The 12 Teas of Christmas: The fifth day is golden

On the Fifth Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me

five golden rings!

Unfortunately, not the kind you wear on your finger. Sigh.

Rather, another gift of food, as in ring-necked pheasant, according to C. Nugent (2016). Which may not be nearly as appreciated by your true love, no matter how sincere your gesture.

But here’s another golden choice: China Golden Yunnan!

mug-with-mitten-web

This black tea comes from China’s Yunnan Province, the birthplace of tea. Plucked from ancient plants that have thick soft leaves and large buds, Yunnan is also known as hongcha or “red tea.”

The umber and olive leaves are interspersed with golden slivers, making a very pretty loose leaf tea.

brew-web

The dark copper-colored brew yields an intriguing cup. It’s a bit toasty, a bit smoky, with definite tones of truffle or mushroom. It has a smooth finish with an enduring woodiness.

More on Those Pheasants

Ring-necked or common pheasants are native to China and East Asia. It’s not clear exactly how or when these beautiful birds were introduced to England, but Phoenician traders or the Romans are possibilities (Yardley 2015).

pheasant-web

Either way, pheasants are first recorded in 1059:

[with] an order of King Harold who offered the canons of Waltham Abbey a “commons” pheasant as an alternative to a brace of partridges as a specific privilege of their office. (Yardley 2015)

In 1465, the inauguration banquet of the Archbishop of York included 200 pheasants (along with porpoises and seals no less!), and in 1532, Henry VIII “appears to have kept a French priest as a ‘fesaunt breeder'” (Yardley 2015).

Today, ring-necked pheasants are still prized as game birds, golden rings are still prized as tokens of love, and Golden Yunnan is still prized as an intriguing tea.


China Golden Yunnan is available at TeaHaus.

Read more:
On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . .
Five golden rings
Four calling birds
Three French hens
Two turtle doves
and a partridge in a pear tree


Sources:
Nugent, C. “On the fifth day of Christmas,” Hub Pages, December 22, 2016.
Yardley, M. “The history of the pheasant,” The Field, October 9, 2015.

Advertisements

The 12 Teas of Christmas: On the 4th day, calling all tea lovers

On the Fourth Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me

definitely not calling birds. Because they don’t exist, now or ever.

birds-web

Rather, the Middle Ages had collie or colly birds, or blackbirds—as in black like coal, since colliery meant coal mine (Nugent 2016).

The English actually used both names, “blackbird” and “collie/colly,” but eventually, only “blackbird” was commonly used in America and Australia. The song in these countries then morphed “collie” into “calling,” even though calling birds were never a real thing.

But in the spirit of blackbirds on this fourth day, savor a classic black tea.

Here I have English Westminster, one of my go-to’s when I want a solid black tea.

westminster-leaves-web

A mix of Assam, Java, and Ceylon, it is strong without being bitter, and makes an ideal breakfast tea.

brew-web

By the way, if you are wondering why anyone would be gifted with a blackbird, think about the nursery rhyme, Sing a Song of Sixpence, with its “four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.”

Like the partridge and French hens, this commonly found bird may have been a gift of food; as Nugent (2016) explains:

In times past in Great Britain, pies were a convenient way to serve and eat a meal with the meat, potatoes and any vegetables all cooked together in an easy to handle crust (forks not having been invented at that time, table utensils consisted of knives, spoons and one’s fingers).

Gifts of food remain embedded in our culture—but a terrific black tea will certainly be preferred over those collie birds!


English Westminster tea is available from TeaHaus.

Read earlier posts:
On the Fourth Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me . . .
Four calling birds
Three French hens
Two turtle doves
and a Partridge in a pear tree


Source: Nugent, C. “On the fourth day of Christmas,” Hub Pages, December 23, 2016.

The 12 Teas of Christmas: Worth clucking about

On the Third Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me

. . . supper?

Well, frankly, I’ll take that in a heartbeat! As long as I don’t have to shop for it, cook it, serve it, or clean up after it.

glass-chicken-web

Chickens—French hens or otherwise—have been domesticated for centuries but until more recently, served many non-culinary purposes. Think of cock fighting, fortune telling, as symbol of fertility (hen) and virility (rooster).

