Nerf Guns

Green Rose

This is the story of how I became friends with one of my best friends.

While I was studying, I moved into a house with 9 other people in it. It sounds like a recipe for absolute disaster, but it worked out really well. Many years later, I still maintain friendships with most of these women and I loved my time in that share house the most of any share house I lived in while studying (and I moved a lot in that time).

Things did not start smoothly though. My room came with a built in roommate, and we met the day that I moved in. She was nice, but we just kind of did our own thing, and stayed out of each other’s way. I wanted to know what she thought of me, and one night I overheard her talking to her previous roommate who’d come for a visit. She asked her old roommate to stay the night, because she missed her so much. I felt like I was failing in the roommate stakes.

A little while later, I showed her a video I was watching and we laughed together over it. We started talking a little more after that. A few more weeks passed, and MM (just boyfriend at the time), bought me a nerf gun for my birthday. A few days later I came into our room to find her with my nerf gun out, taking shots at her Drake poster. We took turns after that, and she gave me pointers on how to properly use a gun (because she is from America and has used an actual gun before). We had a lot of fun together. She went home for the semester break a couple of weeks later and left me a note saying how glad she was that we were friends and how she looked forward to coming back and shooting the nerf gun all over our room again.

We spent so much time together after that. We both loved documentaries, we both enjoyed tea, and we were both happy to sit quietly in one another’s presence without saying a word. She got on famously with MM. It was terrific.

Later that year I graduated and moved out, but we stayed firm friends. She was my bridesmaid, and MM and I went to visit her and her family in US a few years later. One Christmas she bought me Green Rose, and now I think of her when I drink it.

Green Rose is a delightful brew and the first green tea I admitted to liking. It lacks any of the grassy flavour some greens are known to have. It’s smooth with a strong rose aroma and flavour. Best brewed at a lower temperature for a mid length brew time (3ish minutes works for me). It’s delicate and dainty and perfect for fancy china cups. Never add milk, or you will regret all the bad things you have ever done in your life.

Green Rose: 5/5
Enjoy with: sensational friends.

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Nine-Nine!

Sencha Peach

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is back fore season 5 today. I’m pretty happy. I don’t always get behind the Saturday Night Live offshoots, but this one has captured my attention.

Jake Peralta (Andy Samburg), plays a detective working in Brooklyn precinct 99. He’s wise-cracking, rule shirking, and generally funny and childish. If you’ve seen Hot Rod, imagine Rod becoming a police detective. There it is.

The first time I saw Brooklyn 99 was in Canada. Despite having been to Brooklyn itself, the theme song reminds me of a snowy December evening in my friends’ living room, watching the shenanigans of the 99.

Season 4 ended on a real cliff hanger, so I’m keen to see how the new season resolves things. If you haven’t seen this program, I recommend it. It’s showing on Netflix, and the current season will be on SBS On Demand.

Therefore, let’s get straight to tea, so I can get to tv.

Sencha Peach has seen fit to carry on the surprise I get from enjoying a green tea. (I’d really love to know what kind of awful green tea I had that made me believe I didn’t like it at all.) Sencha is a smooth green, slightly floral and not complex in its own right, making it a great base for blending with other flavours. The peach in this tea is bright and fruity, and I have a feeling this would be a great brew when iced. It’s refreshing as a hot tea, and it calls to mind sunny summer days. Don’t touch the milk, and consider using this as a palate cleanser.

Sencha Peach: 4/5
Enjoy with: television

 

Kill the Rabbit

Assam

Some movies stand out in my mind as great, not because of much to do with the move itself, but because it became a family favourite. One such film that has coloured my childhood was the Bugs Bunny Road Runner Movie (currently on Netflix). It’s a series of short Looney Tunes animations, and it was on television once or twice a year. I think we had a short bit of it taped on video as well. It was on tv when we went to the hospital to see my baby brother for the first time. I was 6, and much more interested in the tv.

Eventually, the movie stopped being shown on television once or twice a year, but it did not make itself readily available on dvd. After I got married, I discovered Main Man didn’t have a clue what I was talking about when I referred to ‘The Flight of the Valkyries’ as the ‘Kill the Rabbit’ song. Obviously, I needed to educate him, but I didn’t pursue this idea properly at the time.

It wasn’t until we drank a pot of Assam tea, and I declared, “Assam, chop!” which was met by his confused expression that I realised how serious the situation was. I began looking for a copy of this film online, but none were available in Australia, and shipping for a single dvd from outside Australia makes the cost prohibitive. I resolved that film would have to remain a part of my memory and not be shared with my family.

