Saturday, January 20, 2018

How Does it Taste? (Ambition)

So a bit over a year ago I published a post on my synesthetic experience with the feeling of passionate, romantic love. You all seemed to really dig that one, so I guess we'll make it a series! Today's flavor concept is Ambition. I refer to that determined, deep-gut desire to make something happen for yourself. In my world, it's typically career-based, but has also applied to my personal life and education. You know that feeling when you've really made up your mind to do Great Things and you won't hear otherwise? Let's taste that.

Ambition is as much a physical feeling as it is a flavor. It's a firm, tense rectangular prism deep in the bowels and a steel rod at the core of your sternum. The prism tastes tart and green with a hint of a bitter edge. I'd best compare this to citrus peels with plenty of the pith intact. The steel rod tastes warm and orange-yellow, like a late summer in a grassy meadow full of star thistle. That hot sun meets dry grass with an edge of danger? That's what is happening in the steel of the bone protecting your heart.

The little bit of nerves and fear that comes along with that danger feeling is vital to the Ambition profile. Without risk, there is no need for determination. All those citrusy green and yellows though, that's what we hold on to in order to forge ahead. Those notes are the ones that give us just enough cockiness and self-love to block out the naysayers and feel in our gut-prisms that we can achieve our ambitions.

Liquid Ambition

If ambition were a cocktail, it would probably be a Negroni. As a tea blend, I've embodied the concept in our Slytherin house blend. Because, of course I did. Our serpent friends are known for their ambition. Sure, they're painted badly in the Harry Potterverse, but ambition isn't in and of itself a bad thing. It's downright necessary in order to get things done!  Our Serpent's Blend embodies Ambition with its base of Sencha green tea (brilliant emerald green, bright vegetal taste, goes bitter if left to sit too long), lemongrass and lime peel all topped off with sweet apple flavor. Delicious.

Go forth and conquer,

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Behind the Blend: Dorian Gray

So here's a Fun Friday Fact for ya: I absolutely LOVE Oscar Wilde. His snappy witticisms and unique turns of phrase delight and enchant me. I know I'm not remotely alone on this one. Oscar has been a long-time favorite of so many people. My particular favorite work is one I would classify as his second-most chilling and macabre piece: The Picture of Dorian Gray. This novel inspired a tea blend which has become very popular with our literary-minded clientele here at the tea shop. Though frequently mistaken for an Earl Grey variant, this blend is completely lacking in bergamot. (I considered it, but it really didn't fit the scene I was trying to recreate.) Are you ready for some synesthetic magic? Buckle up. It's alchemy time.

The Tea of Dorian Gray

Most of my blends are inspired by specific characters or archetypes. This one is unusual for me in that it was inspired by a pinpoint moment in one scene midway through the novel. Dorian is wandering the wharf at night, hunting up some opium to numb himself and try to forget his murders and other naughty behavior. He's 18 years deep into his Faustian sitch and is mostly just tripping merrily along being a total monster. His sudden need for the opium dens that night is symptomatic of a moment of lucidity and self-reflective horror. This feeling passes, of course, and he does hella more drugs and murders and is generally a rude dude, but that one moment is so painful and sharp. It had to be blended.

Scene, Chapter 16: Dorian approaches the opium dens in fog so thick and dreary his cab windows are described as "clogged with grey-flannel mist."
A cold rain began to fall, and the blurred street-lamps looked ghastly in the dripping mist. The public-houses were just closing, and dim men and women were clustering in broken groups round their doors. From some of the bars came the sound of horrible laughter. In others, drunkards brawled and screamed.
 This chapter is set up with such vivid description, it was pretty easy to figure out the base for this tea blend. Dreary, murky, heavy mist and an almost threatening degree of debauchery just out of view led me to Pinhead Gunpowder green tea for its weight and mineral sediment, shortly followed by a loose pu-erh for the decay and humus notes.

