Lapsang Souchong. Or drinking a cup of pine tree forest fire.

Whoa. This tea was a blind buy. This place near me was going out of business, and everything was 80% off. The tea section was very picked over, and this tea was what was left. There was a lot of it left.

I should’ve known.
When I carried my purchase to the registered, the tired woman looked up, and her eyes sought mine out. She had lovely blue eyes. They were slightly bloodshot, and I could tell she hadn’t slept much recently.

“You know about this tea don’t you?” Her voice sounded haunted.

“Yeah. Totally.” I lied.

“Oh, okay. If you’re sure then.” Her eyes broke from mine and went back to stuffing the tea into the plastic bag. My five-year-old kid was dancing behind me and abruptly stopped when I handed over my money for this bag of loose leaf tea.

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The cursed bag itself. It says organic. I mean sure its organic evil. 

I realize now that she was closing her store due to the curse. The curse she passed on to me.

I never try new tea out as soon as I get home. *I rarely remember I have purchased new tea, and it ends up thrown into the tea cupboard.*

So weeks go by, and I decide that I am going to give this tea my usual Unicorn 3 Sip Taste Test. 

Sip 1: Just me and the tea. Nothing else.

Sip 2: Milk and tea. How I usually take most tea’s that I enjoy. Unless it’s green. Green doesn’t work with milk in my opinion.

Sip 3: This sip is for realllllly assertive tea or reallllly weak tea. Here I add sugar to the milky tea and give it one last try.

Lapsang Souchong. When I opened it, my eyes began to burn. They started to water, and I began to weep silently at my electric kettle. The burnt smokey pine tree forest ablaze scent made me homesick for Southern California during the dry burn season we call February to December.

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I swear I see a demon lurking in there. Or maybe I see the words.. Don’t add water. 

I threw some into my flower steeper and tossed it into hot water. The aroma slowly became something like that mystery burning smell you know is in your house, and you search it out. Only to find nothing and you think ‘Oh it’s just a stroke.’

The water went dark like sadness and despair. I started to wonder if perhaps I should give up on writing. If maybe I was a horrible mum and my kid would be better off pursuing his dream job of joining Odd Squad.

I stopped staring into the abyss that was currently taking up residence in my Edgar Allan Poe mug and shook it off.

Oh, this tea was going to try and break me. Well, not to today SatanTea. Not today.

I thought the smell was bad when I smelled it in the bag.

Well, I was wrong.

So. Fucking. Wrong.

When I removed my tea steeper from the water, it was as if I was standing at the wet smoldering ruins of a plastic factory.

Sip 1: *WHY AM I DOING THIS. THE GODS HAS GIVEN ME A NOSE SO I DON’T PUT UGLY SMELLING THINGS INTO MY CAKE HOLE.*  The still hot water touched my tongue, and I immediately knew I had fucked up. I now have knowledge of what it would be like to lick a pine tree used matchstick.

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I think Poe is asking that butterfly to save him. Also that steeper is way too cheerful for that mug. 

Sip 2: So I dumped out tea so I could add extra milk. I used the toasted coconut almond milk. *FUCK!! I ADDED THREEEEEEE TIMES WHAT I USUALLY USE, AND IT’S NOT Even light blonde.* I can now safely say I know what coconuts would taste like after Madame Pele roasted a metric ton of them in Hawaii.

At this point, the constant smell of burnt things is making my head hurt and my stomach turn. This smell will never leave my nose. Ever. I will walk around the rest of my life wondering if I am on fire.

Sip 3: *What kind of self-loathing must I have?* I added so much sugar, there was a gooey layer on the bottom of the cup. I wanted to start crying, either from the smell or as a defense mechanism. It was both. I was crying because I knew that I would take sip 3.

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I caught the devil in this tea moments after I took my last sip. I think the mug was trying to tell me something. 

So we’re in Hawaii, and the Goddess Pele is using lava to burn down a coconut and almond forest. I am sitting on the edge of it all eating cotton candy and waiting for the world burn.

Sweet Pele please make this stop.

I threw it all away. Usually when I don’t like tea, I try to re-home it. I mean if it’s not my cup of tea, if might be someone else’s.

But not this. No. This must stop. I can’t think of a single person whom I hate so much that I would give this to them. I mean not even my arch nemesis R.A. Besides if I tried to this this tea to her, she’d look at me like I was insane and tell me to fuck off. You don’t accept food from people you want to hit with a brick.

Besides my new arch nemesis is this tea. So I can’t gift it back to itself. I’m sorry that it’s going to a landfill. I would burn it, but I fear that would only make it stronger.

