The Smoking Nun (Organic Gunpowder Green and Caravan Tea with Hops and Barley)

A very close-up image of a small white bowl full of gunpowder green tea, russian caravan tea, hops, holy basil, and barley.

When we first set out to create “The Smoking Gun,” which is the blend used as the foundation of this tea – we were worried that it might end up being a little too weird.  It doesn’t necessarily make sense that this sort of worry still happens, as we have only had one idea fail, but it still rears its head with aggravating frequency.

We enjoyed “The Smoking Gun,” and it occurred to us that we could begin another conceptual tea series utilizing it.  It only made sense, given the name of the foundational tea, that the teas in the series would be connected to conspiracies theories, ghost stories, and weird events.  The kind of things that might be covered in a show that crossed ‘The X-Files’ with ‘Supernatural.’

‘The Smoking Nun’ had its first seeds in a conversation on Twitter about beer.  I’d been tallying up how many times we used various ingredients, and I had come to the realization that if we were going to keep something in the toolbox, we needed to have more than 1 or 2 teas that used it.  Hops had come up as one that we didn’t use enough.

Given our ‘Jayne’s Cocoa Kickback‘ and how lovely I find it to be in certain moods, and the fact that I’ve read some books about brewing and distilling recently and am mildly fascinated by the idea of creating our own beers, meads, and ciders…

…  I really wanted to do more with hops.  The more teas I create with a particular ingredient, the better I come to know it, and if I ever want to make beer, I’m going to need to have quite a depth of understanding of them.

So I asked questions on Twitter.  I’ve had some quite informative and engaging discussions by doing so, and as beer is not something I drink with any frequency, I needed input.

Out of that discussion came a number of ideas for teas involving hops, including this one.  This takes our smoky green tea and adds the two most basic ingredients for beer – barley and hops.  The holy basil just seemed like it would be lovely in tandem with the rest.

It was wonderful.  Smoky earthy hoppy rich with a green tea underpinning.

Which meant we had to name it.

Almost immediately I wanted to attach it to nuns or monks, as both nunneries and monasteries were often known for making beer.

Thinking about that in tandem with the taste of the foundation tea, something started twitching in the back of my brain that I could not quite grab onto.  That sense of “the information is on the tip of my mind and I can feel it but it has an invisibility cloak so I cannot quite find it!”?

Mister Tea quipped about how we could just call it ‘The Smoking Nun’ to cover the beer-making aspect as well as the flavour.

That helped me chase the thought inside my head.  Something something Santa Fe… Something ghost story…

I went to the internet armed with better search parameters and found the story.

Sister George is one of the ghosts of Santa Fe.  She is purported to haunt the Inn and Spa at Loretto.  One of the ways to note her passing is that she leaves behind a hint of cigar smoke – that dissipates far more swiftly than actual smoke would.

Digging up the tale, I remembered where I first heard it.  It was a late night chat around twenty years ago, with my security guard, back when I was a night auditor1 at a hotel in Santa Fe.  He was a fascinating individual, and had an archival knowledge of the myths and legends of the area.  He was an excellent storyteller, and his skills made some of those long nights pass more pleasantly.

A small white bowl full of a blend of gunpowder green tea, russian caravan tea, holy basil, hops, and chocolate malted barley. It is surrounded by an array of tea tins, a bag, and a small origami packet of a size to hold a single teabag. The labels read "The Smoking Nun, Ingredients: Gunpowder Green, Russian Caravan, Holy Basil, Chocolate Malted Barley, Hops, (All Organic)"

Organic Ingredients:  Gunpowder Green, Russian Caravan, Holy Basil, Chocolate Malted Barley, Hops

Batch Size:  2.5 ounces, approximately 30-35 servings of tea

Options:  Loose Tea (Sample, Bag, Tin), Teabags (Single, Sample, Bag)

Purchasing:  Personal Shop, Etsy Store

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  1. Night Auditors (at hotels, anyway) spend the evening dealing with reconciling the prior day’s accounts, while managing night-time desk duties.

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