Qianlong on Making Tea

Multiple sources attribute this to Qing Dynasty Emperor Qianlong, though I haven’t located the original source:

Set an old three-legged teapot over a slow fire.
Fill it with water of melted snow.
Boil it just as long as is necessary to turn fish white, or lobsters red.
Pour it on the leaves of choice in a cup of youe.
Let it remain till the vapor subsides into a thin mist, floating on the surface.
Drink this precious liquor at your leisure,
And thus drive away the five causes of sorrow.

How To Make Tea Links

The start of a collection of How to Make Tea essays.

Douglas Adams:

There is a very simple principle to the making of tea and it’s this – to get the proper flavour of tea, the water has to be boiling (not boiled) when it hits the tea leaves.

Christopher Hitchens (after Orwell):

If you use a pot at all, make sure it is pre-warmed. (I would add that you should do the same thing even if you are only using a cup or a mug.)

George Orwell (via Hitchens):

[O]ne should take the teapot to the kettle and not the other way about.

Ten Years of the Unreliable Blogger

Posted on Thursday, November 30, 2000, at 3:47 pm:

I’m guessing that I was 7 or 8, which would mean that Chris was 13 or 14. Chris & next door neighbor friend Robert were messing around with Robert’s motorcycle & had ridden out on the dirt roads that weave around in the grape vine fields. I hunted them down & was bothering them, asking them to take me for a spin. Robert said he was out of gas & that he’d let me ride if I went to a nearby house & asked them for a little cup of gas. I didn’t believe that he was out of gas, so I asked him to take the gas cap off & show me. He did & there was clearly still some gas in the tank. Robert insisted that it was oil, which goes in the gas tank as well. I didn’t buy it & bugged them for a while longer before heading back home, mad. Soon after I’d gotten out of their line of site, I heard the engine start & a couple of minutes later Robert & Chris rounded the corner on the motorcycle & passed by me, laughing. I continued stomping my way home. At some point they came back to me or they stopped & let me catch up with them. Robert let me get on the back & ride until we were just out of site of the house. I got off the motorcycle, so that mom wouldn’t see. Chris & I got home; and my mom was furious, somehow she knew that they’d given me ride.

Two Cacti

Two cacti, each less than half an inch tall, growing behind the tree in a deeply shaded corner on the street side of the fence. They get a narrow sunbeam for an hour, maybe, from under the fence in the afternoon. I find them while cutting out a rose bush that’s been lost under the tree’s canopy. I scratch the ground to dig out their roots. They’re in sand that spilled over from the brick landscaping on the lawn side of the fence. I push my fingers in and feel for the roots’ ends. The roots curl back and grow into a crack in the brick. I cut them off there and and bring them around front, plant them next to the front gate.

The thing that I appreciated most when we first moved up here to the hills nine months ago was the movement of the fog over The Bay. The fog could just be a narrow ribbon across the horizon, starting over the south span of The Bridge and extending over the north of The City. The next morning the sun would rise behind us and there would be a still white pillow covering everything below us (except the clumsy lump of Albany Hill, the tips of the spires on The Bridge, and the three-pronged radio tower on the hill across the way). I would drive down into that cloud to work. If it hadn’t burned off by my drive back in the evening, it would rise up the hill and spill out around us, rushing silently between the houses.

That season is starting up again now, a couple of months before we move down into Alameda. We’ll live and work under the fog for half the summer and fall there.

Lost Cat

I turned onto my street and stopped, hanging halfway out into the cross street. A deer was sharing my lane. It jogged ahead a few car lengths and I eased out of the intersection. The deer skipped into a neighbors yard and disappeared. I continued to the end of the block and pulled into the driveway. I turned off the ignition and my mind flashed back to one of the first nights after we’d moved in. A man had knocked on the door and said he was looking for his cat. Sitting in the car now, I realized that this man had actually been checking the house out and that he was probably the person who broke in during the windstorm a month later and took the computers.


The macaroni moon uncurls and dims to almost nothing before it flops again into the water — tonight, at the south tip of the bridge. Tomorrow it will come around behind the sun again and drop onto the Presidio.