I’m not going to bury (drown?) the lead, Gentle Drinker, because I have invented a tea.
Well, created a tea.
You can read on for the story about how it happened, my taste testing, and more. But for now, I’m delighted to introduce you to…
Tea Punk Teas Presents
In Collaboration with Gail Carriger
In honor of the Tinkered Starsong series
Insert wild cheering (or loud sipping) or polite gloved clapping. Whatever works.
Deep Blue Abyss is a carefully curated blend of butterfly pea flower & Ti Kuan Yin oolong
Add lemon to watch the magic!
I had so much fun working with Tea Punk Teas to create this.
We did it simply so you could get the blend all in one place. I love them and wanted to support them, and they were a delight to work with.
I really hope you enjoy this tea, I think it is DELIGHTFUL.
The tin has a quote from the first book, Divinity 36, about tea and my signature as a stamp of approval.
It’s also tons of fun. I have a whole section below about all the things you can do with it.
I like it warm or iced with a little lemon.
It has been a long time since I did any kind of blind tea taste testing (2009, would you believe?).
And then I wrote a sci-fi series about a barista and wanted him to have a special-tea.
Yes, blue & purple tea do, indeed, show up in the last book, Dome 6.
Tea In Spaaaceeeee !
So for those of you not following the saga elsewhere. I got excited about blue space tea, because I think it’s something Phex would love. Also I decided what most butterfly pea flower tea lacks, in my experience (aside from… ya know… flavor) is caffeine.
I figured if it was going to mix butterfly pea with anything it probably needed a white tea or an oolong. Butterfly pea flowers don’t have much flavor, kinda green, a little grassy, a little hay, I they’d meld best with oolong.
So I started to experiment.
First I invented this version:
Butterfly Pea Flower + Milk Oolong
And then I was chatting about it online and it started to get too complicated to explain to you, Gentle Sipper, how to make it so I thought:
You know one thing steampunk has given me? Direct access to specialist boutique tea vendors.
Why not just reach out and see if they want to create a tea with me?
I mean, I’m cool enough to know 3 of them.
This girl is using her “celebrity” status for good. I tell ya.
Well, at least… for tea. (Which is kinda the same thing as good, IMHO.)
All of which is to say, I reached out to Tea Punk Teas. They responded with alacrity (alacri-tea!) and in very short order 4 samples arrived via post and I got to sipping!
Testing the Tea Samples – Oolong vs White Tea
It was a complicated and hard fought battle.
But… I am pretty confident the winner was sample #3:
a mix of Ti Kuan Yin oolong and butterfly pea leaf flower (of course)
It had the smoothest finish to me and also tasted nice with lemon, which I think is important with butterfly pea.
The next morning I tried it with milk and (separately) with a different acid component (jam – don’t knock it until you try it), and also iced. Simply to make sure it was as flexible as I wanted, and so it would satisfy the most readers, different people’s tastes, cultures, and locations around the world. Phex would be this way about it.
I also tried the white vs oolong with one of my local writer’s groups. They agreed the oolong won.
Space tea tasting notes
Instructions to myself:
- I tried to be as single blind and as scientific as possible.
- I drank water in between.
- I did them all first with nothing added whatsoever. (no lemon or milk)
- I did them all with the same amount of water, the same weight of tea, and at the same temperature. I timed them all to steep for three minutes.
- The instructions on the packet were more precise than this, but I am an everyday tea drinker and I’m going to make a new tea the way I make it. Which is with boiling water and a 3 minute egg timer (if it’s not black).
- So I’m gonna treat these teas that way if I want to drink them regularly. So any more precise instructions on the packet were ignored.
- At first I just sample each one in a row and took tasting notes.
- After that I’ll put them aside and just tried to drink them deciding which one I liked best.
- I ended up with one I clearly didn’t like (the strongest white). And one which was too mild for me and left me indifferent (the weakest oolong).
- Two where I kind of liked both of them (one white, one oolong).
- Because this is butterfly pea leaf I then put a dash of lemon juice into each one. I wanted to see the color change to purple, but also to taste it with lemon.
One of my LEAST favorite teas (the white that had the most brisk complexity to it – I don’t like my teas too brisk or too complex) actually tasted the best with the lemon. But of my two favorites, it was the final one that tasted of the best, the oolong.
So that’s the tea that I chose as my winner.
It turned out to be the stronger Ti Kuan Yin oolong blend.
And some polling of the fan group and extensive discussion (googling) the name we decided on was Deep Blue Abyss. It harkens not just to space but to the ocean and the mermaid colors of this tea. (Interestingly, that’s key to my NEXT book.)
Additional tests I put the tea through!
I tested it warm and with milk = very tasty. Because I feel like oolong already has a milky consistency when it’s at its best, adding milk simply adds to that flavor profile. Plus the little bit of sweetness doesn’t hurt.
Because this turned out to be the oolong, I also tested the blend on a second steep. (The best oolongs take and second and even a third seep and taste completely different each time. It’s part of their charm.)
The second steep on this tea is nice, but be warned the color is mostly gone. An oolong leaf can go through more than one flush but the butterfly pea flower only seems to work the first time, at least for a strong blue.
The second steep still has some blue to it but is was much paler and more teal with he natural yellow green of the oolong coming through.
The Ti Kuan Yin oolong was robust enough to take the second steep and still have a good flavor but I don’t think it can take a third.
A word on the Russian tea variant.
If you like your greens or oolongs (or even blacks) a little fruity you can add a jam to this tea to get a nice flavor AND the pretty purple color. I tried it with apricot jelly and then pineapple jam, (also I think marmalade would be nice).
I had some left over of this in the pot so I stuck it in the fridge.
I made a LOVELY iced tea the next day and I think would be a great base for a homemade bubble tea so I tried it like that…
I used coconut jelly to keep the blue color (it also got dyed blue) and blueberry popping boba to change the color a little. Or any other for a rainbow experiences.
Okay so I love coconut so I tried it with Malibu rum. It was very yummy. You could use any clear alcohol though. Vodka, gin, tequila etc…
Before you ask, YES I did.
More of me talking tea?
- 30+ Best Tea, Teapots, Teakettles & More: My Epic Tea Post
- Teapot Carrier AKA the Carriage Cozy: Transporting Tea (Victorians On the Go)
- Gail Carriger Explains How To Make Proper Pot of Tea: Being an Essay based on Hearsay, Family Tradition, and Opinionated Preferences
Yours (super taster scientist type, plus tea is a serious business),
BOOK DE JOUR!
Divinity 36: Tinkered Starsong Book 1
The aliens are coming for us and they want our voices.
New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger brings you a gloriously warm and unique scifi about the power of art, celebrity, and found family.
Madison Public Library says of Divinity 36:
“Just writing this review is bringing back how much I loved this one. Carriger has created a fully-realized universe and drops the reader right into it. No info-dumps to be found here and I love that. I like to be immersed and learn the worlds as I settle into the story.”
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Miss Gail’s Tea Party
Tisane of Nifty
Article on Apothica Teas (teashop & more) talks about the owner “joking that the shop is largely fan fiction of the worlds of her favorite author, Gail Carriger.” I’m feeling quite chuffed that I (apparently) have fan-fiction that MANIFESTED.
Quote to Sip
“How did we go from tea to death so quickly?”
~ Gail Carriger, PrudenceTags: DEMIGOD 12, DIVINITY 36, DOME 6, Steampunk, Tea & Nibbles