10 August, 2015

Pairing Tea

We have known one another for so long, Gentle Reader, that I feel as if I can confide in you.  Among the veritable plethora of "things that yank my chain", up there near the top is "pairing tea".

Don't get me wrong.  Everyone should be free to do as they wish in the comfort of one's own home.  However, if you are pairing TEA and FOOD, and you choose to write about it, then I am probably quietly hating you.  Is that too strong?

>_<  HATRED  >_<  

It feels good, so it must be right.

Pairing wine and food is fraught with danger, too.  It's good when you get it right (thx, Wine Steward), but it gives rise to all manner of silly rules that folk try to remember.  "White with white meat, red with red meat", for example.  I'm probably going to cry the next time I hear that: big, fat tears are just going to tumble down my face.

So, with pairing such a dangerous game, I thought I'd give it a go (!), by matching a tea to a wine.

OK, I happened to be drinking a tea and a wine from approximately the same year.  However, the similarities between the two were absolutely striking.

The tea is a 1990 "Qizi Bingcha", which is a bit like saying "red wine".  The paper, pictured above, is written in the handwriting deluxe of my old teachum, RJ.  I appreciate a bit o' the ol' calligraphy. 

 "From wild trees at the border between Yunnan and Vietnam, processed on pine wood.  A private creation from the tea merchant Wang from Taiwan - I was told."

The boys leave for the park with their auntie.  The tea consequently takes on a new significance, as I pay attention in the unexpected silence.  An old aircraft drones overhead.  A gentle breeze gives the impression of an indolent summer Sunday.  The qizi bingcha is tannic, and magnificently eroded - just like the Pauillac.  There is rounded, unobtrusive, structural sweetness.  Most importantly, it is comforting.

"Very good - this is old tea", notes my dear wife as she takes a cup in passing.  I could drink this tea all day.  Sadly, I have to go to town to buy swimming trunks, to take my dudes swimming, after my previous pair spontaneously disintegrated while I was swimming with them last time.  There's nothing funnier than seeing a bony white man suddenly become naked, against his will, in the children's learning pool.



and just when they stop
f'ing you - then the f'ing
really begins


thanks for the question
there's a whole community
working on that


more seminars
more hamiltonian
markov chains


I double-dare you
to give your talk and not say
big data


Varat Phong said...

Hello Hobbes,

Must be good tea or perhaps it’s the wine or a combination of both! Good times that can free the mind and allow the thoughts to wander and flow. I feel the same way when I am pairing tea or just drinking in general :)

Here are a few of my own food for thought. The tea is a bonus.

Best, Varat

Hobbes said...

Dear Varat,

Thank you for the challenge to my mental stability! I am laughing aloud as I type this, because I looked at the contents of the link that you sent and whispered to myself the following phrase in a tone of awe: "HOLY BALLS". Your web-page elicited mention of the sanctified orbs. Congratulations, sir! I take my hat off to you.



Hobbes said...

Let's do the haiga.

These are named "UCL" after the university that I was visiting in London this one time, back in band camp. UCL is deep DEEP in London. There are red double-decker buses; there are men in pin-stripe suites carrying umbrellas and copies of the Financial Times; there is Guy Ritchie filming his latest piece about gangsters.

(FACT: one of my favourite films is Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels.)

So, then:

UCL I: another of my favourite films is The Game, by David Fincher. It's very good. One of the main characters says this phrase in relation to an unseen, omnipotent corporation who is repeatedly f'ing him over good and proper. I muttered the same phrase as UCL and its collected army of doormen contrived to keep me out of the very buildings I was trying to enter, and to which I had been invited to enter. At least they were doing their job, and keeping the reprobates out (i.e., me).

UCL II: this is a fantastic academic slapdown that I heard during one lecture at that visit to UCL (once I'd fought my way past the doormen by OVERWHELMING them with violence). If the speaker ever busts this slapdown out on you, following a question that you have asked, the audience should (and usually does) suck in air, audibly. Optionally, some guy at the back should shout "Ow!" or "Burned!" or similar. It's the academic equivalent of a wrestling move that leaves one participation on the floor, outside the ring, with a chair wrapped around his head.

UCL III: I obviously failed to get the memo that every talk in machine learning has to be on Hamiltonian Markov-chain Monte Carlo methods. Every single talk that I had heard, over lectures back at home and at UCL, turned out to be on the same subject. They even try to give their talks titles to make it sound as if they're going to talk about something else! Then, you are lulled into turning up, only to be assaulted by yet more darned Hamiltonians. Don't even get me started on Lagrangian MCMC.

UCL IV: we've all been there. Everything's going well, the talk is interesting, perhaps even (gasp) semi-relevant, and then the speaker breaks the spell by saying "big data". We've all been there: you stand up, come down from the audience, and slap the speaker across with the back of your hand, as if challenging him to a medieval duel.

The images that make this haiga link to the talks at UCL in the tangential manner typical of the genre. The first two are from my own slides in a graduate research seminar, the last from me scrawling "buzz-word bingo" during talks at NIPS one year.

Every time someone uses "leverage" as a verb, an angel dies. Just don't do it, friends.



Unknown said...

I'm walking into a lion's den i suspect...
On Thursday, an idea of mine hits KickStarter. It's called NovelTeas and we "pair" teas with books - War and Peach, Don QuixoTea, Crime and PunishMint...

Would love it if we could get some support. I think our tins are beautiful even if they are paired to books.


Varat Phong said...

Hahaha … thank you kindly Hobbes.

“HOLY BALLS” I haven’t heard that expression for a long time. Love it!

I was wondering about the haiga. It made me think initially that Hobbes is either not quite with us here on Earth or he is a genius. Now I know, Hobbes simply has a world of his own. It is a very unique and colorful world ;)


Cwyn said...

Hello Hobbes! No sport more enjoyable than the academic take-down. Enjoyed your scribbling.

hster said...

Dear Hobbes,

I now have a strange hankering to write about food and tea pairings. But it appears I already did! Mouhahaha.

Not sure why tea food pairings should get your panties in a twist, but if
I do, it's not to get your goat. Wrong things must exist in this world to make it right.


Emmett said...

I see your bookshelves have become toy storage just like mine!

Hobbes said...

Ms. 'Ster,

I think you, and only you, could produce something tolerable on the lines of pairing TEA and FOOD. Sweet, merciful saviour - it is hard to write those words. Over to you! No pressure! Pair that tea and food!

Sister Cwyn,

Grazie mille; if you wanted to pair tea and food, I'd certainly attempt to reserve judgement. LEST WE BE JUDGED.




Unknown said...

This made my day. I agree that pairing wine and is food can be risky but if you get it right it would be so good! Thanks for sharing this Hobbes.