I was cold, tired, and lost, and nearly at the point of despair, when through the nearly impenetrable snow fog I saw the gleam of a lantern glowing in the vague outline of a window. Setting my numb legs in motion again, and hoping I was judging distance and direction properly, I stumbled as quickly as I could toward that beacon of salvation, my one literal ray of hope.
Some moments later, I found myself brushing the wall of a crude log cabin. Feeling my way along, I came to a roughly hewn door. Light spilled through the cracks. I knocked and cried out weakly, "Is there anyone there! Please let me in!"
A few seconds passed, and the door opened. A wave of warmth flooded over my frozen features and I smelled the distinctive odour of tea brewing in an iron kettle. Through icy eyelids, I saw the figure of a wizened old man, an undoubted mountain recluse. The man gazed at me for a moment, then said in a rough voice, "Ah, another 'a them city fools that don't know when ta' stay at home! Well, come in, will ya, and warm yer self 'til the weather clears a bit!"
Gratefully, I entered and took the wooden chair the old timer proferred me, near the stone hearth where a hot fire was burning and a tea pail was suspended on a stick. "Don't 'spose ya' drink tea?" the man said, and I replied hoarsely, "Yes, I do." In fact, I've always loved tea of every variety, and to be rescued from certain doom and offered a fresh cup of tea--- truly my fortunes had turned and I was saved.
I took the cup he offered me and drank deeply of the hot tea. Instantly, my taste-buds came alive, despite the hours in the cold outdoor weather. What flavour! I knew it had to be a Darjeeling of some kind, but it had such strength and power.. like nothing I had ever tasted before. I couldn't resist. I had to ask him what tea this marvelous brew was.
"Ah, doubt ya'd know," he said. "It's me own blend. Once or twicet a year, I goes down ta one 'a them cities an' gets me some tea. Then I mixes it up the way I like it. This here, well, I calls it 'Alberta Clipper' an' I makes it with Darjeeling and Assam and Yunnan... not that it'ud mean much to ya", he concluded.
But, indeed, it meant a great deal to me. This must have been a truly extraordinary blend, to conquer the cold of a winter storm with such flavour and aroma. Then, suddenly, I remembered. I had my cellular phone in my coat pocket. Perhaps if I climbed up a little higher...
"I'll be right back," I said, and dashed out the door to the cry of "City fool! You'll get lost!" Little did it matter to me. If I could make it above the tree line, maybe I'd have a clear line to a relay tower...
It seemed like hours later that I arrived at a clearing high above. With numb fingers I brought out my cell phone. The connection was weak and noisy, but it was working! I dialed a familiar number at a familiar address in Calgary. A few seconds passed, and there was an answer.
"Tea Trader, Ted Jones speaking." I had gotten through.
"Ted", I said, "there's something you need to know about..."
( Alberta Clipper blend is now sold exclusively by Tea Trader, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.)
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