Usually I throw out some educational blah blah blah’s about the tea I am review. Nope. There is nothing you need to know about this tea. It baffles me that people use this in recipes that involve food they want to ingest.

I can only hope that one day my hand will stop smelling like burnt sugar sadness. **Spilled it on my hand when I washed it down the drain**

I give this tea no fucks. No stars, and no Unicorn Love.

If you disagree with me. Leave a comment. I would like to meet you. I suspect you’re just Lapsang Souchong in a human suit.

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Twinings Prince of Wales Tea. An Earl Grey Odyssey.

 

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*Note how hard I am holding this. I wanted to chuck this tin into the nearest river.* **Wait, hasn’t that been done before?**

Dear Readers let this be a lesson to you. *This is a rage blog btw. Not completely planned as usual.* **Caffeine was also involved.** ***About twenty times more than I am usually used to even.***

Read the fucking package on your tea. If you don’t have knowledge of it before hand or if you haven’t researched it completely.

It’s okay of course to buy blind with tea. There are so many options and brands that honestly I would spend days if not weeks just lost in a rabbit hole of tea sites before deciding on one.

Buy it for the packaging, or the name, or because it called out to you in a sing song voice, begging you to dump hot water on it. *I can never resist the siren call of tea.*

I purchased Twinings Prince of Wales tea while visiting my favorite British Shoppe in downtown Melbourne. I love that place and buy a lot of tea from there. It has a tea bar, and I believe that the people who run it are magical.

The black tin called to me. Also, it made me think of Prince William. *I am American. I think Prince, I think William. I realize now that the actual Prince of Wales is Charles. I was not daydreaming of having tea with Charles when I purchased this.*

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You beautiful human. I would have tea with you right now. *Photo credit is Hello Mag I believe*

I came home, and this tin kinda got thrown into the back of the cupboard, and I went on with my life.

However. I tried it today. I tried it three times. Three different ways. I don’t like this tea. In a way, I supposed I was basing how I thought it should taste on Twinings Earl Grey and their Lady Grey tea.

Lady Grey is genuinely lovely, and I’ve only tried the Twinings brand, so I will be branching out on that one.

Twinings EG is not my fav. I prefer The English Tea Shop brand. It’s organic; it’s pure Ceylon black tea and bergamot. *blah blah fair trade, blah blah try it.*

I like my Earl Grey assertive. – CLH to KRN

Three cups of it and I begin to research the tea itself. Ah, it’s considered a light afternoon tea, with a mild flavor.

 

I’m starting to feel a bit sheepish for ranting to KRN *The Viking Wife* about how I need black tea to be the VOID in which darkness reigns and hopes and dreams go to die.

I think my description of black tea may be the most metal I’ve ever been.

Prince of Wales tea is nothing at all how I like my Earl Grey, nor my usual black teas.

It annoys me that Earl Grey has such a rep for being a flowering tea. I believe this is the case because there are no set formulas for it.

For example, the different between Earl Grey and Lady Grey is a floral note. Cornflowers are included to the usual black tea and bergamot.

Russian variant of it has lemongrass and citrus peels.

French Earl Grey has rose petals, or jasmine included. Because of love. Love makes Earl Grey whisper sweet nothings into your ear as your taste buds float away on a bed of rose petals and jasmine perfumed the air. *But then it doesn’t return your call, and you always have a distinct hatred of baguettes and berets.*

South African Earl Grey uses Rooibos instead of the traditional black tea. I have tried it and I enjoy it. But it has no caffeine and I use EG as a wake me up and go kind of tea.

There is an Earl Green or Earl White which is made with green or white tea respectively. But I won’t try them so they can fuck off. *I love green and white tea. I just don’t like change. It scares me. I’m frightened. Bad tea touch. I need an adult.*

Earl Grey is the tea used in London fogs, but that is a whole other blog post that will be posted soon. *I have pictures of it, so I need to write it up.*

 

Back to the Prince of Wales. 

This tea is a solid three. If you like your tea weak. Like a particular book character *I’m looking at your Anastasia Steele* **I fucking call bullshit on anyone who dunks the tea into the hot water and then pulls it right out. Just drink hot water. That’s not tea. That’s hating yourself in a cup.**

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I missed this at the checkout. Bummmmer man. Game over.

I found there to be little to no aroma. The flavor was light, and I tasted way more bergamot than I did tea. Usually, there is a balance between the flavors, because the orange oil that is bergamot has a way of totally taking over the flavor profile of tea.

I drink so much tea; I am almost sure that if I stopped using body wash and perfume my natural body odor would be theaflavins and bergamot.

