Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A new (Six year old) Shu Pu-Erh on the menu

Yunnan Longrun Pu-erh Tea Cake-Chunhui (Year 2011, Shu Pu),357gnewpuerhAfter a couple of weeks and many infusions, I give this tea a strong recommendation. Nice strong rich tea with a interesting hint of licorice flavor, aroma is non assaulting but reassuring.


Monday, November 20, 2017

Mt. Fuji; Smoking, a rare event

A cool/cold mid-November morning, pictures by JaYoefujis1fujis2fujis3

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Postcard from Japan

antique postcard from Tokyo, JapanSC40770

                             Female Nude Seated in Water

水に裸女 Japanese Late Meiji era 1906
Ichijô Narumi (Japanese, 1877–1910), Publisher Japanese Postcard Club
1959-japanese-postcard-mail-carol-leigh                        1959 Japanese Postcard

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Morning contemplation

It is said; “A rest is as good as a change….”37

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Morning ablutions

Refreshing after a nights slumber .. on to face the day05

Hokusai  1802

Friday, November 10, 2017

Great start to the day

morningAs evening closes on a November day:47 (1) Hasui: Mt. Fuji from Kawai Bridge 1947

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

A Nap coming on

28Attribution: Hanko, July 10 1900

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Afternoon Tea

A respite well deserved … pacing is the key to steady

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Ceremonial tea service .. 3 of 3

When it comes to Asian “Tea Ceremonies” I divide them into three (3) distinct regions; China Mainland, Taiwan and Japan. This not a complete representation, but it is my personal experiences they demonstrate the range to which tea making and serving extends.

Japan, demonstrates the highest level of importance to the adherence of ceremonial dictates. Simply stated: Ceremony first, tea taste secondary. Great importance is placed on the; tea growing, picking, processing and storage. San_Rafael_02Sausalito_03mejiitea

A woodblock print by Toyohara Chikanobu depicts a tea ceremony during the reign of the Meiji Emperor. At this time tea was part of etiquette training for women.

(2 of 3) Taiwan has a foot in both China and Japan when it comes to tea. I see interesting adaptations and personalizing in making and serving. Tea rises to the forefront with adaptable ceremonies.

My Taiwanese friend’s tea table.. a typical business meeting is centered around having tea and sharing ideas.IMG00045-20100723-1646Tea garden in Ping Lin Taiwan, home of the Tea Museum.DSC02233 High Mountain tea in Taiwan’s central mountain region near Mount SylviaDSC03650

(3 of 3) China Mainland, enjoys a fabulous diversity in the brewing, serving and sharing tea. The physical size and diversity of peoples in China plays into regional variations.  The common denominator: Tea is first and foremost.

Typical family/friends having tea.DSC01488Small tea shop in She Kou, ShenZhen.DSC01464Lee Hong makes tea for Paulo and myself.DSC01759Friends chat, drink tea & conduct business .. Zhang Mutou Zhen, Dongguant in ZMT 1 (1024x768)

Friday, October 06, 2017

A rare insight .. Poet's eye view


Frozen in time: The writing desk of poet and critic Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902) at Shiki-an.

Shiki’s writing desk has a unique square cutout, designed to accommodate the scribe’s left leg, which, due to complications of his disease, he was unable to stretch out straight or fold beneath him.

Synopsis from Japan Times story by Kit Nagamura

正岡子規 Masaoka Shiki’s last portrait, December 24, 1900. Photo: 正岡明 Masaoka Akira

Masaoka Shiki’s was the pen-name of a Japanese author, poet, literary critic, and journalist in Meiji period Japan. His real name was Masaoka Tsunenori, but as a child he was called Tokoronosuke . Later, he changed his name to Noboru .MasaokaShiki1

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Classic (Japanese) Woodblock Prints .. two examples

静穏 (Room With a View)

 Designer: Shibata Zeshin | Carver: David Bull | Printer: David BullCap123This print was designed in 1867 by Shibata Zeshin, and formed the frontispiece to the book kumanaki-kage, which was a volume privately published by the Koga-ren group of kyoka poets in dedication to Kagetsu, the man who founded their group, on the occasion of the third anniversary of his death.

Purchase at:

お茶の花 (Tea Ceremony Supplies)

Designer: Kawabata Gyokusho | Carver: David Bull | Printer: Ayumi MiyashitaCap321This image is taken from a Meiji-era book of designs by one of the leading painters of the day, Kawabata Gyokusho, which was intended to serve as a te-hon - a 'copy book' - for students of watercolour brush painting, and which was issued in Meiji 33 (1900).

