You are currently browsing the Breaching The Web blog archives for January, 2005.

Waking Up

January 31st, 2005

After the previous post about herbal teas, I thought I should write about black teas.

I’m relatively new to tea drinking. When I gave up soda in December 2003, I needed to find another source of caffiene, and I’ve never been a coffee drinker, so i turned to tea. Since then, I’ve purchased tea from only three sources: Adagio, Upton Tea Imports, and Teaism. I’ve also been lucky enough to have a few friends who go to India occassionally — and who bring me tea. Thus, my preferences may be biased by my sources and my limited experience as a tea drinker — there may be a wonderful tea out there that these places don’t sell, or that I haven’t tried.

But, disclaimers aside, here are my very favorite black teas right now:

1. Doomni Estate Assam SFTGFOP CL purchased from Upton’s. Unfortunately, it appears that they are sold out of this tea right now, (although it is available in one of their samplers) but if you ever see it, think about trying it. I am a big fan of teas from Assam. The Doomni is a hearty, breakfast-style tea, which means it’s dark, black and strong — this is a tea that will wake you up. It has a sweet aftertaste and is just a bit spicy. You could put milk in it, if you were into that sort of thing (which I am not), and it wouldn’t get watery. This tea is a bit spendy, but at least for me it’s worth every penny.

2. Chai from Teaism. This Chai mix is fantastic — the balance of the spices is just right (too many Chais taste only of cinnamon), and the tea base is not overwhelmed. This isn’t a sophistocated tea, but it’s warm and satisfying.

3. Dellawa Estate FBOPF EX-SP Wilson Select purchased from Upton’s. This is a Ceylon (for reasons unknown to me, tea is referred to by colonial appelations). It’s light, fresh and complex, and brews up a lovely golden color. My other favorite Ceylon is Kenilworth Estate OP Wilson Select — it’s not as deep as the Dellawa, but it’s a good everyday cup of tea, at a very nice price. I’m not as willing to spend money on a Ceylon as I am on an Assam.

4. Finest Russian Caravan purchased from Upton’s. This is a smooth blend of fine teas from India, China and Formosa. It’s hearty, but without the edge of my beloved Assams. It’s a nice everyday tea, one that I like to make for people who don’t drink tea regularly.

That’s the list for now. The Assam and Ceylons are estate teas — this means they are from a single garden and are not blended with other teas. As with wine, terroir makes a difference in the taste of a tea, so my prefered teas may change, as weather, soil and processing change.

Minty fresh

January 28th, 2005

Some prisons in England are using herbal teas to help prisoners relax and get a good night’s sleep. In some prisons, they are almost completely replacing sedatives.

Herbal teas (infusions really — true teas are made only from the Camellia sinensis plant) are widely used in Europe for their medicinal purposes — they are more thoroughly studied there, making their use more precise and less “quacky” than in the U.S, so it’s really not surprising that they would be used in prisons.

And, in case you were wondering, my two favorite herbal teas are:

1. Chamillo Blend from Upton Tea Imports. I don’t generally like chamomile teas. I think they taste like grass. But this beautiful blend is no ordinary chamomile — it has a lot of minty, citrus-like flavor. Just opening the tin is soothing — the blend is gorgeous and smells delightful. I don’t know if it helps me sleep, but it sure is good.

2. Orange Ginger Mint tea from Republic of Tea. I generally stay away from Republic of Tea products because their packaging irritates me — it’s way too cutesy, and is too obviously attempting to sell me a lifestyle. And I haven’t really liked the few black RoTs I’ve tried — they are too heavily flavored. However, I tried the Orange Ginger Mint at a coffee shop and really love it. It’s spicy and sweet without being cloying, and the aroma alone is enough to warm me on a cold evening. I would particularly recommend this to chai-lovers. RoT markets this as an “after meal” tea and says it is soothing to the digestive system — I find that when my tummy is a bit off, this tea does make me feel better.

