Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Hot weekend and a Firkin of tea (Update 6-11-08)

A banner weekend: 100+ degrees in the south county. This, I’m sure accounted for the new Official: World and Laguna Hills TEA consumption record. Sun up Saturday to Sundown Sunday, all measurements are hereby certified. New record: “A Lot” ..(1 Lot = a few Firkins, but less than a Hogshead) Quality, quantity and lots of fun.

Robbi is off to Hawaii on Tuesday for 6 weeks. I'm planning a trip to Germany and France .. my traveling tea kit will get some frequent flyer miles.

Sean ran the San Francisco, “Bay to Breakers” race on Sunday.baytobreakers2505877206_f7c1e6051d

Sean, post race picture, this one race that I've had on my list, but no check mark yet .. next year we can run together ....05-18-08_0925Last weekend Heather, Kayaked / hiked Kauai’s North Shore, a two day adventure. Some 4,000 foot cliffs, very dramatic.north-mapnapali

Trevor and I made progress on the Patio cover, did mention it was HOT. After our party last weekend .. "We" decided that I should build a "nice" cover. First load of lumber ready for action.....byaJust too HOT .. we called it quits ..bycGood news .. the weather has cooled off and I'll knock this off at the weekend.byb The Main Structure is complete: .. still working out the "shade cover" nearFin Trevor is working to update the transition from house deck to Pool decktrevgrass

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A little catching up: potpourri of stuff (with update)

An express  train, carrying  life’s precious cargo of; “Time” rattled  through , only stopping at a few mainline stations. I’ve managed to be home (not quite, but still in the US) for a fortnight. Between 3 days in Boston and this weekend (Mothers day and Claudia’s birthday) we (the family) have been busy.
New Side-Yard gates and the vegetable garden goes lawn

Sunday; a party-BBQ at our place, (new deck gets its grand opening)DSC03729with: Robin & Claudia, Ben & Ashley, Frank and Hannah, Trevor and Maria, Robbie and me ..
Ben looking cool:

As the sun disappeared into the evening sky, we set up for tea inside. With a plethora of “Fine / Excellent teas on offer, Taiwan Oolong, Fujian TGY, Yunnan Pu-Erh and a few others, a surprise emerged.

A little back story, Robin ,my pal, is English actually and likes his “Tea Bags” PG Tips.
Friends don’t let friends drink “tea-bag” tea, its just not cricket. Robbie (wife) picked up a tin of:

English Breakfast tea, a blend of Kenyan & Assam black teas. Surprise, surprise. Not a bad cup of Rosie Lee.
I have sampled and drank any number of fine “premium” Indian teas, and find that this tea blend to be: very acceptable. One comment on preparation: make it strong and use cream (Half & Half). Think of it as “comfort tea”
Also when on the subject of Brits and tea:  
The phrase "Tea for Two" didn't originate with the 1925 song of the same name. Tea for two originally was called out in the marketplace...it was an offer of tea for two pence — not for two people.

In 1894, the first Lyons Tea Shoppe opened at Piccadilly Circle in London and made a name by offering a pot of tea for two pence, or a "tuppence" coin, aka a “tupeny-bit” or Half-Groat. Somehow “Tea for a Half-Groat or Two teas for a Groat”, fails to capture the imagination.
More from the world of books