Purchase at:

Tools of the tradeuchidatools

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Examples of “Golden Age” posters under the hammer

Article run in the China Daily (Chinese edition)


Friday, September 22, 2017

Scotsman newspaper article


Holyrood questions over the sale of English tea ahead of a Scottish brand are on to something, says Bill Jamieson

A storm in a teacup? That’s not the half of it. In the Scottish Parliament, the tea bags are flying over the discovery that the brew being served is supplied by the London-based Jacksons of Piccadilly.

Why no Scottish supplier such as Brodies, based in Musselburgh, East Lothian, critics ask? To make matters worse, the firm of Jackson is owned by Twinings, also founded in London. And among its best-selling brands is English Breakfast Tea. “It’s hard to have a favourite tea at Twinings,” trills the blurb on its website, “but if we had to pick, this would be it.” As if to add insult to injury, it is blended and packed in Hampshire.

What a goad to Scottish sensibilities! Of Scottish Breakfast Tea, a stronger blend better suited to the soft waters of Scotland, there is no sign.

Little wonder that Miles Briggs, the Conservative MSP for Lothian, has written to the Parliament’s corporate body, calling for Holyrood’s catering contractors to contact Scottish tea suppliers. And I do hope this also goes for the tea suppliers to Bute House - lest the First Minister suffer a severe spluttering fit over her morning cuppa.

A small matter of no consequence, you may think. Why should the Scottish Parliament be much exercised? But this goes much further than sensitivities over “English Breakfast”. For Scots have made a major contribution to the development of what has grown to become one of the world’s most popular refreshments.

It is little short of a scandal that we do not pay more homage to Scottish endeavour in developing the wonderful tea estates in Assam, northern India, and Sri Lanka (Ceylon as was). And it is to two great Scots in particular we have to thank for this global comforter and pick-me-up.

It was Major Robert Bruce and his brother who developed tea growing in Assam. And it was a fellow Scot, James Taylor, who was instrumental in establishing the wonderful teas grown in Ceylon - Ceylon Dimbula Edinburgh prominent among them. And, of course, Lovers’ Leap.

Today, tea is a huge employer in Assam and a major contributor to the Sri Lankan economy. In the UK alone it is estimated that British tea drinkers consume the equivalent of two bathtubs of tea per year. And we spend £12,500 over our lifetimes purchasing tea.

Never mind the row over which tea blends are available (or not) at Holyrood. There should be a major campaign to have Scotland’s contribution to the global tea industry recognised in the Scottish Parliament, and indeed throughout Scottish tea retailers. It’s time we had a Great Exhibition to mark these outstanding examples of Scots enterprise and endeavour.

It is to Robert Bruce that the discovery of the Assam tea plant is attributed. He was one of the first Europeans to penetrate Assam as far up as Sadiya in the extreme north east of the State. He did this during a period of turbulence and strife, with tribal warfare, head hunting and factional feuds raging across the Assam valley.

On a trading mission visit in 1823 he noticed the plant growing wild in hills near Rangpur, then the capital of Assam. He arranged with the chief of the Singphow tribe to supply him with some tea plants. It was his brother C. A. Bruce, who took delivery following Robert’s death. These were planted in his garden, with a few leaves sent to the Botanical Gardens in Calcutta where they were identified as belonging to the Camelia family.

C.A. Bruce was then appointed as the Superintendent of Government tea plantations. He raised nurseries of the indigenous tea plant and explored large parts of the Upper Assam. Eight chests of Assam tea were forwarded to London in 1838, duly auctioned on 10 January 1839 – thus did the future of mass tea drinking take root.

C. A. Bruce was awarded the English Society of Arts medal for his contribution in the development of the Assam tea plant. Others of course laid claims to this honour. The only person who did not receive any award was Robert Bruce, considered to be the real discoverer of the plant. Today Assam is one of the most prolific tea-growing regions in the world, producing some 1,500 million pounds of tea a year.

The development of Ceylon tea also owes much to Scots – Kincardineshire-born James Taylor in particular. He arrived to British Ceylon in 1852 and settled in the Loolecondera estate where he worked with fellow Scottish immigrant Thomas Lipton to develop the tea industry. In 1867 he cleared 19 acres of forest in the district of Hewaheta Lower to plant the first seedlings in what is now known as the No7 field of the Loolecondera Estate. In 1875 he managed to send the first shipment of Ceylon tea to the London Tea Auction. During his period on the estate the export of tea rose from just 23 pounds to 81 tonnes. By 1890 it hit 22,900 tonnes.

