There has been a bit of a theme with these books. Re-reading them as an adult is a profoundly different experience than reading them as a kid in school. I first read The Great Gatsby as a teenager and I remember thinking "That was pretty fun!" Lots of parties and glamour and a man who was just very in love and a bit too self absorbed for his own good. Re-reading it as an adult my reaction was "Holy cow, that was bleak."
The Great Gatsby is a stellar book, powerful despite being short, or perhaps all the more powerful because it's so short. It packs a punch and it doesn't take a lot of time to do it. On the surface it's a fairly fun book. A regular guy gets swept up into a world of extravagant parties and the good times of the rich and famous/infamous on Long Island. However, his neighbour, the titular Gatsby, is a narcissist with a lost love that he just can't let go and this end up being everyone's downfall. Everything ends badly for nearly everyone involved. No one gets what they want, people are killed, lives are ruined. But what everyone remembers about the book isn't the futility, or the greed. It's the wild parties and fun times! And maybe that's the point. The parties in the book are pointless. Gatsby doesn't even like them, but everyone uses them for the own purposes. To be seen. To get drunk on free alcohol. To distract themselves from their real problems.
But, they are grand parties! With bands, and booze, and a marble swimming pool! So just have some fun and forget your troubles for a little bit.
Any Gatsby tea has to make a damn good cocktail, so from the beginning that was the foundation for this blend. I wanted it to go really well with gin, so my thought was to somehow create a tea based gin and tonic that also works as a lemonade-type drink on its own without gin.
For a base I went with a green gunpowder tea because it's got a strong flavour of its own to stand up to the gin, but it's also got a bit of astringency to it that almost borders on bitterness. I want that edge to hint that all isn't quite well in the world of this book. There is a harsh truth underlying these wild parties. A bit of bitterness is also great with gin; that's part of what makes a gin and tonic so good.
There is a lot of debate between whether citrus or cucumber is best in a G&T, but I am generally Team Citrus so that's the direction I wanted to take this tea. Fortuitously, lemons also happen to be mentioned in the book. Nick buys lemon cakes for Daisy at Gatsby's request when they meet again for the first time in five years. So, lemon it was. To get lots of fresh lemony flavour without being sweet I added ground Egyptian lemon peel and lemongrass, and well as dried lemons.
To add a bit of a luxiourous twist to this blend, I added Tibetan lavender. I thought Daisy would approve of it. It smells incredible, looks great, and adds a floral note and a bit of a feminine edge to the tea.
To top it all off, some calendula petals because they are gold and that's just perfectly fitting.
The final test: Did it taste good with gin? Verdict: Absolutely!
It's strong, sour, floral, and a little bit bitter and it smells like a luxurious spa. With fall already firmly upon us, it makes me miss summer. This tea is perfect over ice on a hot day, with a splash of gin as a relaxing treat. So go ahead, forget your troubles, and have a party, even if it's just for yourself!