Tea, Zen, The elastic nature of time and SPUTTER.....
A brief intro to all the good people here – Am here to learn so this is just so you know where I’m coming from, a brief history of my tea journey so far.
Long long ago there was an 11 year-old boy just started at grammar school (1969 this was)
I palled up with the only other Irish kid in the school and we became fast friends. I had had only my Mam’s thick-brewed PG tipsup to this point, a few years before the advent of tea-bags this was.
His family drank Twining range so this was my tea intro. I remember the first sip of Earl Grey, ZINGY! wow what a revelation. THen in the next few days Oolong Keemun and Lapsang Souchong. I was blown away! seriously impressed there was even such a thing as smoked tea..
Anyway he lived a lot closer to school than I did so we went to his house every day after school and came up with Sputter. For a house with a family of 10 it’s wierd that I remeber the kitchen as always empty, but then they could afford a telly and we couldn’t.
Anyway Sputter, not sure how we arrived at this, we just made up the rules as we went along (good way to live by the way)
So two of us on oppsite sides of the kitchen table, a cup in front of each and a teapot halfway between.
We calm our breathing stare at each other fixedly in the eyes, Rule one -no breaking eye contact.
Simutaneously raise our cups and take a generous mouthful. Rule two – No swallowing.
Rule three no change of expression must keep a straight face.
Winner is the one that doesn’t crack and someone always (well almost always) does
2 points for tea on his shirt, 5 for tea on the table and the max a full 10 points for tea and snot out of his nose.
My how we laughed.
In spite of the irreverence and boyish ignorance I noticed immediately how much nicer the mouthfeel of these teas were.
And that was the start of my tea journey.
Er… hope you’re not drinking tea as you read this, colon/close parenthesis.
I very quickly tired of Earl Grey and lapsang was bumped to third place after Keemun and Oolong. which I regurlarly spent my pocket money on.
I satyed with those three right through school until around 1975 when I took an apprenticeship and started earning money while my mates all went to UNI.
One of my mates, not the sputterer, started sharing digs with some Chinese and Malaysian students which led to my first resaurant experience and my firsdt taste of Jasmine tea UGH! EWE! YAK! smells like a hooker’s handbag says I, totally unaware that I might give offence to those of cultures possessed of a higher degree of politesse than the English.
One of our hostes ordered plain green tea and I fell in love with it immediatley hehee there’s a tea that’s not black WOW!.
I threw out the Twinings and started buying tea in China-town supermarkets. I was geeting twice or nthree times the quantities of better quality (perhaps) and certainly fresher teas for the same or lower price
I stuck with that apporach until I left the Northewest in 1991.
Er… no it was 87 when I moved to London.
First thing I noticed was the unruly traffic, London drivers (and pedestrians) were so feckin’ rude so I dumped the car and used buses and the tube/Metro/underground/Subway.
By the way before it’s deleted – Feck or Feckin’ is not a third degree expletive such as the similarly spelled Anglosaxon cuss-word.
It has it’s roots in the (possible Gaelic) word Feckless meaning without will, purpose or direction. My saintly Mother and the remaining Irish Aunts use it regurlarly
Second thing I noticed was, apart from the much smaller China-town London had at that time, was a sizable Japanese expat population.
Every major high end retail outlet had a sign in the corner of the window saying – We speak German, we speak French and We speak Japanese.
Being a martial artist at the time I jumnped right in here. the local council (Labour) were offering very cheap adult education so I took a course in conversational Japanese and started frequenting mens (noodles) bars and sushi sashimi restaurants.
Loved it! first experience of O-Cha and was able to suprisde the waitress by asking for a second cup in her own tongue. Ah the joys of cultural exploration.
After four years working as a site manager in the building trade Thatcher’s economic bubble burst and the crash came. I sought work elsewhere and took my first overseas posting in Algeria.
I was there for sixteen weeks at a time, this in the days when mobile phones were for the high-fliers only.
Sixteen weeks! in a country with no bars and the ladies all locked up – I could mention the elastic nature of time here….
Still on the plus side I learned French and tasted minty tea. wasn’t impressed with the latter, compltely overpowered by sugar.
Also my first taste of Arabica coffee and my first real-life oppurtunity to practice Zen.
I mostly drank tea from an empty cup there, not to mention Ramadan and overall celibacy.
I’m on the far side of a couple of very large GnOs (screwdrivers) here so will continue tomorrow, before I start rambling and whirring my slurds.
make your thread look good if you type your own replies huh? – not really just me not really compoota-savvy.