The tin states that this tea is weak so it’s my fault. However, I still feel that this tea is overall weaker than usual and lacking everything that I look for in most of my teas. *Aroma, flavor, namely the two biggest ones.*

I may in the future try this again by a different brand but will keep in mind that brewing it with three times the leaf and twice the time I usually do will do nothing but piss me off.

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I’ve had 6 cups of tea this morning. I can taste color. All the color. Burnt sienna is lovely. Its the bergamot in my dreams.

No tea was harmed much in the making of today’s blog. Much.

Dr. Who and Why I’m angry.

I was once a little girl. Between the ages of 4-18, there was a void of role models that were anything remotely like me.

 

I was overweight. I loved to read books. Science, chemistry, anatomy, and math were my subjects. I read comic books. I played video games. I put together plastic models of my favorite muscle cars. I liked movies like Dawn of the Dead and French Connection.

I wanted to be Indiana Jones. I wanted to be a writer like Richard Matheson who created stories of sci-fi and horror that just baffled me in their perfection.

I went into the library at my school, the reading center, AND the public library and I asked specially for any sci-fi writers who were women. I was told where to find the section, and basically, that was that.

What I found was cover after cover of half naked slave girls with Conan type guys dragging them around the rocky desert like areas.

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Yeah I totally read this too. I mean C’mon with a name like Burroughs, how could I pass that up. 

I also found Dune. So now I wanted to be Indiana Jones, Richard Matheson, AND a Bene Gesserit. Also wanted to be Ellen Ripley until she took off her clothes and did battle in her tiny hipster panties.

I lucked into Anne Rice one summer day and found this paperback book called the Vampire Lestat at my local 7-11. I remember walking home in my flip flops and shorts, running my fingers over her name and marveling that I spent my whole allowance on a book. I read that book in one sitting and didn’t miss the Cherry Slurpee which was the reason I had gone there in the first place. Anne Rice was a gateway drug to a lot of other books, a lot of them horror and many of them I still have and look back fondly.

There was a hole in my heart for a character who was like me. Smart, funny and who loved science and chemistry sets. I don’t think I ever fit in anywhere. At school, I was a weird mix up of things that always garnered strange looks.

“You like that?” “But that’s a boy thing.” “Why would you want to do that?” “That book is too big. I would never read that.” “Why don’t you wear makeup?” “Why don’t you focus on your hair and clothes.” “Girls aren’t good at science.” “You’ll never be a writer.” “You should forget about majoring in chemistry and pick something you’ll be good at. Like a teacher.” “Women sci-fi writers don’t get published unless they use a male pen name.” “Why do you like to use tools?” “Comic books aren’t for girls.”

I remember ordering Dr. Strange vs. Dracula. I remember it sitting on the counter at my local Comic Book Shop. (It has since closed.) The guy behind the counter we’ll call Al, knew me, knew it was for me, got it out when I came into the store. I had to make a detour for any other books I needed. Waiting for a twenty something dude, and he spots my comic book.

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The white whale that haunts my dreams.. Uncanny!! 

“Hey! That looks awesome; I want that too!” Says the dude.
“Sure, I’ll just put it in with your other stuff.” Says Al.
So the guy starts walking, and I’m standing there like. Um. You have more under the counter there Al. He says in all seriousness.

“Comic books are for guys.”

I started to cry. Which probably proved Al’s point in some sick way. He went back to doing his thing. The five other guys in the shop ignored me. I tried to walk to the door with as much dignity I could. I was 14 years old. I didn’t have a lot of that on hand, but I did my best.

I stopped collecting comic books after that. I would read them, but now it was a dirty secret. Something I did but didn’t share with many people. My guy friends who collected, I’d just check them out while we waited to leave to go somewhere else. I was always talked to like I didn’t know what I was doing, or anything about the story line. I accepted it.

With the internet, it became easier to find books and subjects and not be judged openly. If I was a kid now, I think Hermoine Granger would be a role model. Emma Watson certainly would be.

I would be in my twenties before I found Madeleine L’Engle, Octavia E. Butler, Margaret Atwood.

I’m almost 40 years old now and Dr. Who is going to regen into a woman for the first time.

So Peter Davidson who was one of the Doctors has this to say.

“If I feel any doubts, it’s the loss of a role model for boys, who I think Doctor Who is vitally important for. So I feel a bit sad about that, but I understand the argument that you need to open it up.” ~ Peter Davidson.

I want to scream. I want to cry. I want to take my skinny impossible to look like Barbie doll from 1985 and beat her into a wall. I want to rage with everything inside of me that chokes on this.

Off the top of my head, I can think of role models for my son. Not a freaking problem in fact.

