“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” C.S Lewis

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

"The effect of tea is cooling and as a beverage it is most suitable. It is especially fitting for persons of self-restraint and inner worth.” ― Lu Yu

Pearl Jasmine Green Tea by Dragon Tea House

The blurb from the company - The most popular of all scented teas, Pearl jasmine are created by rolling specially plucked long downy shoots into little silvery “pearls” which are naturally scented multiple times with fresh, aromatic jasmine flowers. Pearl jasmine tea is named after the pearl like shape of the tea. Each small pearl is hand rolled. The tea is made by laying fresh jasmine petals atop the tea leaves, then tea leaves atop more petals, and so on. Up to six layers of blossoms alternating with tea leaves are used to create the highest- quality jasmines, using flowers picked at their aromatic peak. When the jasmine scent is fully merged with the leaves, the petals are removed, and the tea carefully dried again. Each pearl blosoms when added to water. This stunning tea has an intense flavour and the beautiful aroma of jasmine.

Jasmine tea is like champagne. It goes with almost everything, stands alone, and makes both a perfect hostess gift and a fabulous iced tea drink. Note that jasmine "pearls" are individual tea leaves are rolled by hand into tiny balls - each its own little world of flavor. Watch the pearls blossom before your eyes.

The bit by me - You know those photos of pretty bohemian looking girls walking through cornfields, or poppy fields, or orchards, or along a deserted railway track?

They may possibly have a floppy hat on, invariably a white flowy cotton dress?

They probably aren't looking at the camera, but if they are it's in a shy, furtive way as opposed to a full on, in your face stare?

There is almost certainly a bit of lens flare, maybe some scratches in the corner, and it’s faded so it looks like a photo that got left on a windowsill back in about 1968 and sat there until someone found it yesterday?

This tea tastes like that.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

“The one thing I regret is that I will never have time to read all the books I want to read.” ― Fran├žoise Sagan

So last night I finished reading 'Aimez-vous Brahms...' by Fran├žoise Sagan. And I decided to review it for this blog. Now, a book review is a strange thing. I'm basically trying to get you to want to read this book, but not telling you so much that you think there's no point. I'm not quite sure how to do that, but I'm going to give it a go.

'Aimez-vous Brahms...'

This is a short book, ostensibly about a short love affair. If I were to simplify it, I'd say it's about a woman who feels she is getting old, the relationship she is dependant on, and the young lover who comes into her life. So far so Mills and Boon, really. But simplifying is not something this novel(la) deserves.

Sagan weaves a tale about emotion, about how some people are slaves to it and about how our love isn't always under our control, even when we see that it's leading us down a lonely path.

I'm purposely steering away from spoilers here, but let me say the lead character of Paule is enchantingly created. I can totally understand why Simon (the young one) falls so totally for her. And she's so well realised that I see why she just can't give in to happiness, even while I'm shouting at her (internally, I'm not a nutter) when she's travelling down the road to a lonely life.

One thing that intrigues me, and I'm sure it's an important point and once it occurs to me I'll understand more, why is there no question mark in the title? Hmmm...

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

“It was a joy! Words weren't dull, words were things that could make your mind hum. If you read them and let yourself feel the magic, you could live without pain, with hope, no matter what happened to you.” ― Charles Bukowski

A couple of months ago, I happened up the rather wonderful blog A Penguin a week, It's the blog of Karyn Reeves, who is an avid collector of old penguin books, specifically those published prior to 1970 before the publisher Allen Lane died. The whole story behind Penguin books is a fascinating one and I urge you to go and read it somewhere, but this is not that blog.

Anyway, I found Karyn's Blog, and I realised that I had quite a few of those old Penguins too. I had often picked them up in charity shops, mainly because I am a fervent disbeliever in the old adage that you should never judge a book by its cover. You should always judge a book by its cover, and Penguin books had fantastic covers. There are some excellent articles out there about the art of the Penguin book cover, but this is not that blog...

So, I read Karyn's blog, and I realised I already had a good few of those Penguins myself, and I started seeking out more of them. Now, as we all know, the purpose of a book is not to own it but to read it. Sitting on a shelf it's just a storage box for used ink. I do have books that I could not bring myself to get rid of even if I lost my ability to read, but mostly if a book is still on my shelves it means I intend to read it again some time. I do know this isn't physically possible unless I live to a very, very ripe old age, but the intention is there.

So, for the last couple of months I have read nothing but old Penguin books. Most of them have taken me about a week. Some less, some more. And I've discovered some fantastic literature. From the sublime 'The Pumpkin Eater' by Penelope Mortimer, to the surprisingly entertaining adventures of Campion in 'Look to the Lady' by Margery Allingham via the almost impenetrable inner worlds of 'Cast but one shadow' by Han Suyin. I've enjoyed them all, some more than others but all have been worth reading.

I'm currently reading 'Aimez-vous Brahms?' by Francoise Sagan, and I'll attempt a review once I've finished. I'll give you a quick preview though - it's great.

