Monday, 3 January 2011

Tea, the religion of the art of life

On a tea related surf this afternoon I discovered the quote in the title of this blog (or at least the gist of it). It is by one Okakura Kakuzo who, in the early part of the last century, wrote a book  called The Book of Tea. I wonder if for Okakura, a cup of tea was something to be taken while slouched in an armchair with a good book or taken in a cafe while examining an afternoons purchases and wondering if your feet will ever be not sore again. Certainly for the atheist blogger it makes more sense as a religion than most others out there - I certainly never start my day without attending to my devotions and it is the poorest sort of day that doesn't contain evening vespers.

This is actually a special request blog requested by Miss McK on my page on the Dark Side yesterday. It just so happened that only a few months ago I received an email from her brother (curiously Mr McK) with a link to a very interesting page all about tea. The page explains how tea contains a substance called L-theanine ( a substance not found in coffee) which when combined with caffeine gives a sense of mindful awareness.

Below is a delightful cream tea I had on a glorious day last Summer in Chippenham - obviously tea may contain L-theanine and caffeine but it does not contain a scone and a big dollop of jam so you have to get these separately on a side plate.

Aha found it! First task when arriving in the apartment my work put me up in is to find the tea.

A cuppa in Cafe Nero while waiting for meal No 1 to arrive.

A fruit tea at work - they don't trust us with breakable mugs there!!!

Chinese proverb - Drinking a daily cup of tea will starve the apothecary.

Japanese proverb - If a man has no tea in him, he is incapable of understanding truth and beauty.

I know this isn't a cup of tea but it seemed a reasonable place to put it. It is there to pay homage to the perfect toast created by my Granny all through the 70s and 80s in a toaster of indeterminate ancientness. It was always made with a Scottish Plain Loaf which I have never seen south of the border. The notable quality of the plain loaf is that it has virtually no crusts on the side and the crusts on the top and bottom are nearly inedible - once they are toasted they are absolutely inedible so they are cut off before toasting. I do occasionally buy a plain loaf and attempt to recreate my granny's lightly toasted wonder - often coming close but never quite making it.

As befits my itinerant ways, I drink a lot of tea out of paper cups.

A month or so ago, I was sitting in the kitchen on a sunny day with friends when I spotted little rainbows in the steam rising from a cup (maybe the cup I had was particularly high in L-theanine and caffeine that day). The next day when I was alone and my lunacy might not get discovered, I tried to recreate the circumstances that led to the phenomenon (my thanks to the weather for playing it's part here) - alas no rainbows, in fact not even a decent cup of tea - once you've reheated a cuppa in the microwave a couple of times it is horrible.

Thanks to my sister, Dot, who bought me this very useful mug for Christmas with a little slot underneath for a couple of biscuits - she even provided the biscuits :)

Dr Johnson wrote, " I am a hardened and shameless tea drinker, who has for twenty years diluted his meals only with the infusion of this fascinating plant; whose kettle has scarcely time to cool; who with tea amuses the evening, with tea solaces the midnight, and with tea welcomes the morning."

A rather nice box of fruit tea that has seen me over the new year.

Billy Connolly says, "Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn't try it on."

More tea?


Shundo said...

You're making me thirsty again...
Now, if you were put into the hellish situation of having to choose between only ever drinking beer or tea, which would win?
Someone gave me a scone for breakfast this morning - it was very nice, but it wasn't really a scone (not as pictured, anyway), and I had to convince her that scones should be eaten at tea-time (this was a concept she couldn't get her head around).

JennyD said...

I am now about to kill for a cup of tea! And that cup with the slot for the biscuits was amazing -- a genius thought that up and I've never seen anything like it.
Tomorrow is my grocery shopping day and I plan on stocking up on many kinds of teas. Can't wait :D

Becky said...

Just delightful post. And I was drinking a cup of tea as I read it!

Sandy's witterings said...

Ah Shundo, the dilemma you pose is actually an easy one for without tea I'd be unable to rise from my bed and go to the pub. Beer is a pleasure, a search for quality, which I take in such moderation that it is never likely to become an essential.
These days I like to eat scones later in the day but the Sandy of quarter of a century ago would have had no problem with scones for breakfast and then a few rock buns and anything else my mother had baked.
I believe over there there is a slight problem putting the correct name to the correct baked object - seriously muddling up scones and biscuits. Too much coffee I suspect.

Oh Jenny, you've obviously allowed yourself to get into the dangerous position of having no tea ingredients in the house. Enjoy your tea when you get it.

Becky, you've obviously got life cracked. Have another cup :)

Denise said...

Nothing like a good cuppa. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this post on tea, and your photos are brilliant. Was particularly impressed with the rainbow in the steam. Even though you couldn't get the rainbow this time, it was still a beautiful image, and your sister Dot I just love that cup with the slot for the biscuits. I've never seen anything like that before, a very clever idea and a lovely and thoughtful gift, especially as she supplied the biscuits.

Denise said...

p.s. I'm off to put the kettle on!

JennyD said...

Just to let you know that my grocery shopping was perfect in the tea aisle and I am now stocked up! Of course you also have to realize that a little beer was on tap for the buying, too ;) No one can ever say I'm tunnel visioned.

photo mugs said...

nice thanks for sharing.keep up.

The Glebe Blog said...

Happy New Year Sandy,my lum went up today so I had the company of some firemen this afternoon.

Of course that's beside's the (tea) point.
This is from todays health news.

A new study from researchers at the U.K.'s Newcastle University has found that elements found in green tea could help prevent dementia and Alzheimer's in particular when digested into the body.

For the study, researchers examined the changes undergone by green tea in the digestion process. They found that the beneficial elements in the tea are more helpful in their digested state. "What was really exciting about this study was that we found when green tea is digested by enzymes in the gut, the resulting chemicals are actually more effective against key triggers of Alzheimer's development than the undigested form of the tea," lead researcher Dr. Ed Okello tells

"In addition to this, we also found the digested compounds had anti-cancer properties, significantly slowing down the growth of the tumor cells which we were using in our experiments."

Okello adds that the digested compounds in green tea could be particularly useful in warding of Alzheimer's disease.

Brew on Macduff !

Shundo said...

Alas, it is not just the scones and biscuits that cause confusion over here - they have something called a muffin which is perfectly nice, but not what you and I call a muffin, which is an English muffin to them. Ask for a crumpet, and they usually scratch their heads. Can't say I've had a decent rock cake since I've been here either, though some dried out American scones come close...

Crafty Green Poet said...

and green tea prevents Alzheimers and cancer so an all round miracle drink! I like the cup with the space for biscuits, very clever....

Sandy's witterings said...

Thanks for your comments everyone - I've go no internet in the lab at the moment so excuse me if I appear a bit AWOL for a couple of weeks - I've got a half finished blog I'll try and get finished off on the shared machines sometime soon and I'll catch up with all your postings on my return.

In the mean time enjoy your cuppas everyone and keep posting :)