Saturday, July 30, 2011

Accio Magical Black Tea

I've been running and listening to the Harry Potter audiobooks, as it is the only way I can convince myself to run. I am now near the end of the Order of the Phoenix, and I'm thinking Mrs. Rowling was not a big tea drinker – for tea isn't very much in the books at all. Just a quick mention here, and a quick mention there. I mean, if she can imagine up drinks called Butter Beer and Pumpkin Juice, there could have been some fantastical tea drink exclusive to the wizarding world. Anyways, here are the references to tea that I've found/listened to so far.

If you think about it, the most constant and enthusiastic tea drinker would be Rubius Hagrid. From the beginning, whenever the three Gryffindors students went to visit him, he'd put the copper kettle over the fire and serve some tea in mugs. He'd also pull out some hard as stone rock cake. But what kind of tea did he serve? It never says.

The next tea drinker would be Remus Lupin, as Harry got some during a afternoon with the Werewolf professor. He also boiled water in a kettle, and preferred to serve tea from bags rather than loose. It again never mentions what tea it was.

Professor Sybill Trewlaney served tea for lessons in her divination class, and the students had to decipher their futures from the tea leaves. Harry of course saw the grim, but as to what type of tea they drank, it never mentioned. You'd think the type of tea best for tea reading would be in their lesson plan. After trying my hand at tea reading, I found that PG Tips has the perfect size leaves.

Finally, the despicable Dolores Umbridge served tea to Harry that was supposed to be spiked with Veritaserum. She made his tea with milk and without sugar, but that's all you really know. Once again, there is no insight to the type of tea.

Now outside of the castle, in the village of Hogsmead, there is a teashop, or two – maybe. I say maybe because Harry and Cho Chang definitely went to one. At Madam Puddifoot's Tea Shop, one dreary valentines day, Harry was visually assaulted with tacky décor and heart confetti. More horrible than that is the fact that they both ordered coffee.
Now according to LEGO Harry Potter there is another tea shop, the Rosa Lee Teabag teashop. This tea shop is never mentioned in the books, and seems to be only a addition to the game – which I think is disappointing. I bet they aren't full of tacky décor and crammed tables with people making out.

So when I went down to Florida to spend the week at Disneyworld, we took a day to travel to Universal Studios where we wandered the streets of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I can tell you from personal experience that they regrettably did NOT have any shops labeled Madam Puddifoots or Rosa Lee. But they did make up for it by selling Butter Beer and Pumpkin Juice.
I bought a Butter Beer and consumed it on the spot. It was a creamy butterscotch drink, sweet and heavenly. I -still- think of it, and have looked for authentic recipes on the internet to make my own. It makes me think that if you found a black tea that contained vanilla and butterscotch or caramel flavourings, and make sure to add cream and sugar, you could make your own version of a Butter Beer tea.

As for pumpkin Juice, well I have been aching to drink some for awhile. Every morning Potter, Granger and the Weasleys had some, and it seemed like it was very tasty. But how could anything made with pumpkins be tasty? We've all make jack-o-lanterns and I am sure no one has ever thought that it would be a good idea to drink the goo you're scraping out. So when I saw it for sale in Hogsmead, I bought one and brought it home with me (I was too full of butter beer to drink it there.) The bottle is delightful, and the drink is delicious! Imagine drinking a pumpkin/apple pie. The ingredients are listed as apple juice, pumpkin puree, and apricot puree, with [pumpkin pie type] spices. Yes, it is good, and yes I wish I could buy cases off the internet.

Now when the summer season is over and people start looking forward to Thanksgiving and Halloween, a specialty tea called Stash's Decaf Pumpkin Spice makes its way to grocery store shelves. It is very much like drinking pumpkin pie, and with Harry Potter and Pumpkin Juice on the brain, I had to brew some before the autumn season. Thankfully I had some from last year and the expiry date was still fine. It is delicious, and if there was a Harry Potter tea, I think this is the closest.
If you want an even bigger treat, pour half a cup of boiling water into half a cup of apple cider (or just apple juice if you have it) and steep Stash's Pumpkin Tea until it is nice and dark (3-5 minutes.) To make sure the drink is really nice and hot, you might want to warm up the apple cider first. Just so you know, the acidic apple would curdle any milk, so this is a dariy-free tea if you do try it.

So, while the wizarding world didn't specifically have magical teas, I think these two tea substitutes make up for that horrible gaping hole.

Caramel/butterscotch, Vanilla tea anyone? I know Bigelow has a flavour like this, maybe I'll pick one up.

Pumpkin spice is only available during the September-ish to Decemberish, but don't quote me on that. Luckily, when the time comes, it is available in most grocery stores -- just keep a look out for it! Or, of course, you can just buy it online!

Just a note: I am aware that in the UK that when tea is offered, you assume it is just plain black tea. A selection of flavoured black tea isn't expected, and you just say whether you like milk or sugar. This tea ritual is not what I wish was different in the Harry Potter books. It's just, if pumpkin juice and butter beer are the norm, why can't a fantastical tea also be the norm? When so many other foods and drinks are given a make-over, it is a shame that tea was kept the same. I understand that it might be unsettling for some if the long tradition of black tea was changed, but it's still a disappointment we didn't get a crazy Wizarding World specialty tea too.


  1. AnonymousJuly 31, 2011

    MM! That sounds amazing. Anything pumpkin-related is worth my time! I, like you, have spent the last three weeks re-listening to all the HP books at work.

    Is there anything wrong with a grown woman crying at her desk, listening to the narration of Dumbledore's death? Heck no! Or... wait. Maaaaybe there is.

    I did, interestingly enough, come across a review on Steepster a while back about a butterbeer TEA! I did some internet sleuthing and well, here you go:

    I've never tried any adagio teas before, but the reviews weren't terrible.


  2. @Annie,

    I had seen that tea and that site before, but I was hesitant. Those are all fan made teas, and you can even find Slytherin and Hufflepuff teas there. But the problem I find with them is that the blending is done online - so even the blender doesn't know for sure what the end product will be.