New Foreigner Book!


a few hardcovers and pbs available from Closed Circle, signed. Latest: Moonlover and the Fountain of Blood, Jane Fancher short story. Chernevog, part 2 of the Rusalka trilogy co-written by CJ and Jane; and Orion's Children, a tetralogy from Lynn.

40 degrees F out there, my sainted Aunt Tillie…

I want, yes, a decent cup of tea. Unfortunately we are out. I decided it was worth it to get kitted up to brave the walks, and they call it 40 degrees.

Well, news flash, the walk is frozen so hard neither shovel nor hoe nor rake nor metal shovel can make a dent in it: worse, it’s irregular and uneven ice compounded of our trying to get the groceries in during a wet snowfall. Not only is it frozen, but the interior of the garage where melt has happened is a skating rink.

Not that I am even yet utterly incapable of navigating a rink, but after a cup of tea seems, well, perhaps I can wait and have expired and nasty tea without cream. I can swear that there are few things viler than Almond Milk used in bad tea…but, ah, well, we are far from starving here. And melt will come sometime during the month.

Are we braving the front walk to take the garbage to the curb? Nay. One nice thing about cold weather—nasty garbage freezes, so you can take it out when the walk is passable.

So we wait. We have plenty to eat, and coffee enough. I can make soups or beans or rice. We are good. We are staying put.

26 comments to 40 degrees F out there, my sainted Aunt Tillie…

  • 82Eridani

    It is a balmy 50+F degrees in Kansas City, and muddy due to recent moisture, though we were in a fire danger zone a mere few weeks ago. We haven’t had a *real* winter in years, it seems, and I saw tulip and hyacinth leaves poking out of the thawed ground during our walk today. This does not bode well for our summer.

  • Too warm here even for here, and it’s been rainy the past few days and will be until mid-week. Very odd weather that is not around the average.

    Tea: I nearly always buy tea in teabags (sachets) or occasionally loose tea. I rarely get pre-brewed tea (bottled) or the powdered instant. Just me. I don’t strongly object to those. I just am used to brewing and using tea every couple of days or so. And I drink tea much more than coffee. (I am currently out of coffee until my store trip next week.)

    CJ, if you need tea, you might consider having it delivered via Amazon or online order from direct stores. If the mail (post office or couriers like UPS, FedEx, etc.) can reach you, it’s an alternative. I’m sure you know that and are just waiting for the weather to clear enough for a jaunt to the store.

    I had a rewatch of The Wind and the Lion and really enjoyed it. I had not seen it in years. Lots of spectacle, a good amount to think on, and witty characterizations.

  • philospher77

    I get my tea from Lots of selection, and they deliver to the door. (I am finding that I like teas that come rolled up… black dragon pearl, fujian jasmine pearl (hideously expensive, but well worth it!), yunnan noir’s intriguing snail shape, etc.) And the “ingenuitea” tea maker is really good, if you like looseleaf tea. Brew your tea in it, pop it on top of an insulated mug, and you have hot tea for hours without having to worry about stray leaves getting into it.

  • chondrite

    One Christmas present from a friend was a 250g bag of Lapsang Souchong; not everyone’s cuppa (har!) but I have become very fond of the smoky taste. I also like Stash’s Morocco Mint, and find that the green tea gives the mint more body. Many herbal teas taste, to me, like stewed weeds.

  • pence

    Lapsang is my favorite. I get a wonderful really smokey one from Upton Tea. Its is a fabulous company -good service and I swear that they have to mail me my orders the day before I order them – they arrive so quickly! They have a huge selection and it is obviously stored properly. Also sell small sample packets so for a small price you can try a strange tea without potentially wasting a large bag. The paper catalogue always has an interesting article on the history of tea. I wish that they’d put the articles together into an anthology someday.
    Chondrite – they have what they call Moroccan Green Mint which is a combination of mint and gunpowder green. It is fabulous both hot and iced.

    • Raesean

      I am going to look up Upton’s Teas which are being recommended. Not only do their small, sampler taste sizes sound attractive, your description of their catalog sounds as if it might fit excellently into my Social History of Food course! I’m behind on updating the readings for this year and need to do so before the first class this Monday evening.

      I have the students read Penzy’s Spice catalog for their great background pieces on where spices are from… And their super, human interest vignettes. I think the catalog has recently gone from paper to purely online, but it and their superb (but pricey) spices and blends are well worth exploring.

  • pence

    Oh and the Lapsang that I like is in their Formosa Lapsang.

  • smartcat

    As usual our winter is up and down. Living five miles from theAtlantic coast means weather patterns can shift by a few miles which may mean rain or many inches of snow.

    I have been ordering my tea from Upton Tea practically since they opened. They have a huge variety of teas and tisanes. They offer sample packets and make your own teabags.. I usually order about four times a year.

  • paul

    I’m also a tea drinker. Portland has two tea companies (let’s see if “anchors” get through the filters again): boutique Strand Tea, and commercial Stash Tea. Still, it can be hard to find a variety of loose-leaf teas, always loose-leaf, on the street around here.

