More Lessons in Teaming

Shall we tell you what doesn’t steep? We can’t believe it needs saying, but obviously it does, so here goes; marshmallows do not steep. Steep marshmallows do not. They might melt in hot water, we grant you, but there’s a reason no one is marketing marshmallow water or hot marshmallow gloop in coffee shops. You put them on cocoa and they go nicely halfway-liquid, but they do not infuse hot water.

Okay, they sort of steep. They must because what they are currently doing is melting into our lovely, lovely tea infuser and manifesting the most cloying herbal tisane – yes we’re back at tisanes – in creation. What they’re also doing is stopping what stuff does infuse from infusing, because it’s all sitting in melted marshmallow.

Why? Well, this year’s creative reimagining of Forever Nuts, which is by itself a charmingly spiced tisane we’re quite partial to, is Forever Frosty, and Forever Frosty is the Forever Nuts tea with bonus marshmallow, at least as far as we can tell.

Somewhere in here is a lovely tea with almonds, cinnamon, and we suspect nutmeg. We’d like to taste it but we can’t for the marshmallows. They taste soppy, and universe, tea should not be soppy!

Consequently, in a shocking turn of events, this is the first cup of tea from the calendar we won’t finish. There’s always one (it’s usually coffee-flavoured) and this is it this year. It’s probably lovely if you like marshmallow (we do not) or have a sweet tooth (we don’t particularly). Or maybe you just want a particularly watery tea. Though if that’s the case, just wave a teabag in the direction of some hot water. We guarantee it tastes better! Probably better for your teeth, too.

After all that, we’re more than a tad leery of the saccharine. With that in mind, here’s a poem about music – and sopranos particularly. Apparently we still can’t forgive last night’s tenor nicking the best soprano aria in The Messiah. Not when they had a first rate coloratura who was more than up to the part. Oh, and whatever else might say about this poem, it’s very definitely not cloying.

The fury of Guitars and Sopranos
Anne Sexton

This singing
is a kind of dying,
a kind of birth,
a votive candle.

I have a dream-mother
who sings with her guitar,
nursing the bedroom
with a moonlight and beautiful olives.

A flute came too,
joining the five strings,
a God finger over the holes.

I knew a beautiful woman once
who sang with her fingertips
and her eyes were brownlike small birds.

At the cup of her breasts
I drew wine.

At the mound of her legs
I drew figs.

She sang for my thirst,
mysterious songs of God
that would have laid an army down.

It was as if a morning-glory
had bloomed in her throat
and all that blue
and small pollen
ate into my heart
violent and religious.

As we say, emphatically not saccharine. Unlike some teas we could mention. Featuring marshmallows. But we’d never point fingers, like that. But tell you what, universe, do a proper herbal tomorrow, all right? Undiluted sage, or ginger root extract, or hibiscus or something. Anything. Just let it steep, and let it be strong, and for god’s sake let it be tea and not confectionary-turned-infusion. Please?

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