©2022 Michael Raven

inspired memories
hibiscus tea
w/a dash of
cardamom &
cinnamon, each

even unsweetened
i can close my eyes
& see suzannah
dancing for tips
& wry crooked smile
baked kibbeh uneaten
lost in her kohled
almond eyes

I have taken to drinking herbal tea in the evenings again and digging through the cabinet for herbal teas that have mostly been forgotten by one family member or another, With one exception, we all drink tea to some degree: one likes her chai I make with a blend of spices from a store that pretty much only sells spices, another likes the more fruity lemon, apple blossom, white teas — some with green tea blends, others without, and one thinks tea tastes like dish water and won’t touch the stuff. Me? I trend towards green and oolongs, but I like a good, nutty assam. I use to drink a lot of herbal teas “back in the day”, but have only started drinking tisanes again in the evening recently.

I stumbled onto a forgotten package of hibiscus tea that I probably had originally intended to use in a reconstructed memory of a beverage I drank whenever I had the chance: rania (spelling might be faulty). As far as I know this recipe was an exclusive specialty of a family chain of middle eastern restaurants in town, all called “Java” (and now, sadly defunct).

Best I can recall, rania was hibiscus tea, sweetened with tamarind molasses or syrup, and heavily spiced with cinnamon, cardamon, and probably some cloves. The beverage was blood-red and slightly viscous and to die for iced on 100-degree days in August. Alternately, it was to die for warmed up in the middle of sub-arctic January (when you can hear the trees pop and occasionally explode in the middle of the night due to the subzero temps). In fact, it was just to die for.

So I had this high-quality loose hibiscus tea sitting around and I saw it on the shelf. I don’t have the syrups, but I make sure to stock the other spices. I decided, WTF… I brewed up a mugful, tossed in some cardamon and cinnamon and let it steep too long to get my girls to bed. Came back and… instant recall of sitting at the Java, the belly-dancer flirting with everyone at the table for tips, while I sipped at some mulled rania on a cold winter evening.

12 thoughts on “flashback

  1. Yet another lovely poem!
    Not a fan of chai, and too huge a fan of coffee, I have been trying to develop a taste for green tea since last month. I have heard good things about hibiscus tea. I hope it tastes good.🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I ❤ coffee. Love love love. It's almost part of my identity.

      Which is why I've added it to my habits to "mix up" and reserve it mostly for morning consumption. I've liked tea for the better part of my life, and drink it on and off, but now green, oolong and white tea for afternoons (less caffeine) and tisanes for after dinner. It's an interesting experiment, but I'm not sure that it proves the hypothesis that my caffeine consumption was negatively impacting my sleep — I still don't do much of that at night. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Nice incorporation of different types of tea in your day!👍🏼 Got to have our caffeine fix one way or the other. Too bad about it interfering with the sleep though. All good things come with a price.😁

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I once had a recipe for chai who had immigrated from India. She used to swing by the coffee shop I was slinging espresso for (back in the day) and gave it to me, along with her family’s recipe for curry. Somewhere along the way, I lost the chai recipe, but I recall enough to whip up a batch of the spices that taste “close enough”. Chai is too sweet for my taste buds, but the eldest kiddo sure loves it.

      Agreed! One of the (very few) things I miss by being sober is the mulled mead on a cold winter night. That, as Tom and Jerry’s on the same kind of night.


  2. Good on you for sobriety! And I imagine you’ve turned those tastebuds toward the richly subtle flavors of coffee. I admit, the first pot of a new dark roast can taste supreme but after that I don’t notice the difference. Too many pots a day I’m sure!

    Your eldest kiddo is lucky!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. While I love my coffee, I really enjoy the multiple flavors of teas based on just where they are grown, how they are processed and brewing techniques. So much variety!

      Tipping my tea cup in your direction. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, I love how recreating a drink from your past sparked such a vivid memory and poem. I’m a huge tea drinker and tend toward peppermint, chai and occasionally peach. My very favorite is pricey and I get it for Christmas each year and savor it—a mix of licorice root, peppermint leaf, sweet fennel, and basil. When I’m older I dream of growing these myself, drying them, and making my own blends. Someday…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed. I’m somewhat saddened that the wildcrafting an old high school friend and I had planned for this past year didn’t pan out. I she was only nominally interested in having a tag-along and I was more interested than she was. It would have been nice to learn from her what was safe to brew, maybe learn some combinations that I had never heard about (she’s mentioned a few that I would never had considered). Homemade infusions would have been interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

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