Tea is the second most popular beverage in the world so of course it’s got an image problem. No matter how hard you brew it, steep it, or boil it tea just isn’t dark enough. That’s why the tea company Brutaliteas has a whole line of horror-themed teas like Cranthrax and Screamsicle and, er, Vanilla Biscuits.
And they’re not the only ones. Pitch Black North, a “SATANIC TEA COMPANY”, according to their website, has teas called Throat Of Lucifer, Breath Of Demons (currently sold out), and, er, Vanilla Earl Grey.
Is there something terrifying about vanilla that I’m missing?
A New York Times article about these tea companies says that the marketing of tea “often seems intended to target kindly old ladies, taut wellness gurus and well-heeled gourmands”, but Pitch Black North’s founder Dominic Alvernaz says he’s “trying to get people interested in tea who normally wouldn’t be interested in it, because they have these pre-notions that it’s only for strict tea ceremonies and pricey hotels”. He’s trying to give his tea ““sketchy, sexy vampire vibes” which reminds me of a horrifyingly terrible joke that I’ll put at the end of this post with a warning so you can skip it if you want.
Pitch Black North is marketing teas with the band Cradle Of Filth whose vocalist says they were already “avid tea drinkers” because, obviously, they just like tea and don’t care how it’s marketed, although they promise their teas “swim abrim with genuine witchcraft, having been brewed under all the right stars” and if that weren’t dark enough the Sweetest Maleficia brew is made with vanilla.
There’s also Simpson & Vail’s Edgar Allan Poe tea which is made with beetroot that turns it a deep red, but I like to add milk to it which turns it pink. Maybe that spoils the effect, but I don’t care–I’m in it for the taste.
That’s the real heart of the matter–the dark, bloody, still-beating heart, maybe. It’s all in how you think about tea. It’s a drink with a long and often brutal history, and there’s tasseography, fortune-telling with tea leaves, which some people might consider dark or even dangerous. I’m going to go out on a limb–a black, slimy limb festering limb studded with poisonous fungus–and say that marketing is the real monster. That and vanilla.
AND NOW the joke which was told to me several years ago by my friend Andi who called me to share it and I’m pretty sure she knew I was eating dinner and knew it would ruin my appetite so consider yourself warned:
There’s a special bar for vampires where they all go on Friday nights to hang out and have a pint of blood. One night Dracula flew in and asked for a cup of hot water. The bartender was confused and checked the mirror behind the bar. No reflection so he was definitely a vampire. The bartender boiled some water and poured it into a cup. Dracula then pulled out a tampon and said, “Tea time!”
If you’re still here enjoy this taste of the film adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline.