Memory Lapse

Lung Ching Classic

I knew this would happen. I knew there would come a tea for which I scribbled down some hasty notes, with all good intentions of drafting up a post about it very soon after, and then forgetting to. Well Lung Ching, you’re the lucky candidate (and you might not be the last if I’m honest).

I can’t make a usual length post from the notes I made on this tea. They simply read:

Hard to describe
Smooth Green (surprising)
Raspberry notes?
4/5

That’s it. I don’t remember much about the tea at all. These notes are sandwiched between two long to-do lists, with about 30 items on each list. I was clearing drinking this tea with other things on my mind. Once I realised this, I was prepared to write a self berating post about how it’s much easier to do a good job at something if it is given your whole attention and how I should work on one thing at a time.

But in fairness, life doesn’t always give you that chance. You have those days where thoughts buzz mercilessly and you just CAN’T stop to pay better attention to anything else. So you leave home without your wallet or your house keys or your kid (that hasn’t happened to me yet, but I’m banking on it in the future).

And sometimes the best recommendations you can give to a friend are the vague ones. If someone says to me, “I definitely enjoyed that tea/restaurant/book/other thing. I can’t quite remember why, but I’m confident it was good,” I go into the experience with some expectations, but they aren’t sky high. And when I make up my own mind, I don’t feel like I’m doing it against someone else’s extraordinary experience. Similarly, if someone says, “I don’t remember being a big fan of that. I can’t really remember why,” I don’t feel like I’ve been warned off something I was interested in just because someone else had a bad experience.

My memory of Lung Ching Classic

I’m a big fan of people justifying their reviews. If someone says they hate a movie outright because the director/lead actor/make up designer is Desmond Destiny Goldsparkle the Third and they have taken a vow to despise all work that comes in contact with Des, then I know it’s just personal. If people say they didn’t like something because it was racist or sexist, then I know it’s probably worth avoiding on principle. But sometimes, the vague review is the friend of many.

So tea friends, I enjoyed Lung Ching Classic. It was a smooth green. I think it had a hint of raspberry. I don’t remember too much else about it, but it might be worth checking out.

Lung Ching Classic: 4/5
Enjoy with: something…

Bad Haircuts

Good Evening

I’m going to jump right in here and start with the tea, because the moment I drank it I knew there was only one way to describe it: the mullet tea.

Anyone who has grown up with even the slightest hint of bogan understanding knows that the 80’s hairstyle ‘the mullet’ was consistently referred to as ‘business up front and party at the back’. What ensued was the one of the most ocularly offensive hairstyle fashions in living memory. But it is distinct and it is memorable. It even enjoyed a brief resurgence about 12 years ago. I couldn’t believe it.

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Anyway, Good Evening relates to this iconic hairstyle because it is a blend of green and black teas and it is so well blended you get a wonderful mouthful of both teas without any competition. It is green on the front and black on the back. You’ll swear you’ve taken a draught of green and by the time the last drop has trickled from your tongue you’ll be certain it was only ever black. It will draw you back for sip after sip until you too have the misfortune of discovering an empty cup.

Rarely have I lived in the total absence of bogans or some kind of equivalent. I can’t say never, because there was one time in my life when I lived in a place that saw virtually everything as beneath them.

When I was 19 I lived in Connecticut for 3 months. I did so voluntarily, but without doubt, naively. The place I lived had no neon signs, no stragglers or homeless people, no bars or nightclubs, and no idea that the big, wide world existed out there as a real place occupied by real people.

As an idealistic youngster, I decided to spend a year overseas as a nanny. I know people think the term ‘au pair’ sounds fancier, but the main distinction between an au pair and a nanny is that nannies have formal training, which I had, and au pairs are largely untrained. I never really got to make that distinction during my time nannying, because I found my work through an au pair agency. So I got lumped in with all the other au pairs who had come to the USA with varying degrees of nobility in their intentions.

I accepted a placement with a family in Connecticut with 3 children. Children is a generous term, they were aged 15, 14, and 11. Once the youngest reached their 12th birthday, the family would no longer be eligible for another au pair through this agency. This is the usual overseas worker nightmare story, where the family was unkind and the terms of my employment were constantly shifting, and never in my favour. Rather than relay the whole sordid affair in narrative terms, I’ll present you with an accurate job description of my brief time with this family.

Would you like to work with children? Have you invested time and funds in growing your understanding of child development and would now like to apply your knowledge and skills in a personalised setting? Do you crave the adventure of working abroad in an exciting, new location?

Great!

