Tag Archives: tea

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel only tells the truth about tea and biscuits.

Dixie and I went and saw The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel on Saturday. We were easily the youngest people there. I realize that the target demographic is probably retirees, but I was nevertheless quite astounded at (impressed by?) the number of people that fit the demographic in the theatre. I felt a little out of place. Dixie felt right at home. She sat next to an older lady who thought Dixie had come with some of the seniors (from a nursing home, perhaps?). “Nope,” Dixie said, “I’m on a date.”

Anyway, it was a nice story overall and interesting setting, but I didn’t think the movie told the truth in several places. Lots of individualism and the American dream transplanted to India, and those stories are untrue as far as I can tell.

But here is one place the film did tell the truth:

Indian Man (referring to English Breakfast tea): You call it “builder’s tea”?

Evelyn (Judi Dench): Yes. We dunk biscuits into it.

Man: Dunk?

Evelyn: Means lowering the biscuit into the tea and letting it soak in there and trying to calculate the exact moment before the biscuit dissolves, when you whip it up into your mouth and enjoy the blissful union of biscuits and tea combined. It’s more relaxing than it sounds.

Indeed. Biscuits (particularly the Maria ones) are a delight when dunked in tea.

Simple pleasures

In lieu of our normal Wednesday night Bible study, tonight Dixie led us in the first of a two-part workshop on Sabbath (as credit towards one of her classes). She opened the workshop by having us close our eyes and imagining “a day of delight would be like for you.”

Without much hesitation, this is what came to mind: I wake up whenever my body wakes up. I wake up to a house that is quiet, clean, organized, and full of light. I get up and make a hot cup of tea and sit quietly, maybe read a book. It is a cool, sunny day, so later I might go out and meander on a nature trail or in the fields or along some gravel roads.

A good day so far, but I didn’t get much further than that before Dixie added, “there are no restrictions on your day, no financial barriers, nothing…” You might expect the details of my imagined day of delight to change, given unlimited resources. But the truth is, it changed little. Only the location changed. Now it wouldn’t be here, it would be in a small town in England somewhere. But I’d still ease myself into the day with a cup of tea, read a book and go for a walk.

I didn’t have more time to finish my imagined day. I’m not sure what I’d add: a leisurely lunch and/or supper in a cafe or pub somewhere. Maybe a (half?) round of golf. My imagined day of delight assumes some things that would make such a day work–namely, that I would not be anxious, but was in a state of relaxation sufficient to sit still and ponder, to meander rather than power-walk; that I would not be distracted by TV or internet. But that really is my ideal day.

Perhaps you don’t believe it. Perhaps you think that given unlimited resources and no space/time barriers, I would actually imagine a day of adventure or culture or travel. But right now I would not. I think appreciation of simple pleasures–appreciation of quiet moments in a loud and busy day, a well-brewed cup of tea, or some simply culinary delight like a cinnamon bun–can take a person a long way towards contentment. Those kinds of things are attainable even in the most chaotic times of life. Adventure, culture, travel, these are all good, but they are rare treats for the average person–and once they’ve been experienced, they often make “normal life” seem dull or even depressing. But a cup of tea, for example, is something I can appreciate daily, with near-zero expense and only a little effort, and it enhances rather than detracts from “normal life”.

Is Mystery a third theological option?

ONE post in October? Mother of pearl. What has happened to the good ship The Eagle and Child?

So I took a break from reading the fascinating A Brief History of Tea (which I was reading while drinking tea and listening to CBC classical online–very refined, folks), which I bought for all of $2 at Indigo Books today, and came across a new blog post from the theologian Roger E. Olsen.

Apparently somewhere, to someone, Olsen said, “if somehow it were revealed to me that God is as TULIP Calvinism says and as its good and necessary consequences imply, I would not worship that god.” This apparently caused some controversy and his post seeks to explain his position.

I’ve never given a whole lot of thought to Calvinism or Arminianism (which is Olsen’s position). Two of my theology of professors here are Calvinists. I think there are also some Arminians on staff. But I won’t come away from my seminary studies with a detailed knowledge of either theological position. It seems to me that the difference between them comes down to how they understand divine sovereignty and human freedom intersect.

I’ve never been able to align myself fully with either position. This is no doubt largely because I know little of both beyond the notions of freedom and sovereignty (and I can almost list all of the words that make up the TULIP acronym). My non-partisan theology (in this regard) is also partially due to the fact that from what I do know of the two theologies, I agree and disagree with both on various points.

And the truth is, I’ve never seen the need to make a choice between the two.

The idea of prevenient grace–of God always acting first–makes sense to me. On the other hand, I find the notion of double predestination (it’s in Calvinism at least by implication)–that some are elected for salvation and some (again, at least by implication) elected for damnation–problematic at best and horrific at worst. Olsen argues that taken to its necessary conclusions, the Calvinist God would not be good, faithful, etc. Ah, but! A Calvinist might say, You are going by human standards of good, faithful, etc. Well, I say back to the Calvinist, so are you.

Calvinism also seems to go against the grain of Jesus’ mission during his time on earth.

On the other hand, the Arminian position seems to jive more with Jesus’ mission and activity, as well as his commands. And somehow it doesn’t seem all that irrational to think that human freedom can fall within the realm and boundary of God’s sovereignty.

But something Olsen says in his post startled me. As a counter example, he shares an argument John Piper (a Calvinist) gave him against Arminianism. According to Piper, ‘Arminians “must say” that the cross did not save anyone but only gave people an opportunity to save themselves.’ In other words, Arminianism leads to the Pelagianism, that ancient heresy that states that it is within an individual’s capacity to save him or herself.