  1. His Dad.
  2. Bill Nye
  3. Neil DeGrasse Tyson
  4. RuPaul
  5. Shaun White

 

So did you see what I did up there? Did you catch that? Each role model for my son is a real living person. They’re his father, scientists, and entertainers. Human’s that he can look at and reach for the stars and have a chance of doing it.

Looking back I remember the joy I had in playing Street Fighter and picking Cammy or Chung Li. I remember not being cool because I played the girl characters.

For me being a girl was awkward and I spent a lot of time in a kind of limbo. I looked up to the women in my family. I am blessed with some badass chicks in my family.

My mom was witty and beautiful, and I never felt that I could hold a candle to her. She was a force of nature, and I was a sneeze.

I feel like the idea that boys NEED the male role model that is Dr. Who just broke my brain. It reminds me of Boys Will Be Boys. There is proof or explanation of why this is a fact, it just is. Could Mr. Davidson not think of another role model for boys in this day and age?

I think girls today more than any other time NEED a female Dr. Who. They need someone like Agent Carter. They need Hermoine Granger, Katniss Everdean and Meg Murry. They need to see young ladies like Emma Watson who are leaving around books for people to find. Or Gal Gardot who stops a line at Comic Con to comfort a little girl who is overcome with emotion.

Most of all, while Dr. Who has always been constant with having the sidekick be a woman, or having characters that are women… Why must women be in those roles? I want my son to see that women can be in charge. One day when he is grown and out there working, I want him to respect his boss if they are a woman. I want him not to find it odd or be a threat to his male ego. I can only do so much without it becoming preachy. I need to have visual representations.

SO yeah. WE need a female Dr. Who. We need a lot more female role models not just for girls, but for boys too.

The Fluid Nature of Writers Block.

Or I suspect I am an oyster.

 

Whooooo. I have missed this blog. I have enjoyed daydreams of sitting at my computer and composing a brilliant book review (I have three reviews to share,) or tell the world about the delish tea I just had. (Lady Grey Tea by Twinings)

 

I even have photographs and recipes to share.

But.

Writer’s block. It wasn’t so much writer’s block in the traditional sense. In fact, in the last seven weeks, I have written a novella. I just started a second. I have been writing. It’s just not been easy.

I think all writers have methods and steps that they need to use to create. For some, it’s as easy as sitting down at their computers and putting words down until its a story.

For me, it starts with an idea. A hope of something, a courting of characters and finally I sit down and write it all down. Ideas are easy. It’s the sitting down that’s hard. I have a 5-year-old child. He is home all day, helping mommy work. I have a little sleep in my sleep and I have to sometimes decide if sleep walking through the next day is worth it and or smart. Usually, it’s neither, but sometimes you just gotta do it.

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My kid helping me hands on? Er. Feet on? I didn’t even stage this. 

My process is simple, its organic and fragile. A tiny bit of dust can disrupt the whole thing. Sometimes it’s a plot that doesn’t work. My brain will call me out for being a Dirty Bird so much faster than Anne Wilkes. I have a half finished novel that is in limbo because my brain can’t fix a little plot hole.

Other times, that irritation will turn into a pearl. One of my favorite short stories I’ve written came from a bit of dust (Idea) that stuck, and it transformed into a beautiful dark and scary pearl.

So. That novella that I just spoke about, it’s finished and with it came nothing. Usually, when the last word is committed to the Google Doc, there is a thrill. I spend three days giddy, and I want to tell everyone about it.

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I am exactly like this, only I’m not an otter and instead of a cute furry thing it’s a USB drive with a story on it. 

Not this time. This time I felt like I was breaking up with a boyfriend. I ended a friendship. I crossed a desert and lived on nothing, but crickets and water sucked off cactus spines.

I could list the reasons why. I have two that are glaring, but I don’t have the energy. Plus I don’t want to give them power or ammo. It’s a delicious idea to spend a whole blog post retelling my last seven weeks.

In those last seven weeks, I determined that I need to stop feeling guilty for things out of my control. That standing up for myself is easier than I thought. Confrontation is necessary and the last lesson. Lies will always be found out. I knew this one. It’s part of why all of this has been such a trial. I hate liars.

The drama came when I started the story and literally left the day I finished it. Will I ever enjoy that story as I did when I conceived the idea of it? Probably not. Maybe if it gets published. Maybe if someone reads and enjoys it. But that thrill and giddy feeling that usually comes. It’s gone.

I guess I want to say that it’s okay. Not every story will be a pearl. The point that I am trying to find in this life lesson is that not every pearl is the same. But every one of them is worth it. I feel like the anxiety has left and I can write again with my usual amount of angst. Like wrestling my mouse away from my kid.