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Sherlock... and Tea

A friendly reminder to my friends in the USA: for three straight Sunday nights beginning on May 6, PBS will be running the second season of Sherlock. Here's the PBS trailer:



In addition, PBS will be livestreaming tonight's Sherlock Q&A with Benedict Cumberbatch, Sue Vertue, and Steven Moffat at 8:15pm EST. Here's the link!


On a related note, I'm continuing to drink my way through the Sherlock Holmes-themed tea blends at Adagio Teas. My niece and nephew created a monster when they gave me the new teapot for Christmas! In case you're interested, here are my updated amateur "reviews" of the blends I've tried thus far, ranked in order of my enjoyment.



"Must Have" Blends

Watson by Cara McGee
A crack shot and brown as a nut.
Description: Queen and Country traditionalist, but still recounting his days in Afghanistan drinking green tea, John Watson prefers his tea with a bit of cream, no sugar, and just a little warm from a touch of cinnamon.
Review: This is my favorite of Cara McGee's blends (that I've tried thus far). It's downright comforting while at the same time feeling strong and energetic. (Perfect for Dr. Watson, isn't it?) I'm an Earl Grey fan, and this note is clear and dominant; there's an added kick from the Irish Breakfast, and the cinnamon comes across subtly throughout and then wonderfully at the end to round out the flavor in a very satisfying way. I'll need more of this one.

Sherlock's Eyes by Molly Endries
His eyes have such power.
Description: The mint awakens and piques the senses. The green adds some softness and comfort. The early grey provides a lasting, lingering, and comforting base.
Review: Fantastic! I could stand around all day, just inhaling the smell of this tea. The chocolate and bergamot scents really jump out at me from the bag (and the finished cup). The taste, however is more the clean coolness of the green tea and especially the spearmint. It's wonderfully refreshing and complex, and I immediately want another cup. I'm so glad I took a chance with this blend! I suspect (deduce?) that I'll be buying more.

My Dear Watson by Christa Y
The game's afoot, but first you'd better have a spot of tea.
Description: Bergamot-infused Earl Grey combines with delicious chocolate in this deerstocking-capped blend, together with a tiny hint of cream to round out the flavors.
Review: I'm a big Earl Grey fan, so I was worried about the chocolate becoming overpowering, but I'm also a huge Sherlock Holmes fan, so I had to give this a try. It's ideal! The Earl Grey taste hits first, perfectly clear, and then the dark chocolate follows behind and leaves a haunting, yummy aftertaste. The cream brings it all together. The flavors play off each other so well, and I absolutely love how comforting and complex this is. I'll certainly be buying more.


Very, Very Good Blends

The Mind and the Heart by Cara McGee
A perfectly complimentary blend.
Description: 'Spicy and Jammy' with a 'buzzy mouthfeel'. Stir a spoonful of honey into this this subtly fruity tea for a surprisingly sweet pairing.
Review: This is quite lovely. It smells wonderful. The first taste is the tartness of the berries and the warmness of the vanilla, but the cinnamon and ginger follow up for the perfect ending. I love that it's strong and it needs nothing added. My favorite of this Sherlock collection (thus far, at least) remains the Watson blend, but I really love this one, as well.

Mycroft by Vanessa Harper
Add a bit of cream and sugar and it just might be enough to make you forget about the cake that your diet has prohibited.
Description: Vanilla green, almond, and blackberry mingle in this subtle and sophisticated tea worthy of a 'minor member of Her Majesty's government.'
Review: This is a brilliant blend, complex and refined, as befits Mycroft. I taste the almond first, then it's smoothed by the vanilla, and the blackberry comes in last and lingers in a delightful way. Not too sweet, not too tart. I drink it hot without anything added, and it's perfect. I suspect I'll be going through this bag rather quickly. I can't seem to stop drinking it! Here's hoping there will be a Lestrade blend in Vanessa's Sherlock-inspired set soon. This one couldn't be better.


Very Good Blends

Donovan by Cara McGee
Careful, could be arsenic*. (*It's not.)
Description: Hard working and long suffering, this blend comes off a little strong at first, then mellows out with the taste of vanilla cookies and laced with almonds
Review: I really like this one. It smells amazing - chocolate and spice - but the taste is very subtle and mellow. The chai boldness comes out first, but almost immediately the taste turns smooth, with vanilla and almond as the strongest and most lasting notes. Like Sally at a press conference (and not, for example, persecuting Sherlock), this is calming and capable, with a lot going on just under the surface.

Lestrade by Cara McGee
A great cup of tea. And, if we're very lucky, it might even be a good one.
Description: Smoky traces of gunpowder, aged leather, mellowed with a trace of hazelnut. A distinguished, if tired, blend.
Review: This is such an ideal interpretation of Lestrade's character! Down-to-earth, calm, with hidden depth. I love its smokiness. I prefer to drink my tea plain, with nothing added, and this works wonderfully well that way, but it's even better, I think, with a splash of lemon. Normally hazelnut is a bit too sweet for my taste, but the slight hint of it here perfectly offsets the earthy-bitterness to create a rich, smooth taste.


