Today's episode of Behind the Blend may feel a bit out of season, but it's a particularly chill and blustery April morning and I've been thinking a lot about death and seasonal shifts lately. So, for today's foray into synesthetic perception, I would like to introduce you to an old Friday Afternoon fave: Raise the Dead.
The inspiration: This blend was originally commissioned by our lovely friend Tara (aka The Geeky Hostess) to celebrate the release of the movie Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Tara wrote me before the movie launched, asking if I'd like to collaborate on a collection themed around the movie. We had way too much fun with the project! I used my Synesthetic Superpowers to taste up three blends: Darcy's Delight, Mrs. Bennet's Nerve Tonic, and Raise the Dead. Tara paired each tea with her super fun naturally-colored sprinkles (sadly no longer available) and the teas got picked up by Espionage Cosmetics as part of a subscription box for their fans. It was a rad collision of geek girl love and creativity!
So there's the backstory. Let's get to the development of this specific blend!
Zombies bring to mind two dominant flavors: decay and hunger. Decay is a pretty obvious flavor theme, so I chose our 15-year loose Pu-erh as a base. It's deep, strong, smooth and tastes of caves and rotting leaves. This leaf is that good, rich, old-growth forest humus in tea form. It was a no-brainer! (ha...ha...) Next up, hunger. Undead hunger isn't the same as living hunger. I don't imagine it as a gnawing growl in the stomach. It's more an energetic hunger. Sort of a low-grade, insistent full-body thrumming. It's always there. It's the driving force of the undead. This concept is complex and required two ingredients to illustrate. I chose classic Pai Mu Tan (aka White Peony) for its warmth and slow-burn caffeine effect, and freeze-dried cranberry for the veins of bright red zip it snakes through the earthier tea leaves. Constant background energy that tastes like yearning meets sharp, almost painful need.
The finishing touch that ties everything else together isn't something that can be easily tasted over the other, bolder ingredients. We needed something to serve as the connection between the mortal world and the afterlife. Marigold petals are ethereal threads that serve as a visual indicator of the other-worldliness inherent in the undead. I've been told that roses are the flower of death, or lilies, but it's always going to be marigold for me. It's a tiny homage to my Mexican heritage and light-hearted reverence for the dead. Plus, that COLOR.
|Clockwise from top left: Pu-erh, marigold, Pai Mu Tan, cranberry|
See it? Taste it? This is how I experience all ideas, words and feelings. I never know if I'm making sense when I try to describe it. I hope you find it understandable, or at least interesting!
Thanks for reading, friends. Please leave a note below with your thoughts, questions and requests for future BTB (Behind the Blend) posts. I look forward to sharing more of my wonky brain with you!