.
Its a lazy Saturday. Nothing going on. Wind pants and a hoodie. Ray LaMontagne playing in the background. Tea me.
Just a little splash of warm water and swirl for 10 seconds then discard. I let it sit with the cover closed for a bit so all those aromas dance and breathe. Open the lid and-
Oh. Wow. What is THIS. Thick and heavy wheatgrass, woods. Chocolate. Its like I’m driving past a big, open field at sunset with the windows down, red and orange and warm in the sky. I smell fresh cream, cold milk. This, right here, this is why I buy Verdant. This is why I drink tea.
I smell the leaves again after steeping for the first infusion to see the difference. The slightest hint of smoke mixed with creamy, faint dark chocolate. Its grassier, sweeter this time. Artichoke and wet spinach.
The color is a sweet, light yellow, like dry, brittle hay.
Sip. I always drink my tea too hot because I get too excited. I’ve burned my tongue and the roof of my mouth and ruined my palate for an hour or so. If my mug is steaming at all, I let it rest. Flavors start to reveal themselves when the steam subsides (to me, anyway. Others might not agree). There’s, I don’t know, there’s not a “watery” but a calming mouthfeel, like a cooling numb on my tongue. Its soft. I can’t even really put it into words…which is pathetic because I have a Masters in creative writing (money well spent, Ryan). Its almost like menthol but not at all, its sweet like sugar and smooth like the sound of cornstalk leaves whispering against each other at night. What is going on in my mouth. Its a little grassy but its so light and clean. I feel like I can taste the air where this grew.
Second infusion. That sweetness is more pronounced, in the forefront. I don’t get it. Is this umami? Am i tasting something I shouldn’t or other people don’t? If so, I don’t care. Its so nice and different. I’ve never experienced this “coating” before. There’s that campfire smoke wayyyy back there and the cocoa is fading away but my god man, that mouthfeel. Am I crazy or do other people get this? This lingering, calming sweetness that stays in your mouth like a good kiss.
Wonderful. Really, really wonderful. “Iron Goddess of Mercy” has me groveling at her feet. I’m really lucky to be experiencing this.
Ya know…there are other people who have infinite more posts/reviews on this site who readers trust and follow. I know I’m not a tea expert or master blender. I’m just some guy in Rochester, NY, staring out his kitchen window, happy that I have a new appreciation for life after it went to shit a while back. Tea is a big part of my new attitude. This website, too. And whoever reads my silly words. I’m not trying to be sappy but sometimes you just have to tell the people who affect you that they do.
So thanks Steepster, Verdant, and anyone reading. This whole experience of drinking tea, thinking about it, writing it down…appreciating it. I don’t know. It feels good to feel this good again.