Meh

Mycroft by Cara McGee
No brother, I have not been eating more cake. I've been drinking it.
Description: Chocolate chip, rooibos vanilla chai, and cream.
Review: This tastes like drinking a weakly-flavored spice cake. The chocolate scent is strong, but the taste is vanilla and spice. It's a very mild taste. It's pleasant, but rather lacking in personality. I've found that mixing half Mycroft and half Lestrade, however, or half Mycroft and half wild strawberry, makes a far more enjoyable blend.




“I’m really annoyed by pigeonholes and categories and labels. I view them as iniquitous to the spirit of play and of experimentation and of storytelling. The fact at a bookstore, the fiction is divided into fiction and mystery and science fiction, I don’t understand why it has to be that way. To me it’s all fiction, and I think the best science fiction, the best mystery fiction, the best horror fiction ought to be put on par with the best quote-unquote ‘literary fiction.’”
- Michael Chabon

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Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
witchcat07
May. 2nd, 2012 10:23 pm (UTC)
But when they do separate the genres, it makes it so much easier to browse. Unless of course they have funny ideas about what goes in which genre. :~P
eldritchhobbit
May. 4th, 2012 11:53 pm (UTC)
LOL! Good point, indeed. Browsing a brick-and-mortar store that just had one big fiction section could take a long, long time.

As for online, I love how Goodreads allows you to see all the virtual "shelves" on which others have placed a given book. I've found that to be extremely useful. One person's "SF" might be another person's "post-apocalyptic" or "political fiction" and another person's "short story collection," and all of those labels are helpful.
alivion
May. 3rd, 2012 04:54 am (UTC)
When my local library decided to merge the genre fiction (they had it separated into sci fi & fantasy, horror & supernatural, mystery, westerns and short stories) with the fiction, I came into the library specifically to browse the short stories, and was disappointed to find them scattered around throughout the fiction. If, however, I'd come to browse works by Neil Gaiman, it'd be best to have all his fiction in the same place, no matter the length.

I asked a librarian about the merge and she said that the mystery and horror & supernatural sections were what really precipitated the change. How do you decide if a mystery which turns out to have a supernatural explanation at the end is actually a mystery or a supernatural story? The division is arbitrary and only creates extra work for librarians and extra walking for people looking for certain books, so there's no reason to have it.
It's also nice to have everything by a certain author in the same place. If someone writes both literary fiction and space operas, why not just keep the two on the same shelf?

Which brings up another point. Fiction vs. non-fiction. On the surface it makes sense to segregate the two; if you want true things you go to the non-fiction section, if you want made up things you hit the fiction section. But if you like an author's fiction, chances are you're going to want to look at his non-fiction as well. The only reason to keep The Monsters and the Critics in one wing and The Lays of Beleriand in the other is because one is fiction and the other is non-fiction. They are both, however, works having to do with Linguistics and Epic English Verse by the same writer. If you're going to read what Tolkien has to say about alliterative poetry, you should probably also be reading his alliterative poetry, and visa versa.

And then some of the fiction, literary or otherwise, is kept in the "literature" section of the non-fiction wing, next to the poetry. The library has three copies of Stevenson's Treasure Island; an illustrated edition in the children's section, a hardbound edition with a fancy preface (the useless sort that tells you nothing about the book or the author and everything about the agenda of the preface-writer's grant machine) in the literature section and a paperback copy in the fiction section.

The difference between the three? Well, if I was nine years old and looking for a copy of Treasure Island I might be more likely to spring for the one with pictures (or I might look at the illustrated copy, throw a fit because someone's hat is the wrong colour in one of the plates, and storm off to the adult's section -- but for the sake of argument let's assume an ordinary 9-year-old and not one who's reading Treasure Island for the third time because Stevenson is his current favourite author). It's a book intended for children but which also appeals to adults, so it makes sense to have one copy next to Nancy Drew and another copy next to Hamlet.
The different between the other two? none if you don't count the covers (which are one borrower away from being replaced by the library's repairs department) and the preface (which no one will read except to laugh at the preface-writer).

Anyway, Michael Chabon seems to have said the exact same thing in far less words.


Edited at 2012-05-03 04:55 am (UTC)
eldritchhobbit
May. 5th, 2012 12:01 am (UTC)
How do you decide if a mystery which turns out to have a supernatural explanation at the end is actually a mystery or a supernatural story? The division is arbitrary and only creates extra work for librarians and extra walking for people looking for certain books, so there's no reason to have it.

You know, I hadn't really thought of that much. What a pain for those poor librarians!

The only reason to keep The Monsters and the Critics in one wing and The Lays of Beleriand in the other is because one is fiction and the other is non-fiction. They are both, however, works having to do with Linguistics and Epic English Verse by the same writer. If you're going to read what Tolkien has to say about alliterative poetry, you should probably also be reading his alliterative poetry, and visa versa.

YES!!! Excellent point indeed! *nods emphatically*

Your Treasure Island example makes a great point, as well. It reminds me of finding the same Neil Gaiman book all over the store (a good thing, since so many different people would want to read it).

Thanks so much for these insights! You and Chabon are definitely onto something, methinks.
cookiefleck
May. 4th, 2012 02:27 am (UTC)
I'm enjoying the Watson tea you recommended. Plus how fun is it to open the cupboard where I keep my coffee and tea and see "Watson" in there, hah.
eldritchhobbit
May. 5th, 2012 12:04 am (UTC)
Oh, I'm so tickled you liked the Watson tea! I get a kick out of seeing "him" in my kitchen, too. :)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )