All Together Now

Pai Mu Tan

I have been watching Queer Eye, the Netflix reboot. I never watched the original show, because I was in high school and had no interest in watching men getting made over. Clearly, as I have aged, my appreciation for real life Hans Christian Anderson tales brought to life has grown. (I didn’t just want to say ‘Ugly Duckling’, because the point is the swan at the end, both in the story and on the show).

Without being able to say anything about the original series, I adore this reboot. It makes me think, it teaches me greater compassion, and I learn more about fundamental human needs the more I watch. The show has very little to do with outward makeovers, and much more to do with being your genuine self. If you boil the show down to one aspect, it’s that all men need a space where they can be vulnerable with other men they trust.

These men demonstrate a beautiful model of what true community can look like. A group of marginalised individuals (in this instance, gay men), bring together their professional strengths and their authenticity, asking the world to accept them as they are. They find someone who generally is not in the same marginalised position they are (though it’s not always the case), and share their skills so that the subject can learn to embrace authenticity. This is a group of people, sidelined by society, who say, “We would like to offer the best of ourselves, and for you to connect with the best of yourself.” In doing that, they bridge the societal divide, and prove that they are no different, no less acceptable, and no less loveable because of a single, inconsequential aspect of themselves. It’s pure poetry.

Another rich, complex, and enjoyable thing I have been getting into is the white tea, Pai Mu Tan. This white is smooth, and smokey. It has a leafy aspect that gives it a green tea like quality. The flavour is woody and mushroom, with rich earthy notes in every sip. This is a savoury white with a strong umami aftertaste. Pai Mu Tan is the earthy white tea answer to White Flowery Pekoe. If you want to try both sides of the white tea coin, this is the dynamic duo you’re after.

Pai Mu Tan: 5/5
Enjoy with: The Queer Eye reboot.

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Speaking of

White Flowery Pekoe

It is late at night as I’m an writing this, and it is criminally hot. I don’t think the humidity level should be allowed to rise after the sun has gone down. It’s ridiculous. Some days I’m certain I would only be happy if I was living somewhere perpetually frozen in the far north of the Yukon. But if I did live there I’d still gripe about trying to sleep in summer because the sun would never truly set and I’d be just as miserable.

Speaking of miserable, I’m sure that word was created for ear infections. On the rare occasion I do have something wrong with my ear or ears, the only word to sum up how I feel is miserable. It conjures images of persistent discomfort that requires involuntary horizontal positioning until the feeling passes. My deepest sympathies to anyone who suffers from routine ear infections.

Speaking of sympathy, that word always reminds me of soup. Is there such a thing as sympathy soup? I need to look this up… nope, no sympathy soup recipes, just a bunch of websites that will send a sympathy hamper including soup. I guess that’s my association. I like soup, but I know lots of people don’t like soup, and for some people it’s a way of saying, “I know things are not good right now, here is the worst food in the world.” Thankfully, I like soup, I will gladly accept soup during acceptable soup weather (otherwise known as acceptable weather), for sympathetic reasons or just because.

Speaking of hot liquids that bring comfort, White Flowery Pekoe is delicious. If you are knew to white tea, this is a brilliant place to start. It is also a small jump from many green teas, so if you’re looking to branch out from green without going crazy, this is the sip for you.

White Flowery Pekoe is a crisp white, making it a good jump for green tea drinkers, especially as some white teas can be very earthy. It’s a bright and floral brew high, pale woody notes, as opposed to dense and earthy wood notes. It’s a smooth sip with a sweet aftertaste. This is one to sip slowly and savour.

White Flowery Pekoe: 5/5
Enjoy with: soup or sympathy or sleep.

Fashion

White Jasmine

There was once a time when it was fashionable to present heavily scented soaps in pretty colours or with pastel designs as gifts to any female in your life. These weren’t soaps for using (perish the thought!), but for putting in your drawers to make your clothes smell nice. To be honest, I just though it made clothes (and the wearer) smell like heavily perfumed soap.

I used to have loads of these from grandmothers, aunts, people who didn’t know what to get me for an occasion, but still felt compelled to give a gift (I wish they hadn’t). I had so many I had to keep about 3 of them per drawer. And it was really unfashionable to dispose of a gift. Especially in my house. You may as well go around spitting in people’s faces, since it’s the same degree of rudeness.

In the war of the soap scents, there was one that always came out on top. Long after the rose had faded, and bullying its way past the lavender, was jasmine. Princess of Agrabah, and Queen of the Smelly Soaps, you could be guaranteed a whiff of jasmine for many, many years once you’d subjected your drawers to its soapy clutches. I’ve come to dislike jasmine as a scent, since it clung to me and my wooly jumpers like a parasitic plant that engulfs its host.

