ちゃしつ … The Tea Gathering – Part 3: Indispensable Instruments of Infusion

For those who might be new to the concept of Real Tea,
a brief over-view of the items that are needed
to infuse quality Black tea …

1. Kettle

Boiling the water – for the ‘British’
method of brewing,
water should come off a rolling boil,
and will be around the 95 degree mark
when it hits the tea leaves.

2. A Quality Tea Pot

Whilst this one has an included infuser,
it is better still to allow the tea
full movement in the pot …
and use a strainer when pouring.

Pouring water from a high point
– hand and kettle held high,
allows the tea to move rapidly at the onset,
and continue to move freely and infuse properly.

The reliable British Standard (Brown) …

3. Tea Cups

Two examples from my own sets …

Ceramic

and Cast Iron

4. Tea Caddy

For storing quality teas,
reserve one tea caddy for one type of tea.

5. Tea Tools

for dispensing loose leaf tea.

The HEALTH BENEFITS of Tea

Tea is an anti-oxidant whose statins impede cholesterol
from being absorbed by the body.

It stimulates blood flow, which, in turn,
helps to prevent high blood pressure.

Tea helps to speed digestion

and helps raise the metabolism,
which facilitates the burning of fat.

Theanine, the Amino Acid found in Green Tea,
almost certainly produces an alert mind
whilst equally providing the very real sensation
of being relaxed.

( It will not be necessary to mention that Tea
– as with any aspect of daily life – is to be used
in moderation if its beneficial effects
are to promote all-round health.

Those who abuse herbs, food, or drink
will manifest side effects: It will be self evident
that, in such a case, the fault lies with people
– Not tea. )

P Livingstone
philiplivingstone.org

ちゃしつ … The Tea Gathering – Part 4: The History of Tea

“Waste Disposal” or,

The BIN BAGS of Tea Production …

Let commercial, mass-production tea companies
say what they will:
there is — there most definitely is — a marked
and noticeable difference
between loose leaf tea … and tea bags.

Specifically for the purpose of preparing this article,
we purchased our regular breakfast tea,

along with that concession to impatience:
the (supposedly) ‘same’ tea …
in tea bag form.

I wanted to confirm (before composing this article),
what I and other tea aficionados
have long known to be true – loose leaf and tea bags:

they are not ‘the same tea’.

A quality, specialised tea shop brand of ‘Breakfast Tea” –
loose and tea bag format …

In this sample (as in other comparisons made over the years)
the quality and flavour of the bagged tea
bears no resemblance to the loose tea.

For anyone who may have always wondered,
please allow me to dispel any doubts:
There IS a difference between whole tea
and tea bags.

Yes – fair enough – tea bags may not be, literally,
the ‘sweepings off the floor’ … but the fact of the matter is
– really, little better.

When Black tea is picked, it is dried;
allowed to oxidize; and then inspected
in preparation for sale to tea-buyers.

Now – here is the fact:

In tea production,
the larger, best leaves and buds are selected
for quality tea buyers to purchase;

the ‘bits’,
the leaf particles,
the dust,
any bits of twig, chaff, or other refuse
that are picked or sieved out
and removed from the ‘choice’ tea crop,

are ground together and crated
for use in … tea bags.

Commercial, western tea companies
may (?) be telling the truth when they vehemently insist that
their tea-bags are not made from “floor sweepings” …

… but what they are filled with,
is NOT the same quality as loose leaf tea.

Surely, common sense alone would be sufficient
to realise that tea-bags are cheap … for a reason?

And that reason is … Quality.

If you genuinely want to appreciate tea,
do not imagine that tea bags represent … tea.

There IS, however, a time and a place for tea bags:

of course there is !

Some of my most satisfying ‘meals’ have been
bread and cheese with a mug of tea
made from Yorkshire or Scottish Blend (teabags),
and enjoyed while sitting on a bale of straw,
in the shelter of the barn
during a thunderstorm.

Do you enjoy a good cup of tea
from your favourite tea bags?

