I’ll make this quick, I swear. Well, quicker than usual. I know you all have Christmas/holiday shopping to do, or something equally as holiday-y. But I have a cute li’l holiday blurb to get off my chest . . . so deal with it.
They called it “Green Pearls of Agni“, named for the Hindu fire god. (“Agni” literally translates to “fire”, from the original Sanskrit.) It resembled Bi Luo Chun (the Chinese green tea) in its visual delivery, but—unlike good ol’ “Green Snail Spring”—they lightly smoked the leaves over oak wood. The results showed up in the fragrance, campfire and cinders.
Nepali Tea Traders imparted a sample for me to play with later. And . . . it sat in the “to-drink” box for six months. I never had a reason to break it out again. There was no story there, yet. That and the bag had enough leaves for, maybe, two sessions—tops. Didn’t want to waste it on a simple “I drank it; I liked it” yarn.
Six months later, one unassuming Monday morning, an opportunity did present itself. I brought up an interesting notion to my mother. “Why don’t we have cheese, crackers and tea in the parlour?”
Yes, we have a parlour. No, I’m not spelling it the ‘Merican way. And, as you can see, it was all sorts of Christmasy. My stepdad and stepbrother put in hardwood floor in October. A Christmas tree now rested in the right corner.
And the bay window let in a fair amount of natural light. Perfect tea parlour.
Mum was all for the cheese-cracker-tea idea, but said we should wait until the afternoon. I, then, brought up the brilliant notion of using the smoked cheddar we had on hand. My uncle in Wyoming had smoked them himself, and passed them on as a holiday gift. I’d already used a fair amount of it for sandwiches.
Really good smoked turkey sandwiches.
Another thought occurred to me, though. Mum was sensitive to caffeine in the afternoon. If she had a black tea after 2PM, she was up for the rest of the night. That left out the Lapsang Souchong or the smoked Darjeeling I had on hand as options. That only left the smoked green tea.
Yep, good ol’ Agni.
Mum broke out the crackers and cut the cheese. (Stop giggling.) And I brewed up the tea. The platter-‘n-pairing looked perfect.
But would it taste perfect?
Short answer: Oh, hellfire, yes.
I have a theory regarding tea-‘n-food pairings; one I developed after a couple of wonderful meals I had in Vegas. Tea should not just compliment the food, it must bring the flavor back. Right as the aftertaste kicks in, the complimentary tea should bring the palatial sensation back to the forefront.
The Green Pearls of Agni did just that. The subtle smokiness to the green tea leaves brought the lingering smokiness of the cheddar back to the front of the palate just as it was about to trail off. That is, if the tea was sipped a few seconds after having the cheese. And sitting their in our li’l Christmas parlour, slumped in smoke-tasting splendor, simply added to the experience.
This holiday season, I chose to work two jobs. For financial reasons. I worked both those jobs on Thanksgiving, and I’ll be working both of them again on Christmas day. Throughout the season, I hadn’t really had time to feel the Christmas spirit. For a brief moment, though, I did.
And all it took was a little fire.