    I find the wood-fire dried, smoked teas a bit overpowering, and “single leaf” teas sort of like an orchestra with only one instrument. I blend my own from 4 parts green for a mellow base tone, 1 part black (generally Indian) for sharper high notes, 1 part (each) green and black oolongs for mid-tones (if I can get both), and sometimes 1 part green Jasmine for that “what is that?” hint of interest. Instead of “Johnny One-note”, I’m going for a full chord! Mix, taste a couple times, adjust the blend because the teas are never the same, repeat until satisfied.

  • Lapsang makes a fine sun tea, too. The smokiness is dialed down to “interesting”.

    (You can make something like the Persians have, by using equal parts of Darjeeling and Earl Grey. The bergamot is much less overpowering.)

  • CJ

    Being a Southerner and American I often drink iced tea in hot weather—the oft-maligned Lipton or even Luzianne are good blends for that, with sweetener and lemon. And I also enjoy Earl Grey on occasion, hot.

    But generally when I drink hot tea, almost always in winter, it’s preferentially English style black tea, with real cream or half-and-half, and a moderate dose of sweetener. Unfortunately flavorings and milk don’t often mix well…the other day I ordered tea at the Swinging Door and got a single small teabag with a lemon slice already threatening the hot water. Have to explain to them about that! But absolutely the worst taste was trying to make that sort of tea with Almond Milk. That is abysmal: Almond milk can imitate milk in cereal and many other applications, but not with black tea and sweetener.

    I’d never much liked hot tea until I chanced into a tea shop in England, in a service station, where the owner did it up proper, at the right strength. I recall it keenly—particularly as the shop also sold commemorative plates, and I bought plates showing knights on horseback, with their proper armorial trappings, and I managed to get those plates home to American in a duffle bag, an outstanding achievement, since they were only in newspaper. One of the families is the de Bohuns, who are controversially linked to the English and American Boones—argument and now genetic research is going into the question. Paternal great-gran was a Boone, from, yes, that family. Anyway, tea for me is always linked to that wonderful little tea shop, and I have guarded those plates through several houses and many moves. They now hang in the kitchen next the pantry.

    • chondrite

      That reminds me of a terrible mistake I made once as a child. I made a cup of tea, and decided to put in everything I liked: sugar, milk… and lemon. The lemon went in first, with the sugar, but as soon as I added the milk, it became a nasty curdled mess!

    • Tommie

      Mrs. Beeton has a recipe that calls for putting the coffee or tea into the milk, bringing it to simmer for about five minutes, then straining it into cup(s). It might work better with the almond milk than doing it the other way. As a preferer of black coffee, I find this delicious and well worth the trouble if I’m having a chancy tummy.

  • Bigelow’s Constant Comment (an orange-spice cinnamon tea) is still my favorite tea. I like most teas, though — except Earl Grey, because the oil of bergamot does not take good at all to me. Hmm, I could try Lady Grey, though.

    I had tried a different, loose tea cinnamon orange spice some time ago and had some left. I did not like that brand and don’t know what it was. It was not from Stash. The loose tea was too bitter. I’m not sure if it was the cinnamon or another ingredient.

    I haven’t gotten Darjeeling in a long time. I should. I am not sure if I’ve had Lapsang and will need to try it.

    I typically like tea either unsweetened or with a little sugar, no lemon unless it’s lemon or lemon ginger, and no milk or cream in my tea.

    But I prefer coffee with cream and usually with no sugar. Flavored coffees, though, I like. I’m not a big coffee fan. I like tea much more. But I like coffee more than I used to. Our tastes can change.

  • GreenWyvern

    There’s also traditional Chinese Pu-Erh tea, a fermented and aged tea. It’s definitely an acquired taste, though highly valued by some tea connoisseurs. It’s said to be good for weight loss. I think it works by making you feel so nauseous that you lose your appetite for the rest of day! 😀

    • Teasel

      I’m a big fan of Pu-urh (also known as Bo-Lai). It was the tea shipped by yak on the southern Silk Road once upon a time. (I’ve never heard about any weight-loss benefits, and since I often run across it with a large dim sum lunch, I’m doubtful) Pu-urh always reminds me of a walk in the woods (barky,twiggy,woodsy notes), and has the advantage of getting stronger as it steeps but never becoming bitter. Some of the pleasantly innocuous green teas like jasmine get really bitter and nasty towards the bottom of a large teapot. Of course the secret of any tea is to let it steep only to your point of preference, which means sometimes the water has only a nodding acquaintance with the leaves.