Maybe it does. I can see how Arminianism might get you to this point. And maybe I really do need to brush up on my knowledge of Calvin and Arminius. Maybe it is important for me to make a choice–and one not based on the overwhelming personalities one sees online coming from one of these camps.

On the other hand, maybe the quest for a neat-and-tidy theology is a futile one. Calvinists and Arminians both bandy about all manner of scripture in support of their position. This suggests at least two possibilities: both sides are reading scripture incorrectly or scripture allows for both. Alternatively, my limited understanding of both is just a caricature.

Is Mystery a legitimate third theological option?

Tea fail

Well, the No Name tea won’t do.  It’s not that it’s a terrible tea, but there’s something in the blend that stands out too much, leaves an aftertaste (Assam leaves, perhaps?) which I don’t like.  Maybe it’s a bad batch, because I distinctly remember liking the No Name tea I had 10 years ago.  Whatever the case may be, I’ve been drinking less tea lately.

I can tell if a cup of tea will be good even before I taste it by its colour with milk added.  With milk it should have a warm,  golden-brown colour (at least, it does with both Red Rose and Yorkshire tea).  The No Name tea with milk just looks sickly grey.

What am I to do with the 200 or so tea bags remaining?  I’ve started using two bags per cup in an attempt to get some depth of flavour, so that’ll use the tea up faster.  But still…that’s a long time of sub-par tea.  Perhaps a donation is in order—to someone who likes the No Name tea or to a group or individual who won’t care.  Maybe to the church.  Lauralea won’t be around: is there anyone else there with a discerning tea pallette?

I just bought a box of 216 No Name tea bags

Will I regret my decision?  The last time I bought No Name tea was in university a decade ago.  But I’m venturing down that road again to see if tea is one of those products for which brand-name makes a qualitative difference.

To my recollection, my mom would purchase No Name products on a regular basis (I didn’t have a “real” Pop Tart until after I was married*) in order to save money, but she always bought Red Rose tea.  Always.

Tea is a big deal for me, folks, so I could regret this decision for months to come.

This won’t make it better if the tea sucks, but both the No Name tea and the President’s Choice (pseudo-brand-name) new “premium” teas are prepared and packaged by Loblaws.  In fact, the graphic explaining how to make a pot or cup of tea is more or less the same on both packages.  I’m guessing that the PC “premium” tea is a rebranding of the No Name** product (I once heard/read somewhere that PC film is made by Fuji).  Not that that means anything.

And what is “premium” tea anyway, when all tea comes from the same plant?  It’s the blend, I think, which makes the difference.

I’ve removed the bags from the packaging and put them in the unmarked glass containers which previously housed Red Rose tea bags.  Maybe without the visual reminder my brain won’t notice the difference (if indeed there is any).

We shall see.***

*Pilcrow to the first person to tell me what I was thinking after I wrote that sentence.

**It’s obvious, but anyone else enjoy the irony in naming a product “No Name”?

***My apologies, dear friends. I don’t have the time or willpower to write anything of substance these days.

Fair Trade fair?

There is an interesting discussion going on at Scot McKnight’s blog about whether or not Fair Trade is a good thing.  Naturally, there are good (non-self-interested) arguments for both sides in the comment (Scot is now blogging at beliefnet.com and I haven’t quite figured out how to get both the full text of the post and all the comments at the same time).

One comment (by a Joey) stood out for me:

Live local, buy local. I don’t claim to know tons about how the world market works or even the Fair Trade industry but it seems that the only sustainable and responsible way to do agriculture is to do it locally and to encourage others to do the same. We have plenty of farm land in the US to supply our nutritional needs. So do countries in South America. It is our attitude of entitlement that makes us think we deserve strawberries in January not our responsible stewardship.

(No comment linkage possible.)

Not about the Fair Trade issue per se, but a good point nonetheless.  I keep thinking that I should, to begin with, buy more stuff at the local farmer’s market.

My Economics 101 professor in university told me that I should think about pursuing an economics major.  Economics 200 proved within the first two weeks of class to be disasterous for me, so that didn’t pan out.  So, I don’t have a clue about the ins and outs of international trade, economics and politics, but I’ve always wondered why we import grain and oil (for instance) from other countries when it’s my understanding that we’re quite capable of meeting our own demand for those products.

Incidentally, the other day I got to thinking that I should just start buying Tim Hortons’ beans, because, quite frankly, it’s the coffee I enjoy most (I don’t care what the rest of you snobs think).  Judging by their website (their website, mind you), Tim Hortons appears to be involved in fair trade practices (without, apparently, a stamp of approval from an arbitrary fair trade approver and stamper) and even addressing some of the concerns of some of the commenters on Scot McKnight’s blog.

They offer

direct financial assistance for technical training to improve the quantity and quality of coffee produced and assist farmers in getting their coffee to market at the best time and for the best price. Assistance is also provided on environmental management, in both proper farming techniques and reforestation projects, led by Tim Hortons.

Tim Hortons also recognizes the need for direct involvement with coffee growing communities for their social programs – providing assistance primarily in education and medical care.

The Tim Hortons approach is different from other world wide sustainable coffee initiatives. While admirable, some programs may require certification on behalf of the farmers which is an expense they cannot afford, plus the price provided may be less than what it should be and may have no relation to the quality of the coffee produced. In addition, the programs can have little or no involvement on the part of the coffee retailer. The Tim Hortons program ensures that the money spent actually reaches or benefits the coffee grower and the surrounding community. (link)

Am I just gullible or can I buy Tim Hortons coffee in good conscience?  (And if you think I’m gullible—how many of you have looked up the organizations that allow other FT coffees to put their stamp of approval on their packaging—how do we ever know if it’s really fair trade without going down to the plantations ourselves?)