I’m knee deep in my new book TS: Dragons on Skye and in the midst of writing I’ve incorporated two tea drinks into the story. The first is a homemade vanilla chai recipe which one of the characters made often in TS: Starchild and the second is a mulled, spiced wine-like drink which is offered to the young dragon, Darmis Fanír. It’s a sweet juice drink with black tea and chocolate, and it’s steeped overnight, and served warm with dark chocolate shaved into it.
Smiling warmly, Danan looked between both of them before meeting eyes with the young dragon exclusively, “I want to show you how to make something, I think you’ll like it.”
Nervously, Darmis agreed with a nod, and got Honi’s nonverbal permission in a look of pride and approval to follow Danan over to a large cast iron pot on the stove. With the fire under the stove top blazing beautifully, the liquid in the pot had started to steam and had been kept fairly warm for the majority of the night. Darmis’ nose picked up immediately on the powerful concentrated smell of what had been steeping and was amazed to see floating fruit and particles that resembled tea.
“What is this?” Darmis wondered quietly.
Danan smiled, kind and warm, “it’s mulled, spiced wine. All the alcohol has burned off now, and it’s ready for the finishing touches,” he encouraged revealing from the cupboard a block of dense, dark chocolate. “Bring this to a boil, stirring it a lot, then we’ll take it off the heat and put in the chocolate. You can handle that right?”
Darmis nodded eagerly and accepted a wooden spoon, which he soon realized was hand carved. The wine smelled incredible, sweet and spicy and by stirring the pot he woke up the many spices swimming inside. He could see anise, cinnamon, ginger slices, cloves, orange slices, dried blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and blackcurrants. It smelled rich and wonderful, and with the family chai recipe, he was very curious about the recipe for this.
When the drink started to bubble, he used an oven glove to lift the heavy pot off the stove and over to the work counter. It was another hand built surface, a heavy sanded and polished block of wood over a metal frame of a very old reclaimed structure. It housed the chopping block and the sink, which Darmis was shocked to see, didn’t have a faucet. He had to remind himself, based on what Honi told him, that no one here had electricity. He made a silent note to check his phone when he could, preserving the battery life as long as he could.
Danan stood beside him after helping several others at the stove, putting together enough breakfast for everyone. He selected a long zest grater, and showed Darmis how to shave the chocolate into the wine, stirring it in and watching it melt before leaving it to Darmis to finish. The smells were heavenly and Darmis had to steal a taste while it was still too hot. The juice tasted like blackberries, sweet and not too tangy, with undertones of the rich spices and the smooth creaminess of a little chocolate. It was lighter than juice, with a robust hit of black tea. He could taste a slight hint of grapes, but not the sting of vinegar or alcohol like the red wine his mother enjoyed.
Danan determined it was done and proceeded to take out a score of mugs and cups from the cupboards. “You don’t strain it?” Darmis puzzled when he saw Danan dip the first cup into the pot for himself.
Eyeing him with a smirk, Danan shook his head, “Why? You can eat all the fruit and the tea and spices sink to the bottom if you even get any. Give it a try!” he offered passing a little hand sculpted piece of pottery into Darmis’ hands. Everything was hand-made, hand-painted, hand-crafted, it fascinated Darmis, and made him feel quickly at home. It was all so much more organic than home, like this house was a part of the forest even though windows sealed them off from the cold. Even the windows themselves seemed organic, made from imperfect glass which wasn’t smooth and distorted the greenery outside.
Darmis inhaled of the warm drink contently and sank into it. It was too sweet to be considered tea, but it was still scrumptious. The bitter dark chocolate were smooth flecks in the liquid that resisted melting and gave the brew several nice hits of chocolate as he drank it.
The recipe is based of a discontinued tea I found with dried berries, chocolate flecks and black tea. It was delicious and now that I’m out I wanted to replicate it as best I could, so here’s what I came up with.
- ½ gallon Grape Juice
- ¼ cup Blackberries
- ¼ cup Raspberries
- ¼ cup Blueberries
- Small handfull dried Blackcurrants (if you can find them)
- 1 Orange
- 1 lime
- 2-4 Star Anise
- 2 Cinnamon sticks
- 4-6 Cardamom pods
- 1 inch Fresh ginger
- 4-6 Whole cloves
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Sweetener of choice, I use Agave
- 3-4 tbsps of black tea
- 80% dark chocolate
- Optional ½ cup red wine for the 21+ crowd
Prepare spices: the Star Anise, Cinnamon stick (break them up), crush the cardamom pods. Skin and slice the fresh ginger, I tend to use a lot more than most people like. don’t forget the fancy cloves, and the allspice.
Zest the orange and the lime. Pour grape juice into large pan with the zest, slice the orange and the lime and then place the orange and lime into the juice. Measure fruit, frozen will work as well as fresh, add the fruit into the pan. Sweeten as desired with sweetener of choice but you can always leave out the sugar.
Bring to a low boil and simmer on low for 30 mins to an hour covered. Add black tea and optional red wine and simmer for another five minutes. Remove from heat, grate dark chocolate into the pan. Strain into glasses, and serve hot.
This should make enough for eight servings, and though I haven’t tried this with wine yet, I’m sure it will add a festive kick. With fall coming around I’m stocking up on apple cider, but this can easily be a lovely non-alcoholic mulled wine for the coming Christmas season.
With the kickstarter over and my budget coming together, I’m searching for an editor and things are looking good for Fire’s Hope. So while I wait for responses, I’ve decided to make my blog posts more regular. I’ll post every Thursday with some writing tidbits, recipes, movie rants, and more!
TS: Dragons on Skye is currently at 95,240 words after a nice weekend binge writing session where I knocked out 13,000 words! And I finally got out that lovely torture scene I’ve been planning for the last year! and have 80,000 words the Dragons have appeared! I might do some art soon to illustrate the first dragon: Alizaria!
That’s all for now! I’ll see you next week!