I love the tea of the month club.
This is a thing that is likely painfully clear if you’ve been with me on this tea journey for any length of time.
I love curating the selections, I love all the ideas that have been inspired by the surveys, I love it when I get feedback that tells me I chose well.
Fire in the Sky came out of a tea of the month club gift, though, for a change, it wasn’t the standard thing that happens so frequently with the surveys where a set of ingredient options or flavour choices jumps off the page into my brain and then they spin around each other until they settle into the configuration of a potential tea.
It was still a survey.
An updated one, from someone who had been gifted my teas before.
But, in the intervening time, they’d been told to give up caffeine.
Which meant that the tea they stated had been their favourite from my array, Smoke in the Water, was no longer an option.
I was unhappy with this.
Thankfully, one of my accidental side specializations is recreating teas people have lost.1
This wasn’t quite that, but it was that adjacent, and creating herbal variants of things I cannot decaffeinate by shifting in a decaffeinated version of the foundational tea is a hobby/specialization that began with this tea.
I’d actually only just started working with decaffeinated teas at the time – it was a need for a person that I cared about, and once I started, I realized that it was an accessibility issue overall.
Unfortunately, Smoke in the Water contains Russian Caravan tea. Not one I’ve found a decaffeinated version of yet, and I do not have the option presently to decaffeinate teas myself.2
So, I started to research. I wanted to find something where I could get that lovely smoky flavour without adding in any pesky caffeine.
The research led me to the conclusion that the best way to do it was going to be to use a smoked barley, if I could find it. I’d used barley for herbal teas in past, and it grants a heartiness that can ease missing the taste of coffee or black tea.
The supplier I use for barleys (a brewing supply company, amusingly enough), had a couple of options for smoked barley – but they were not organic. After a longer-than-I-want-to-remember time spent searching, I concluded that organic wasn’t going to be something I could find.
So I went back to my brewing supply company, and acquired some test options.
The cherrywood smoked had the essence of what I was looking for. I added in a bit of roasted barley to get the taste of the base of the tea to the place that I wanted, and I liked it enough that it may eventually become a foundational blend in its own right.3
The next step was to see how it stood up to the chai spices and elderberries, and to see how they stood up to it. In the end, I included hawthorn berries too, because they are a lovely tool for building tastes and they gave a last element that the tea had been missing.
The name was set from pretty much the moment I started down the path of creating the herbal companion tea. Smoke in the Water is so easily followed by Fire in the Sky.
Organic Ingredients: Roasted Barley, Elderberries, Hawthorn Berries, Ginger, Cinnamon, Cardamom
No Additives/Sustainably Sourced Wood: Cherrywood Smoked Barley
Batch Size: 9.6 ounces, approximately 272 grams, 45+ servings of tea
Options: Loose Tea (5 serving sample (Bag or Tin), Full Batch (Bag)), Teabags (Single Teabag, 5 serving sample (Bag or Tin), Full Batch (Bag)
I hate artificial scarcity and I hate “we’re ending this because it just doesn’t make enough money” – especially from big companies who don’t have the same kind of logistical and space considerations that tiny small business owners do.