Here in the Black family, we have 3 precocious brats that have been handed everything they have ever wanted their entire lives. Mr Black works on Wall Street and is almost never home, though when he is, he will treat you like the working class citizen he assumes you are. Mrs Black is a stay at home mother who never has time to stay at home. She is insistent that she volunteers constantly with both snooty schools that the children attend, but you will never see any evidence of this. Her nails are always done though. She can make snide remarks about people’s weight (including yours) at half a moment’s notice.

We will grossly overstate the amount of time off you have, and generously understate precisely what is expected of you. We will communicate in vague terms like, “Can you do me a favour?” Meaning you are not on the clock, you aren’t obligated to do what we’re asking you to do, but we are exploiting your young age and willingness to please the people that keep you housed and employed.

When a point of difference occurs between us, we will lean heavily on our religious and ethnic background that is almost useless to us at any other time, potentially insinuating that you have some kind of prejudice against us.

We teach our children solid values. Like making money and getting into college, even at the expense of other people’s very lives.

You will look after our dogs while we go on vacations, even though it’s a violation of your employment terms.

Furthermore, where we live is in the middle of absolutely no where. You will drive in excess of 1000 kilometres per week between school drop offs and the 13 after-school activities our precious snots are involved in, in the hopes of getting some kind of college scholarship.

We expect you to pick up the phone IMMEDIATELY when we call. Bear in mind you spend the majority of your time driving, so what we are asking you to do is blatantly illegal. We don’t care. Do as we say. No, we will not purchase you a hands-free device.

Enjoy the endless sprawl of McMansions, and have no viable form of entertainment within an hour’s drive of our snowy, soulless home.

We can’t wait for you to join our family (payroll).

Never in my life have I so desperately longed for Tim-Tams to greet me in the mail and remind me that life exists outside the frozen wasteland I found myself in.

It wasn’t all bad. I spectacularly totalled their car before being transferred to another family. That worked out much better.

Good Evening: 5/5

Enjoy with: a decent haircut and a perusal of the classifieds.

Complexity

Jade Mountain

Some things are difficult to say, such as, “The Australian Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book.” Growing up, it was just, “the cake book,” which is a far less complex collection of syllables. But MM doesn’t always know what I’m referring to, so I have to use its full title and sometimes add, “The one with the train cake on the cover.” I knew I was worn out the other night when I referred to it as, “The Australia Women’s Keithly Workday Cake Book.” Now I wish workday cakes were a thing. How much better would offices be if there was workday cake in the kitchen after meetings?

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The Cake Book

The cake book is nothing if not a web of complexity. As I’ve already demonstrated, it’s has a complex title. It is filled with complex recipes that involve intricate decoration. And the question of which cake in the book is best isn’t answered easily. When discussing the cake book, it isn’t long before an argument breaks out over which cake is the best. There are lots of advocates for the train cake. The train cake is ok, but the popcorn in the carriage gets soggy if the cake is prepared too far in advance. Plus, how lazy do you have to be to not even look beyond the cover?

The castle cake boasts an ardent following. These people tend to be the type that prefer style over substance because, again, soggy ice cream cones if the cake has to be left. This is also a prime cake for collapsibility.

The weirdest cakes in that book are:

– the duck with chips for a beak. Why? Why would you do that to a cake? What did cake ever do to you?
– the ghost with eggshells for eyes. Egg shells. The discarded shell of an egg. Even the rubbish truck cake isn’t adorned with real rubbish.

Obviously, most people are wrong about which cake is best. It is clearly the bear with the wagon wheel biscuits for ears, because you get

  1. chocolate icing
  2. chocolate coconut
  3. two chocolate cakes iced into one
  4. wagon wheel biscuits
  5. a Rolo for the nose

No other cakes in that book offer this kind of chocolatey bounty. It is the best cake.

By the way, my mum never made the cake pools full of jelly because she said they were too tricky. I now know lots of people who only got the pool cake because their mum thought it was easy. Can we come to a consensus? Should I just make one and see for myself?

Anyway, the discussion involving our hero, Keithly Workday, was just a roundabout way of discussing Rolos. They only appear to be sold in family-size blocks now. I was really after the sleeve of little caramel-chocolate morsels because they are exactly the correct proportion of caramel to chocolate. I’m hesitant to go on an earnest hunt for a sleeve of Rolos, in case I discover once and for all that they don’t exist.

The catalyst for my Rolo desire was a cup of Jade Mountain tea I’d had earlier in the day. As I’ve said in the past, I’m not sure I like green tea, but I never baulk at a cup of Jade Mountain. It has a classic green tea taste, but every mouthful is a wonderful complexity of flavours. It has a combination of chocolate and caramel flavours, perfectly proportioned. It also has salty popcorn notes, and a little fruity tone splashed in for good measure: apple, apricot, fig. It’s vanilla, brown sugar, and creamy, and seemingly more complex with every mouthful.

