Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Different Preparations, Different Results

As I'm sure I've mentioned dozens of times, here, I live in the greater Seattle area. While we're famous for our small local coffee brand, we also have a number of (very good) tea shops in the area.  One of those shops is Friday Afternoon Tea.

If you go to their website, you'll see that they have dozens of blends. Different varieties of tea leaf, different additives and other flavorings, and so much more. Friday also does custom blends. A few years ago, my wife purchased a custom blend for me as a gift.  We wound up with a tea called "Pie Dreams."  It's white tea with peach, cinnamon, allspice, raw sugar, and a bit of vanilla.

You won't find "Pie Dreams" on their website, though, because it's a custom blend.  But if you contact her to order it, I think she'll be able to sell it to you. It's a bit like a secret menu at a fast food place.

But that's all beside the point.

Much like coffee, there are a number of ways to brew tea, each of which subtly influences the flavor. And there are things you can do post-brewing, too, that also change the flavor.

With Pie Dreams, when you make it in a more traditional way (hot water + tea blend, steep for a few minutes, etc.), you wind up with a tea that is sweet, and, at the same time, it's a bit warming. It's a very pleasant tea to drink. And it seriously tastes like you're drinking a peach pie.  It's very weird, but really good.

When you brew it hot and then ice it, the peach steps forward a bit more strongly. I often put sugar in my iced tea. I often put too much sugar in my iced tea, actually. But adding sugar to Pie Dreams actively hurts the flavor.

When you cold-brew it, the peach takes a big step back. It's there, but it provides a mellowing flavor against the spices that unfold. It's a more delicate flavor overall, and it's less sweet (but still very very good).

This is what an RPG session is like. Every single group is a custom blend of GM and players and characters and system and setting and ...

As a GM, how I prepare for a game makes the biggest change to the game itself.  I can spend my time figuring out every notable NPC (or group) and what they're doing, or I can roughly sketch some details out for myself.  I can let the players wander all over the countryside (even though the adventure is right over there), or I can force them to ride the railroad as it were. And, depending on what I have prepared, I can let my players steer - throw up a few signs to guide them now and again, mind you, but let them be players.

None of these options are bad. Even railroads aren't a bad thing (despite their negative reputation).

They're just different ways of brewing that tea.

And by "tea," I mean "fun."

Which is the point, right?

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