Annals of Postmodernism

For busy Americans who don’t have five minutes to steep a pot of tea, this device heats the tea in about 30 seconds

First flush…

tea.

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Limericks available in the comments.

Feel free to write your own.

Tea Blogging.

Haven’t written about it in awhile, but longtime readers know that this blog has a tea category (click on TEA to read previous posts on the subject) … And that I drink mainly Marco Polo, from Mariage Frères… And that I like to plan visits to tea plantations, etc.

Cam Muir is a biology professor at the University of Hawaii who, in his spare time, has been growing and processing tea on a tiny plantation located on volcanic slopes. His wife seems to be the genius behind the project, but Muir’s scientific background has also contributed.

[Eliah Halpenny] said few if any insects or predators exist, and the Big Island of Hawaii provided just the right amount of rain, and fertile volcanic soil. Which is why, she added, that “I jumped at the possibility.”

That’s how Big Island Tea was born on the Northeast slope of Mauna Loa Volcano, one of the most active volcanoes on the planet. Halpenny said, “With my husband’s ecological and scientific background and my horticultural interest, we have grown and learned how to process tea over the past 10 years — with a passion.”

Harrod’s has just bought up all of their crop. It paid $90,000 for 22 pounds of tea — a staggeringly high price.

Which is impressive, of course. But more impressive to UD is the whole feel of these lives lived amid smoke plumes. Like W.S. Merwin, these people found their Hawaiian plot of land and set about doing what they loved on it. This photo from the plantation says it all.

UD looks forward to the day when…

… a Google News search for TEA is no longer steeped with Tea Party stories. As the Tea Party dissolves, UD trusts it will no longer overpower the articles about new American tea rooms and luxury tea tours and how if you drink jasmine tea you’ll live forever that UD used to feature on her blog.

Longtime readers know UD loves tea and has even written poems about it. (Click on this post’s category: TEA.)

Already, as the Tea Party weakens, stories about the actual drink are beginning to reappear. Like this one, about a New York City tearoom:

It’s been 10 years since Alice’s opened on West 73rd Street, shortly after 9/11, transforming tea time from old-lady fustiness to shabby urban chic, serving it all day long (as well as breakfast, brunch and lunch) on mismatched eBay china, against a backdrop of brightly painted walls inscribed with passages from Lewis Carroll.

UD‘s favorite tea is Marco Polo, which she served at her Thanksgiving meal (it was really her friend Kim’s Thanksgiving meal, though it took place at UD‘s house – Kim is a gourmet cook and did all the work), and which seemed to go over very well with her guests. UD didn’t serve the tea on mismatched eBay china, but she did have mismatched chairs.

The ‘tea is tasteless’ meme grows

Wall Street Journal: What should one look for when tasting a tea?

[Tea shop chief Thomas] Lee: It’s difficult. For instance, with Long Jing, a green tea, it’s a taste of tastelessness.

*********************

Same crap here.

“Teas are the subtlest tastes our tongues can detect, I realized, for tea does not even have a taste but rather just an effect, like the wind.”

I think this new series in the Atlantic
on tea
is going to be a bit twee for UD.

But she is a serious tea drinker, and
some of her readers are too, so let’s
give the guy a chance.

A small point…

… but very much worth making.

If you stay in an American hotel, you are more or less guaranteed not to be able to get a good cup of tea. I know that this is a major accusation to make against a whole culture, but it is, regrettably, quite true. Certainly you will find tea (in the form of tea bags) in your room, but how do you make it? The answer is that they expect you to make it in the coffee maker.

Now the problem with that is that if there are two flavours in this world that cannot – in any circumstances – be combined, it is tea and coffee. To make tea in a container that has been tainted with coffee is to ensure that the resultant tea is undrinkable. The flavour of coffee lingers in a vessel long after the last cup was brewed, and it is impossible to use that vessel for tea-making no matter how much it is washed. Try it. Put coffee in a vacuum flask and then, after washing it out thoroughly, try to use it for tea…

Alexander McCall, the novelist, says very clearly and forcefully something I’ve felt in a vague and submerged way for years… Something I’ve tried to explain to Mr UD as we enter hotel rooms and he points out to me, among other wonderful and elegant features, bags of good tea and a coffee maker. How can I explain that, as McCall says, tea brewed in such tainted circumstances is not merely undrinkable, but unthinkable?

Tea, for me, is one of the great subjects. It is a romantic trade, it does not pollute excessively, it has all sorts of health benefits, it calms and wakes you up at the same time. It promotes conversation.

UD‘s poetry and prose in praise of tea can be found here.

McCall with his tea and his cat.