As the legend goes, the relationship between human and poultry began in the fifth century BC in Greece, when

Athenian general Themistocles, on his way to confront the invading Persian forces, stopped to watch two cocks fighting and summoned his troops, saying: “Behold, these do not fight for their household gods, for the monuments of their ancestors, for glory, for liberty or the safety of their children, but only because one will not give way to the other.” (Smithsonian Magazine 2012)

Okay, that really doesn’t say much for the intelligence of cocks.

But anyway, it wasn’t until the 20th century that chickens became a major source of food. Before that, people kept a few chickens around for eggs and the occasional meal.

At the time The 12 Days of Christmas was written, hens would have been part of feasts—particularly when the hunt for game birds didn’t go so well—with three primary varieties of chickens in France.3-hens-weblavender-webSo in the spirit of France, consider fragrant lavender.

If you love intensely floral teas, brew this French lavender straight up.

For just a touch of floral flavor, add a bit of lavender to another tea blend.

Once brewed, enjoy the intoxicating lavender aroma. This herb yields a pale cup, shown here with lavender foliage.

brew-web


Lavender available from TeaHaus.

See earlier posts:
Partridge in the pear tree
Two turtle doves


Sources:
Lawler, A. and J. Adler. “How the chicken conquered the world,” Smithsonian Magazine, June 2012.
Nugent, C. “On the third day of Christmas,” Hub Pages, December 22, 2016.

The 12 Teas of Christmas: Romantic turtle doves

On the Second Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me

dove-webtwo turtle doves, of course!

Symbol of love, but perhaps a bit predictable, as suggested by this:

Known as a symbol of love because of its tender mating song and faithfulness, the turtle dove is also a creature of habit: its daily feeding routine runs like clockwork.

I guess faithfulness and predictability may go hand in hand, but still, an unexpected romantic tea by candlelight definitely has its charm.

And what better tea to serve than one with a name evoking romance and the warm, sunny happiness of love: Summer Romance.

dry-1

This luscious fruit tea is a mixture of apple, rose hips, hibiscus blossoms, elderberries, strawberry, raspberry, strawberry leaves, and vanilla, which means it is naturally caffeine free.

summer-rom-brew

The tea brews into an intense deep red cup brimming with fruit flavors, a balance of sweet and tangy.

Share this loving blend of sweet fruit with a special friend, no matter what the season!

turtle-doves-web

And perhaps spare a thought for those gentle turtle doves.

Illustrated here as a pair, perhaps referring to their habit of mating for life, they are a picture of fidelity and domesticity. It’s up to the male to decide where to build the nest, but both male and female build it. They also share the responsibilities of feeding their babies.

The happily matched doves remind us of tenderness, love, faithfulness—everyday joys that we wish for our true love and for all those we love.


Summer Romance is available at TeaHaus.

Read about the Partridge in the Pear Tree.


Source: “Turtle dove (birds),” What-When-How.

The 12 Teas of Christmas: So about that partridge in the pear tree. . . .

Having been subjected to—or enjoying (your choice here)—holiday music for several looong months, it’s time to co-opt at least one song for our own purposes! So I’m picking on The 12 Days of Christmas, which itself subverted the original meaning of those twelve days.

As WhyChristmas? explains:

The 12 Days of Christmas start on Christmas Day and last until the evening of the 5th January. . . . [They] have been celebrated in Europe since before the middle ages. . . . The 12 Days each traditionally celebrate a feast day for a [Christian] saint and/or have different celebrations.

So I retain the celebration of the original 12 Days, and the gift-giving spirit of the song—for this celebration of tea.

Because tea involves community, ritual, health, friendship, celebration—all good things to enjoy as we move into the winter season.

On the First Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me

photo of pear tea and pears for

Because of course you have to start with day one, which originally, in the Christian tradition, was to celebrate the birth of Jesus—but now is a partridge in a pear tree.

Which is something that I have never seen. Do partridges ever roost in pear trees?

Regardless, pears have been enjoyed since pretty much forever, and have been cultivated already in antiquity. Their sweetness pairs well with green tea, as in this green aroma tea blend, Sweet Pear, which includes pear pieces and orange blossoms.

sweet-pear-leaves-web

The brew proves how beautifully pear fruitiness blends with orange blossom floral.

sweet-pear-brew-web

And as far as partridges go, they are a game bird native to the Old World and were introduced to Virginia in 1889.

chukar partridge

They make their nests on the ground and tend to run rather than fly, making the pear tree thing suspicious. However, their proclivity for cultivated areas may include fruit trees after all.

