Fire King’s Peach Lustre brings you the tea for today: smoky lapsang souchong. The earliest date I found for Fire King oven dishes, by Anchor Hocking, was the September 18, 1941 Bayard News from Bayard, Iowa, where Brideson’s Groceries advertised:
OUR FIRE KING BAKE DISHES ARE IN NOW. ASK US HOW YOU CAN GET A SET.
Fire-King Glass from the Glass Encyclopedia references the start of production as 1942, but the newspaper ad predates to 1941. One of the most popular colors was the Peach Lustre–described as
…iridized peach color with a mirror finish…
…which was a perfect foil to the dark amber of lapsang souchong. I’ve stored this tea in a glass jar, and it would have been either Harney & Sons or Steven Smith Tea. It was still delightfully smoky, due to the pine bough smoking process in preparing this tea. I was making a pot one morning, right after a fire caused by an electric arc from the power lines had burned down our fence, and all the trees along the fence line. My son asked
Why don’t you just go outside and scoop up some charred wood; it smells just like this.
It was a moment of humor in what had been a bleak occasion, and we began to joke about inventing a new use for the kudzu leaves–as the rapidly burning kudzu had spread the fire quickly: pine-smoked kudzu tea. Japan and China have used kudzu as food for thousands of years, and there are any number of recipes or uses for kudzu greens or kudzu flower jelly to be found on the Internet. It has also been the subject of much research for its health and pharmaceutical benefits. Probably the greatest danger of consuming kudzu from the wild is the likelihood someone has used pesticide on it in the attempt to kill it, so the moral of this story is know where your kudzu comes from if you plan to eat it! And it you would like to be educated about kudzu, check out the Smithsonian Magazine story by Bill Finch that really explains the vine that–in spite of the stories–did not truly eat the south.