Thomas Lipton met Taylor on a visit to British Ceylon in the 1890s when they discussed tea exporting. Lipton’s company started buying Ceylon tea. But it did not work out well for James Taylor. The rapid growth of the Ceylonese tea industry allowed the large tea companies to take over, with the result that small farmers like Taylor were pushed out of the industry. He was also dismissed by the Loolecondera estate management and a year later, in 1892, at the age of 57, he died from severe gastroenteritis and dysentery.

The majority of the tea estates – more than 80 per cent - were owned by British companies until nationalisation in 1971. A museum was built in 1992 to commemorate Taylor in the place where he lived.

Today Sri Lanka is the world’s fourth largest tea producer. The industry contributes more than $1.5 billion to the economy and employs, directly or indirectly, more than one million people, with some 215,000 on tea plantations and estates.

For these reasons I do really bridle at the poor recognition of Scottish tea enterprise at Holyrood. I have a variety of Darjeeling, Assam and Ceylon loose leaf teas in my pantry - Ceylon Dimbula Edinburgh prominent among them - a large leaf Orange Pekoe grade tea noted for its body, strength and robust aroma.

The other week I was looking for a distinctive caddy and found an appealing primrose yellow patterned canister in Whittards in Princes Street.

Unfortunately it had “English breakfast tea” branded on it. I decanted the contents, replaced them with an Assam single estate tea, and spent an hour finding yellow-coloured paper and printing ‘FINEST LOOSE LEAF TEA – BILL’S BREAKFAST SELECT’ as a label. I carefully cut this out and glued it over the offending Whittards label.

‘English Breakfast’ has its place. But here in Scotland we should surely celebrate much more than we do the contribution of Scottish endeavour to a product enjoyed every day by millions. It’s not a ‘storm in a tea cup’ we need – but a proper recognition of this achievement.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Great conclusion to a drama filled Vuelta

Chris Froome…The Tour-Vuelta double pushes him into more elite company. Only Merckx (1970, 72-74), Hinault (1978, 82, 85), Anquetil (1963, 64), Contador (2008), Coppi (1949, 52), Giovanni Battaglin (1981), Stephen Roche (1987), Pantani (1998) and Indurain (1992, 93) have won two grand tours in one season.

Winning four of the past five Tours is impressive by any measure. Froome has emerged as the best Tour rider of his generation, and this Vuelta victory will bolster the argument that he’s one of the all-time best in history.


Saturday, September 02, 2017

La Vuelta .. stage 14

Great to see Rafal Majka capture stage 14 of the 2017 La Vuelta a España atop the hors catégorie climb to Sierra de La Pandera. rmvw1Photo by: Tim De Waele

“I feel great, really,” Majka said after the stage. “I don’t have problems like in the Tour, where I crashed. I came here for the GC and I got sick. I almost went home. I’m so happy. Not because I win, but for my teammates. They did a very good job. The team trusted in me and I’m happy to get the win today. I was pretty confident.

“I have really good legs and actually my teammate Patrick Konrad has done a great job for me. When I saw [Rui] Costa suffering, I went in the first position. I needed to go 10km full gas, as a time trial. Now, I am so happy, but this is very long. Everybody knows how hard the last week of La Vuelta is. Now I know I have the legs and the motivation. I will try for another one.”

Friday, August 25, 2017

“It’s only a mere flesh wound”

Carlos Betancur receives roadside triage, “tis but a scratch”, NOT. Multiple facial injuries and a broken ankle…… Wishes for a safe and speedy recovery.bafw1aNo question, Pro Cycle Racers are a VERY resilient breed.bafw1

Friday, August 04, 2017

John Rebus, “Big Ger” Cafferty, Siobhan Clarke;……

Story telling at its zenith, an 11 on the: Spinal Tap, Nigel Tufnel scale.  Hammering home the point, Rankin really nailed it.rbtd2From the Novelist:

Some cases never leave you.

For John Rebus, forty years may have passed, but the death of beautiful, promiscuous Maria Turquand still preys on his mind. Murdered in her hotel room on the night a famous rock star and his entourage were staying there, Maria’s killer has never been found.

Meanwhile, the dark heart of Edinburgh remains up for grabs. A young pretender, Darryl Christie, may have staked his claim, but a vicious attack leaves him weakened and vulnerable, and an inquiry into a major money laundering scheme threatens his position. Has old-time crime boss Big Ger Cafferty really given up the ghost, or is he biding his time until Edinburgh is once more ripe for the picking?”

In a tale of twisted power, deep-rooted corruption and bitter rivalries, Rather Be the Devil showcases Rankin and Rebus at their unstoppable best.

Alternate dust jacket:alternate1 An album much covered by many: (not only in song)alternate2

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Inner Mongolian new High Speed Train

Aug 3, 2017: First high-speed train running through Inner Mongolia autonomous region.train1train5train2train4