In fact, Jade Mountain reminds me of the complexity of a custard apple. If you just hook into the thing it’s easy to assume it just tastes like custard and apple. But a custard apple is so much more than that. It’s smokey and has maple notes. You can taste woody flavours, fig, and citrus. It’s an adventure in a tropical skin.

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A cup of Jade Mountain is like a showcase of everything a cup of tea is capable of. It’s like seeing acrobats prove the extremes of the human body’s ability, viewing an intricate painting, or hearing a stirring piece of poetry. Just as you can’t help but be in awe of the possibilities of nature as you stand in the shadow of a mighty mountain, you will scarcely be able to help contain your awe of a cup of Jade Mountain.

Jade Mountain: 5/5

Enjoy with: Keithly Workday, and a slice of cake.

What’s That Smell?

Gorgeous Geisha

Smell is supposed to be our strongest sense in terms of invoking memories. Anecdotally, it is difficult for me to refute this assertion. Some smells are so irreversibly tied to memories it’s staggering. During my undergrad, there was a lecturer who believed in the power of smell. She would tell people to go to the shops and smell doughnuts in an effort to ward off depression. Or if you were avoiding too many treats, she prescribed smelling doughnuts for that as well. The lecturer even admitted following an unknown woman out of a shopping centre and to said unknown woman’s car, simply following the trail of doughnut aroma.

Some very strange smells stand out to me as I think about it. For instance, cold concrete. This smell is generally reserved for road houses or other public toilets, built outdoors, and used under the most desperate of circumstances in the middle of winter. You’d think these places would reek of the usual toilet smells. But no, in the middle of winter, the smell of cold concrete dominates all. I’m not even sure how the concrete smells cold, I certainly can’t describe anything else that smells cold. But the smell comes from the concrete and vanishes with the warmth.

Another strong smell association I have is shag pile carpet. Old houses had shag pile carpet when I was small, and I shudder to think how disgusting that stuff must have been. Especially since it was in vogue before we had all the whizz bang vacuum cleaning technology we have today. Our house didn’t have any, but I went to playgroup each week and was also babysat frequently in houses laid with arguably the most offensive floor covering fashion imaginable (I will concede that cork floors might be more deserving of this title). This in mind, I spend quite a lot of my ‘close to the floor’ years up close and personal with shag. So when someone mentions shag pile carpet, it conjures up a musty, synthetic odour in my mind’s eye. If indeed, you can conjure a smell in a mind’s eye.

Aroma is the arena in which Gorgeous Geisha excels most. It is complex and delicate and inviting. It is the fragrance that draws you in and lingers unwaveringly after each sip. The undertone of the tea is an undoubted green tea base. Like a stony exterior with a heart of gold, the green holds its ground in the flavour profile, but dances with the other flavours in a demonstration of goodwill. This brew is fruity, sweet, smooth and is crowned with a hint of vanilla.

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My Main Man and I disagree on the dominant fragrance. He says it’s a fruity bouquet, I say it’s vanilla. When I say vanilla, what I mean is vanilla wafer biscuits. Anyone who has eaten vanilla wafer biscuits knows that the smell varies from actual vanilla, but nonetheless, must be described as essentially, ‘vanilla’. This is an aroma that also casts me far back into my youth.

You could count on three things at party during my preschool and early primary school years: cocktail frankfurters (known as cheerios where I’m from), Cheezels, and wafer biscuits. The wafer biscuit priority order directly mirrors that of neapolitan ice-cream: chocolate and vanilla at the top, with individual preference determining which is truly king, and strawberry for losers. I remember avoiding the strawberry ones like overcooked vegetables. I remember pouncing on the vanilla ones as soon as I could. I remember taking painstaking care to remove each layer of the biscuit, desperate to draw out the experience as long as possible.

Vanilla wafers came into their own once again when I first moved out of home to be a student. A packet cost 55 cents when I was studying (which must have meant they cost about 4 cents when I was a child). When you first move out of home to be a student, everyone is forced into an initiation stage known as being a ‘broke student’. Somewhere along the way you work the money thing out, but at the beginning you stretch every dollar as far as it possibly will stretch. This means treats are in short supply, and vanilla wafers are free to swoop in in a 55 cent flurry of sugary glory. And once again I took painstaking care to eat them layer by layer, drawing out the experience as long as possible.

That particular vanilla aroma was my conditioning. I ate vanilla wafers after a long day. I ate them after I finished an assessment. I ate them when I was alone and had freed myself from the madness of my overstuffed share houses. To me, it’s the smell of a personal pat on the back. And because of this, I always face of a cup of Gorgeous Geisha in a good mood.

Gorgeous Geisha: 4/5

Best enjoyed: often, to create good memories.