It is said that passion makes one think in a circle. Certainly with hideous iteration the bitten lips of Dorian Gray shaped and reshaped those subtle words that dealt with soul and sense, till he had found in them the full expression, as it were, of his mood, and justified, by intellectual approval, passions that without such justification would still have dominated his temper. From cell to cell of his brain crept the one thought; and the wild desire to live, most terrible of all man’s appetites, quickened into force each trembling nerve and fibre. Ugliness that had once been hateful to him because it made things real, became dear to him now for that very reason. Ugliness was the one reality. The coarse brawl, the loathsome den, the crude violence of disordered life, the very vileness of thief and outcast, were more vivid, in their intense actuality of impression, than all the gracious shapes of art, the dreamy shadows of song. They were what he needed for forgetfulness. In three days he would be free.
Dorian's despair and lancing self-loathing pierces the murky surroundings and tastes distinctly angular and cold to my brain-mouth. I followed this flavor to ginger, which I find can either leave a cold or hot impression, depending on its context. In the context of heavy, earthy teas, the sharp spikes of ginger taste was just the thing to illustrate our anti-hero's distressing self-analysis. Now, let's look at the last sentence of this passage.
In three days he would be free.
 This sentence haunts me. It smacks of giving up. Giving in? Release of anguish and guilt, anyway, in favor of his darker impulses. The conflict is so short-lived, there was only one ingredient that worked. Blue cornflower is an electric blue flower with a delicate, grassy taste and a light floral smokiness. It's wispy and turns a beautiful silver when infused. The colors of the flower, both dry and steeped, are strongly associated for me with intellect and cerebral processing. The delicate nature of the flower, both in physical form and flavor, match the ephemeral ease with which Dorian transitions between morality and obsession.

So there you have it! The story of a blend about a story. I hope you enjoyed this insight into my process. Please comment with feedback and requests!

Much love,

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Weekly events, flash sale, and blends back in stock!

Things are rolling along nicely here at the tea shop. We've settled into our new retail space and already have made so many new friends! Regular events have been scheduled and we are in the process of adding more all the time. Check out our event calendar or drop by the shop to find out what's happening!

In celebration of our escape from 2017, we're throwing a flash sale! Friday, December 29th through Sunday, January 1st, help yourself to 25% off all loose tea in store or online (with coupon code "Tea2018" and stock up on green teas, medicinal blends, and anything else you might need to keep healthy and stick with those resolutions!

 Speaking of medicinals, we just got echinacea and orange peel back in stock! This means that our Lemon Ginger Echinacea and Audrey's Cozy Blend are back, just in time to fight off those yucky cold and flu bugs that are circulating work, school and public transportation.

Stay warm and healthy this winter, folks! Let's get 2018 off to a great start!


Thursday, October 26, 2017

Shop construction update!

Our permits finally came in, and after a year of planning and working hard we will at last be opening our doors in Wallingford to you all mid-November! Keep your eyes open for the official grand opening date and come visit us at 4228 Stone Way N!

Much love,

Monday, August 22, 2016

FA is opening a retail location in Seattle!

You read that correctly, friends. Our small tea shop has been growing and evolving steadily for six years now, and we have outgrown our manufacturing space! We will not be able to sustain our level of operation, nor expand enough to meet growing demand, without moving into a new space. Rather than sell the company, we are trying to raise funding to move into a brick-and-mortar shop in Seattle's Phinney Ridge neighborhood.

Taste all 200+ Friday Afternoon teas in our store!
With your help, Friday Afternoon Tea can continue to grow and spread our weird, nerdy tea love to the community. Our new space will host free tastings any time, local geeky art on our walls, craft nights for adults and regular art hours for children. We'll do custom blends on the spot and run weekly game nights. Our goal is to create the ultimate living room for you and your friends. How can you support us in making this happen?

We recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds necessary to move into our new home. We're getting a lot of pledges already, but nowhere near what we need to make this happen. Please contribute what you can, keep an eye on our campaign updates and encourage your friends to support us however they can as well! Without these funds, we cannot continue to spread our love of all things nerdy and tea-related to you and our other lovely friends.

Click me to find out more!

Thank you for loving us all these years. We can't wait to see you at our grand opening.

Happy sipping,


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Tea cocktails with special guest Beca of The Shrubbery!

Summer is such a good excuse for shaking, stirring, and otherwise mixing up tasty cocktails to cool you down. While I'm generally an "Irish whiskey, neat" kinda gal, the sunshine tends to make me super feisty. During the hot months I find myself craving salsa (both the food and the music), grilling with friends, hanging outside with my kiddo, and DEFINITELY a parade of fun cocktails.

The lovely Beca, owner and creator behind The Shrubbery, was way into the idea of coming over for a cocktail tutorial afternoon. Mixed drinks are not my area of expertise, so I was really amped to get some education on the subject. I infused the booze, picked up some assorted citrus at the store and eagerly awaited the arrival of my dear friend.

