Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Tea and Mana, A Magic The Gathering Tea Fusion, Part Four: Clans or Wedges

It is time, once again, to combine Magic the Gathering and Tea in my very silly series pairing tea with mana colors. This time I am looking at the Wedges or as they are more commonly known as cycles from Apocalypse....ok no, no one uses those terms anymore, now we use the various names of the clans from the Khans of Tarkir. I admit it took me a while to write this one because I have very mixed feelings on Tarkir, Khans of Tarkir is one of my favorite settings in Magic, but then Ugin ruined everything and covered everything in dragons, thus making the plane terrible. This is the first time where my saying 'dragons make everything better' failed me, and that saddens me. I love Ugin (as long as his mouth is closed, so condescending!) and the dragon lords, but wish their existence had not ruined one of my favorite planes! That is why this pairing is not going to focus on the dragons (and not because I forgot to put Atarka into my cart during my last Card Kingdom order!) and focus on the clans.

White-Black-Green Abzan Houses

Endurance! That is the Dragon Aspect of this clan, and it is fitting for the people who live in the desert. Family and reliance on the community is very important to them, seriously, it is the main thing about their society, and they take the bonds of blood and chosen family very serious. One thing about their culture that really stood out to me is their Kin Tree, since they live in the desert trees are a big deal, each family has their own tree and the first-born child is responsible for its safety, when a member of the family dies they are buried under the tree, pretty awesome symbolism. Of course, this is Magic so there is more to it than symbolism! These honored ancestors' spirits can be called upon during battle and the tree's resin can be a powerful artifact. Since they are rather efficient at war, they end up with a bunch of spirits of the slain, they can use these malevolent spirits as a weapon which is seriously awesome. Their culture was loosely inspired by the Ottoman Turks. This was a complicated one, I wanted a tea that reflects their attention to family and legacy, so I picked a green tea, but sadly picking green does lose the desert association, but I stand by my decision of Gu Zhu Zi Sun, a Chinese green tea that was described by Lu Yu as being one of his favorites. Now that is a tea with some serious history! If you want to channel the Abzan but don't have this kinda hard to get tea, you can always go for Gunpowder Green (and hey, desert association!) but since I don't really like it I didn't have any on hand.

Blue-Red-White Jeskai Way

This clan's Dragon Aspect is Cunning, and fun fact, this would be Ben's color set. These are the warrior monks, the mystics, the martial arts masters...ok this one is a bit of an obvious Wuxia pastiche. They spend their lives devoted to training and meditation, working towards their enlightenment and purity of self. I will be honest, I find this clan really boring, they don't really do anything new or exciting, relying too heavily on the Wuxia tropes they draw on, being very heavily inspired by Shaolin Monks and you can really tell. Don't get me wrong, I love Wuxia, a lot, I was just hoping they would add something new to the genre other than magical creatures. I decided to use Nepal Silver Needle for this clan, I feel that the core idea of perfecting self and purity is beautifully reflected in this tea, it is one of the few teas that I would drink if I meditated and certainly puts me into a very relaxed yet focused state.

Black-Green-Blue Sultai Brood

My favorite clan's Aspect is ruthlessness, though really I would re-label it as decadence. Their leader, Tasigur, is pictured slouching on his throne, covered in bling, eating fruit out of a zombie which has been turned into a fruit bowl. Fruit bowl zombies are a thing that needs to happen! They have this whole thing with zombies, using them for labor (like pulling their treasure cruises), filling up their fetid jungle swamps, and of course using them to deliver food...yes friends, they are the token evil group...because it is impossible to have a primarily black aligned group or person without them being evil, and yes I am exactly as bitter as I sound...hmph. Anyway, my problems with storytelling aside, this clan is kinda terrible, awesome aesthetics aside, they a cruel hedonistic bunch that thrives on constant infighting, it is no surprise that Tasigur betrayed the other clans to the dragonlords, and then no surprise when Tasigur was turned into a dragon necklace. Their real-world analog is the Khmer Empire, and you can tell from the art they really went all in with the inspiration.  Since this clan is all about decadence and hedonism (and fruit) I decided to pick Gui Fei for them, this immensely fruity sweet, usually rather expensive, tea is perfect, it is the tea I go to when I am feeling particularly hedonistic and think that Tasigur would love drinking it out of a skull cup (as would I, and I need a skull cup)

Red-White-Black Mardu Horde

The Mardu's aspect is speed, but really everything about the Mardu is overshadowed by Sarkhan Vol, its most famous member who decided that dragons were the best thing ever, killed his own men during a battle, became a planeswalker, ended up a pawn of Bolas, and after one conversation with Ugin realized that the dragon he so desired to worship was inside him all along. It is like a 90s cartoon message but terrible. The Mongol Horde...er Mardu Horde...ok no, that is who their analog is, are horse-riding warriors who live for the thrill of battle and conquest! They live by the edicts of Ilagra: To Conquer is to Eat, To Rule is to Bleed, and Victory or Death and wow does that ever sum them up, I find them, much like their real-world counterparts, to be very fascinating, if not a bit harsh. Their tea needed to be a strong hei cha, since they are inspired by Mongolia, I wanted to use a tea that could make Suutei Tsai, or salted milk tea which is the drink in Mongolia, granted I cannot get a straight answer if the tea used is black as in hong cha or black as in hei cha, but since it is usually a brick I took the liberties of using my hei cha.

Green-Blue-Red Temur Frontier

The Temur bring the aspect of savagery, and they might be my favorite, in very close competition with the Sultai. They fascinate me, being nomadic shamans living in a cruel arctic, they have to be savage or they die. They are able to speak to frozen (literally) memories, living simultaneously in the past as well as the now. Like the Abzan, they are very family oriented and it shapes a large portion of the way their culture works, the leader of the clan is considered a member of all families and is called the First Mother/Father, so that gives you a brief idea of how important family structure is. Their real-world inspiration is the shamanic cultures in Siberia. For their tea I wanted to focus on their connection with the past, so I picked an aged white. One, because it is aged, and two because white tea usually has a cooling Qi which fits their domain.

So those are the Clans/Wedges, next I will be looking at the shards and probably closing out this series! Though I am sorely tempted to do a post on pairing regions of Dominaria to tea, but that seems ridiculous.

Part one
Part two
Part three

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