I’ve mentioned a few times in a few places that I love our Tea of the Month Club.
There are a number of different reasons for this. Part of it is that I really do enjoy curating the tea selections – especially when our survey has been filled out. There’s a particular sort of glee that comes out of choosing the teas – and it deepens when we get feedback indicating that we chose well.
Those surveys also provoke tea ideas.
Sometimes this is because some of the preferences that have been marked spring off the page into my head as a unit, and spin around each other until they’ve settled into a potential recipe.
Sometimes it is because something in the extended information makes me decide there is a need for a particular tea.
In the case of ‘Fire in the Sky’ – a woman had been gifted our Tea of the Month Club. She had prior experience with our teas, as they had been a frequent gift over the past few years. In the survey, she even stated what her favourite tea of ours had been – ‘Smoke in the Water.‘
Unfortunately, that tea was now lost to her, as she had given up caffeine in the intervening time.
I was not happy with this information. No one should have to lose a favourite tea. 1
We’d just started working with and acquiring decaffeinated teas. Unfortunately, so far we’ve only found a basic green and a basic black. This allows for making decaf versions of many of our teas, but as ‘Smoke in the Water’ contains Russian Caravan – I couldn’t do it the easy way.
I decided to make an herbal companion tea to ‘Smoke in the Water.’ First step was to figure out a way to impart at least a hint of the smoky flavour. We have smoked chile on hand, but there had been no heat to ‘Smoke in the Water’ – and adding it would have changed the taste profile too thoroughly.
So I started researching. Queries on Twitter, multiple web searches… Eventually I decided that my best option would be a smoked barley, if I could find it. It is a base that we’ve used for a few of our herbal teas, and lends a heartiness that can ease missing the taste of coffee or black tea.
The beer supplier that we work with for our barleys and that regularly tempts me with having multiple different kinds of hops to play with, had a smoked barley – but it wasn’t organic.
A few hours of web searching later and I had to conclude that an organic smoked barley wasn’t something we were going to be able to find.
I went back to our current supplier, and chose a couple of new barleys to fiddle with, see if any of them worked.
The one I had had the most hope for, a cherrywood smoked barley, had the essence of what I was looking for. It did need a bit of regular roasted barley to make the tea bolder, but it had the smoke.
From there it was just a matter of figuring out how well that blend of barleys would stand against the chai spices and elderberries. I also included a bit of hawthorn, as it lends an excellent flavour aspect, and I love the health benefits.
The name was pretty much set from the moment I decided to try to blend this tea. As it is such a close companion to ‘Smoke in the Water‘ – it made sense to have it be named with the next line in the song – ‘Fire in the Sky.’
Usually we limit our fire and flame references to teas that are actually hot and spicy – hopefully you will forgive our veering from standard here.
Organic Ingredients: Roasted Barley, Elderberries, Hawthorn Berries, Ginger, Cinnamon, Cardamom
No Additive Ingredients: Cherrywood Smoked Barley
(The great thing about this barley is that the wood used to smoke it is managed with sustainability in mind.)
Batch Size: 9.6 ounces, approximately 45-50 cups
Options: Loose Tea (Sample, Bag), Teabags (Single, Sample, Bag)