Welcome back current and soon to be Dresden Files fans! Lasciel.
This review and recipe are long overdue, but I would like to introduce you to another fantastic geeky vendor I met at Teslacon last year: Dryad Tea.
Owned by Rubiee Tallyn Hayes of Celtic acapella band Pandora Celtica, this tea company features tea blends inspired by nearly everything in geek culture including literature, mythology, video games, and even songs from bands in the convention community. Rubiee is also a potter and purveyor of other geeky tea accessories like D20 adorned tea infusers.
What caught my eye, though, (because, duh, if you’ve been here before) is her line of teas inspired by Jim Butcher‘s Dresden Files series.
If you haven’t read the Dresden Files, it is an urban fantasy series about a modern day wizard for hire named Harry. Through sorcery and sarcasm, he both endangers and saves the natural and supernatural– or at the very least his little corner of it in Chicago. The following review and recipe will be chock full of spoilers, so bear with me. I will say though, these tea blends make excellent companions while reading through the series.
On to the Tea, then!
Dryad’s Dresden Files Tea Line — Reviewed!
This tea does not also draw inspiration from The Dresden Files’ Lasciel, but from “Temptress,” S.J. Tucker‘s song about this fallen angel. The ingredient list includes black tea, cacao nibs, papaya, apple pieces, lime and blackberry leaves, strawberry pieces, and calendula.
On the nose, this blend is very cocoa forward, sweetened with faint fruitiness – promising just the lightest touch of sin. It’s the kind of sin that tempts you while walking by a mall chocolatier during Lent, and you can smell the free samples. One taste of this brew and you can’t help but surrender to the caress of dark chocolate covered strawberries drizzled with black tea and blackberry syrup. This is the mouthful that will either drive you to take up the Blackened Denarius or linger in the shadow of its memory. Even a whisper of its decadence is enough to savor and seduce.
Next up on our list is a blend inspired by Dresden’s talking head companion, Bob the Skull! This green tea features puffed rice, lemon peel and pieces, rose and jasmine petals, and lime and raspberry pieces.
The books describe Bob as a spirit of intellect appearing as a color-changing cloud of light, housed inside a human skull. The scent of this tea further embodies that image as it smells of pure citrus, bright and glowing like a bowl of lemon-lime pixie sticks. Once brewed, it calms, balances, and focuses towards the herbal and floral — very fitting to the potions master Bob is.
Upon tasting, the rice and raspberry in this blend come forward on the tongue and are shortly followed by a wisp of rose and jasmine on the finish.
—Yes I snickered reading that line back, too. As much a dirty old
man skull intellect spirit Bob is, he is certainly a charmer. Sweetened up, this tea is like a box of forgotten Valentine’s Day hard candies — satisfying for an afternoon sugar craving, and forever smelling of potpourri.
Watch your brewing times, though. Green tea, like Bob, can grow very bitter when left to steep too long!
Next blend will take you through the perfumed throng of Queen Mab‘s court. I wonder if this blend was inspired by the appearance of Mab herself as its essence of vanilla, milk, and honey seems reminiscent of her ivory skin. Slight cinnamon and minty pink peppercorn notes play off her temperament, sometimes so cold that it also burns.
The tea features a fruity beginning with a strong rose prevalence that long sustains before slowly fading — probably to manifest a kiss from the Queen of Winter. Drinking this blend is like sipping on a bowl of winter rose wine and it would be fantastic iced.
Keep checking the website for when it’s back in season!
This tea is all smoke, but subtlely so, like you can’t tell if it’s the residual twinges of hellfire or the woodburning stove in Dresden’s apartment. It’s a comforting scent and flavor that will pair well with a steak sandwich, or the late night bowl of spaghetti-O’s as you curl up on the couch underneath the body of your heavy, fluffy cat.
I really think this is my favorite tea out of the lot. I have a weakness for smoked food and peat-heavy scotches, so settling up with some lingering smoke after being burned all day is my idea of relaxation. When I met Rubiee last year, she told me that this tea makes an excellent meat rub. I believe it. Mix a teaspoon or two of this blend with some kosher salt on your next round of steak sandwiches.
Bright, sweet, and yet sophisticated. I’m not sure if Murphy‘s personality inspired this blend, or rather if it is what she would drink to keep her head while dealing with Dresden, demons, and the denizens of the Never Never as the Head of Chicago’s Special Investigations Unit.
