216 Tasting Notes
A great iced tea in a 1:2 part mix with Khumbu Green from The Tea Table:
Ah-hah, there’s a good mix: this Khumbu Green with the Ceylon Black with Orange that I recently picked up from the DeKalb Farmer’s Market makes an excellent iced tea. I think it helps that the Ceylon Black has a really strong tea flavor as an iced tea, so the deep earthiness of the Khumbu doesn’t just bowl it over. I used a 2:1 mix of Khumbu and Ceylon, and the orange flavoring on the Ceylon was very muted, a nice little hint behind the tea but not an overwhelming orange drink with some tea in it. (Also, the Ceylon cold-brews a nice golden, so this mix isn’t as pale as the pure Khumbu was! And the mingled leaves were really really pretty — I’ll photograph them next time I make this.)
Recipe of tasty tastiness:
1. Pour a glass of cold fizzy water.
2. Add a small handful of fresh raspberries.
3. Add a quarter of a spoonful of matcha.
4. Add a quarter of a spoonful of honey.
5. Stir/mash/muddle it all up.
6. Aaaaaaaaah, that’s good.
p.s. Fear not, the adventures of Cait the Cleric will resume soon!
I got curious and tore open one of the packets to try brewing this hot, and I don’t like it any better. The pomegranate which smells so lovely on the leaves has a very dry and artificial taste to it — the last word I’d ever use to describe it would be “juicy”, and probably the second-to-last would be “sweet”. It’s tragic, really!
D&D&Tea, day 1, roll 3: 13
“So,” Rabs said, holding out a new scroll and quill for Cait to take, “ready for the last one for today? Then you’ll probably need to rest up a bit.”
“Sure!” Cait said gamely. “Bring it on!”
Rabs held cupped hands up to the innkeeper, who was still watching them with amusement. “Care to pick again, m’lady?”
She tapped her fingers together for luck and poked downward. “There!”
“Ah!” said Rabs, and Cait braced herself. “Shall we see if thirteen proves lucky?”
“I’m ready!” Cait said, but her words were drowned out by the clatter of a six-legged carriage stomping down the street. Another one rumbled behind it, and a faster two-legged machine raced between them and was away before Cait could blink. All around her, people swarmed in and out of tiny shops carrying tiny parcels; the smell of spices, shocking after the bright floral notes from the jungle, suddenly washed away as if they had never been. A scarf flew by in the rising wind, then a bonnet, then most of a penny dreadful, and the shoppers around Cait fled before the cold cutting air.
The sky darkened — no, the sky filled with a flock of birds, cawing in strange grating voices to each other. One swooped down at Cait, who dodged it. Three more followed, and Cait paid for a strike which knocked one from the air with a slice across her shoulder. The bird hit the cobblestones with a metallic crunch, and Cait stared as it burst apart and spilled wires and cogs into the street. More birds were wheeling about, and Cait raised her club and set her jaw.
“Over here, lassie!” someone yelled, and Cait sprinted for the open door. The inside was dark and warm, and as the door slammed shut behind her she could hear birds strike it with tinkling crashes. With a rasp, a lantern on a table flickered into light. “Now then,” said her rescuer, “why were you standing out there like a fool?”
“I didn’t know what they were,” Cait said. “I still don’t.”
Her rescuer, a big woman with her shirtsleeves rolled up and three different hammers stuck through loops in her belt, didn’t look impressed by this ignorance. “And what are you doing running around in robes? Are you some kind of cultist, then?” Cait clutched at her steaming-teapot taliman and drew breath to explain that she was a cleric, but the woman suddenly barked out a laugh. “Ah, one of those tea-worshippers! You lot are okay. Go on downstairs, then.”
Cait followed her gesture left, seeing a dark doorway that might lead to steps, and turned back only to find the room empty again. She opened her mouth, closed it, and took the lantern. Through the doorway and down the stairs, down, down, and down. The walls sometimes seemed to vibrate softly with the hum of some machinery, hopefully something that was keeping them safe from those mechanical birds. Finally she reached a low, dark cellar that seemed to stretch out endlessly into the earth. Along the near wall were hearths with chimneys drawing upward, and in each hearth was a cauldron.
“All that steam has to come from something, doesn’t it?” said a voice, and Cait jumped, seeing the same woman suddenly beside her again. Although, at a second glance, she might be carrying different hammers. “Here,” she said, holding out a hand for Cait’s mug and scooping liquid from the first cauldron into it. “I think you’ll find this one suits.”
“Thank you,” Cait said, but the woman was already gone again. With a sigh, Cait bent her head over the mug and breathed deeply. This was pure essence of tea, wonderful to smell, and Cait was sure its steam could power any number of marvels. The first sip was thick without being heavy; it felt round and full on her tongue. Cait set the lantern down and wandered with her mug, letting the soft earthiness of the tea meld with the warmth and darkness of her surroundings and the arcane hum of the machinery. Each sip lingered, warm and comforting, and the last cooling drop was as good as the first had been.
When her mug was empty, Cait drew out the scroll and quill and let the runes flow: the crosshatched earth, the glowing embers, the soft curves for subtle sweetness like honey combined with the strong posts that could support so much. Then, peacefully, she snapped the quill.
“You look satisfied,” Rabs said from her seat by the fire.
“I am,” Cait said, and she made a bow to the wizard. “Thank you very much for this adventure.”
D&D&Tea, day 1, roll 2: 7
Cait sat down in the proffered chair with a heavy thump. “Ow,” she muttered. “You didn’t say anything about there being undead guarding the magic for your scrolls.”
The hood of Rabs’ cloak tipped in a way reminiscent of a secretive wizard hiding an eyeroll. “Why did you think I needed an adventurer?” she asked, and pushed a new scroll and quill across the table to Cait.
The innkeeper came by with a mug of cider, set it down by the wizard’s elbow, and gave Cait a sympathetic look. “Are they all so dangerous?” she asked. “I mean, this is why I have these adventurers pay for the whole week up front, but this seems a little harsh.”
Rabs snorted. “Here,” she said, and held up her cupped hands for the innkeeper’s inspection. “You pick the next one, then.” The innkeeper poked dubiously through something that Cait couldn’t see. “That one?”
“No, no,” said the innkeeper. “How about there?”
“Hmm, the seventh facet,” Rabs said. “Very well!”
Cait blinked as the air thickened around her. Then, with emphatic care, she stood up from the chair and drew her club. This one appeared to be a jungle filled with the heady fragrance of flowers in bloom.
“This is lovely,” Cait said, and braced herself.
“Hmm,” Cait said, and stopped to just breathe in the flowers for a few moments. Revitalized, she chose a direction and began picking her way through the tangled vines. A beautiful line of blue flowers ran past her feet like a stream, and she crouched down to admire them. Above her head, jaws snapped shut and something growled angrily.
Cait didn’t shriek this time (any slight squeaking noise was surely your imagination). She whirled around and drove her club hard into the throat of the —
Well. She whirled around and struck, glancing the very tip of her club off of a heavy vine that writhed away. Beside her face, a pugnacious purple-mottled jaw dropped open again to reveal a row of vegetative yet extremely vicious teeth. Cait rolled to the side and struck at the vine again, this time barely bruising the thick greenery. However, it bought her time to reach into her bag, pull out a bag of salt, and dump it into the maw of the cleric-eating plant. With one last writhe, the plant wilted to the ground. Behind it, Cait could see that the stream of blue-flowering plants appeared to be pouring from another cauldron. Eagerly she approached this one and scooped up a mug. Then, remembering the previous tea, she pulled out a different bag and shook a small twist’s worth of sugar into the mug.
Holding it up, she took a deep breath. Yes, the floral richness of the blue flowers was wafting from the steam of the tea as well. A cautious sip broke open a lovely sweetness and Cait smiled, sipping peacefully as the warmth of the tea washed through her. As it cooled, though, the sweetness began to turn cloying. Heaviness dragged at her limbs, and she shook it off and paced, returning to the tea only to find it cooler and sweeter than before.
As she turned again, a sharp scent broke through the air and Cait turned, about to welcome the change when she recognized the blood orange from the earlier tea, a last remnant perhaps of her spell to detect the undead as the carnivorous vine rose up again, swaying before her on its weakened stalk. The jaws seemed to part with foul laughter and then, even as Cait reached for her traveling mug of holy water, it turned and slithered away.
Grimly, Cait lifted her mug of tea and drank the cold liquid down. She pulled the scroll out of her bag and, lifting its quill, bordered it with arrows of urgency and sweetened it only with licks of flame through the middle. Then she stopped, looked down at the bubbling blue flowers, and threw rune-petals of joy and delight out from the middle to meet those ominous borders and give them meaning. With one last smile for the blossoms, she snapped the quill and reformed at the inn.
“That was nice,” she said to Rabs and the innkeeper. “Thank you! But you know, you’re going to have to do something about all of those chairs I keep losing.”
D&D&Tea, day 1, roll 1: 1
Yawning, Cait staggered across the room and slung herself onto a barstool. The innkeeper rolled her eyes and wordlessly pushed a steaming hot mug of pu-erh into Cait’s hands.
“Thanks,” Cait mumbled, inhaling gratefully.
“Someone over there’s been looking for you,” the innkeeper said. She waved toward the back of the room and Cait saw a robed figure turn and stare in her direction.
“Thanks,” Cait said again, and slid off the barstool a little more gracefully than she’d arrived. “Mind if I join you?” she asked the robed figure.