So do I.

But to appreciate tea … to share tea
with guests in your home:

The truth of the matter is …

there IS a difference.

Where It All Began …

Tea found its way to Iran and Palestine
via the Silk Road trade route; and from there,
westward across the Mediterranean
as well as south into Arabia, Africa,
and the Southern Ocean, beginning
somewhere around the first decade
of the 1600’s.

The Opium Wars of the 19th century occurred
because Great Britain wanted tea – which the
Chinese would only sell in exchange for silver.

Greed and selfishness being the motivator
of all “successful” … “businessmen”, the British
did not want to deplete their supplies of silver
in order to get Chinese tea.

‘Superpowers’ achieve their ‘power’
by invading, stealing, and subjugating entire populations
to ‘western’ corruption and degradation:
which is precisely how Great Britain became ‘great’.

When it was made clear that the Qing government
was not interested in proffered British goods
(and insisted that tea be paid for in silver),
the British took it upon themselves to began
running drugs – specifically, Opium from India.

By the first decade of the 1800’s, Britain had succeeded
in creating a significant proportion of drug addicts …
and therefore, a “Need’ for their presence.

And when, in the late 1830’s, China banned
and then confiscated shipments of Opium
to be destroyed, the super-power –

(rather than be filled with shame, remorse,
and a desire to respect another country’s rules
and co-operate fairly)

– became enraged, and promptly initiated ‘war’
from which, they obtained not only the ‘right’ to trade
… but Hong Kong as well.

Chinese plants being superior to the wild,
naturally growing Assam of India,
it was at this time – the end of the 1830’s,

that the British began to grow tea in India
by using plants most probably out-rightly
stolen from China,
by a thief named (ironically) ‘Fortune’.

‘British’ … tea was born.

The privately owned (read, “corporation”) East India Company
exported vast quantities of tea to Britain
at the start of the 19th century after which,
the British government imposed a tea tax on the people.

In 1773, the Company commenced
its highly successful endeavours
in the production of Opium via poppy cultivation.
Fifty years later, business was booming.

Ever chasing greed, the British East India Company
began taking Opium to China,
to the outrage of China’s government
who ordered them to stop.

Lord Napier endeavoured to coerce Chinese officials
to not only accept Opium, but also give their Chinese tea
to the British.

China expelled them.

The British refused to leave, and called in
those who find glory in destruction:
the national death cult known as the military.

This is how a ‘great’ nation becomes “great” –
invasion, subjugation, imperial tyranny.
And ‘war’ against any nation who does not want to
‘go along’ with the despotic invaders.

All this while, of course,
continuing to run opium into China.

Chinese government officer Lin Zexu
wrote to Queen Victoria to inform her both
about what British drug runners were doing;
and demand that Britain stop the opium trade
into China.

Her Majesty was not amused.

( With the Chinese demands, that is:
nothing at all wrong with the drug-dealing
of the British East India company. )

China asked Portugal to expel British from Macao.
Which they did,

Whereupon the British fled to Hong Kong …
and called in the military fleet
which promptly bombarded Guangzhou
and continued on in a swath of destruction and carnage
towards Shanghai.

Emperor had no choice but to ‘retract’
his opposition to Opium.

Britain then demanded ‘redress’ …
in which China paid a (somewhere around)
a 10 million pound equivalent in wealth;

as well as being forced to not only
give Hong Kong to the drug-dealing British,
but open an additional five mainland ports
in which they could freely “trade” (drugs
– amongst other items).

A sobering reminder of how “great” men
and “great” nations … become “great”.

P Livingstone
philiplivingstone.org

A Blind Man, A Dog, and Modern “Humanity” … For Pity’s Sake, Wake Up !!!

I had – for the first time in more than a year –
occasion to travel into the “big city”
specifically to visit the one specialised shop
which stocked the type of very fine-nibbed pen
that is best suited to the copperplate writing
that I have used since a boy.

Walking along the busy city street,
I was aware of a slight ‘commotion’
on the footpath, just ahead of me.