The blend hosts a wealth of tropical fruits and florals, with peach, papaya, and hibiscus being the most prominent on the nose and tongue. Sipping on this brew I’m sure takes one back to an island getaway with a certain mercenary, a zen escape for this aikido-fighting woman from the wet, windy, and wintery Mid-West.
Rubiee keeps on making more delicious blends, so by all means, check out her website!
I think it’s time that we moved onto our recipe featuring one of her blends, though. Don’t you think?
A Recipe for a Denarian Temptress
So now that we have drink options, wouldn’t it be great to have something to serve your guests at for this Tea Party in Never Never Land?
I’ve already done a lot of red meat dishes for the Dresden Files, so that ruled out Dresden for the current moment. Also, I’ve covered the Fae courts a couple of times for this blog and wanted to move in a different direction to one I haven’t interpreted before. Most of all, I wanted something that would feature Rubiee’s tea without masking it.
I opted to listen to the Devil on Dresden’s shoulder and use Temptress to make a dish inspired by Lasciel of the Blackened Denarians. For this, I really felt that baklava would be the height of decadence for a dish from the Biblical lands.
Layers of phyllo dough smothered with butter is one thing, stuffing it with pistachios and walnuts is another. When you think about it, all these ingredients would be either expensive, labor intensive, or hard to keep in such a hot climate during the time.
Of course, since Lasciel is the mistress of the lustful, I would need to kick up the wantonness to 11. Baklava is typically smothered and soaked in simple syrup or honey to bind the layers together. I decided to up the ante by using the tea blend to make it so that the notes of cacao, strawberry, and blackberry would permeate through this dish and saturate each bite with flavor.
Finally, to garnish I added blackberries, strawberries, powdered sugar, and silver painted chocolate coins. Yes, that paint is edible. You should be able to find it in the cake and baking aisle of most large chain craft and hobby stores.
The result indulges the mouth in all the pleasurable sensations it can experience — the sinking of one’s teeth into sweet and tender berry-flesh, popping with tart juice, then melding with creamy chocolate, followed by subtle crisping of pastry, not so subtle nutty crunching, and finishing with melt-in-the-mouth confectionary complexity.
This lady, this level of disgrace, you just can’t say no to this pretty face.
Go to Dryad Tea’s Website to buy some tea: Click here.
Check out my other Dresden Files inspired recipes: Click here.
Lasciel's Denarian Baklava
Equipment: Oven, 11″x13″ baking pan, food processor or ziplock bag with a kitchen mallet, microwave, tea kettle and tea steeper, stovetop, small saucepan, pastry brush.
- 4 oz phyllo dough
- 2 cups shelled walnuts
- 2 cups shelled pistachios
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 2 cups of water
- 5 teaspoons Dryad Tea’s Temptress Tea leaves
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- cooking spray
- sliced strawberries
- chocolate coins
- edible cake decorating spray in silver
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Coat the inside of the baking dish with cooking spray
Crush all the nuts in the food processor (or in a bag with kitchen mallet) into the consistency of large breadcrumbs.
- Microwave butter in a measuring or dish on high in 12-second increments until melted.
- Cut phyllo dough in half so that it fits your baking dish and place two layers into the dish. Brush on a thin layer of melted butter onto the dough and then scatter crushed nuts to lightly cover it. Top with another two layers of dough and repeat until you have used and covered the rest of the nuts. Make sure to cover the top layers with another coat of butter.
- Use a sharp knife to slice a diagonal diamond pattern into the dough. Bake in the oven 40 minutes until golden brown. Make the tea syrup while the baklava bakes.
- Place the tea leaves in the tea ball and put it into the small saucepan. Bring water to boil in the teakettle and pour it over the tea ball. Let steep for about 10 minutes before removing the tea ball and stirring in the sugar. Turn on the stovetop and bring the tea to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 20 minutes.
- While the syrup simmers, unwrap chocolate coins and place on foil or parchment paper. Spray silver spray onto the coins and let dry at least 5 minutes on each side. Refrigerate until ready to decorate.
- When the baklava is done baking, remove promptly from the oven. Pour the syrup over it, letting it soak into every cranny. Let cool completely uncovered to set.
- While the baklava cools, slice up strawberries for garnish. Garnish each cooled piece with powdered sugar, sliced strawberries, blackberries and a chocolate coin before serving.