Francoise Sagan

“I am in no way interested in immortality, but only in the taste of tea.” ― Lu T'ung

China Milk Oolong Tea by Green Mountain Tea.

The blurb from the company - This is a special tea that tastes and smells divine. The leaf takes on a milky almost sweet flavour unique to this leaf due to the sudden changes in temperature during the harvest. It has a lovely milky silk texture. The leaves are tightly rolled into tiny pellets. These aromatic leaves produce a fine golden liquor. A tea that will quickly win you over if you are not already a tea lover. It comes from An Xi, Fujian Province, China.

The bit by me - I decided to try a milk oolong because it was one of the highest rated teas on Steepster, which is a 'tea community', an online place where people can compare teas, tell each other what teas they like, rate teas, swap teas. Yep, it's full of excitement, adventure and really wild...things. In a tea sense.

Now, Milk Oolong does not have milk in it. You do not add milk. It is not picked by Chinese cows. The milk refers to the taste, although I have to be honest milk isn't something it reminds me of. It is so lovely though. It's sweet, although not overpoweringly so. It's warming. I have a very large teacup and I drain the first one far too quickly when I make a cup of this, so I always make a full pot and have three cups worth. It's very smooth, with absolutely no bitterness. Not that bitterness is a bad thing, but in this case the lack of it really adds to the experience.

I should mention the colour. It really is a lovely golden liquor (which is what tea drinkers call it, fact fans), and I get a good 2-3 steeps out of it (What us northern people would call 'mashing it', northern fact fans).

This is one of those teas that should be brewed to a specific temperature, about 10 degrees below boiling, but as I don't have a thermometer yet I just have to guess a bit. The thought that I may be able to brew this tea so it tastes even nicer fills me with joy. No, really...

People looking to start off their tea journey could do a lot worse than try this. I know that a lot of people I know who don't drink anything but PG Tips with milk in have the idea that all milk-less tea is very bitter and makes you pull funny faces. This is not that tea.

“There is something in the nature of tea that leads us into a world of quiet contemplation of life.” ― Lin Yutang

As my fifth wedding aniversary rapidly approaches, I cannot help but wonder how my wife is going to better the present she bought me last year.

Last year, as is the custom in the year preceding the fifth, was our fourth wedding anniversary. Since we got married we do try and buy each other gifts that fit in with that list that someone somewhere once created that says that 'this year the gift should be made of this, that year the gift should be made of that, etc...'. On the fourth anniversary, so the list states, the gift should be flower based.

Now, for my part I carried on the tradition I started the year after we got married and, some may say disappointingly predictably, I bought her some jewellery. It was nice jewellery, real flowers encased in glass made into a rather nice necklace. The year before that I bought leather earrings, the year before that a pair of socks...with a bracelet in them (yeah, stretching it I know). But you get the idea.

My wife bought me a teapot and some Whittards Rose Tea.

Now, this wasn't completely from left field. We had visited a tea room in Clitheroe a couple of months previously where I had been extremely taken by the whole experience of getting the big teapot with the strange 'infusion' in it, straining it myself, stirring it with the lovely old spoon with a little bell on the end. Obviously my darling other half had noted this enthusiasm down in her delightful brain, and this led her to purchasing the teapot.

Now, had she known the effect this would have on my life, I am quite certain she would have given me a box of Roses chocolates and some aftershave named after a manly sounding flower, which must exist even if I can't think of it right now. But she didn't, and I am glad. The world of tea drinking is huge, and scary, and inviting, and crackers. Did you know that you don't make all teas with boiling water? I didn't. Did you know that if you do make a tea with boiling water that's not supposed to be made with boiling water, it might taste nice, but it's supposed to be even nicer? I didn't.

So I set out into the unknown, and I will be documenting some of that journey here. I think my next post will be a tea review. Come back and check it out. Ta. Bye now...

Welcome. Sit a spell. Put your feet up. There's no hurrying here...

Hi there. I'm Kevin, 37 year old dad from the UK. Like so many others in this interconnected world of ours I have things that I like and things that I dislike, and a seemingly never ending desire to share my views on these things with the world out there.

We like to think it's out of some sense of helping others to find their way around a new part of existence that they may not have experienced yet, but really we just like to think of people out there reading what we wrote and maybe having a smile...

Anyway, for a while now I've had a blog over at If I touch it, will it break? which is very infrequently updated and tends to be about things that annoy me. If you read that blog you'd probably get the impression that I'm quite a grumpy man. But it's not true, I am very far from being that person. I am a person who seeks out the joy in life when I can. And some of the things that make me happy are reading books and drinking tea.

So, this will be a blog about reading books and drinking tea. I may occasionally stray into other areas, such as photography which is another passion of mine, but on the whole I'm going to keep it pretty focused. I'm hoping that way I might actually manage to keep on keeping on.

So, like I said, welcome. Sit a spell, you all come back now, you hear?