It took a split second to realise that
the blind man ahead of me
was stopping abruptly: the cause being that
the beautiful Golden Retriever
in the white harness,

was having a ‘personal crisis’ – yet,
while still trying to continue walking
at the same time.

The man, realising that something was wrong,
stopped – the face around his dark glasses
plainly confused.

Having left a veritable trail of faeces on the pavement,
the poor dog cringed – its tail low, its head hung down:
it knew that it had done something ‘wrong’.

The man, seeming to realise what must have happened,
produced a plastic bag and started to shuffle back
in the direction from which he had come.

But it was none of this that held my attention.

It was the conduct of the people –
Modern Day Humanity:

the dozens of pedestrians
who ignored that man,
ignored his need – his patently obvious need –
for help in a difficult situation;

and without a second thought,
walked around the man,
and carried on their way.

Oh, one unbelievable creature did react –
expressing a melodramatic ‘sigh’ of vocal disgust
that the Guide Dog had fouled the pavement.

Thinking back now, I can only suggest that
my brain could not accept what I was seeing.

I was stunned – for a split second –
and found myself absolutely bursting
with utter contempt
for the … “humanity” … that surrounded me.

“Sir!” … “Sir” I said, running quickly to the man:

“give me the bag there, and you carry on.”

I continued:

“Your poor dog is hanging his head,
and if you will let me clean up his accident,
I would appreciate it very much
if you would give him a pat on the head …
and tell him it’s alright.”

Plainly, the man struggled to understand
what I was saying:
he stuttered a bit, and looked dreadfully confused
as I took the plastic bag from his hand.

It certainly seemed as if he could not ‘take in’
the idea that a stranger could extend kindness
to him – and his dog.

The man thanked me several times, and paused –
as though making certain he had understood me.
Only then did he walk on.

I was thrilled that he reached down, said something,
and patted the dog on its head and neck.

It was my pleasure – my absolute pleasure! –
to pick up that dog’s mess.

But, as I looked up ahead at the backs of those
who had – moments ago, just walked past that man
and his dog; I could not help but think that …

I may well have just lifted a dog’s faeces
off the pavement,

but that particular city block was covered
in filth.

Self-obsessed, conscienceless machines
have replaced what were, fifty years ago,
courteous gentlemen and ladies.

The average ‘man’ looks like a bag of manure –
unkempt, slovenly; shoulders slumped,
back bent forward;
the crude ignorance of wearing a ‘baseball cap’
at a restaurant table;
shoving their way through doorways,
perpetually carrying either a vicious sneer
or vacuous glaze on their face …

while women have spent fifty years
doing all that they can … to be ‘men’.

The ‘standards’ of 21st century existence.

Vulgar individuals are tolerated in public places:
spewing obscenities as part of their “conversation”;
wearing shirts with that depraved obscenity “F*CK”
fully spelled out for all to look at

… and a BLIND MAN is left to – ( what? ) –

get down on his knees and feel around
in order to clean up his specially-trained dog’s
Highly Uncharacteristic accident?

I understand that conscience has been
all-but obliterated from the human race,

but how Evil do ego-maniacal,
self-venerating human beings have to get,
before they take a look around them …

and actually start to Care
about the utter extinction of Common Decency
in the 21st century?

A plea from my broken heart,
to young people in general:

feed the birds in the wintertime;
say “Good Morning” to every expressionless,
vacuous, modern-minded human automation
you pass at the start of each new day;

stand in front of a mirror and practice,
if need be, to learn
how to carry on an intelligent conversation,

but … please, for pity’s sake –– WAKE UP !!!

Stop the ludicrous obsession with ‘texting’,
get the earphones out of your ears;
break the addiction of constantly needing
to spew trivia and tripe into a “cell” ‘phone.

Consider … Ponder … Think – for a change:

– at least pretend that you are capable
of considered, independent, intelligent thought,
without needing to “look it up” on the Internet

or be attached to some type of machine
for constant mental stimulation.

