Literary Teas - Maya Angelou's Black Tea Blend
Poet, Author, Dancer, Actor, Singer, Activist, Teacher ... Maya Angelou was a true Renaissance Woman. Born Marguerite Johnson, Dr. Maya Angelou has inspired millions around the globe. Her honest, witty, insightful books and her uplifting poetry and prose give us a fresh way to look at the world around us.
Creating a blend to honor Dr. Maya Angelou has been a nerve wracking task. How do you honor the sun, the stars, the moon, a goddess? To create her blend we looked back at the early writings of Dr. Angelou and found lots of lovely tasting clues in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and from the cookbooks she wrote in her later years. One of the flavors in this blend is pineapple:
“… for every bad judgment, the fine was no silver wrapped kisses, the sweet chocolate drops that I loved more than anything in the world, except Bailey. And maybe canned pineapples. My obsession with pineapples nearly drove me mad. I dreamt of the days when I would be grown and able to buy a whole carton for myself alone."
Our next flavor inspiration, vanilla, came from young Marguerite’s interaction with a lady in her town, Mrs. Bertha Flowers:
“The odors in the house surprised me. Somehow I had never connected Mrs. Flowers with food or eating or any other common experience of common people. There must have been an outhouse, too, but my mind never recorded it. The sweet scent of vanilla had met us as she opened the door. “I made tea cookies this morning." ... The sweet vanilla flavor was still on my tongue and her reading was a wonder in my ears. I had to speak. I said, “Yes, ma’am.” It was the least I could do, but it was the most also."
The rest of the blend fell in to place once those two main flavors appeared. A little natural orange flavor, a few cloves, some hibiscus, orange peels and blossoms .... et voila! The brewed cup is a delicately balanced blend with a reddish amber color and a fruity, heady, sassy taste. The combination of pineapple, vanilla and orange dance playfully on the tongue. The addition of cloves brings a new depth to this taste, while the hibiscus adds to the fruity flavor and adds a reddish tinge to the amber cup. There is a mild astringency and a lingering fruit/spice taste on the tongue.
Ingredients: Black teas from China and Sri Lanka, hibiscus flowers, orange peel, cloves, orange blossoms, natural pineapple flavor, vanilla flavor, and orange spice flavor.
Brew tea at 212º - steep for 3 minutes.
4 Ounces of loose tea makes approximately 50 cups of tea.
A small sampling of works by Maya Angelou:
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969)
Gather Together in My Name (1974)
The Heart of a Woman (1981)
All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes (1986)
A Song Flung up to Heaven (2002)
Life Doesn't Frighten Me (1998)
My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken and Me (1994)
Kofi and His Magic (1996)
Maya's World series (2004)
Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diiie (1971)
And Still I Rise (1978)
I Shall Not Be Moved (1990)
"On the Pulse of Morning" (1993)
Phenomenal Woman: Four Poems Celebrating Women (1995)
Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now (1993)
Even the Stars Look Lonesome (1997)
Letter to My Daughter (2008)
Hallelujah! The Welcome Table: A Lifetime of Memories with Recipes (2004)
Great Food, All Day Long: Cook Splendidly, Eat Smart (2010)
Check with your local bookstore or library for more titles or for recommendations for further reading.
Maya Angelou used with permission from Caged Bird Legacy