The sort of thing UD, a tea drinker, finds, when she types “TEA” into Google News.

From The Morning Sun, a Central Michigan newspaper:

The Genealogical Society of Isabella County is presenting a Victorian Funeral Tea and Cemetery Walk at 1 p.m. at Centennial Hall in Mt. Pleasant. Tickets may be purchased in advance. Cost is $20. Contact Sherry at 772-0155. Kim Parr of Crocker House Museum will be the speaker. Sponsored by Helms Funeral Home, Berry Funeral Home and Clark Funeral Chapel. This is one of the county’s sesquicentennial events.

Into that moment of windless calm.

Last year, UD introduced a new category on this blog –TEA.

She’s a serious tea drinker, mainly Marco Polo, and she wanted a place on the blog to write about what the plant means to her.

She’s written a poem for this blog about tea.

There’s a new documentary film out – The Meaning of Tea – which evokes the cultures and flavors of tea. Here’s the trailer. One of the people interviewed in the film gave me my post title. He says preparing and drinking a cup of tea creates a moment of windless calm within the frenzy of life.

There’s probably some sort of cosmic convergence (UD hasn’t thought enough about it yet) between UD‘s idea of the university as a place apart, a place of repose, of thought for the sheer joy of thought, the sheer delight of putting the mind in motion without worrying much about questions of utility, and UD‘s delight in the silent musing business of the brew.

UD‘s life perhaps appears to some visitors to her blog stereotypically professorial, with its not terribly social round of reading, writing, gardening, and piano playing. And drinking tea. UD doesn’t drive; she doesn’t watch tv; she goes shopping when family members tell her that her clothes are falling apart. The sabbatical she just completed mainly involved walking along beaches, thinking, and then coming inside and typing.

**************************************

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock must be the most famous tea poem, and here tea conveys a timid obscure maundering existence:

… Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

… Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?

… And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.
That is not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
“That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all.”

Prufrock’s foggy little life – the life of nightmare pedants like Casaubon in George Eliot’s novel Middlemarch, who substitute books for the human relationships they fear – might meet its metaphor in the measuring out of one teaspoon after another until the end of that life; but the meaning of tea, surely, is more than this, a richer mix.

Yet UD resists the opposite interpretive tendency, the counter-Prufrockian take on tea in which the drink represents not merely the secret to great health and mental acuity (one constantly reads these claims, especially about undrinkable green tea), but a vehicle of vedic bliss. Tea has meaning, but it is more elusive than this.

A bag of tea.

From The Canadian Press:

HALIFAX, N.S. — With Atlantic provinces looking at a plunge in the number of high school graduates in the next decade, universities in the region are casting a wider recruitment net and becoming more competitive as they fight to attract students from a dwindling pool of applications.

After ten years of growth across the country, fewer students are enrolling in undergraduate programs, according to information released by Statistics Canada in July.

… Schools are increasing their out-of-province recruitment efforts and expanding their presence on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.

In June, Acadia’s Twitter account, Acadia4U, announced they sent out “Good luck on exams” cards and a bag of tea to potential students…

Fog.

Foggy. Weeks now of darkness and heavy rain and heavy thunder, and inside Garrett Park’s arboretum the world is a deeply dreaming green wall.

A wall, or a well — dark, deep, shaking with thunder and white at times with lightning.

Mourning doves coo inside invisible dogwoods. Thrushes sing misty.

So many foggy poems to choose among. This one, by David Mason, will do.

***************

Fog Horns

The loneliest days,
damp and indistinct,
sea and land a haze.

And purple fog horns
blossomed over tides—
bruises being born

in silence, so slow,
so out there, around,
above and below.

In such hurts of sound
the known world became
neither flat nor round.

The steaming tea pot
was all we fathomed
of is and is not.

The hours were hallways
with doors at the ends
opened into days

fading into night
and the scattering
particles of light.

Nothing was done then.
Nothing was ever
done. Then it was done.

******************

These faint puffs of lines, these little brushstrokes, do the deed, make the mood. The haze so subdues the world that we can isolate, and hear, painfully, the wound of existence itself, bruises being born. When we’re out there, we’re vulnerable. We have to make our dim way through the world.

They’re too much for us, those hurts of sound that come blaring into the shut-in world in which we’ve made ourselves comfortable with a pot of tea.

We’re protected inside these small sunless days, inside the steamy fog of tea-time over and over again, where nothing ever happens. Nothing was ever done, says the poet. Comfortably numb.

But that’s its own hurt, because it will be done some day — Then it was done. — and we won’t have lived our lives.

Woman from Sexton Opens Estrogen Zone in …

…  Beaverton.

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