Instead of being rude, crude, vulgar and loud,
have the self-discipline to speak and spell properly,
and, by so doing, set an example
to everyone around you.

Practice Kindness …
Consideration for others …
and Courtesy in public:

and start reversing this 40-year plummet
into self-serving, mindless oblivion that
has – with very, very little exception –
gripped the whole of what now passes
for ‘humanity’.

When people conduct themselves
with no more morality than an animal,

they are infinitely worse than any animal
because they have the capacity
– and the conscience ( in theory ) –
to exist at a level higher
than that of a beast …

but prefer instead to choose wilfully
stupid, slovenly, or savage alternatives.

The central characteristic of arrogant men
and religious hypocrites … is Pride.

PRIDE always demands attention from others.

It FORCES itself upon people ’round about.

Those who are filled and actuated by Pride,
and Conceit display their arrogance
as publicly as possible, at every opportunity.

Pride always seeks to dominate other people –
to shove itself right down the throats of society:

the malignant Self Esteem – of people
who are filled with the love and adoration
of themselves.

It is long past time … to give attention
to those who DESERVE it,

rather than to those who DEMAND it
in order to feed conceit and ego;

and for modern-minded human beings
to step down from their narcissistic thrones
and be less concerned about ME –
Ambition, and Greed, and Vanity, and Self.

What I witnessed that day has disgusted me
beyond description.

A PSYCHOPATH is an individual who is
not the slightest bit concerned
that others will suffer because of what he does.
Or fails to do.

They know ‘Right’ from ‘Wrong’.
They simply do not care.

Where there is no higher god than “Me”
will be found the obscene, narcissistic stupidity
– voiced by more than a few, that … “My truth”
is whatever I think it is.

Multitudes bereft of any genuine sense
of moral responsibility:
can excuse away, or accept, any atrocity
if it benefits their ego.

I may not be able to slow the moral degradation
of modern humanity: but, I do not have to condone it
by my silence.

What I saw that day was an utter lack of Compassion
from a mass of people.

And when compassion is gone from any man or woman,
there is nothing left to distinguish them from a beast.

A blind man
left to crawl on a street
while the contemporary hordes
walk around him.

I shall never, ever, be able to understand
( much less ‘fit in’ with ) the vicious mentality
and malignant apathy

of Modern … “civilization”.

P Livingstone
philiplivingstone.org

Silencing the Lone Voice

His was the lone voice crying out in the wilderness.

And no one was listening.

Listening ?

It was not simply that people were NOT listening;
they were becoming increasingly irritated
at his rambling pronouncements
and ‘doomsday’ speculation.

But to this one man, his concern
was of incredible significance:

– despite the fact that No One wanted to know.

The year was 1847 and, in the teaching hospital
of Aligemeine Krankenhaus, Vienna,
women who delivered babies were dying.

Or rather, women whose babies were delivered
by physicians and their assisting medical students
… were dying of what was termed “Childbed Fever”.

Women, in the other ward – by contrast,
who were delivered by the hospital’s midwives,
went home following successful births.

Hungarian obstetrician Ignaz Semmelweis
was not only bothered by the phenomenon,
he was determined to stop it –
and took it upon himself to discover
and make known the reason
for the appalling rate of mortality.

Semmelweis was agonising over possible causes
when his colleague, professor Jacob Kolletschka,
cut his finger on a scalpel blade whilst
conducting the post mortem of a woman
who had died in labour.

Kolletschka died.

What was incomprehensible, though,
was that his body revealed the Same Symptoms

… as the woman who had died giving birth.

How – How ! – Semmelweis wondered,
is it possible for … a MAN

to die from a disease restricted to
… WOMEN … in labour?

Upon considering the matter, Semmelweis
was absolutely certain that he knew the answer –

The transfer of disease from a physician’s hands,

following autopsy,

to the bodies of women in the wards.

Women delivered by midwives, survived.
Women delivered by doctors bore a good chance of dying.

