BTB: Bioluminescence

On today's episode of Behind the Blend, I'm going to take you through the synesthetic taste experience of one of our prettiest blends: Bioluminescence.

Those of you that are familiar with my blending process already know, but for the folks just joining us, let me tell you a little bit about my work. I have a rare neurological oddity known as Lexical-Gustatory Synesthesia. Now, synesthesia itself is actually relatively common. The brain cross-wires sensory input and the results cause folks to see music as colors, experience sound as tactile sensation (I have this one too. Sometimes fun, sometimes not so much), associate personalities with colors/words/sounds or, like me, literally taste language and concepts as complex flavor profiles. For me, thinking about a character, a personality or a word is no different from eating a tasty (or nasty) snack. So let me introduce you to one of my favorites: Bioluminescence!

My friend Jill commissioned two blends from me for a writer's workshop retreat (Jill, what was that event called?) last year, and we had so much fun creating them! The first was one called Writer's Fuel, designed to keep folks perked up and working hard. The second was this blend. Jill told me a story about taking a night walk with her group at this event that was so lushly expressed (writers are great friends for blend inspiration!) I could immediately taste every part of it. I can't retell Jill's story as well as she initially told it to me, but the gist is this:

There is a full moon in New England, illuminating the night walk of a group of writers. A lighthouse is in the distance and the evening is quiet and pleasant. The writers stop on a small bridge and look down into the water, where several small jellyfish are colliding with one another and lighting up over and over again.

What a scene, right? The sweet, almost juicy flavor of that moment tasted so delicately floral sweet and with such a full underbelly, I was immediately inspired to create this blend.

Bioluminescence with Friday photobomb. Picture by Rich Lilly
This blend is based primarily in osmanthus flower. Not many western tea blenders make use of osmanthus, but I have a particular fondness for it. It's a tiny yellow flower from China that tastes fairly fruity and lends a body to a blend I can only describe as convex. It tastes blue and glowy and the shape of the flavor is approximately ◡, but with a horizontal line across the top (I know, that might sound like nonsense. Honestly not sure how else to explain it). This is the flavor of night water that is warm on the top, but goes very cold about an inch deep and has a healthy ecosystem of algae, bacteria, small fish and jellies.
Next we have elderflower, which is white, fragrant, lightly sweet and almost sparkly in flavor. This is the full moon and the lamp in the lighthouse. The bridge and the lighthouse structure are sturdier, but have a lightness to them as well. They taste a bit sharp and strong. Here we have the lemon peel and rose hip. Strong and gentle, with a little edge. See?
The whole scene is wrapped in a quiet, safe bubble. It's like a snowglobe in my mind. I enveloped the moment in blue cornflower to keep it cushioned. Cornflower has the most delicate flavor. It's pale and wispy and grey tasting, like the lightest floral smoke. The color of this flower is extremely vivid, which only adds to the aquatic feel of it all. One big wet safe happy moment.
What do you think? Do you relate? Have you had a perfect quiet wet moment like this? I'm such a water fiend, it struck me pretty strong. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
PS, for more photos by the amazing and talented Rich Lilly, check out his site here!
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1 comment

Oh, I didn’t realize you’d ever written this up! The writer’s workshop is Viable Paradise – – it’s a week-long workshop for science-fiction and fantasy writers! Eeee!

Jill S

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