One of the great and unanswerable mysteries of tea has always been, at least to us, why anyone likes camomile tea. Oh, it’s very soothing, and it makes you drowsy, but it doesn’t smell particularly nice and it tastes worse. It’s also in our DavidsTea calendar today. That said, it’s perhaps the best permutation we’ve had of it. Or maybe we’ve just had the kind of long and miserable day that is only solved by tea that tastes the way we imagine hay might taste. Hard to say.
Or maybe the real mystery was the way everyone in Mary Wesley’s Camomile Lawn waxed rhapsodic about the smell. Honestly, it’s nothing to write home about. Perhaps the blooms are nicer. Because we’re sipping camomile in the mug with the quilted cats, and you know, it’s now awful. We even, improbably, like it. Maybe we finally acquired the taste for it. We’re increasingly thinking whoever taught us to add honey to camomile was wrong. It’s not a tea that should be sweet. And it’s growing on us by the sip. Apparently we’ve overbreed this one for years.
The German tea was a very definite hit, though. It’s called Advent Fruit Tea, and if you, like us, wondered just what makes a fruit Advent-y, think mulled wine. It was a beautiful sample. Orange peel, cloves, cinnamon, apples, and raisins. There’s hibiscus and reship in there too, but the thing that really makes it distinctive is the elderberry. Last year DavidsTea tried a version of this. They called it Mulled Wine, and you know, it was good, we liked it. But we liked this better. The elderberry is inspired. And you could just see it wasn’t a herbal tea to go bitter.
It makes us think of Christmas Cake, maybe because that’s always what you pair mulled wine with in lieu of minced pies over here. Maybe it’s because they share ingredients. At any rate, we haven’t mentioned the cake yet, but ours is quite the tradition. We bake it with our aunt and double the recipe, which always leads to a dough so thick you have to kneed it. But we’ve long since been at the ‘feeding the cake’ stage, which involves rubbing it with brandy every night. We’ve slipped up the past few nights and neglected it, but it’s no real matter because at this point the cake is cracking the way cakes do from absorbing more brandy than is reasonable. Bring on the marzipan next.
So here’s a poem about Christmas Cake, or at least plum cake, by which we assume Williams means plum pudding, and which is near enough to make no difference. It gets bonus points for being one long stanza. Frankly, we just don’t have the energy for the technical gremlins tonight.
To Mrs K__On Her Sending Me an English Plum Cake at Paris
Helen Maria Williams