Tis the Season

The David’s Tea Advent Calendar is back!

Actually, they are calling it the 24 Days of Tea in an effort to be ecumenical and I’m prepared to give them that since Advent started last week.

But first, a bit of housekeeping. Last time we popped up on here it was to farewell the braw, blue Augie the Doggie. He was starting to get sick about this time last year. But veni, veni Dachshundus (this is totally how one declines Dachshund…) So before diving into the tea of it all, we want to take a minute to formally introduce Rockingham Napier, Charmer of Wrens.

Well, okay, he’s Rocky Dachshund and he’s more interested in flirting with cats. But he is named after one of Barbara Pym’s most memorable gentlemen and flirts. And he is exceedingly charming. Just don’t ask the cat.

So now you have met Rocky and are all caught up on the Dawlish Dachshunds. That leaves us free to move on to tea.

Today’s is called Cranberry Ginger-ale, but it tastes more like it’s British counterpart, Ginger Beer. It’s a caffeinated black tea, but only slightly. Also, you can’t taste the tea for the spices.

That’s not necessarily a criticism. When you call something Ginger-ale, you want it to taste of ginger-ale, and it’s hard to do that if there are Darjeeling or Assam notes coming through. And this does taste gingery. The ginger is the strongest flavour in the mix. Rocky, also ginger, approves. Buffy just wonders why dinner hasn’t manifested yet.

The cranberry comes through too, but more subtly. It’s mostly apparent in the pink colour the tea turns when you pour it out.

Something else to consider with this tea is that its steeping time is wonky. We left it for approximately five minutes, and while it got very gingery, it never got very tea-like. It’s almost herbal, which is deceptive to anyone trying to guesstimate its stregnth based on the black leaves prominent in the tea mixture.

Even so, it’s a lovely seasonal tea.

Less seasonal is our poem. It’s about Ascension, which was way back in the summer. Rocky Dachshund was still a puppy. On hte other hand, we lost about three hours the other evening to tracking this thing down, so you’d better believe we’re sticking it somewhere we can find it.

Also, it really is a lovely poem. Here is ‘Ascension Day’ translated from the Welsh.

Ascension Day

Saunders Lewis

What is happening this May morning on the hillside?
See there, the gold of the broom and the laburnum
And the bright surplice of the thorn’s shoulder
And the intent emerald of the grass and the still calves;
See the candelabra of the chestnut tree alight
The bushes kneel and the mute beech, like a nun,
The cuckoo’s two notes above the bright hush of the stream
And the form of the mist that curls from the censer of the meadows.
Come out, you men, from the council houses
Before the rabbits run, come with the weasel to see
The elevation of the unblemished host from the earth,
The Father kiss the Son in the white dew.

You see? Lovely. Now bring on Apocalyptic Advent, candles, dachshunds, O-Antiphons and all.

The Dog

We decorated the tree today. A bit late, seeing as we’re into double figures on the calendar, but December is one of those months that goes at full cant.

So, we were late getting to our tea today. Midway through the TV cuddle with Dachshuds it dawned on us we hadn’t poured out, so we stopped and put the kettle on.

Today’s tea is Peppermint Amour. Taste-wise there’s not a lot to say about this one. It’s mint all the way through, which won’t work for everyone but works for us. It’s a bit like drinking an After Eight. It tastes of summer evenings when we drank Mint tea at the lake, less because we liked it and more because a friend had brought it back from Egypt.

Of course, mint tea is at its best cold, because its more refreshing that way. We could even have made it that way today – it was unseasonably warm. Bizarre, but the Dachshunds were delighted. We all forewent coats and had a distinctly unseasonable ravine ramble. Augie Doggie barked at a few squirrels, Miss Buffy was all dainty about the mud and her feet and did her best three-legged run. (Yes, we know she does it. It’s luxating patella, there’s no point operating and if one more well-intentioned stranger asks…)

They were so delighted we thought we’d better finally deliver on that poem they promised them. We’re almost halfway through December and the cat is well ahead of them in the poem dedication stakes. These things matter when you are a Dachshund of atypically delicate feelings.

There’s a lot of good dog poetry out there, but this one is top of our list of favourites. It’s short, sweet and definitely counts as more light verse.

The Dog
Ogden Nash

The truth I do not stretch or shove
When I state that the dog is full of love.
I’ve also found, by actual test,
A wet dog is the lovingest.

