Sept. 21 is World Peace Day (or International Day of Peace), a holiday observed by all United Nations member states honoring the absence of war and violence. Too bad (a) we're still at war and that (b) every day isn't World Peace Day.
Here's a song expressing something of that sentiment, a goofy but poignant protest song of sorts by an old Israeli band called, of course, Teapacks:
(Why the name Teapacks? Singer Kobi Oz explained in a Q&A: "We were originally called Tippex, as in wipeout fluid, because we are trying to wipe out differences between people. We are combining together different kinds of Israel, like Arab Jew Israel with East European kind of Israel. But we found out there are students that are sniffing this fluid and it caused brain damage so we changed our name to Teapacks. We didn't want to take responsibility for this." We're left to assume that snorting tea is a better option. I won't argue.)
Within the last few years, farmers in Kenya have wagered on a new varietal of tea — purple tea — with allegedly greater medicinal value and useful seed oil. The tasting notes are beginning to come in, and here's a TV news feature summing up the whole thing:
San Diego's Old Town neighborhood is a touristy bastion, crammed with Mexican restaurants and trinket shops hawking ponchos and sombreros. It's the least likely place on the coast, perhaps, to find good tea. Yet that's exactly why I went.
I'd run out of Barry's, you see. Hadn't had any since we moved. Despite being a center of gravity for local Hispanic culture, smack in the middle of the neighborhood is the Irish Import Shop. (Tea lore lovers might enjoy that the shop is even located on Harney Street.) I dashed in, spotted the goods in the back — shelves of Heinz beans and bottles of Goodall's of Dublin, past the "Kiss Me, I'm Irish" T-shirts and racks of shamrock pendants and pennants — and grabbed boxes of Gold Blend. As I approached the counter, clutching the boxes to my breast and with surely a look of relief on my face, the proprietor looked at me and said, "Oh, you were on a mission, weren't you?"
I'd always enjoyed Barry's — Ireland's stout standard, "a real broth of a brew" — in bags, because that's all I've found in the off-isle aisles. This shop had some loose leaf, also in the Gold Blend, a dark grainy Assam stuff that's turned out to be splendid if a bit easy to over-brew. Mornings (and my oatmeal) are back to normal.
Some tall ships were in San Diego over the Labor Day holiday, in addition to the handsome handful regularly moored on the Embarcadero. We toured several of the boats, many of which had some interesting tea artifacts on board. I snapped a bunch of photos ...
^^^ Aboard the HMS Surprise — a replica of an 18th-century British warship (and the boat used in the fine film "Master and Commander") — this display shows food and drink spread on a floating table, one suspended from ropes in order for it to remain relatively level. In the foreground is a tea pot with a single wooden handle, and I was intrigued by the rough canvas cozy wrapping it up.
^^^ The Star of India was built in 1863, about to celebrate 150 years afloat, and has a storied history hauling workers, immigrants and cargo around the world. It's permanently moored in San Diego, and its on-board cabins are full of requisite tea set displays like those above, each of which I wanted to snatch. Though it once transported a lot of salmon from Alaska canneries, any tea it might have carried during its early runs through the southern Pacific hardly qualified it as a clipper. Still, a prop tea crate is displayed in the hold.
^^^ Also surfaced along the Embarcadero is the B-39, a Soviet submarine built in the ’60s. It's a claustrophobe's nightmare — a long stuffy tube crammed with pipes, valves and all manner of things to knock your noggin against. Between the torpedoes and radio equipment rooms is a closet galley where I at least spied this tea kettle. At least the officers and crew could sip a cup of stout Russian Caravan with their washtub full of stew.