  • smartcat

    @ Raesean…. has been doing articles about tea, history, trade et al in their catalogs for ages. You can read back issues on their site.
    For those of you who think Earl Grey is too overpowering there are many different blends of Earl Grey. I got a free sample of Saints Isaac’s Blend Russian Earl Grey the last time I ordered from Upton. I haven’t tried it yet, but I imagine it’s a Russian Caravan type with bergamot. It sounds like a good afternoon tea.
    I enjoy Pu-Erh teas, but I usually make them at about two thirds the amount of other teas. I like to get the types that come as Tuo Cha (tea nuts). Because they are easy to measure and cute too.
    This probably far more about tea than anyone really needs to know!
    P.S. One of the nice perks about ordering from Upton is that when you become an old customer, they send you free samples.

  • WOL

    I am not a coffee person. I will drink it if you doctor it up with cream and sugar, but would much rather have tea. Like you, CJ, I gotta have my iced tea in the hot weather. I brew my iced tea and I brew it stiff and strong so when it’s poured over ice there’s still some tea left. (I have a big heavy pitcher made in Italy from recycled glass that I brew my iced tea in — I do it like a china teapot — let hot water run into it to get the glass hot, then pour the boiling water in over a large metal spoon. I leave the teabags in a long time. Don’t put it in the fridge until it’s cooled to room temp.) I have a 1-liter thermos (glass) carafe that I brew my hot tea in. Keeps it piping hot for hours.

    Do you know that there is an actual tea plantation where tea is grown here in America? You might like to try some of their tea, although their selection is not large. They’re getting in cahoots with Bigelow now to market their teas more widely.

    I am a big fan of gunpowder teas (black teas) and like Earl Grey, Moroccan Mint, or any of the black tea preparations like English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast, etc. Twinings tea I like. I can’t drink Constant Comment because I’m allergic to oranges, but I like some of the other Bigelow teas. Don’t know much about Uptons teas. Will have to investigate them. If a person who is into food is called a “foody” — what does one call someone who is into tea? A tea aficionado, perhaps.

    I love hot chai tea with Coffemate Creme Brulee flavor added. I add about 2 tbsp to my 1-liter carafe of chai tea. Nums!

  • WOL

    Oh, and the air in Spokane may be 40 degrees, but obviously the ground and concrete aren’t.

    I get to drive to Amarillo tomorrow — 260 miles round trip to spend maybe 10 minutes with a doc. Then I get to do it again Tuesday to see a different doc. The nearest VA hospital, also the nearest VA oncologists and CAT scanner are in Amarillo. The rule, apparently, is they don’t send you for local care if the VA have the people and facilities “available” (which is to say, in Amarillo). We have a clinic here, where I see a PA/NP, but I have to drive 130 miles to see an actual MD — and then drive 130 miles back home. Of course we are talking about dealing with a governmental bureaucracy, and trying to get them to do anything is like pushing a rope.

  • pence

    check with them on how to access the back articles. Some of the ones on the early history in China were memorable.

  • GreenWyvern

    If we’re talking about teas, I suppose I should mention rooibos tea (pronounced ROY-boss). It’s a herb tea that grows only in the Cape region of South Africa where I live. (All attempts to grow it in other parts of the world have failed.)

    It’s highly popular here, and large quantities are exported, mostly to Germany, the Netherlands and Japan.

    Research and anecdotal accounts show many health benefits. Scientifically, it’s anti-inflammatory, alkaline, and has many antioxidants and trace minerals, no caffeine, and minimal tannin. You’ll find accounts on the internet claiming it’s good for any disease you can name – probably due to the anti-inflammatory qualities. It’s definitely good for indigestion and many stomach complaints.

    Here, it’s widely drunk as an alternative to black tea, usually with milk and sugar. You can find it in any South African supermarket on the shelf next to the black teas, and at a slightly lower price.

    There seem to be plenty of brands of rooibos available in the USA as well. Amazon has the most common brand that you’ll find in South Africa, in a very large pack at a reasonable price. I see that in the ‘Frequently Bought Together’ section, the other product is Ouma Rusks, no doubt bought by homesick expatriate South Africans in the US. Rooibos tea + rusks is a really South African combination. 🙂

  • Off-Topic: The creative process can be so strange. I’d had trouble getting back into the swing of thins with my new computer, back into font production.

    But over Friday and the weekend, I had a strange burst of Christmas / wintertime sentiment, and three font ideas came out as sketches. Nothing would do but that I started putting one into Fontographer. (I still have to get Font Forge installed on the new iMac.)

    So by this afternoon, I have a draft of most of the uppercase and lowercase letters, with the remaining letters and numbers to do. I still want to tweak some details, but most of the draft looks good to me.

    Maybe this was the jump-start I eeded to get back into the existing drafts, still to complete. Hoping so.

    In any case, I’m happy to have made progress, and now I’m taking a break before either packing or writing, then back to fonts before taking time of tonight to read.

  • Aside: I watched “When We Left Earth” tonight, the first two of six installments, a rewatch of an old documentary on the early space program that includes commentary from the original astronauts and flight controllers. Neat stuff. Enjoying the rewatch.

    Aslo, the draft font is doing well so far, with now some tweaking I see is needed, but still on track. Happy wth this progress, hoping it will continue well to the next face.

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