Wilde’s Wassail (Earl Grey Cranberry Spiced Tea)

Close in shot of a small white bowl on a green textured stone table.  The bowl is filled with a blend of black tea, dried apple, dried cranberries, and spices.

Back in late December, Mister Tea and I were having a Doctor Who day with a couple friends.

I was having a day where I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the current array of teas, as far as what was wanted and what seemed right.

I’d grudgingly allowed myself to run a test of something for our pot of tea, and when I brought the pot in I commented about1 how we had way too many teas in process and that I really needed to slow the pace a bit, as far as new teas were concerned.

A conversation thread spun out of that, ranging over a few topics, some connected to tea or Desert Sage or…  some not.

After a bit, Mister Tea looked up from his current cup of tea, with a dangerously mischievous smile and said, “I know you were just saying that you shouldn’t make any more teas…  but I’m about to make it so you go make a new tea.”

Some of the threads of conversation had been about Winter.  And the winter holidays.  And Doctor Who Christmas episodes.  And the fact that we still have ingredients we do not use in enough teas.  The combination of all of this had sparked a thought in his mind.

He suggested a wassail-inspired Earl-Grey-based tea.  He also suggested it involve cranberry.

I tried to resist.  I did.  I really did.  I tried to shunt the idea into the “this sounds neat but later” pile.

To no avail.  The particular taste set he’d suggested was just too interesting.  Sometimes it is mildly annoying when he is right.2

Mirth was felt all ‘round as I wandered off to attempt to create the new flavour. 

I scribbled down what I thought should go into the tea, planning on starting with decaf because Spoonie Doolittle was past their caffeine window for the day and I could not, in all conscience, create a tester tea that a human currently in our house would not be able to sample.

I stared at the page for a minute or two, leery of actually working with that list.  It had more things listed on it than I am generally comfortable with, as well as two of our twitchiest to work with.  Clove and Nutmeg are lovely flavours, but really easy to overdo.

Eventually, after some muttering to myself along the lines of “Can I even make all the tastes come through” and “What am I actually thinking?!” I set to work.3

I was pleasantly surprised when the first test cup indicated I could.  It wasn’t what I wanted, yet, but it was definitely heading in the right direction.

It took quite a bit of fiddling.  Multiple test batches.  One of the things about working with any fruit that isn’t orange peel or lemon peel is that I tend to be sparing with the amounts as I work up a tea.  The freeze-dried fruits are quite expensive.4, and the ones we process and dry ourselves are quite time consuming.5  I want to use the smallest amount I can and still capture the flavour I intend.

Eventually I got it right.

I brought out test cups – prepared to the array of preferences – and Mister Tea, Spoonie Doolittle, and Tea-Ra were happy to act as test subjects.

They enjoyed the new tea enough that they even forgave the extended pause in our Doctor Who viewing.6

The naming of this tea took months.

From the moment the idea settled into my head I had a name idea.  I wanted to call it “Resistance is Futile” – for relatively obvious reasons.

While amused by it, Mister Tea didn’t think we should connect this particular tea to the Borg.

So it sat.  And sat.  It was discussed occasionally, and dipped into frequently enough that the test batch had been gone for quite some time when it was finally named.

In February the original thread for the tea test woke back up and some of the wonderful people in the Twitterverse who help us name teas started weighing in with ideas.7

One of them reminded me of the Oscar Wilde quote:  “I can resist everything but temptation.”

Another way of saying “Resistance is Futile” just with more literature, less Borg.

Given my difficulty with resisting the siren’s song of tea ideas, our love of alliteration, and the flavour set of this tea – we settled on ‘Wilde’s Wassail.’

A small white bowl on a textured stone table, the background behind being a mid-range small grained wood.  Behind the bowl is a bag, to the left is a circular tin up on edge, to the right is a rectangular packet with the Desert Sage Natural logo of a size to hold a teabag and a smaller circular tin.  The labels read " Wilde's Wassail (Decaffeinated), Ingredients:  Earl Grey, Dried Apple, Ginger, Cinnamon, Orange Peel, Freeze-Dried Cranberries, Nutmeg, Cloves"  It also indicates that everything except the Cranberries are organic.

Now for the basics:

Organic Ingredients: Earl Grey, Dried Apple, Ginger, Cinnamon, Orange Peel, Nutmeg, Cloves

No Additive Ingredients: Freeze-Dried Cranberries

Batch Size: 4.26 ounces, approximately 121 grams, 40+ servings of tea

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

(Wilde’s Wassail is available both caffeinated and decaffeinated.)

Purchasing: Personal Shop, Etsy Store

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  1. Ranted about, really. At the time our “these have been blended but they need names” mini-shelf was just about full, and I wasn’t sure where I would put overflow. In the slightly amusing category, we are back in this situation now. Which doesn’t keep me from wanting to pursue ideas, unfortunately.
  2. Knows me too well, he does.
  3. I have no idea if any of these mutterings were hear. I am assuming that, if they were, they made the other three humans chuckle. I do vaguely remember hearing some sounds of amusement while deep in tea fugue.
  4. They would be less so if we dealt with more volume, as I would be able to keep more on hand, but as it stands…
  5. A single batch of apples, lime, or pineapple can consume an entire weekend.
  6. To be honest, they would have forgiven me that even if they had not greatly enjoyed the tea, but I always feel a little guilty when “I have to make that Tea!” derails things.
  7. This went a number of places including guaranteeing that I will end up trying to make a Gamma Roast variant that has a wassail-esque taste…. because of some lyrics that started rewriting themselves in my head during the tea naming conversation.

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