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

03 August, 2015

The Circle is Overcomplete

The Peacock of Bulang went well, last week, and thus emboldened, I dug through some of my old samples to find a bit more Dayi: the 8582-805.

First of all, this is a sample kindly provided (many years ago, in fact) by Terje; the tea-leaves have been relaxing in the splendour of their polythene bag for a number of years. I have written previously about a cake that I own in some quantity, the 8582-801 (which is doing quite well).

Comparing the fifth batch of cakes to the first batch of cakes in a year (i.e., 805 to 801) is fraught with difficulties under normal circumstances, but any comparison is surely futile if one has been aging nicely in a tong, while another has been "aging" in a baggie.

Perhaps expectedly, the result for this 805 is not great: it is orange, sour, and seems to be desperately in need of humidity.  It is not a comfortable tea to drink.  It is fishy, like Dayi, but ultimately so, so sour and dry.

Thus, for the avoidance of doubt, I would not recommend aging your young Dayi cakes by sealing them in plastic bags.  Ahem.

Westminster, I-IV


on a moving train
before opening the bottle
of fizzy water


a summer day
at our lower Thames campus -
Westminster palace


oh piss off, sir mark
another friendly meeting
in the ministry


the sound of the bell
that ends he meeting
is Big Ben