But of course cuddles are best when they’re wet! That way, you too can be nice and soggy, they dry off, and the charming long-nosed ones get a cuddle for their trouble.

The Fashion in Dogs

Today was an almond-themed day as both Advent calendars yielded almond-based teas. From DavidsTea there was Chocolate Covered Almond. It’s a rich black tea that no matter how long you steep it tastes primarily of chocolate. The poor almonds never stood a chance, and it’s a shame because we love a good almond-flavoured tea. About 10-15 minutes in we thought the almonds were starting to come through, and perhaps they would have more fully with a bit of milk.

Chocolate teas are funny that way; sometimes the creamier you make them the subtler they become. Regrettably we didn’t think of this until towards the end of our second cup. That said, it stood up quite nicely even without the milk. It’s rich and probably another dessert-type blend, but we had it for elevenses with chocolate shortbread. (This may be partially why we couldn’t taste the almonds.)

From Germany was a herbal or fruit tea, Gebrantne Mandel, which our imperfect German made ‘toasted almonds’ (the internet tried to tell us they were burnt but that seemed unlikely). A brief chat with the calendar-maker revealed the name to be caramelised almonds, which made still more sense. She adds a drop of milk probably wouldn’t hurt this tea either, but we didn’t try it. The flavours were just so delicate, and we were enjoying them so much that we didn’t like to risk it. Also, it pours out a lovely pink colour and we didn’t want to spoil that, either.

You do have to let the Gebrannte Mandel steep quite a while, though; the instructions say 5-10 minutes and we really did give it 5 minutes, but it looked unhappy with life and anaemic. It tasted and smelled fabulous, though. There’s apple and hibiscus (hence the pink) in with the almonds and the result is a gloriously sweet-smelling blend that tastes as good as it smells. And 15 minutes later we got a much more substantial cup. Patience is a virtue with this one, and we just don’t have it in spades when it comes to tea. We’re working on it though. Especially when it gets you results like this.

Also on the roster was a walk with the Dachshunds. They’re currently sure excuse to get out of the house, which is no small thing. They were also beloved of E.B.White, better known to the world for his children’s books. Here’s what he has to say on the magnificent Dachshund…and other dogs. But mostly the dachshund.

The Fashion in Dogs

An Airedale, erect beside the chauffeur of a Rolls-Royce,
Often gives you the impression he’s there from choice.

In town, the Great Dane
Is kept by the insane.

Today the Boxer
Is fashionable and snappy;
But I never saw a Boxer
Who looked thoroughly happy.

The Scotty’s a stoic,
He’s gay and he’s mad;
His pace is a snail trot,
His harness is plaid.
I once had a bitch,
Semi-invalid, crazy:
There ne’er was a Scotch girl
Quite like Daisy.

Are biological freaks.
They have no snout
And their eyes come out.
Ladies choose ’m
To clutch to their bosom.
A Pekinese would gladly fight a wolf or a cougar
But is usually owned by a Mrs. Applegate Krueger.
Cockers are perfect for Elizabeth Barrett Browning,
Or to carry home a package from the A&P without clowning.

The wire-haired fox
Is hard on socks
With or without clocks.
The smooth-haired variety
Has practically vanished from nice society,
And it certainly does irk us
That you never see one except when you go to the circus.

The dachshund’s affectionate,
He wants to wed with you:
Lie down to sleep,
And he’s in bed with you.
Sit in a chair,
He’s there.
You break his heart.

My Christmas will be a whole lot wetter and merrier
If somebody sends me a six-weeks-old Boston terrier.

Sealyhams have square sterns and cute faces
Like toy dogs you see at Macy’s.
But the Sealyham, while droll in appearance,
Has no clearance.

Chows come in black, and chows come in red;
They could come in bright green, I wouldn’t turn my head.
The roof of their mouth is supposed to be blue,
Which is one of those things that might easily be true.

To us it has never seemed exactly pleasant
To see a beautiful setter on East Fifty-seventh Street looking for a woodcock or a pheasant.

German shepherds are useful for leading the blind,
And for biting burglars and Consolidated Edison men in the behind.

Lots of people have a rug.
Very few have a pug.


 N.B. The Dachshunds of Dawlish would like it on record that they too would tussle with a burglar if one ever came calling. Honest, they would. And they’d eat the pheasant too. Feathers and all. They’re very economical that way. No wonder E.B. White loved them!

