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A sip of this infusion might inspire nostalgia. It depends on how far you’ll let your senses reach.
Are you partial to stories that unearth emotions from a ‘simpler time’? Do you weep over a minor key or measure of notes? Have there been passages from books that arrest you with appreciation, thus finishing the book seems impossible? Is there a playlist of songs that whips your emotions to manic levels, influencing your every experience accompanied by that track? It is all about the little things.
While studying in Davis, I worked as a barista at Mishka’s Café. One fellow barista, Julia, and I decided to make ourselves a cup of tea. The café had a wall of teas from Republic of Tea, in glass lock jars. Julia, from the U.K., suggested I try this tea she claimed was good with milk and sugar. Opening the jar, a waft of smokiness surfaced memories of the fireplace at home and campfires smoldering of pine wood. Perhaps I fell in love with this tea because I felt like it was already a part of me. We already shared so much in common.
I was around 25 years old when I had a sip of an unknown peaty whisky. I didn’t remember anything but the amber color and the word ‘Islay’. I used to gather with some friends from San Francisco, rent a house around Tomales Bay, shop for goods at Point Reyes Station, cook together, play Bacci, hike, drink good wine, and just live. When I think of the life I’d like to have in California, I remember these types of moments. Well, I never met that whisky again until I caved in and bought a Laphroaig at Trader Joe’s after many moments at the cash register, gazing at the liquor shelved like guarded impulse buys. I’d stare at a particular green-glass bottle whereupon the label, the word ‘Islay’ haunted me like a one-night stand that may or may not have happened. After one sip, I knew I’d been reacquainted like a second chance at something beautiful.
It’s winter in Beijing and every market stall is stacked with citrus fruit. Cold days at my family’s home in Stockton meant raking leaves from our giant oak tree, clipping branches my dad would prune, and picking oranges and Meyer lemons nervously bending the boughs. The abundance of Meyer lemons made great Christmas gifts to teachers and neighbors. It wasn’t until four years ago at Sanyuanli market, I stumbled upon sweet lemons much like my parents’ lemons, that I learned Meyer lemons are native to China! Later, our backyard would include tangerines, kumquats, and grapefruits.
With these memories availed to me by way of the actual ingredients existing here in Beijing, I thought they all should meet. Combining these flavors packs the power of feeling all these memories at once. It is not for the weak of heart. The flavors alone are not for everyone. Many people don’t enjoy smokey, peaty, bittersweet, or the cold of winter. If these aren’t characteristics to shy from, baring little trepidation, this infusion may be tried at home.
- 500 milliliters Laphroaig
- 10 grams Lapsang Souchong tea leaves
- 3 grams mandarin peel, slivered
How to stir them up
Combine all memories into a clean glass jar or bottle. Let steep for at least four days.
A track that helped influence this post while I sipped this infusion: ‘Old Pine’ by Ben Howard