A few months back I picked some tea books in Hong Kong, one of the library additions is:
Tea Addiction, Exploitation and Empire ,By Roy Moxham
I’ve picked out a couple of extracts to share .. in that we can only recognize history and hope to do better.
Chapter 3, Victorian Enterprise – India - Page 126.
Most of the planters, however, were single. Some took mistresses, usually surreptitiously, for there was no prospect of such a woman being accepted in European society. Such a liaison would be invaluable for a new planter wanting to understand a totally new culture, and learn the language. These “sleeping dictionaries” were a feature of planting life, and were tolerated id discreet. After the Mutiny attitudes hardened – it was as if the British perception of attractiveness had shifted. Even so, George Barker’s views in A Planter’s Life in Assam might have been extreme – or perhaps not, as the book was issued by the leading publisher in Calcutta:
“Many years ago, the Burmese made an incursion and overran Assam, carrying off a large proportion of the female population. To judge by the intense ugliness of the present race, it is probable that the Burmese are men of taste, and selected only the beauties of the valley, leaving their plainer sisters to raise up a generation that is unsurpassed for hideousness.”
This contempt for the Assamese was matched by the contempt shown by many planters towards their imported labour.
Chapter 2, Keeping the Chinese in Order – page 51.
“The time is fast coming when we shall be obliged to strike another blow in China...These half-civilized Governments such as those in China, Portugal, Spanish America all require a dressing every eight or ten years to keep them in order. Their minds are too shallow to receive an impression that will last longer than some such period and warning is of little use. They care little for words and they must not only see the stick but actually feel it on their shoulders before they yield.”
29 September 1850.


Lord Palmerston, British Foreign Secretary, 1846-1851.
Another nudge from the winds of change, this time it was a “Mistral”
The Mistral is a fresh, often violent dry wind, blowing throughout the year but is most frequent in winter and spring. This nudge sparked more memories from History class.
The Battle of Beaune-la-Rolande on November 28, 1870 was a defeat for the French during the Franco-Prussian War.
But, the most prominent reflection was a little earlier, from 1812 (could this be an overture ???)   This is one of the very best dispatch I have read .. I have plagiarized it and used it often.  I only hope you enjoy it much as me, and think of having tea with your raspberry jam.
Accounting in the Peninsular War

Whilst marching from Portugal to a position which commands the approach to Madrid and the French forces, my officers have been diligently complying with your requests which have been sent by H.M. ship from London to Lisbon and thence by dispatch to our headquarters.
We have enumerated our saddles, bridles, tents and tent poles, and all manner of sundry items for which His Majesty's Government holds me accountable. I have dispatched reports on the character, wit, and spleen of every officer. Each item and every farthing has been accounted for, with two regrettable exceptions for which I beg your indulgence.
Unfortunately the sum of one shilling and ninepence remains unaccounted for in one infantry battalion's petty cash and there has been a hideous confusion as the number of jars of raspberry jam issued to one cavalry regiment during a sandstorm in western Spain. This reprehensible carelessness may be related to the pressure of circumstance, since we are war with France, a fact which may come as a bit of a surprise to you gentlemen in Whitehall.
This brings me to my present purpose, which is to request elucidation of my instructions from His Majesty's Government so that I may better understand why I am dragging an army over these barren plains. I construe that perforce it must be one of two alternative duties, as given below. I shall pursue either one with the best of my ability, but I cannot do both:
1. To train an army of uniformed British clerks in Spain for the benefit of the accountants and copy-boys in London or perchance.
2. To see to it that the forces of Napoleon are driven out of Spain.
Your most obedient servant


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Mount Everest aka Mount Qomolangma

Just look at this as a magnificent feat of Olympic proportions, hats off to the climbers.

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A Chinese mountaineering team took the Olympic flame to the top of the world Thursday Mount Everest climbers could be heard struggling for breath in a live television broadcast as five torchbearers each shuffled a few feet before passing on the flame to the next person. A colorful Tibetan prayer flag lined the path and fluttered in the wind.

The final torchbearer, a Tibetan woman named Cering Wangmo, stood silently on the peak with her torch while other team members unfurled small Chinese and Olympic flags.

0013729e4518098cd2f053Cering Wangmo, holds the torch at the peak of the mountain on Thursday morning.

“Hobson’s Choice”

Out of the hotel 4:45am .. airport security behind us and time for a “cuppa”

Faced with “Hobson’s Choice” DD or nothing! Take my word for it, go with nothing.


As advertised:…. Green Tea
Developed from a centuries-old recipe, our Green Tea captures the essence of the Orient in a delicate, mellow blend.