I don’t drink a lot of herbal tea. I don’t, as a rule, like it. What the two teas above share are strong, assertive flavors and heavenly aromas.

UPDATE: I was just reminded by L that when I make the Orange Ginger Mint tea referenced above, I always use two teabags per mug (10-12 ounces) — otherwise, the tea is very bland. Some teas you can skimp and use one teabag per mug, but not this one.

Flornithology

January 27th, 2005

Just in case you’ve not yet run into this on the internets, do spend some time looking at How To Tell The Birds From the Flowers. The pictures are really clever, and some of the rhymes are quite sweet.

Results of Thinking

January 25th, 2005

Viginia Woolf was born on this day in 1882. If you haven’t read a Woolf novel, today would be a good day to pick one up.

Shame

January 20th, 2005

I still don’t understand how Bush won the last election. I cannot fathom how it was even close. In the past few months, I have forgotten or gotten over the feeling of anomie I felt when I realized that Stalin and Hayek were right. But today it is back — the world feels unstable, uncertain, alien and foreign. I don’t understand the country I live in, or the citizens I share it with.

Books

January 20th, 2005

So, like all the other cool kids I know (but later), I went and joined the “52 books in 52 weeks” group at 43things. And, like Medley, I added my list of books read to the sidebar. I’ll link them to my reviews on Virtual Marginalia if/when I get around to writing them.

I know that I’ve read all the books on the list so far since Christmas 2004, but I can’t remember which ones I have read since New Year’s Day 2005. So my goal is to read 52 books by Christmas 2005.

A pebble

January 19th, 2005

I occasionally (and not often enough) browse the news at AllAfrica.com, which provides English langauge news from countries all over the African continent. I browse the site to expand my own horizons — I find the exercise particularly useful when I’m obsessing about some happening in my own country that is incredibly important, but about which I can do nothing immeadiate.

It is in that spirit that I offer you this East and Horn of Africa Year in Review. It was indeed a year of mixed fortunes for these regions, from drought to famine to tsunami, with a few grace notes of peace and prosperity. It gives one a bit of perspective.

Defining moment

January 12th, 2005

Bush is fond of saying that he’s earned some political capital and now he’s going to spend it.

Something has been bothering me about this. It’s not my political worries about what he’s going to spend it on, although I do have those worries, and setting aside the issue of whether I think he really has any political capital, something bothers me. I feel a slight internal hitch everytime I hear the word “spend” in that phrase.

I think I’ve figured out what’s bothering me. Capital is (losely) an asset that can be used to create more assets. Money (capital) can be used to buy a machine (a capital good). A machine can be used to make a product that can be sold for money (capital). I’m no economist (nor do I play one on TV), but I think that capital has the notion of investment imbedded in it. Capital is rich in promise. It’s fertile. It’s productive.

Spending, on the other hand, simply means to pay out, expend or use up. There’s no investment or production in spending. When you’ve spent something, it’s gone, exhausted, consumed. Spending has no end or purpose.

Capital should not be spent. It should be used or marshalled or invested or manipulated or saved for a rainy day. If you spend your capital, you’re done — you’ve got nothing left. Game over, man.

Whenever I hear Bush talk about spending his capital, he’s always talking about something pointless or unimportant — his idea that a president must have a relationship with god, or his various proposals for constitutional amendments in pursuit of the culture wars.

Just like after September 11, when he spent America’s moral capital on an unjust war, he’s now intent on spending whatever political capital he has on unjust social agendas.

What a waste.

Hmmm…

January 12th, 2005

Last night I dreamt that I was really Mary, Queen of Scots, come forward in time. I was trying to call in sick to work because I was about to be beheaded, but no one that I talked to would believe me.

Feeling Better

January 11th, 2005

I’m feeling better. I’m still a little froggy and congested, but I feel human again. Over the weekend, I painted one (small) wall of the townhouse, but spent most of my time sleeping, reading and recovering. The new digs are shaping up nicely. Now all we need is some furniture, and we can have a party!