Then one day, I went to the post office, as you do, and there on a rack of unrelated products was a copy of the Bugs Bunny Road Runner Movie! And it was $5. And MM and I had just had a conversation about saving money and not making frivolous purchases. So I bought the dvd.

When I played it for him, he said, “Oh yeah, I think I remember this movie.” Cue my unimpressed face. But I still occasionally say, “Assam, chop!” at the sight of Assam tea, because now I just have to remind him that we own the film now.

Assam is a full-bodied black tea with a robust smokey flavour. It can be over brewed if you’re not careful, and there’s precious little redeeming it after that. It’s the tea I like to have when I need a real kick start to my day. I favour the smokiness, but it can be tempered by adding milk (cow or vanilla soy work best), and you’re still left with the deep, rich notes of the black brew. A big tick from me, but definitely not for the faint of heart. And you aren’t alone if this isn’t your personal cup.

Assam: 4/5
Enjoy with: a hint of nostalgia

Fear

Gone Surfing

I was a fairly bold person in my late teens and early 20s. I seem to have mellowed with age. I used to think there was very little that could frighten me, but I’m more honest now. One of my less than rational (but still understandable) fears is large bodies of water. Lakes, deep rivers, and the open ocean are formidable places. My fear stems from a series of incidents in my youth.

First of all, I was the airy-fairiest child imaginable. I thought everything was alive in some sense. I had to rotate my t-shirts because the ones at the bottom of the drawer might get upset. Toys were definitely alive (imagine my joy when Pixar created Toy Story and my suspicions were confirmed!). And naturally occurring bodies of water were sentient. Some bodies were nice, others tried to kill you. I saw this trailer for ‘Godzilla’ when I was about 9, and it terrified me at the time. That swelling wave haunted my dreams. A few years earlier I saw an episode of “Water Rats” where someone drowned, which also freaked me out. Basically, I was acutely aware that the ocean was full of things that could harm you, and if those didn’t get you, the water itself would just crush you. Just a few years ago I went to the American Natural History Museum in New York and saw a model of a blue whale. The ocean hides those things!

That said, I enjoy swimming and don’t mind the beach, so long as I get to stay in the breakers. I had a brief and fervent stint of learning how to surf just before I went to high school, but never lived close enough to a beach for long enough to make it a real hobby. I like the bush, you can keep the beach. So where does that leave me in terms of the tea, ‘Gone Surfing’?

Gone Surfing is caffeine free, so a good one for the evenings, and more so now that winter is starting to fall behind us. The sights and sounds of the coast are calling as summer days draw nearer.

Sipping this tea, the words ‘lemony’ and ‘fresh’ come to mind, but so does ‘briny’. There is a definite hint of bitter, salty sea spray in the flavour that is off putting. Personally, I think I need to blend it with a bit of Mint Mix (3:1 Gone Surfing to Mint Mix is my guess), and see if that takes the saltwater edge off it. This is a tea that is most definitely supposed to taste fresh, but I can’t escape the seaweed like aftertaste.

Gone Surfing: 3/5
Enjoy with: Warmer evenings.

Kindness

Toasty Nougat

Some people are just born to be kind. I have one such friend, who is the embodiment of kindness itself. I sat with another friend of mine and we tried to come up with 3 people my kindest friend wouldn’t invite in for the night if they had no where to stay. We came up with 2.

She’s one of those people to whom I owe a great deal. We met when we began studying together, and she was a breath of fresh of air in a sea of hyperbole and affectedness. I understand that at university age, people are spreading their wings of opinion and learning to fly outside the confines of high school, but we were both well into our 20s and therefore considered ‘mature age’ students. We were the rung of mature age students that’s looking for some like-minded friendship. Not the type that sits almost at the front of the class and has ~a lot of questions~ that begin with, “It’s really more of a comment. (Insert my life experience here because it will be valuable, I’m sure).”

The years my friend spent studying in Australia, she and her husband became great companions to me and my husband. She kept me sane when I thought I was losing my mind over ancient languages. She also kept me humble because she could pull almost the same marks as me, except she’d write her essay in about 6 days and I’d take nearly 4 weeks. Then one day, her study time here in Australia came to an end, they packed themselves up and we saw them off at the airport.

18 months later, my Main Man, Little Lad, and I made the gruelling 27 hour trek to the Eastern side of Canada to visit. And we fell in love with the city, and can’t wait to go back again. But what was better than being in a beautiful location was being with our friends again. They seem to operate on our level and we reminded each other of some of the best of each other that goes by the wayside in our inevitable periods of absence.