“I’ve been hoping you would,” the wizard — it had to be a wizard — said. “My name is Rabs. I’m looking for the winner of last week’s tournament.”
Cait puffed up. “Why, that was me! News must travel fast.” She took the other chair at the table and did her best to look heroic.
Rabs sighed. “Actually, I meant to be here to see the finale — there were gremlins in the — look, don’t get me started.”
“No, never mind. Here we are now. So! What I need is an adventurer.”
This was it! This was the big break that everyone talked about! Sitting here in this inn all week waiting for mysterious quests had finally paid off! “Well!” Cait said, still puffed up. “You’ve found one!”
The hood of Rabs’ cloak tipped forward. “A hardcore adventurer?” she asked.
Cait clasped one hand around her steaming-teapot talisman and patted her trusty club with the other. “I’m ready for anything!”
“Are you ready for this?” Rabs asked, and spread her hands apart. Between them swirled a vision of a deceptively simple chest whose lid rose to reveal bright treasures inside.
Cait gasped. Rabs smiled and flicked her fingers again. The chest tipped to the side and its wealth poured out in shining jewel tones.
“What must I do?” cried Cait.
Rabs set her hands palm-down on the table. When she lifted them away, a scroll and quill rested there. “I desire a set of magical scrolls,” she said. “I can send you to the magic, but you must inscribe them and return each one to me.” Carefully, Cait lifted the scroll and quill and tucked them into her bag. “When this scroll is ready, snap the quill and you will return here. Now go!” she cried, and Cait realized that her chair was actually sitting in a circle of matcha—
…and, now, was sitting in the middle of the woods. “Time’s a-wasting, I suppose,” Cait said. “Now which way do I go from—”
This was, of course, when the zombies attacked.
They lurched out of the brush, a bare armslength away, and Cait had her opportunity for her first heroic act as a questing adventurer, which turned out to be shrieking at the top of her lungs, tangling one foot in the inn chair, and falling on top of the zombies. The zombies toppled onto her, painfully heavy, and Cait shrieked again, lashing out with her fists until she could get her hands free to pull out her traveling mug, unscrew the top, and douse the monsters with holy water. The zombies screeched and steamed — it was hot holy water — and Cait swung her club in two short, deadly arcs.
“I,” Cait said, “am so glad to be working alone instead of in a party of people who would have witnessed that.” Then she turned and walked into the woods in the direction from which the zombies had lurched—
…only to find her feet sliding out from under her as she tumbled down the hillside and thumped against a rotting stump—
…from which swarmed hundreds of angry bees.
“AAAAAAARGH!” screamed Cait, and started running. To the left, there was a smell of something pungent, and she ran straight into a cloud of the sourest fumes she’d ever known. Fortunately, the bees didn’t. In the center of a hollow, a cauldron bubbled softly.
Feeling a tingling from her shoulder bag, Cait drew out the scroll and quill (thankfully unbroken). “This is the magic I was sent for?” she said. “What do I do?”
The cauldron bubbled. Cait bit her lip, then held out a hand to try detecting poison. The spell was slow to answer and seemed a bit uncertain, but there didn’t seem to be any other options. Shrugging, Cait scooped up a bit of the contents into her mug and sipped.
“Yeoooow!” she said, then grabbed her own tongue and muttered, “C’re ’ight ’oundth.” Just like a novice cleric in her first tea ceremony. So heroic. Sighing, she blew across the top and took a more cautious sip. Tart, very tart, but juicy enough underneath to work with. She nodded to herself and worked her careful way back to the tree stump with the bees. They had quieted, and Cait was able to nab a piece of honeycomb and dunk it into the tea. Yes, much better. The honey definitely brought out the apple undertones and gave the tea a better texture in the mouth. Pleased, she drained her cup and, as she tipped back the dregs, felt the magical runes explode into her mind. She scribbled them down across the scroll — the jagged strokes of the orange, the soft curlicues of the apple, the dark swirl of warning with the strong hexes of honey around it — and then paused, quill ready to snap, as something moved in the misty fumes.
“Detect Undead,” Cait whispered nervously, and the fumes seemed to light up all around her with the tangy orange signatures that would now and forever characterize zombies, she knew. Eyes wide, she clenched her fist around the quill until it snapped and found herself standing beside Rabs’ table back at the inn.
“Excellent!” cried Rabs. “Sit, sit, you look tired. I’ve pulled up another chair.”
Hmm, I’ll bump this up a little for being a decent mug-brewed tea — I dropped six leaves into a mug and poured hot water over it, and the result was extremely smooth and nicely sweet — but there is still no bergamot to be tasted in it. Maybe I have a batch that missed the flavoring? Although given that steeping for two minutes brings out bitterness and leaving the leaves in the mug for a few hours makes the tea smooth and sweet, there must be something going on in there….