Fiaren Caravan (Organic Blend of Lapsang, Lime, and Rose)

A small white bowl filled with a blend of black tea, rose petals, and lime peel. In the background you can see the edges of tea tins and tea packets.

Fiaren Caravan was inspired by a micro fiction.

At the point it was blended, it held position as “potentially oddest point of inspiration for a Desert Sage Natural Tea.”

It has since been displaced by a tea inspired by one of those odd meme name quiz things…  but I digress.

For her birthday an author on Twitter requested that people spin out threads offering to write micro-fictions for people.  She thought it would be a wonderful thing to see bits and snippets of creativity on that particular day.

I thought it was a pretty neat idea, but I had to think about whether or not to do it.

For one, I was stupendously rusty with writing anything that wasn’t a blog post.  I had only set pen to paper or fingers to keys for fiction once or twice in the prior couple years, and none of the snippets was more than a page.  And one was a journal blurt, during the process of attempting to take a stab at exercises from ‘The Artist’s Way,’ so I’m not even certain that counted.

But I was curious.

And I had been looking for something to give me a bit of a kick in the pants regarding writing again.

One of the irritating things about the way my brain works is that it is constantly “on.”  All the time.  Even when I’m asleep.  (Which, admittedly, leads to wonderfully vivid and vibrant dreams and nightmares, but is relatively useless for acquiring ACTUAL Rest.)

This includes the spring of creativity and idea making that exists somewhere in my mental landscape.  I’ve never actually found it, which is probably good, because there are days when I would be tempted to stop the thing up for a bit.

A temptation I wouldn’t act on, admittedly, for fear of never being able to get it running properly again.

Mister Tea has theorized that this is probably, at least in part, an on again off again useful effect of my PTSD.  If you are always “on” for environmental assessment and proximity detection – why not do the same for other mental sectors.

Adding in to this situation, my primary stress response is creation.

Words, teas, worlds for my players in tabletop RPGs, melodies…  there is always something floating around in there somewhere.

The issue is that if I do not act on some of the ideas, they start to pile up.  This leads to a variety of relatively toxic mental spaces.  Either they start to stagnate and it feels like my thoughts are composting themselves, or they start to fill up the space, making it near impossible to think of anything else but the messy pile of ideas.

When I let it go too long, sorting them out and unsticking them from each other, figuring out which parts belong together and which don’t – can be a long and arduous process.

I refer to it as my brain eating itself.  And for people who’ve known me for a while, it is a state they would prefer I avoid existing in.

“You’re no fun to be around when you’re poisoned.”

Unfortunately, in the past year, there have been issues with my primary method of keeping the creative part of my brain happy and engaged.

Our usual gaming group is Mister Tea and I, and another couple where one of the pair is also a spoonie.

Let’s just say that our functional time and spoons haven’t been overlapping with much frequency of late, and we’ve been unable to game.

Creating new teas helps, especially now that I am putting the time and effort into actually telling the entire story of each tea, but it is more of a patch-fix than an actual solution to the problem.

Additionally, given the running theme of our not-so-slow slide into authoritarianism in this country and the potential erosion of the rights of so many near and dear to me – as well as myself – the last couple years have been obscenely stressful.

Which turns up the volume inside my head, as well as the pace.

I needed to start writing again, but I needed some sort of catalyst to do so.

So, I fended off the anxiety monster with a broom made of devil-may-care and I-don’t-have-the-level-of-following that will make anything explode, good or bad – and said I would take micro fiction requests.

There weren’t many.

But I did have fun with them.

I also learned that micro fiction for Twitter is HARD.

I’ve been told many times over my life that I have a gift for sparse verbage.  Papers in school were exercises in “how do I pad this to actually reach the word count or page count required without feeling like I’m adding unnecessary drivel.”

And it was still hard.

I had had a tremendous amount of respect for people like Loose Leaf Queer and Kassil even before I tried working a similar sort of magic.

It magnified immensely after trying it myself.

I had to start each bit in my word processing program of choice, and watch the count carefully.  The first draft for the first one I was unutterably proud of…

…  until I realized I was counting WORDS not characters.

Each one was an exercise in honing, paring down, figuring out ways to turn phrases into words, or merge different phrases together to create a more concise whole.

I actually rather loved it.

But I have always loved a challenge.  (This being yet another reason why we have so many hot beverage options.  “You can’t make that without using artificial flavours!”  “Oh yeah?  Watch me.”)

The original prompt I sent out into the Twitterverse was:

“Comment and I will tell you where in the myriad worlds in my mind you should visit, and what they will serve you.”

The reply that sparked the micro-bit that provoked this tea was:

“I love traveling, the endless open road ahead and a half-cloudy sky above…”

I responded with:

“Hitch a ride on one of the caravans heading from the Fiar to Venred.  Begin the trek at the end of the rainy season, and you will see the beauty of the desert in bloom.  There is strong tea, often with rose and lime – or dragon-fire roasted coffee (acquired in last years’ trading.)

I’m not entirely happy with it, but it worked for what I wanted.

And it spawned a discussion about tea.  The individual it had been written for liked the fiction, but also thought the tea thought put forth in it sounded quite good.

There seemed to be quite a bit of glee at the discovery that I could probably MAKE the tea imagined in the fiction.

Honestly, once it had been discussed out in the open, it was one of those ideas that sat in my head, vibrating with desire to exist, so I kind of had to make it.

As is one of my sometime habits, I sent a taste of the first test blend to the person I’d written the fiction for, to see what their thoughts were.  I had my own feelings on the matter, but I wasn’t blending this tea just for me.

As it turned out, our thoughts on the tea aligned fairly well, so I ran a second test taking them into account.

The result was glorious, smokiness shot through with rose and lime, the smell more potently rose, the lime a bit reserved initially, but building as you drink the tea.

I was actually a bit saddened by the fact that the test batch ran out so swiftly – barely enough for a second cup after filling the sample tins.  Once the photos were taken, I took the full batch for personal use, because I had been craving that particular tea consistently.

I always feel oddly guilty about doing so, but I have to get a feeling for whether or not I will stay fixated on a tea before I add it to the array of tins that is our personal stock.  (There’s almost always an initial “Whee!  Shiny new tea!”  with things we make…  with a few notable exceptions.)

The micro fiction and this tea also led to Mister Tea and I rediscovering a method of fun and relaxation that we hadn’t had properly in some time.

Final Fantasy XIV.  We’ve been adopted into a wonderful and inclusive Free Company on an entirely different data center from our initial excursions, and the time we have spent in game with those sentients has been lovely.

The kind of place where even if you aren’t actively playing together, the susurrus of pleasant or happy conversations can be quite calming.

There’s a certain coziness to hearing the sounds of friendships that have existed for long enough that most of the rough edges have been worn off.  A reminder that people can connect, and that such connections can be quite wonderful.

Additionally, knowing that you are in a place without judgment – whether it be regarding how much you can manage to play, whether your body is letting you do so effectively right now, how you identify, who you love, where you come from…

… is magic.

A small white bowl filled with a blend of black tea, rose petals, and lime peel. It is surrounded by an array of tea tins, a bag of tea, and a small rectangular packet of a size to hold a teabag. The labels read "Fiaren Caravan," list the ingredients in the tea, and indicate that they are organic.Organic Ingredients:  Lapsang Souchong, Rosehips, Lime Peel, Rose Petals

Batch Size:  1.8 ounces, approximately 25-30 servings of tea

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

Purchasing:  Personal Shop, Etsy Store

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