Either way, Sweet Pear tea is a fitting gift for your true love, or yourself, any day of the holiday season! Available at TeaHaus.


Sources:
“The 12 days of Christmas,” Whychristmas.com.
“Partridge,” Encyclopaedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/animal/partridge.
“Partridge,” The Wonder of Birds, http://www.thewonderofbirds.com.

Tea Pairs Well with Thanksgiving Feasts

Lapsang souchong tea
Lapsang souchong tea

It’s nearly turkey time—and you’ll want to include tea in your holiday meal plans!

Cooking

Even The Week magazine is in on tea’s culinary possibilities, using lapsang souchong tea both as a rub for the turkey and as a glaze (see their Food and Drink section).

This intensely smoky tea lends a nice smoky touch to meats, veggies, soups, beverages—anything that some smokiness would enhance.

Either grind the leaves and use directly, or infuse any liquid with the leaves and then strain out. (Tip: using loose leaf tea will give you a lot more flavor than tea bag dustings, but either will work.)

Eat More Tea has an incredible spice blend with lapsang as its base, their Spice Blend #1, ideal for holiday cooking.

Masala spice blend #3Cooking and Baking

Another versatile blend by Eat More Tea is their Spice Blend #3, a warm chai, or Masala Spice.

Lisa, owner of Eat More Tea, suggests adding this blend along with a bit of olive oil to cubed sweet potatoes before roasting them.

She also uses this blend in place of traditional pumpkin pie spices. It’s quick, plus puts a novel spin on an old standby.

And of course, Drinking

While you may reach for your favorite, why not try something new? Add that Masala Spice—or your own favorite combination of spices—to any black tea or coffee!

For more tea choices, TeaHaus currently has a monthly brew sampler collection featuring Lisa’s Haus Blends that will bring truly unique tastes to your holiday table.

Say It with Sage

sage-leaves-crop-web

sage-brew-web

When you really want another helping but know that you shouldn’t—brew up a steaming cup of this strong tea. With its warm notes of sage and hint of orange, it’s the perfect substitute for those calorie-laden sides.

Leaving you more room for dessert!

Victorian Earl Grey

EG-leaves-crop-web

EG-brew-web

And while you are waiting for that dessert, sip this take on Earl Grey. Traditional bergamot yields to light floral, with rosemary lending a savory note.

Tea Thyme

thyme-leaves-crop-web

EG-brew-web

And the leftovers! This sweet and savory tea has thyme and orange melting into bittersweet black currant—and pairs beautifully with that turkey sandwich.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

How Many Types of Tea Do You Have in Your Cupboard? (I’m guessing not 64)

I suppose the average person has a couple different kinds of loose leaf tea in their cupboard . . . which means that the thirty-some here are probably a bit much.myriad teas in pantry
And the fact that this is only half of what’s actually in my cupboard . . . well, there can be lots of valid reasons/defenses for harboring so much tea!

  • Some of this is my daughter’s. Really.
  • People give me tea.
  • I keep trying new teas.
  • Some of these are better iced, some are better in the winter, some are caffeine free, some go better with food, you get the picture.

When I inventoried what I had, I found that I fully covered black, oolong, green, and white teas, both with aromas and the classics. Further, I have rooibos, fruit, and herbal teas. Plus a decaf black aroma. And four totally unidentified teas. Sigh.

With so many teas that are available, it is easy to see how one person can end up with 64 of them! Of course the drawback is that some of this will obviously lose its prime flavor by sitting too long in my pantry.

But here in Michigan, we enjoy/endure some wildly different weather. And when both temp and humidity are insufferably in the nineties, an icy fruit or green tea is heaven. But when a bitter wind howls and there’s a foot of snow on the ground, a hearty black aroma beckons.

If you have limited yourself to your favorite couple teas, maybe it’s time to explore what else the tea world offers. You will be amazed at the diversity you will encounter!

(Oh and if you drop by my house, I probably have your favorite tea. . . .)