equivocality — Jeff Ngan's collection of thoughts, experiences, and projects, inspired by pretty much everything
11 May 09

Amnesiac Weekends

My throat has devel­oped some­thing of a raspy tinge from talk­ing all week­end. I’ve never had par­tic­u­larly strong vocal chords. I told myself I’d speak as lit­tle as pos­si­ble today; we’ll see how long that lasts. Maybe I can drink some honey tea instead.

It wasn’t so much that I over­booked myself as plans going on for much longer than expected. Which pretty much means I didn’t get any work done, so I won’t be going to Toronto next week­end so I can catch up. Not that I really want to any­more, as the last two days have left me feel­ing over­stim­u­lated and sat­is­fied. Anyway, Dan took a quick look at my chart for this month (on his own ini­tia­tive) and told me not to do any­thing big on the 15th and 16th because it’s “risky”. I never let my horo­scope deter­mine what I do, but maybe this is the way the uni­verse tells me to stay home.

I didn’t even have time to do my weekly gro­cery shop­ping. I’m eat­ing stale bread and canned soups today.

The best part of the week­end was hav­ing an excuse to use the Numi Dancing Leaves teabuds and teapot that Louise bought me last Christmas, some­thing I’d been sav­ing for spe­cial occa­sions. Amazingly, I got three full steeps — which trans­lates into six cups — out of one Golden Jasmine bud.

Those things I had been try­ing to for­get got lost some­where in the before I even real­ized it. Isn’t that what for­get­ting is about?

Sometimes I need these week­ends. They recharge me, they give me hope, when hope is so fleeting.

I’m try­ing to ride that feel­ing, and let it carry me forward.

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01 Jul 07

A Staple In My Tea

I just found a sta­ple — a used, bent sta­ple — in my loose leaf Mao Feng tea from Nihao Tea House. I don’t know if I can trust Nihao any­more, which is unfor­tu­nate, as it’s the only tea house in the vicinity.

The girl who works there is some­what of an anom­aly; a Canadian-born Chinese, I’d say only a few years younger than me, wear­ing a Mickey Mouse shirt. My gen­er­a­tion of CBCs usu­ally adapt to the Canadian way of life, eschew­ing the cutesy cul­ture of Hello Kitty, designer sta­tion­ary, and stuffed car orna­ments. An impos­tor, by banana1 stan­dards, like a rogue sta­ple among some tea leaves.

  1. yel­low on the out­side, hol­low on the inside []
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30 May 07

A Weekend with Darren

I had Darren over from Toronto for the week­end. We were going to do a movie marathon at the the­atre — three in a day — but the movies all sucked. Disturbia? Georgia Rule? Please. Instead, I bought the first sea­son of Six Feet Under, and we fin­ished the roughly 11 hour sea­son over two days. Now I can re-watch it with Bronwen and lend it to Pat. To be hon­est, I’d seen up to the sec­ond sea­son before, but I was too stoned to remem­ber most of it.

Thumbnail: Air-tight tea container

Thumbnail: Chai tea

Darren also gave me a nice tea con­tainer. It’s rather large, since I buy my tea 50mg at a time, but bet­ter too big than too small. He also got me some chai tea, con­sid­ered a well­ness blend. When I asked him what for, he couldn’t give me a rea­son. I love gifts for no reason.


We shared our tat­too ideas, and his was the Chinese char­ac­ter for love on his back. Darren and Bronwen are the some of the few peo­ple I can talk openly with about love. We’re such hope­less roman­tics. We tell each other that we’ll never be mar­ried, not to be self-depracating, but to be hon­est with our­selves. We have our ideals, and we’ll never set­tle for any­thing less. It’s com­fort­ing to know that we’re not alone in our quixotic beliefs.

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12 Feb 07

A Change Of Tea

So I wasn’t being com­pletely hon­est when I said no more tea. I’d sim­ply switched from black to orange tea. Even that didn’t work though, and a mild panic attack had me down to even lighter, Chinese tea.

A warm, relax­ing mug can be rather addicting.

Thumbnail: Green tea
Thumbnail: Longjing
Thumbnail: Rose green tea
Thumbnail: Green tea mug
Thumbnail: Leaves macro

The great thing about tea is that it doesn’t just taste good, it serves a pur­pose. Cleanses the palette. Aids diges­tion. Combats the Yang of greasy foods with Yin. Green tea in the morn­ing serves to awaken the senses. Longjing calms the mind at night.

The steep­ing process is beau­ti­ful. Green tea is espe­cially prone to scorch­ing, so the water can’t be too hot, or the tea will turn bit­ter. Not hot enough, and the leaves won’t fully release their flavour.

Note: Each frame of the video is a dif­fer­ent pho­to­graph, taken five sec­onds apart. About thirty min­utes in total.

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09 Sep 06

To Steep

Thumbnail: Bacon grease

Thumbnail: Breakfast

Thumbnail: Dolly's milk treat

All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a lit­tle stronger with each year that passes.

—George Orwell

On Saturday morn­ings I wake up a lit­tle past seven, no mat­ter how late I was up on Friday. Get dressed, check the mail, read the news, go upstairs to cook break­fast in a pan of grease. Everything is timed per­fectly. The toast is started two min­utes before the eggs are bro­ken into the pan, but only after the bacon is done. The tea starts steep­ing two min­utes before that. Everything is ready and warm within 25 minutes.

Dolly gets a treat on the week­end morn­ings: a bit of Fancy Feast, or half-and-half mixed with water. Cats are lac­tose intol­er­ant, so they can’t drink straight milk, but they’re drawn the fat that their noses can smell.

Bacon, bread, egg, bacon, bread, egg. I eat my break­fast in order, going clock­wise around the plate, but I always save a few sips of tea for the end. Even though I’ve given up the Hong Kong style milk tea, Orange Pekeoe is an appro­pri­ate black leaf sub­sti­tute, round­ing out the meal.

It’s a lit­tle rit­ual that keeps me sane. At the end of break­fast, sat­is­fied and full, I can reflect and recharge, down to the dregs.

Every year, as I grow older, I find that I let my tea steep a lit­tle longer. Maybe life has got­ten a lit­tle too com­pli­cated, and I need the tea as a dis­trac­tion, or per­haps life has become too sim­ple, and I need the com­pan­ion­ship of a rich mug to stim­u­late me.

Strange how a teapot can rep­re­sent at the same time the com­forts of soli­tude and the plea­sures of company.

And I’ve never needed this more than I do now.

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22 Apr 06

No More Tea

Thumbnail: Hong Kong milk tea with menu

Walking in, the first thing to notice is the aro­matic smell of freshly brewed tea that per­me­ates the air.

They wait on us using Cantonese with var­i­ous accents, an assort­ment of dialects from minor provinces. They rudely throw the dishes on the table, and tell me that I can’t take pic­tures of the menu. My par­ents com­plain to me about the ser­vice, about their main­land man­ners, and say that they’ll never come here again.

I slowly sip my tea, and leave before it’s half fin­ished. Even on a full stom­ach, I can feel myself get­ting uneasy.

The caf­feine is mak­ing me anx­ious, a sub­tle reminder of the panic attack I suf­fered last year.

It’s been six months since I’ve had a glass of authen­tic Hong Kong style milk tea. No more, I’ve decided.

Saturday morn­ings won’t be the same.

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