Abe’s OddiTea (Organic Chocolate Strawberry Basil Tisane)

The shot is taken from above a small white bowl and the leaflet for the game "Oddworld." The bowl is full of a blend of cacao nibs, freeze dried strawberries, and basil. The stone underneath is green and textured.

The idea for ‘Abe’s OddiTea’ came from a grocery run and a picture of a candybar.

Most of the time Mister Tea does the outside of the house errands on his own.  Part of this is that being in a car can be fairly painful for me, and part of it is that when we head out together the dogs come with us.

Raubahn and The Muppet are both wonderful dogs, and the number of people who comment on that or want to meet them or…  tends to extend any errand noticeably.

(We’ve had “duck in and get a few basics” take over an hour.)

I know we could say “no”, or push brusquely on when someone asks a question or makes a comment – but beyond the fact that I don’t feel like doing that to people, I love what our pups bring out into the world.

Especially Raubahn.  He seems to be this wandering goofy giant  joy and wonder creator.  And I enjoy what he gifts people simply by being himself.

Mister Tea usually calls me when he is out and about in the world, to make sure the lists are correct, or to check with me regarding things he thinks are neat.

He also sometimes sends me pictures of things.

Usually flavour ideas.

“Hey, I saw this and thought you might be able to/want to turn it into a tea.”

He is usually right.

One particular outing he sent me an image of a strawberry/basil chocolate bar.  That particular combination had never occurred to me before, and I was mildly fascinated by it.  I like using savory herbs with things that might be surprising, and this was potentially a whole new avenue to go down in pursuit of chocolate teas.  (Our ‘Durmstrang’s Draught’ having made me realize that I can make quite lovely tasty teas with savory herbs and spices.)

The image sat in the tea ideas folder for quite some time, due to the fact that I hadn’t actually added strawberries to the toolbox.

It has been the intent for years – but I am often in a “so many ideas, so little time” sort of place.  And properly vetting a new ingredient and getting a sense of it can take a sizable chunk of time.

Little bit back, I dug through my “ingredients to test” box, planning to allow myself to fiddle with something new.

This was all well and good, but I wanted to just take the day, and perhaps the next, and just figure them all out.

This was not feasible.  For a long list of reasons.  One being that a new ingredient always sparks a mental avalanche of tea ideas, and we have so many in various stages of completion right now that it seemed unwise to court the desire to make that many more.

To assist me with paring it down, I decided to try something new.  I went to Twitter and created a poll – to allow our followers to pick what our next new toy would be.

In the end, strawberry was chosen.  In the process of the voting, I did end up with an idea for a new tea that would use three of the options that didn’t make the cut – but that’s sort of standard for any interaction regarding the possibilities of tea, these days.

I dragged out the bag of freeze-dried strawberries, and tore the slices up into tea-sized bits, and tested a cup.  With every new ingredient, I steep an appropriate amount as if it were tea, to get a sense for how strong the flavour will be.  (Amusingly, post creation of ‘The Wizard’s Tower’ this is also to get an idea of what colour, and what intensity of colour it will provide.)

I was surprised by how potent the strawberry was.  Once I’d broken it down into appropriately small pieces, it really was like drinking strawberry water – which was pretty neat, and heartening for pairing it with other things.  I’d expected strawberries to be a bit retiring, like apricot or peach.

It took a little bit longer to actually set to and blend a strawberry tea, as I got distracted by a couple of other projects, but once I did…  I was torn on what sort of tea to make.

One part of my mind figured we should go with something accessible, something in the normal range of combinations with strawberry.  A straight chocolate strawberry, or maybe a strawberry green with a hint of citrus, or a rooibos strawberry pineapple, or…  1

I was specifically avoiding strawberry banana or strawberry kiwi or strawberry banana kiwi, as all of those would have involved adding yet more new ingredients to our list.

The other part of my mind was fixated on the chocolate strawberry basil idea.  The image of that candybar had been floating around in the “remember this for later” part of my brain, and while I wasn’t completely fixated on it, I really wanted to see if it would work, how it would taste, and whether or not I could make a tasty tea out of it.

I spoke with Mister Tea, as he is my sounding board for level of weirdness, and commented on how I was leaning towards the ‘oddball’ idea.

His response was, “Go for it.  Oddball is sort of what we do.”

My inner child danced a jig, and then I started work.

The first test, even with all my experience, tasted like strawberry water with a HINT of basil and chocolate.

The second test was still mostly strawberry water.

At this point I was eyeing the little jar of torn up freeze-dried strawberry, wondering how it was managing to overpower chocolate so handily.

Small, but fierce, I suppose?

Third test I quit being hesitant with the chocolate, and decided to treat the strawberry as a step or two shy of mint, in potency.

That worked.  Brilliantly.  And now that I know that strawberry and basil work together, I have some ideas for next time I have the spoons to make shortcake.  (Start with savory spiced biscuits, perhaps?)

Once the blend had gone from possibility to actual reality, I shifted into “what should we call this” mode.

I mentally scrolled through the various conversations Mister Tea and I had had about the tea, and thought about the flavour.

But I kept coming back to something provoked by oddball being part of what we do.

Oddball.  OddiTea.  Abe’s OddiTea!

Oddworld was a game world we both greatly enjoyed, and there are still times we will call and response in the Mudokan fashion.

“Hello.”

“Hello.”

“Follow me.”

“Okay.”

Aspects of the colour palette of the tea even reminded me slightly of some of the palette of the game’s graphics.

Thinking on it, I’m almost surprised we hadn’t already saluted Oddworld, as it brought us much enjoyment and laughter.

A small white bowl full of a blend of cacao nibs, freeze dried strawberries, and basil. Arrayed around it are a variety of tea tins, a bag of tea, and a small rectangular packet that could hold a teabag. The labels read: "Abe's OddiTea, Ingredients: Fair Trade Roasted Cacao Nibs, Freeze Dried Strawberries, Basil, (All Organic)"

Organic Ingredients:  Fair Trade Roasted Cacao Nibs, Freeze Dried Strawberries, Basil

Batch Size:  5.6 ounces, approximately 35-40 servings of tea

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

Purchasing:  Personal Shop, Etsy Store

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  1.   Not all of these ideas were on the list before I wrote this post.  Which probably surprises no one. 

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