HALF-WITCH ARC exists!

My first look at an ARC of HALF-WITCH, from Gavin at Small Beer! Love it. Notice the July, 2018 publication date. This only an ARC: the cover copy will change a little when the novel is actually published.

Tea Review

China Premium Seasons Pick Green Snail

Upton ZG13. 2.2 grams steeped for 3 minutes at 180℉. Impression: leaves tightly curled into flat spirals, see photo. Dry tea scents are vegetal, herbal, grassy. Brewed tea scent is sweet, brothy. Taste: thin, faintly sweet, with notes of fruit and umami. Not astringent.

This is essentially an ersatz Pi Lo Chun in appearance and taste, for a much lower price. Very satisfactory as an everyday green tea. Upton sells a limited number of inexpensive teas in kilogram quantities to institutional buyers, and also in 200 g packs for individual customers, labeled as ‘Seasons Pick.’

Tea Review

Young Hyson Imperial Organic

 “Young Hyson Imperial Organic”Upton ZG14. 2.2 grams steeped for 3 minutes at 180℉. Impression: evenly cut small leaf segments, see photo (these would be orange pekoe size, if this were an Indian tea, but it isn’t). Dry tea has faint herbal scent. Brewed tea scent is savory, brothy. Taste: mild, vegetal, slightly grassy. Moderately astringent, unusual for a green tea.
 
Young Hyson is a well-known Chinese green tea, popular in the West since at least the 18th century. It isn’t a legendary superstar tea (like Pi Lo Chun, or Lapsang Souchong), but a pleasant, unassuming tea, satisfactory for everyday drinking.
Tea Review

Da Hong Pao, Upton

China Oolong. Da Hong Pao. Upton, Product ZO25. 2.2 grams steeped for 5 minutes at 190℉. Impression: Dark brown wiry strands. Dry tea has a woody and fruity scent, reminiscent of apricots. Brewed tea has fruity and floral scents. Taste is mild, with hints of fruit, the ‘mineral’ tastes of Wuyi rock teas, and toasted notes. Grassy, vegetal finish. Mildly astringent.

Da Hong Pao, ‘Big Red Robe,’ is usually listed among China’s ten most famous teas. Upton’s variety was my introduction to the Wuyi oolongs. I’ve posted a review before, but not with photos. I hadn’t drunk this particular tea in three years, because Upton ran out and was unable to obtain more. I noticed a few weeks ago that they had it in stock again, and grabbed it while I could. I’ve tried Da Hong Pao from other vendors, but Upton’s is still my favorite.

Incidentally, this tea is a good example of why tea should be weighed, not measured in a teaspoon. The wiry strands would take up a lot of space in a spoon, resulting in too little tea brewed and a weak tea. Conversely, tightly curled teas like Pi Lo Chun or gunpowder types will take up too little space in a spoon, perhaps resulting in a too-strong tea. Weighing solves this problem.

Tea Review

Lipton Green Tea

“Green Tea.” Lipton. 1 teabag steeped for 3 minutes at 180℉. Impression: tea: see photo. Brewed tea scent is savory. Taste: Mild, vegetal and herbal with one mild unpleasant note I find hard to characterize. Not astringent.

I don’t drink much supermarket tea, but I wanted an easy bag tea for a trip, and bought this one. It is only labeled ‘Green Tea’, without even the country of origin. I’m guessing it’s from China, probably Chun Mee-style. Not bad for a cheap bagged tea in a pinch.

Tea Review

China Oolong, Huang Jin Gui

“China Oolong, Huang Jin Gui.” Upton No. ZO22. 2.2 grams steeped for 5 minutes at 200℉. Impression: tighly compressed leaves, see photo. Dry tea has little scent. Brewed tea scent is floral, resembling Tie Guan Yin. Taste: Floral, resembling orchids, mild, milder than the Tie Guan Yins with which I have had experience. Not astringent.

This teas, like many oolongs, is from Anxi, in Fujian. This tea wasn’t bad, but I see no advantage in it over a good Tie Guan Yin.

Names of the Lion

The 10th century poet of Aleppo, Ibn Khalawayh, wrote a book with 400 names of the lion in it. Here are some:

Whose coat is yellow, stained with red
Whose head and neck are big for his body
Whose face expresses great displeasure
Whose eyes are bloodshot
Whose speech is uncouth
Whose gut sloshes when he walks
Whose food has bones in it
Who eats until he’s sick of food
Who looks for trouble in the night
Whose foe is outraged in the dust
Whose prey is turned inside out
Who disregards the rights of others
Who hates frustration
Who doesn’t care what happens

Reminds you of that famous passage in Borges, doesn’t it? Was Ibn Khalawayh, like Borges, writing fiction? Did medieval Arabic really have 400 names for lions?

Here is a recent (and perhaps the only?) translation, by David Larsen:

NAMES OF THE LION

Files of the lost

When I find something interesting in a magazine, I tear it out, put it in a folder, and file it away for future reference, stuck in one of many bookcases. I then forget where I put it, and even forget that I ever saw it. I find it, years or decades later. Sometimes it is still interesting, and I put it back where it was and forget it again. Sometimes it no longer has relevance, and I throw it out.

This is not age-related. I have been doing it my entire life. It is not senility. It is a cultural trait. Somewhere on earth, I feel, there must be others who behave this way. I hope I can find them someday, and enjoy being one with my own people at last.

Tea Review

Lung Ching, ‘Dragonwell’

Lung Ching, ‘Dragonwell’. Upton No. ZG71. 2.2 grams steeped at 160 ℉ for 2 min.

Impression: Large light whole green leaves, flat, as if they’d been pressed in a flower press. Well sorted, no fannings or dust. Musty scent. Very pale green-amber liquor. Scent of brewed tea is savory and sweet, almost perfume-like. Taste: some fruity character, some vegetal quality, a little musty, woody quality. Not much mouth-feel. Mildly astringent. Quite pleasant

Lung Ching (there are different romanizations of the Chinese) is a famous tea, found consistently on lists of “Ten Famous Chinese Teas” (of which there are many). Dr. K.S. Tom, in Echoes from Old China, says that Lung Ching is the finest of all Chinese Teas. Others will differ, but it is certainly a fine and famous tea, and if you have any interest in tea, you owe it to yourself to try it. The name ‘Dragonwell’ is said to come from a well near where the tea was originally grown, in which water swirls around in a manner that suggests the coils of a dragon.