Luckily for my friend, I reintroduced her to the love of tea. Canada doesn’t have T2 (real oversight, there T2), but they do have David’s Tea, which is pretty good if you can’t have T2. David’s has a herbal blend called ‘Forever Nuts’, and it has a heavenly scent. My friend bought some, and then told everyone about it, including the fact she wanted to bathe in it. For me, I couldn’t get the song “Forever Young” by Alphaville out of my head.

I snagged a small sample of ‘Forever Nuts’ to bring home, but a close T2 comparison is Toasty Nougat.

It’s a caffeine free tea, and I love it as an evening sip. It’s a bit fruity, but largely nutty, with popcorn, salt, and malty notes. Truly reminiscent of creamy nougat. It smells divine dried and once brewed, easily considered a liquid pudding.

Toasty Nougat: 5/5
Enjoy with: your kindest friends.

Green

Geisha Getaway

Hello.
I read your book. I liked it a lot.
It’s one of those books that will stay with me.
Those are characters that live and breathe
Outside the page,
They never age,
But they burrow in minds and hearts.
Your book made me smile.
It made me happy,
I’m glad it was recommended to me.

Sometimes I write too,
But I can’t consider myself a writer.
Not yet.
Published people are writers, in my mind.
I say, “I dabble.”
But the reason I say this is because I worry.
I worry I’m not very good at words,
Though that seems absurd
If I’m casually observed,
But there’s a lot you won’t see
Just by looking.

I feel like the words are caged up inside me,
It takes a feat of strength to see them freed
Through my fingers, as I write.
Then they’re free in the world,
They have the life I thought they might live,
And I don’t see them as much when they don’t live inside anymore.
But your words, in your book,
Your words are now shut up inside me.
Is that the final resting place of our written words?
We send them out,
They soar,
Then when they capture another imagination,
They again become someone’s captive?
I like that ending.

I drank a cup of tea, that implied it should be free,
Geisha Getaway.
I say I don’t like green,
But I keep finding green to like.
This is another,
Not a grassy green,
This green is clean.
Floral, bright,
Vanilla, smooth,
Fruity, peachy,
Sweet to the last drop.
Poetry in a cup.

Geisha Getaway: 4/5
Enjoy with: Poetry or a good book

Today is Australian Reading Hour. Australian’s are encouraged to spend one hour today reading, on their own, or with their children.

Devotion

Monk Pear

High above the Plain of Thessaly, beside the Pindos Mountains in central Greece, towers a rock formation known as Meteora. Built into this unusual piece of nature is a series of monasteries that have a central role in the Eastern Orthodox religion. The geology of the place is difficult to explain, and the reasoning for building here is more difficult again. But it is a beautiful place to behold.

The largest of these monasteries is The Monastery of Great Meteoron. Most of it serves as a museum now, and the icons that cover the walls are testament to the devotion of the people who decorated the monastery. The smallest of all the monasteries is The Monastery of St. Nicholas Anapausas. During my visit a few years ago, only one monk lived there.

The devout life is one that has intrigued me since I first watched ‘Sister Act’ in the early ’90s. I didn’t really have much other exposure to nuns, other than watching ‘The Sound of Music’. I couldn’t reconcile that Maria in the Abbey was somehow pursuing a life similar to Maggie Smith’s in Sister Act, because Maggie Smith was (and still is) so much cooler than Julie Andrews. Julie Andrews has that amazing voice going for her though. I digress. I couldn’t understand why people were intent on locking themselves away in draughty churches, tending to small gardens for the entire lives. But, spending time in Meteora, I came to appreciate the attraction of a life of devotion. The paintings in the monasteries were painstakingly accurate icons demonstrating the extent to which faith mattered to these devotees. And for some reason, the painting and the maintenance of the icons was something that spoke to me. The outward demonstration of devotion to their faith was something meaningful.

So, what to say of Monk Pear, then? It’s definitely a contemplative brew. One for sipping slowly, it helped through both undergrad and postgrad. It’s a strong black base with fruity notes. I find this one easy to brew badly, and an over brewed version is the pits. I’m a fan of giving the leaves a cold rinse before brewing, and a short brew time of around 2 minutes. Monk Pear is a very agreeable black blend. Almost anyone who likes French Earl Grey likes Monk Pear as well. Milk is a definite no-no, the flavour is way to delicate, and as a sweet taste to start with, sweetener is unnecessary. This is a brilliant tea for afternoons, especially that 3:30pm slump at work.

Monk Pear: 5/5
Enjoy with: a sense of devotion.