More Tea

Walker and Ray were both visiting their respective families last weekend, so on Sunday we went to SF for a meandering adventure.

We went to New Asia for a quick Dim Sum fix (we apparently missed Kung Pao Kosher Comedy by a single day- Jewish stand-up in a Chinese restaurant on Xmas!), and then walked to Imperial Tea Court for a tea tasting… However, they were closed for some reason (December the 26th).

The other location is at the Ferry Building, halfway across town, so we walked back along Grant. On the way, we got some gelato at a place staffed entirely by little teenaged girls watching Mariah Carey videos on a giant flatscreen TV, right across the intersection from Big Al’s (the sex toy shop). Also on the way, we picked up some Chinese pastries from the bakery on Grant (Notice a trend here?). I ordered my pi2dan1 sao which I seem to be addicted to recently…

At Imperial Tea Court, we ordered the gongfu presentation of a very nice puerh tea, which means it was served in yixing cups and pots and rinsing bowls.

The cups are made of a special porous ceramic which is for the most part unglazed… the cups take on the character of all the tea that has ever been brewed in them, so you have to be careful to never have a weaker tea in a stronger cup, etc.

The puerh tea is a super-fermented tea with a strong earthy flavor. It’s really good, and its flavor actually changes character with each successive infusion.

The presentation was very elaborate and beautiful, with a number of rinsing steps with each serving. Just as in a wine tasting, we were invited to sniff the freshly-rinsed tea. We were geeking out, trying to memorize the exact sequence of moves our server was executing so as to brew the successive infusions properly. It was very cool.

After we drank about 5 infusions, we ate our pastries we had brought in, and then ordered MORE tea, this time a simple gaiwan of a white tea.

Mmmmm drugs.


  • pi2dan1sao? = 皮蛋 [??] – a flaky pastry filled with a sweet lotus seed paste, candied fruit, and preserved duck egg. Mmmm! Still no idea what the third character is!
  • gongfu = 功夫 – “practice,” in this case a specific tea preparation. Either I have the characters totally wrong, or this is the same character as “kung fu,” like the martial art.
  • puerh = 普洱 – a type of specially-aged tea
  • yixing = 宜兴 – a region in China known for its earthenware
  • gaiwan = 蓋碗 – a type of lidded porcelain teacup, where the lid is used to filter the loose tea

Radio Re-Volt

This project seeks to rethink the voltage (who has the power to transmit, who owns this power, how can this power be re-thought, re-formed, re-directed) in order to recover radio as a self-controlled tool and generate diversity in the ownership and programming of the radio waves.

Web link of note: Radio Re-Volt

Tea Brick

I got a Tea Brick for a Holiday present.

Over a pound of compressed tea- they were once used as currency. Isn’t that special, blah blah, cultural moment, blah.

Cut to the chase- in this case there seems to be a bit of confusion over whether it is meant to be consumed as tea or not.

Cost Plus gives you advice on how to preserve it, apparently as a decoration (“spray it with lacquer”). Very odd.

Online vendors use a variety of vague advertising language, that runs the range:

  • “Not for consumption.”
  • “This sculpted tea brick makes a unique gift and interesting conversation piece”
  • “Actual tea is pressed tightly to form this ornate item which was used by the ancient Chinese as currency. This brick makes an interesting decorative item for your home or is perfect for an exotic and unique gift!”
  • [I found a description of how to make tea with this thing- see below]

Note this is for the identical item! Same stamp and everything. Ambiguous.

I’m eating it anyway.

On one of the sites actually selling the Tea Brick as food:

Chinese keemun black tea, grown in anwhwei- a smooth, rich, complex cup of tea

In Mongolia, tea bricks are still the primary way tea is purchased. Tea is prepared by first shaving off a bit of the tea brick then stewing it with yak butterfat. The tea leaves are eventually strained off mixed with milk, butter roasted grains. Tibetans steep the tea shavings in water overnight. The following day, they churn the tea with milk, yak butter salt, into a thick brew.

Tea bricks are still produced in China using ancient methods. In some families, tea bricks have been handed down & kept in the family over generations. They are used sparingly for special occasions.

Now I just need some yak butter.

  • Butter Tea (“Po Cha”) approximation recipe using cow butter

Gaming in Da Hood

Having finished all my holiday shopping and wrapping a week ago, and having stayed at work after everyone else went home for their vacations tonight, I decided to stop by a nearby GameStop to pick up Dawn of War.

The line was over ten patrons long, and wasn’t moving too fast. This is in Emeryville. I remember the EB Games in San Leandro where I live also was constantly swamped… Also they had a single sad rack of PC games, none of which was Dawn of War.

I asked the counter guy where their PC games were stocked. He pointed to a shelf behind the counter- there were like five of them. Not five games. Five boxes. They weren’t sold out. They just don’t sell PC games.

I left to pick up some dumplings from Shan Dong in Oakland. I wondered, while I drove from Lake Merrit (around 1st Ave on East 14th) to San Leandro (past 98th Ave on East 14th), why there were no PC games at these stores.

Over 80% of the storefronts I drove past were churches, funeral homes, car parts supply stores, or liquor stores, with a few bars thrown in. 90% even. No houses. No “shopping” stores. No foot traffic. No restaurants.

Maybe poor area = no computers = no PC games in stock.

Bummer. Bummer for me. Bummer for them.

Buy Blue

You may have voted blue, but were you aware that every day, you unknowingly help dump millions of dollars into the conservative warchest? Simply by buying products and services from companies which heavily donate to conservatives, we have been defeating our own interests as liberals and progressives on a daily basis.

Buy Blue is a concerted effort to educate the public on making informed buying decisions as a consumer. We identify businesses which support our ideals and spotlight their dedication to progressive politics. In turn, we shine that spotlight on unsupportive businesses in the form of massive boycotts and action alerts.

Web link of note: Buy Blue