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

 

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.

Festivities

Marrakech

Recently, I returned to the city for a tea festival. I wish I could talk about the tea festival in depth, but I’m at a loss for what to convey. There were stalls, I tried all manner of different teas. Some were very interesting, some were painfully pedestrian. But I enjoyed myself immensely.

The thing that stood out to me most was that I seem to have assimilated to country life at a remarkable pace. I lived in Sydney for over 7 years, and have only been in the sticks for a few months, but my initial reaction to the tea festival was, “Wow, it’s crowded.” And it became more crowded as time wore on, meaning I enjoyed myself less. I found myself waiting patiently to come to the front of the queue and more than once, people who hadn’t been waiting as long took advantage of the lack of order and crowded me out. I forgot living in the city required being on your guard so much of the time. Driving the few hours home, watching the landscape change from urban sprawl to rolling hills, I could scarcely imagine going home to anywhere else. The country has bewitched me, and I’m happy to oblige.

Back at the festival, one particular tea I enjoyed was from the Literary Tea Company. If you fancy yourself a bibliophile, as many tea enthusiasts do (including me), they have a broad range of teas inspired by famous authors. Understandably, their stall was extraordinarily busy, so I just zipped in to have a little taste of one of the teas. I tried Jane Austen, because that’s what the woman serving was holding at the time. The profile consists of Earl Grey, rose, and lavender, which balance well, to nobody’s surprise. I’m not a big Austen fan, so I quipped that her tea tasted of, “High-minded introspection and rheumatism.” That was supposed to be a blight on her work, not on the tea. I’d happily drink that tea again.

Every tea I tried (and I must stress there were hundred of samples at the festival I didn’t get to), was a combination of dried ingredients, as you expect tea to contain. This is what makes T2’s Marrakech stand out among other teas. The green tea is infused with peppermint oil. I was sceptical that this would make a difference to the flavour, but it does. The green tea tucks itself behind the peppermint oil in the flavour profile, but the flavour is a world away from other teas with dried peppermint. And again, I find myself with a cup of green tea I’m very fond of. I’m starting to think I really do enjoy green, despite previous misgivings.

Marrakech: 5/5
Enjoy with: a place to call home

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?

Australian_Women's_Weekly_Children's_Birthday_Cake_Book

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.