Physicians conducted post mortems.
Midwives did not.

Physicians and their medical students
moved freely from scrutinising a corpse,
to examining a labouring woman.

They HAD to be – he reasoned – carrying infection
… on their hands.

Semmelweis began to insist that his colleagues
wash their hands with chloride of lime BEFORE
tending women in labour.

Whilst the idea of sepsis was, of course,
unknown to Semmelweis,
he was certain that it was NOT washing hands,
that led the deaths of women.

Using the mandatory washing of hands and instruments
in Chloride of Lime, the mortality rate in the
physician’s ward dropped from 18% … to 1%.

But to physicians who worked with Semmelweis,
– the very idea that … THEY … could cause death
was, outrageous and insulting.

THEY … Were Doctors !

With his second year appointment to the hospital
not being renewed, Semmelweis was obliged to leave
the hospital in Vienna and return to Hungary where, in 1851,
he took up a new position heading obstetrics
at St Rochus hospital.

Where the death rates of women subsequently plummeted.

But now, his new colleagues were becoming
more and more irritated at Semmelweis’ insistence
that they were causing death by not washing their hands.

Never one to display great patience for apathetic,
vanity-saturated, wilful imbeciles … Semmelweis
began to write – ( much to the heightened irritation
of those to whose self-importance, arrogance, and laziness,
Semmelweis’ assertions were a threat. )

In 1861, Semmelweis completed a monograph
on the Aetiology of Childbed Fever, which conveyed
his insistence ( along with his all-too evident frustration
against care-free doctors ) that the death of women
was being caused by lack of proper washing by doctors.

Physicians were unrelenting in their contempt
of Semmelweis’ warning of danger, and continued
in their filthy habits – infecting women
with whom they came into contact.

On a holiday arranged by his wife,
Semmelweis was grabbed by several men
and dragged inside a hospital that his wife had told him
she wanted to see.

The hospital was a lunatic asylum

and Semmelweis realised – far too late –
that his wife had betrayed him,
and had conspired with Semmelweis’ own doctor
to have her husband ‘committed’.

Imprisoned in a lunatic asylum – the only sane physician
amongst a medical community full of them –

Semmelweis would die in the same madhouse
from … an infected cut.

A physician who insisted upon hygiene
was declared ‘crazy’ for being clean;

and died at the age of 47, in an asylum,
from a wound infected due to lack of hygiene –

the Very Thing about which
he had been trying to warn the world.

Betrayed by his wife;
despised by self-important medical doctors,
Semmelweis would not live to see his name
utterly exonerated by the work of Joseph Lister.

As a boy reading history, I would always try to find
a moral from which I could learn something of substance,
from the life of someone else.

I have persistently maintained that, to follow
whatever is popular and pleasing to the majority
of modern humanity – is to guarantee certain degradation
of mind and morals, and conscience.

The reaction of people demonstrates that my warning
is perceived to be little more than monotonous,
‘boring’ narrow-minded fanaticism.

I cannot but wonder if, with these thoughts
about Semmelweis – I may be the only one capable
of seeing the moral in the appalling tragedy of this man:

The moral that –

‘The Majority’ … are Wrong.

And that, there are times
when individuals who are declared
( by the masses ) …
to be ‘crazy’, ‘narrow-minded’, or ‘alarmist’,

are the only sensible and intelligent voices

amidst multitudes who are either
anaesthetised with vanity,

or just too lazy to care.

P Livingstone
philiplivingstone.org

えいち A Folk Tale … and Wasting Life

detail, Urashima Taro Returning
– Yoshitoshi Tsukioka, 1886

The story is told in Japan,
of a responsible young man named Urashima Taro.

One day, whilst walking by the sea,
Urashima Taro noticed a group of cruel boys
poking and tormenting a baby turtle on the beach.

Possessing care and compassion for the
suffering animal, Taro chased the boys away;
gently lifted the turtle, and carefully
released it back into the sea.

Some time later, while in his little boat at sea,
Taro heard a voice repeating his name.