It’s not fashionable to give soaps anymore. But fashion moves in cycles. So I’d better clear out some space in the drawers for all the mother’s day soaps my Little Lad will probably purchase for me in his lifetime. Maybe I can re-gift them to my nieces?

Naturally, I’m wary of teas with jasmine. I have to get past the smell to the taste (which tastes just like soap smells), and then not enjoy the cup. Over brewed jasmine will suck the moisture from your mouth like you swallowed a ShamWow.

Imagine my surprise when I enjoyed a cup of White Jasmine. It still has a strong jasmine flavour, but the silky white tea carries the floral notes, with out descending into a soap-based destruction. In fact, the white tea is the star of the brew, which is a difficult position to wrestle away from jasmine. It’s a smooth and light brew, and perfect for just about any time of day.

White Jasmine: 4/5
Enjoy with: fresh drawers.

The White Witch

White Rose

I love reading. And as much as I love reading, I love books. The idea of an e-reader is appealing in that I wouldn’t have to store books, but the thought of not turning pages, not having the physical book in my hand, it makes me sad. I like books.

Non-fiction is normally more my wheel house, especially travel, and memoirs, and travel memoirs. I have been embracing more fiction of late, but I find myself drawn to children’s fiction. I’m currently reading Treasure Island, for the first time. It’s a good yarn, and worth a read if you haven’t already.

My favourite series are all children’s novels. Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons books have a special place in my heart. I also love Elizabeth Honey novels, and finished the Harry Potter series for the first time this year (so now I’m a fan). But I’m fairly confident that my favourite books are the Chronicles of Narnia. Long before I was old enough to read them, I was staring, round eyed at the BBC adaptation of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, completely captivated by Narnia. No one was more formidable than the White Witch, and no one more majestic than Aslan. I was also a younger sibling that got picked on a bit, so Lucy was my home girl.

I never understood Edmund from the tv series. Why would he be so keen to betray his siblings, especially to someone he had only just met? Once I read the books, a little more texture is added to Edmund’s character and I understand his motivation more now. The most perplexing thing was, when I had Turkish Delight the first time, I hated it. I simply could not imagine that turning over my siblings in exchange for a box of the stuff was a fair trade. Just a few years ago, I went to Turkey and had fresh, handmade Turkish Delight for the first time. It was simply divine, but still not quite sell your soul worthy.

All this brings me to T2’s White Rose. With a long brew time, this cup tastes like the distilled essence of Turkish Delight, somehow made better by not having any sugar in it. It emits a heavenly, heady floral scent, with a minor sharpness of white tea behind it. Sipping the white liqueur and having the fragrant rose swell over your tastebuds, you realise, this is worth betraying your siblings into the hands of an evil witch for.

White Rose is one of T2’s more expensive orange boxes. It is to be bought sparingly and savoured lovingly. Morning or afternoon, and even post dinner, this tea suits any time of the day that you have a minute to be mindful and concentrate on every sip.

White Rose: 5/5

Enjoy with: a good book.

Liquid Magic

White White Cocoa

I’m patting myself on the back at the moment. I did something I was supposed to do today: I went to the pool. It’s important for me to exercise regularly because every aspect of my (less than stellar) health is improved through regular exercise. But I am really good at not exercising. Regular exercisers who are reading this won’t understand, but I have become so good at not exercising I hardly ever feel guilty for not doing it. I suppose it’s better to exercise out a motivation other than guilt, but for some people, it’s all they have. Or doctor’s orders, they’re pretty potent in the motivation stakes as well.

But today I hopped in the pool without a whiff of guilt. I did inhale sharply as it’s warming up here, so the temperature of the pool is being lowered. It’s actually cold to get in now. Winter is one of my favourite times to swim, because the water is heated to such a wonderful temperature. Summer is the next best time to swim, because the weather is hot and a cool pool is welcome. Autumn is an ok time to swim because the pool tends to be heated before the weather gets too cold, but it isn’t great. Spring (now) is the worst time. The days aren’t warm enough yet, but the pool heat is being turned down. And somehow, today I managed to convince myself to swim anyway. Woo! Go me! High five!

The other issue with being bad at exercise is that the slightest win with exercise sends me into a ‘treating myself’ frenzy. No, exercise is not a reward in itself. Even Olympic athletes wouldn’t say that, they’re all training to win a medal. And since no one is hanging any hunks of precious metal around my neck for doing laps, I have to reward myself. Normally with chocolate. Which really defeats the purpose of all the exercise.

There is a solution though, and it is White White Cocoa. Imagine someone liquified a Bounty Bar. I don’t mean melted, I mean distilled into liquid. That there is the flavour of White White Cocoa. It’s a delicate white tea infused with the flavour of fresh coconut flesh. In the background of every mouthful is a faint chocolate/cocoa husk taste. Brew this one properly and you have yourself a magical cup of dessert. One cup is never enough!

White White Cocoa: 5/5
Enjoy with: Celebration