Ok, at this point I'm going to hit pause on the story of a delightful afternoon for those of you who don't know how to infuse spirits with tea. It's seriously easy, instantly makes cocktail hour more interesting and will absolutely make you seem way fancier than you maybe actually are. All you need to do is take any spirit, find a tea or tea blend with a complementing palate and infuse away! I use one tablespoon of any given leaf in a pint of whatever spirit I've paired it with, let it sit for about 12 hours and then strain the leaves out. Now we can make some fancypants tea cocktails!

So Beca showed up to my place with this amazing weird fur suitcase that strongly reminded me of the Monster Book of Monsters in Harry Potter. It turned out to be a fun little portable bar setup with a jogger and shaker and strainer and some bitters and some of her fabulous shrub. As previously stated, I don't really know a lot about inventing fun cocktails. Fortunately, Beca is a friggin pro and whipped up some super tasty concoctions like it was NBD. 

Ready? Let's drink.

#1: The Pemberly (a sophisticated twist on a classic Gin and Tonic)

In a glass with ice, just go ahead and throw in 2 oz. of gin infused with Darcy's Delight.
Stir a touch, then top with 3-4 oz. tonic water and garnish with lemon.

#2: The Bowler Hat (Gin. Earl Grey. Cold.)

Shake 1.5 oz. Earl Grey-infused gin, 1/2-3/4 oz. Lemon Lavender shrub and 3-4 dashes of Orleans bitters until well chilled.
Strain into a glass with one ice cube, garnish with orange peel.

#3: Captain Hammered (the weird stuff)

Smash the bajeebus out of 1/2 cup pineapple tidbits, 1/2 lime, 2 oz. Moroccan Mint white rum, 3-6 dashes of Firewater bitters (depending on spice tolerance/enjoyment).
Strain over ice, top with 3-4 oz. club soda.
Garnish with lime slice and booze-soaked pineapple.

#4: L'Amour Fou (straight up sinful)

In a shaker with ice, combine 3/4 oz. Apricot Cardamom shrub, 2 oz. Infatuation Blend-infused white rum, 3-4 dashes of orange bitters.
Shake until hella chill, then strain into a glass.

So there you have it! Any ideas for other tea-based cocktails you'd like to see? Any you've made that you'd like to share? Any of these you're planning to try yourself? Let us know!

Much Love,



Wednesday, June 22, 2016

How does it taste? (Love)

As you probably know, I perceive the world with my taste buds. My dominant form of synesthesia is Lexical-Gustatory. This means I literally taste words, ideas, feelings, personalities, etc. The overwhelming majority of my blends are direct translations to leaf of the flavors my brain-mouth is experiencing. Today, I wanted to share with you the way I experience one particular flavor profile: Love.

To be specific, I'm talking totally bonkers, swept-up, overwhelming, skin-tingling passion. The kind of Love you feel when you find yourself clicking over and over and over with someone. The kind of Love that makes all the garbage and difficulty of the dating world worth it. The love you feel for family, close friends and pets is a different (though still yummy) flavor.

I'm particularly fixated on this tasty, tingly sensation because I'm right in the middle of it these days. For the last two months, I've been in the midst of a crazy whirlwind romance. It's been so good, and it just gets more delicious every day. This person has brought out of me of a whole range of flavors that I hadn't remembered how to taste for a long time. I love this Love and the gift of all these accompanying taste-bursts. 

So let me share them with you.

The thrill of making eye contact with your Love mainly occurs on the sides of the tongue and is bright and gingery with peppery notes. It only lasts for a moment, but is sharp and shivery.

The butterflies in the stomach when your Love smiles and their eyes light up fills the whole mouth and lingers for a long time. It's malty and spicy and reminiscent of bourbon and chai.

The sound of your Love laughing brings a texture as well as a taste. It pops across the molars and tastes like sour candies. Or sometimes like toasted almonds. It depends on the particular laugh.

The feel of your Love's mouth on yours is a deep, dark chocolate. It's rich and silky and undeniably addiction-inspiring. You know the kind of chocolate that makes your bones twinge with pleasure? That is the taste of your Love's kisses.

A true Love inspires all these flavors and more. I've approximated the spicy, musky, dark and deep flavor of this kind of passionate Love as closely as I can in my Infatuation Blend. Black tea, coconut, chocolate and spices. Of course, spices.

 Taste the Love

This is really just a shadow of the complex collection of feelings this person inspires (and I hope you all have a Person or People who makes you feel like this). This is the frustration of the synnie reality. At least, that's been my experience. I experience everything so vividly. Everything. There is nothing I feel, see, hear or think that doesn't elicit an intense flavor/texture perception. I wish so deeply that I could accurately share that with you all. I promise I'll keep doing my best to let you in on my world via words and flavors.

All my love,