Blade Maidens: Strays – 23

“One might be surprised to learn that one of the most fierce conflicts in Telos is not fought on some distant battlefield, or in the labyrinthine halls of Valfald’s coin houses, no–this battle is conducted across dining tables and gardens with little more than hot water and a few pieces of fine dishware. I, of course, am speaking of tea.

While dismissed as a frivolity by the ignorant, tea has fueled the rise and fall of some of Telos’ greatest dynasties, whether through financial gains or diplomatic meetings. Diving into the history of its role in our lands would take far greater space than this writing allows, so instead I will focus on the most popular point of contention regarding tea: which variety is best?

Verdannian streets are often filled with the scents of beautiful floral blends being steeped and packed in kitchens and cafes, bright and alive with the sheer number of different crops available in the region. I would go as far as presuming nearly everyone in Telos is familiar with their most popular blend: Rootsheart. A delectable combination of bundles of dried assamica leaves, dried berries (the specific ones can vary from city to city), and rind from its namesake, Vena’s root. Earthy, with an undercurrent of sweet sugar and zest, it is a staple both within the nation and across Telosian kitchens everywhere.

Venture south, however, and tastes will diverge. Kilzians, for example, will proudly boast of their sun-brewed concoctions. Blending together overpoweringly bold breeds of leaves, citrus rinds, and often a dash or two of rum, the drink is…a decidedly acquired taste of the sailors who call the coastal nation home.

Further South still, herbal teas become prevalent. The arid plains and cliffs of the southern coast, and the small towns that dot its landscape, place higher importance on proper refreshment and health benefits than sweet notes on the palette. A word of caution to those looking to try their hand at these recipes, many of the herbs utilized can prove sickening or, worse, fatal if brewed in the incorrect quantities. I would recommend brewing only with either an experienced drinker or, perhaps, an apothecary nearby.

Countless other variations exist, from Derechold’s malty, thick blends to the mild, calming varieties of Thercia, and I will expand upon them in future entries. But, if nothing else, let this introduction serve as a demonstration of the sheer amount of history, thought, and, often, the identity that goes into each cup of tea you drink. Regardless of which regional blend you favor, all were built on the history of the people within its borders.”

– “Vidalia’s Musings”, Vol. 1, a recurring column in Freehold’s most popular circular