Looking around and seeing nothing,
he then looked into the sea to find,
floating beside his boat, a turtle.

The turtle spoke to Taro and told him that,
if Taro left the boat and climbed on to its shell,
he would transport Taro to the undersea kingdom
known as Ryugu-jo.

Though at first nervous and apprehensive,
once under water, Taro found that,
in that unknown environment, he could actually breathe.

The deeper he went, the more relaxed he became.

When the turtle arrived at a beautiful undersea palace,
a woman greeted him saying that she was a princess
who – wanting to visit the world of men,
had changed her form:

She was the turtle he had saved on the beach.

In gratitude, her father told Taro
that he could stay in the undersea kingdom
for as long as he wished.

For many days, Taro enjoyed the thrill and care-free life
of the undersea kingdom.

After a great deal of time had passed, however,
Urashima Taro thought of his family,
and desperately wanted to se them again.

The princess told him that she could not force him
to stay and, as he prepared to return to his old life,
handed Taro a box –

but telling him that he must never open it
in the world of men.

Returning home, Taro saw that the people in his village
were all strangers; and that his home
was now an empty field.

On inquiring about his family, Taro was told
that they had died … several hundred years ago.
Taro realised that, in the days he had spent
frolicking in the palace,
many years had passed in the world that he had left.

Realising that there was now nothing left for him
of his old life, Taro remembered the parting gift
given him by the princess.

Ignoring her warning, he opened the box and
– enveloped by a cloud of white smoke –
he was instantly transformed into an old man;
and in the realisation of this … Taro died.

I had never come across a satisfactory moral
for this old tale.

But to me – one was always evident.

I view the world, I suppose, ‘from the outside’ –
as a man whom no one wants to know:
whom multitudes regard as narrow-minded and morose.

But I too, look at the world and – while they see me,
I also see them …

In Taro, I see the fate and future of the majority
of the human race of the 21st century:
impatiently despising all calls
to self control and moderation;
moral discernment and selfless living –
many of whom, I believe, will one day
look back from their death-beds …

and realise that they have wasted
an entire lifetime
in the pursuit of vanity, greed;
entertainment, and ambition.

For me, this life is an opportunity to think
– and consider; and use the time given me
to humble myself;

to live as though I might one day actually
have to give an account of myself before God;

and to exercise empathy, discretion,
and integrity … as well as remorse
for the times when I have failed.

“Good” or “Bad” … “Right” or “Wrong”
it seems, is now determined upon nothing
greater than

My house; My family;
My possessions; My career;
My church; My country; My memories –

“Me” … “My” … and “Mine”.

Urashima Taro realised – too late –
that the whole of his life was gone.

How many, I wonder, in the final hours of their life,
have developed the realisation – too late –
that the same was true of them …

… that the constant pursuit of Entertainment
and Ambition had stolen their entire life ?

It was the observation of John Owen –
chaplain to Oliver Cromwell – that,

“And hence it is come to pass, that
wherever there have been complaints of
faults, miscarriages, errors
… their counsels have only been
how to destroy the Complainers,
not in the least

how they should reform themselves … ”

Those who are False,
Hate those who are True.

The mass of people will have little or nothing to do
with a man or woman who displays sober-minded
consideration in daily life.

Often, such a person will be despised
and ridiculed as “narrow-minded”.

Is that an insult … Or is it a compliment ?

I may not like to be without friends in my life, but
I can certainly appreciate Why it is happening.

And, as I have no desire to be – to imitate –
what I see and hear around me,
I am obliged to accept it.

I greatly value the lesson that I took
from the tale of Urashima Taro …

I choose to lament now
– to feel shame, and be sorry for those occasional times
when I have selfishly, in ignorance or emotion,
upset people through something impulsively said –

rather than to realise, on my deathbed,

that I have lived life as a pathetic,
self-centred narcissist
whose sole incentive for existing
was the pleasure and promotion

… of Me.

P Livingstone
philiplivingstone.org