Today’s first tea has the dubious distinction of being the first not to land with me. It was a Chocolate Chilli Chai from DavidsTea. And just as there are people out there who will like North African Mint less than us, we feel confidant most people will rate this black tea higher than we do. We’ve never liked chocolate and chilli as a combo. Not in chocolate, not in hot chocolate, and not in this unsuspecting chai.
Chai usually has a lovely, natural spice that benefits from lots of milk and sugar. But the chilli here drowns everything else out. Even the chocolate gets a bit lost in proportion to the chilli.
Our other sample was WinterZauber, a Rooibos from Germany. And this, folks, is where a musical vocabulary comes in handy, because anyone who has ever attended a performance of Die Zauberflöte can tell you that zauber is magic. And they said Mozart would never prove practical!
So it’s called Winter Magic and is full of cinnamon, almonds (we learned that sued the other day) and cardamom, which looked so like its English self we knew it when we saw it. It’s also vastly preferable to Chocolate Chilli Chai.
The almonds give it a taste almost of liquorice root, and the cardamom helps bring that out. It could be overwhelming but the cinnamon and Rooibos counterbalance this nicely, making for a tea with zing go it. Perfect for a quite, fireside evening.
In-between cups of tea we put up the Christmas tree. It’s all of nine feet and a significant amount of Tetris went into positioning it somewhere where it would fit.
We’re quite proud of the end result, though. So here’s a poem about Christmas trees foe you to read over your tea. We are well and truly into Advent now.
The city had withdrawn into itself
And left at last the country to the country;
When between whirls of snow not come to lie
And whirls of foliage not yet laid, there drove
A stranger to our yard, who looked the city,
Yet did in country fashion in that there
He sat and waited till he drew us out
A-buttoning coats to ask him who he was.
He proved to be the city come again
To look for something it had left behind
And could not do without and keep its Christmas.
He asked if I would sell my Christmas trees;
My woods—the young fir balsams like a place
Where houses all are churches and have spires.
I hadn’t thought of them as Christmas Trees.
I doubt if I was tempted for a moment
To sell them off their feet to go in cars
And leave the slope behind the house all bare,
Where the sun shines now no warmer than the moon.
I’d hate to have them know it if I was.
Yet more I’d hate to hold my trees except
As others hold theirs or refuse for them,
Beyond the time of profitable growth,
The trial by market everything must come to.
I dallied so much with the thought of selling.
Then whether from mistaken courtesy
And fear of seeming short of speech, or whether
From hope of hearing good of what was mine, I said,
“There aren’t enough to be worth while.”
“I could soon tell how many they would cut,
You let me look them over.”
“You could look.
But don’t expect I’m going to let you have them.”
Pasture they spring in, some in clumps too close
That lop each other of boughs, but not a few
Quite solitary and having equal boughs
All round and round. The latter he nodded “Yes” to,
Or paused to say beneath some lovelier one,
With a buyer’s moderation, “That would do.”
I thought so too, but wasn’t there to say so.
We climbed the pasture on the south, crossed over,
And came down on the north. He said, “A thousand.”
“A thousand Christmas trees —at what apiece?”
He felt some need of softening that to me:
“A thousand trees would come to thirty dollars.”
Then I was certain I had never meant
To let him have them. Never show surprise!
But thirty dollars seemed so small beside
The extent of pasture I should strip, three cents
(For that was all they figured out apiece),
Three cents so small beside the dollar friends
I should be writing to within the hour
Would pay in cities for good trees like those,
Regular vestry-trees whole Sunday Schools
Could hang enough on to pick off enough.
A thousand Christmas trees I didn’t know I had!
Worth three cents more to give away than sell,
As may be shown by a simple calculation.
Too bad I couldn’t lay one in a letter.
I can’t help wishing I could send you one,
In wishing you herewith a Merry Christmas.