I plagiarized this review but what a perfect fit….   "tasteless mawkish and weak, the flavour and spirit all gone and nothing remaining of the real stuff save the shadow which mocks the lip and the palate with unreal seeming a flat flavourless baseless fabric of a vision; the very corpse of a cup of good tea"

Monday, May 05, 2008

Great place for a: "Tea Party"

An other nudge from the; "Winds of Change", this was a 5 hr nudge, that fortunately generated sufficient Lift. (we're not in Dongguan any more)

Robbie, wish you were here......It's about 15 years since I last stopped in for tea. How time fly's when your having fun .. MysticRiver

I'm a couple of hundred plus years late for this party ... This one was All about the MONEY (taxes)...BTparty kinggeorge "Once vigorous measures appear to be the only means left to bringing the Americans to a due submission to the mother country, the colonies will submit." -King George III

samadams "If our trade be taxed, why not our lands, in short, everything we posses? They tax us without having legal representation." -Samuel Adams

One of my favorite stories from "American History", along with its far reaching consequences, reverberating to this day.

halfchest On the morning of December 17, 1773, a young John Robinson collected a souvenir tea chest from the Boston Tea Party the night before. Passed down from generation to generation for over two centuries, the Robinson Tea Chest has endured as a symbol of American freedom and the birth of a nation.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Getting around the world of Tea, China (2)

Chinese Name: Origin & TeaPronounced: PinyinEnglish NamePlace/ Province
of: Origin
西湖龍井Long JingDragon WellXi Hu
(Zhe Jiang)
洞庭碧螺春Bi Luo ChunSpring SnailTai Hu (Jiang Su)
安溪鐵觀音Tie Guan YinIron GoddessAn Xi (Fu Jian)
黃山毛峰Mao FengFur PeakHuang Shan (An Hui)
君山銀針Yin JanSilver NeedleJun Shan (Hu Nan)
祁門紅茶Qi Men HungQi Men RedQi Men (An Hui)
武夷大紅袍Da Hung PaoBig Red RopeWu Yi Shan (Fu Jian)
六安瓜片Gua PienMellon SeedLiu An (An Hui)
白毫银针Bai Hao Yin JanWhite Fur Silver NeedleFu Ding (Fu Jian)
云南普洱Pu'erPu'erhSi Mao (Yun Nan)
凍頂烏龍Wu LungOolongNan Tou (Taiwan)
盧山雲霧Yun WuCloud & FogLu Shan (Jiang Xi)
信陽毛尖Mao JianFur TipSin Yang (Hu Nan)
蒙顶甘露Gan LuSweet DewMing Ding (Si Chuan)
都匀毛尖Mao JianFur TipDu Yun (Gui Zhou)
蘇州茉莉花茶Muo Li HuaJasmineSu Zhou (Jiang Su)
恩施玉露Yu LuJade DewEn Si (Hu Bei)
平水珠茶Zhu ChaPearl TeaPing Shui (Zhe Jiang)
太平猴魁Hou KuiMonkey KingTai Ping (An Hui)

An overview of the main teas I encounter.

Note many teas may be produced in multiple provinces. eg. Oolong Taiwan / FuJian. I acquire Tie Guan Yin produced in FuJian, from 3 separate, family owned , tea farms (Mrs Yang, Li Hong and Da Sha) High Mountain Oolong from various locations in Taiwan.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Industrious Robin - around the house

This one is for family sojourning in Kauai, Hawaii and St. Helena, Napa Valley.
Spend three weeks in China, let a crew of Samoans loose and presto, a new driveway and front entry.dv1
Now Comes the Green thumb .. Gardenias and Roses (just a guess)California functional, and aesthetically pleasing, GREAT job Robbie ...dv3
And just a little something from China: Need a window washed? No problem: "Cleaner on a Rope"

A copious bounty:

With various gifts and purchases, the past three weeks tea harvest looks like this:cb1