Experiments in Tea Drinking (With Apologies to Dachshunds)

We made a proper study of today’s tea for you. S’mores Chai is a pu’ehr blend with chocolate lacing it for good measure. The name was sufficiently confusing that we tried it with milk and sugar on the second cup; chai is just about the one tea that benefits from being milked and sweetened if you know how. So, we find, do chocolate teas, because the creaminess of the dairy works well with the chocolate pieces.

Not so this tea, which is much better plain. It’s not so much chocolatey (in spite of what it says on the tin) as it is spiced; there’s lots of cinnamon in there, and it risks being overwhelmed by milk. Mind, the sugar reemphasised it nicely, so while it doesn’t need it, it’s certainly a tea that might benefit from a bit of extra sweetness. And really, by the point you’re sitting down to a cup of pu’erh with honest-to-goddess pieces of marshmallow in the blend, is anyone keeping track of calories? Maybe that’s a quirk of ours. We never bother with hot chocolate either; we figure there’s no point in doing the thing by halves and make it properly rich. A similar policy works well with this tea, and you can bet we’ll be circling back to it.

Of course, the whole leisurely tea process offended the Dawlish Dachshunds, not least because they didn’t get to sample any. Honestly, they really do love chocolate! They think. They dream. They’ve never been allowed to sample any. So we’re making it up to them now with this charming poem dedicated to Dachshunds everywhere. And you thought we’d used up the Dachshund poetry quota!


William J. Smith

The Dachshund leads a quiet life
Not far above the ground;

He takes an elongated wife,
They travel all around.

They leave the lighted metropole;
Nor turn to look behind
Upon the headlands of the soul,
The tundras of the mind.

They climb together through the dusk
To ask the Lost-and-Found
For information on the stars
Not far above the ground.

The Dachshunds seem to journey on:
And following them, I
Take up my monocle, the Moon,
And gaze into the sky.

Pursuing them with comic art
Beyond the cosmic goal,
I see the whole within the part,
The part within the whole;

See planets wheeling overhead,
Mysterious and slow,
While morning buckles on his red,
And on the Dachshunds go.


Ode to the Dachshund

It was all things Dachshund today thanks to a surprise parcel from a friend across the water. Specifically, she billed it the Delightful Dachshund Parcel.


Miss Marschallin Cat is guarding it now, lest Dachshunds get any ideas about their place in the hierarchy. (They are minions.) Still, we thought we’d try and find a poem for them, if we could.

But just before that, a bit about the tea. It’s white and called Pomograteful, because some ill-advised person let the marketing people, or the naming people, or whatever people get to name these things, have it away with the puns. Calendar, you are a lovely Advent Calendar but leave the terrible puns to our unsuspecting relatives, will you?

Anyway, if you hadn’t put it together, it’s a pomegranate and white tea  blend that makes for a low-affine, sweet desert tea. The sort we’d save up for Lent when we’ve sworn off sweet things but still want a bit more after supper. The pomegranate gives the tea a spectacular colour and also zest – and it smells divine. What’s not to love?

We’re being purred at and waltzed on and gently bunted, which is typically our cue to go do the Boring Lying Down Thing from Miss Marchallin. You know the one; you burrow under lots of lovely blankies and lie perfectly still while the cat sits on you. It also means we’ve nattered too long about something other than Herself. But we live dangerously here at Chorister at Home, so before we go, have a poem about Dachshunds. And you thought we’d never find one didn’t you? Well, we did  – but we wouldn’t want Her Nibs to find out. So this is between us, the blog and some metaphorical bedpost, yeah?

The Dachshund Speaks 
Morgan Dennis, 1947

Because I waddle when I walk,
Should this give rise to silly talk
That I’m ungainly?  What’s ungainly?
I’m really rather graceful – mainly.
The experts have been known to state
That there’s a twinkle in our gait.
One said “They have a clumsy grace,”
Which after all is no disgrace.

My funny features may abound;
Short legs, long body, low-to-ground,
But I’m about the perfect pal,
For man or woman, boy or gal.
I’m gentle, very playful, kind,
I housebreak fast, ’cause I’m refined.
I’m smart but never sly or foxy –
No, do not underrate the dachsie!


Ungainly? Never! We give you the very model of dachshunds major generals…who may just have missed that memo about housebreaking fast. But who’s keeping track? Anyway, they are very definitely, absolutely, completely and utterly refined.



See? Seriously refined. Okay, look, maybe the jury’s out on that too. Maybe. But there is no contesting the loveability of a Dachshund. Trust us – we’d know.