Header for Courtney’s weekly tea
An illustrated purple gaiwan filled with amber liquid
the weekly tea
green tea processed stinging nettle tea
from me, actually me!
weekly tea: green tea-processed
stinging nettle
I could not be more proud of this newsletter. Number one: I'm going to tell you about a book, and I made it! Number two: I made today’s tea! I do not mean that I blended today’s tea. I mean that I made it!
Most of the time, herbal teas are a blend of dried, well, herbs. And spices. How do you prepared the herbs? You dry them, obviously.
Tea—camellia sinensis—is much more complicated. There are multiple processes, depending on whether you’re shooting for white, green, oolong, red, or dark tea. It is so much more involved than simply dehydrating the leaves, and the process itself imparts flavor and character to what you’re drinking.
I got the idea from the He family’s series of herbal things, processed green tea style, available at Verdant Tea: taking the traditional Chinese green tea process and applying it to non-tea items. I chose something that would be widely available in Kent, England at the time my story was set: stinging nettle.
And I put it through the green tea process. Step one: pluck the young tips of leaves and leaf buds from off the nettle and let them wither. (Traditionally, this would be done in a bamboo basket, but I did not have one of those: I just used a cookie sheet.)
A cookie sheet which contains small pairs of green stinging nettle leaves: almond shaped with jagged edges and visible veins.
It’s pretty dry here; I let them sit for about three hours to wither before I moved on to the next step. I put them in a clean muslin cloth and then rolled them, applying gentle pressure multiple times, to help break the cell walls. After that, I pan-fired them in a dry wok, tossing carefully to avoid burning, but letting them get nice and toasty. 
Slightly yellower leaves, withered, and clumped together, in a heated wok.
This stage (called the kill-green stage) denatures the enzymes that make tea oxidize, helping it to retain the green color. Since I pan-fired these leaves, they underwent the Maillard reaction, which basically means “things taste yummy when you heat them and they brown.”
I then dehydrated the leaves of the last of their water, and voila. I had my tea.
Withered stinging nettle leaves, spread out on a silicon sheet and placed in a Ninja Air Fryer which doubles as dehydrator.
After all this work, the question is: was it worth it?
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The answer is an emphatic yes. I am not a tea master; this is, in fact, my first time trying to make anything like tea. But there are two magical things about green-tea-treating stinging nettle.
  1. Unlike normal dried tea, the dried tea is not oxidized, which means that the leaves steep up to this beautiful green color, which is almost indistinguishable from the green of fresh leaves. I was expecting some color divergence—maybe a lessening of the green—but it just. didn’t. happen. Absolutely beautiful.
  2. The tea tastes amazing. The vegetal notes of fresh stinging nettle tea are tamed into something rich and toasty—not the taste of camellia sinensis, but something that rhymes with it.
This was one of the coolest and most rewarding things I have ever done for a book. 
Oh. Right. This is for a book.
It was a stupid amount of work for what ended up being a very tiny amount of tea, but it was so, so worth it and it gave me sooo many ideas that I am eager to let loose on my herbal tea practice. I had to struggle with my ADHD, which for one moment, demanded that I throw everything to the wind and apprentice under a tea master for the sheer joy of learning to do this with all the things.
Do not worry: I managed to fight this urge off, and instead, I have written a book.
And now I'm going to tell you about it.

The Earl who Isn't
A bright pink background

Cover reveal coming soon

The Earl who Isn't
by Courtney Milan
Nobody knows that Andrew Uchida is the rightful heir of an earl. Not his friends, not his neighbors, not even the yard-long beans growing in his experimental garden. If the truth of his existence became public, the blue-blooded side of his family would stop at nothing to make him (and anyone connected with him) disappear. He shared one passionate night with the woman he loved…and allowed himself that only because she was leaving for Hong Kong the next morning.
Then Lily Bei returns, armed with a printing press, her irrepressible spirit, and a sheaf of inconvenient documents that prove the very thing Andrew wants concealed: that he is actually the legitimate, first born son of the Earl of Arsell.
What’s Andrew to do, when the woman he’s always desired promises him everything he’s never wanted? Andrew’s track record of saying no to Lily is nonexistent. The only way he can avert impending disaster is by stealing the evidence… while trying desperately not to fall in love (again) with the woman he shouldn’t let into his life.
Coming: July 30, 2024
Preorder The Earl who Isn't on:
(Note: some of these links are still propagating to servers… If you click something and it doesn't work, wait a little bit and it will probably figure itself out.)

There is a lot more I can say about this book: including the fact that Lily, a magnificent heroine who is EXTREMELY GOOD AT TRYING and maybe not so great at people, ends up making this stinging nettle tea for her grandfather.
I will share more as the weeks come on. In the meantime, now that I have this out of the way:

Romancing the Vote is back!
Once again, our auction to raise money for voting rights organizations is underway! We're raising money to benefit Fair Fight and VoteRiders this year.
We're still posting listings, and there are so many crafty things, consults from people who do interesting things, books, annotated books… Just so much!
But here are the things you can get from me:
  1. The rest of the green-tea processed stinging nettle tea! There are between 3-4 grams of this tea, enough for 3 to 6 sessions, depending on how much tea you like to drink. To the best of my knowledge, nothing like this is commercially available anywhere, so aside from making it yourself, this is pretty much the only place you can get this tea.
  2. The complete annotated Wedgeford series: all three books, annotated by yours truly, with inclusions like: what I was thinking when I wrote it, handwritten notations from my files, original jotted-down notes from scenes, and so forth.

    These books will also be autographed by me. Two of them are signed by Pele. The third is signed by Pele by way of a vellum insert.
  3. A signed copy of The Earl who Isn't, when it comes out, with an autograph by Pele (who the book is dedicated to) by way of a vellum insert.

    I am very sad writing this, because these are the last books that will ever be autographed by Pele. Ever. Let me pause a moment to feel my feelings about that and then get on to the last auction.
  4. Some memorabilia from Sandra Day O'Connor's office--specifically, a little statuette declaring her to be an honorary Georgia Peach. I thought it seemed appropriate, in light of the fact that Fair Fight originated in Georgia.
This auction kicks off on July 1st--I can't wait for us all to squee and discover it together!

Until next week!
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This has been Courtney's Weekly Tea, a weekly newsletter about tea, books, and everything else. If you don't want to receive this email, or do want to receive additional emails about Courtney's books/book events/etc, please use the links below to unsubscribe from this list or to manage your mailing list preferences.
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