Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Anatomical Reno, aka Earl Grey Rooibos, aka Ash in a Cup.

Spring! Spring! Spring! Couldn't you just sing? Like a bird of a lofty wing? See, here's the thing with spring...

Winter doesn't stop, it merely begins to ebb away, like a frozen candle dying slowly, or the last strains of lapsing lucidity from someone going decidedly senile. It happens so suddenly but so gradually, just a moment, a little wave of warmth, a stronger sun in a circle of cold, a waft of jasmine and a silent, inner knowing. That's all it takes for the nostalgic pangs of so many long forgotten summers to hatch, like bitter sweet chicks in the deepest hollows of your humming heart. Ash knows what I'm talking about, this feeling we get at the start of spring that's so full of living and dying all at once, so unbridled and so deep, coming in its own unannounced instant, overbearing you with emotion, and then leaving you behind without ever looking back. An Echo, then it's gone.
That's the great thing about Cheeky Miss Ashley, you can describe simply anything to her and she'll understand it and know where you're coming from. Her quick, bright eyes in their mischievous blue always seem to follow you into and out of darting thoughts. She doesn't miss a beat. Or an opinion. She's as shy as she is confident, and as gentle as she is fierce. A little conundrum that doesn't like to give much away. She smiles at you from the vastness of all her secrets. 

Ash it great place place to begin because she has an awful lot in common with a little new life joy I want to tell you all about.  
This is definitely the time of year when we all want to start letting go of stuff, shedding, loosening, lightening the F up. Spring is about taking off and lifting up. I've been knowing for a while that I needed a little - temporary - sojourn from tea. Sad, But True. It might have been the daily stints to Alice's that pushed me over the edge, but there was a line, it was covered in Earl Grey and I brewed it, strained it and drank it right up a fair while ago. 

I drink in excess of a litre of tea a day and between all the tannin and caffeine, Danny's suggested i'm wound up enough to qualify for subsidized, medicinal marijuana. We even have a song about how high strung I can get (it's called Uptight Girl, She's been livin in an Uptight World, I bet she never had a Chilled Out guy, I bet her mama never told her why).
Fraulein Maria said it (and everything) best, when the lord closes a door, somewhere he opens a window. And like fate, like the right word said at the right time, like a leaf falling slowly in a park onto the tip of a very bemused nose, like a chance smile or something wonderfully remembered, it enters my life just when I needed it to. C + K'ers, I give you, Rooibos Earl Grey. Oh, My.
I'd purchased this wonderful red 'tea' (it's not camellia sinensis) from Alice's and had been dying to try it out when I happened upon a little recipe for a milky drink in Holly Davis' Nourish. Macrobiotic leaf drinks rarely make people curse themselves hoarse with joy, but hey, there's a first time for everything, right?

But, before we get to that, Rooibos, like the lovely Ash, hails from South Africa and means 'Red Bush'. It is delicious, like Ash. Good for you, like Ash. Hot as hell, like Ash. Low in tannins, high in antioxidants and entirely caffeine free - unlike Ash. But just like Ash, it did come into my life at precisely the right time and warms me up with a simple, slow joy every time I make a delicious pot. 

Most Rooiboses (rooiboi?) can be a bit bland for me, a bit dull without some good, clean flavour. When you add a bit of beautiful bergamot to the mix, as the good people at Alice's do, it goes from bland to bang in about 7 sweet minutes. The bergamot gives it a sharpness that the rooibos itself welcomes wonderfully, it's like Beverage Leverage.
As from Nourish, this wonderfully red, milky brew involves a cup of water and a spoonful of rooibos per person, warmed over the stove for about 7 minutes. Watch the gorgeous red flickers swirling over the rolling heat, keeping it just under a racing boil. It's like a rouge-sepia constellation or something, catching light and spinning like it's having the time of it's rollicking life upon your humble little stovetop.
Let the smell of it feel the room and wait while the water turns a deep shade of liquid ochre, it's simply beautiful to watch infusing. Take it off the stove and strain it into a cup, add a little soy or moo til you get your desired level of incandescent milkiness, and then stir in a little honey. 
Sugar Pie Honey Bunch you know that I Love You. I can't Help Myself. Jesus Christ. I aint just using any old sticky stuff these days. I've upped the stakes, and you'll never bee-lieve what i've got my greedy little paws on. This is a pot of lavender honey, miel de lavande, I not only hauled half way around the world from a market in provence, it's a pot of  lavender honey I practically fell to my knees for in order to convince an initially reluctant, but eventually pliable customs officer, that it had to be let in to this country despite any risk to man or eco-system. 

Bloody Hell. If I ever get an army together one day and we manage to be the victors in a war of some kind, this is what I want the spoils to be. Just pots and pots of lavender honey. What were these genius bees thinking? Normal bees make normal honey, but what kind of spectacular IQ does it take to invent this stuff? What kind of gargantuan bee mind could come up with something as damn genius as mixing lavender and honey together. They should be studying these bees and we should be looking to them for new ideas. 

Ummm. I just realized it's not the bees who put the lavender in, but probably the people who make the honey. Heh. Oops. Anyway...
Sticky, tricky, sweet and slow. Warm honey. Raw honey. Thick, dizzy, sleepy honey. Drip and Drop and Spoon and Sway. Melt and lick and sink back. SilentNightSoBright honey. Still honey. Funny-so-worth-the-money honey. This is A Grade Bee Crack. So wonderful and natural, it tastes like it stole summer from a provencial sky and tucked it away deep like a secret within its own stickiness. Jesus christ. 

Add the honey to the gentle red brew in bountiful bergamot and you've got me saying, Caffeine Who? It's off this charts, this drink. You drink it, you take it in, you need to punch someone from delight it's so good. 

Dan and I have been going through so many cups and are now anxiously awaiting a re-order from alice's tea cup. Neil is meant to be bringing me some from NY as well, til then it's a little tense, dry and lonely around here. 
Rooibos Earl Grey. Beautiful, gorgeous, sinking and slow. I love this drink. It's so beautiful to sip and to hold, so differently red, it blushes at you through milky strains of swirling perfection. It holds you dear and true and close, all the way through until the bottom of the blissful cup. If you don't like Earl Grey (What in the hell is wrong with you?) Alice's do rooibos in a ton of flavours, just check their website. 

If it is the EG you're after, for some reason it doesn't appear on the regular list of red tea, you just have to go into the actual 'buy' section to find it, you'll be fine, the desperate always find their way.
If you need a new good-for-you reason to get up in the morning, or a little lullaby at night, this is perfect either way. So warming and light and gentle. And so good for you - it's like an anatomical reno for the house that is your insides. Spruce up Captain Liver and get him roaring for a rocking Spring.

South Africa, thankyou so much for Rooibos and Ashley, please give me lots more of both, and sometimes together. 

Ash, i'm as crazy for this stuff as someone in a bar once wanted to make you! If you were a warm beverage you'd be this, except slightly/heaps more opinionated. See you Sunday for Lou Lou Lunges, you gorgeous girl!


Sticky Penguin said...

Oh, how I enjoyed reading this post! That might have something to do with the vast quantity of Coke Zero currently fuelling me and my mirth about "Uptight Girl", which is just the sort of silliness I would usually run round coming up with, only much better and funnier. Or it could just be a sign of your great blogging! Maybe a little of both...

amanda said...

penguin! very glad you enjoyed x