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High Time for Tea

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Photos by Allston McCrady
Photo by Allston McCrady

January is National Hot Tea Month. I don’t need that official pronouncement to go for something steamy, restorative, and soothing in the depth of winter. Gracing my kitchen cupboard are some bags of loose leaf lavender tea blends I picked up earlier this summer from Mountain Farm near Burnsville, North Carolina, on the edge of the Pisgah National Forest. I went there on a whim, following a maze of mountain roads, eager to see fields of purple in the late summer heat—a little taste of Provence here in the South.

Thank goodness for GPS, or I never would have found this place, down a curving dirt road called Copperhead Bend. Mountain Farm is a little slice of utopian bliss, dotted with rows of blueberries, lavender, and a coterie of dairy goats, all in the shadow of nearby Mount Mitchell whose summit pierced through a hovering cloud bank. An imperturbable farm dog slept at the entrance to the rustic gift shop: a rustic, one-room structure full of lavender products, fresh and aged goat cheeses, and recipe books for cooking with lavender. Outside, some Nubian goats sought respite in the shade, and a labyrinth of lavender bushes bloomed their last buds (alas, I had just missed the full explosion of color).

Feeling tranquil, my arms loaded with lavender tea blends, I left with a smile. And now, recovering from winter’s latest cold snap, I have channeled the warmth of late summer in a tea. Surely there’s no better way to survive January’s chill.