Brewing Tea the Convoluted Way

Don’t let the title of this mislead you. Don’t think, even for a second, that I’m some kind of tea connoisseur. In fact, though I get paid to be a writer in my day gig, I can barely spell “connoisseur”, since I nearly always have trouble spelling anything with a Frankish root word. Despite my fondness for French films, it seems extremely unlikely that I was French in any former lifetime.

If you want more esoteric or exotic information about tea, you’ll be well served to navigate to the Online Photographer, then look up Ctein’s posts about tea, such as the one titled “OT: The Art of Tea (For Two) Pu Erhs“.

After a reasonable volume of rain yesterday and last night, the sky cleared slightly this morning then moved toward partly cloudy, with sunlight streaming through the clear spaces between well-defined clouds, and alternate patches of bright sunlight and shade. Early in the afternoon I checked the limited horizons in my neighborhood and thought that I should go somewhere nearby with a good long view to photograph.

Back in the house, I began to check the cameras. I needed to load film into the Nikon N90s and format the SD card on the Lumix G1, so there wasn’t much prep work to be done. As I thought about packing the motorcycle’s saddlebags, the phone rang.

My wife Lisa said that where she was (driving back from Long Beach after dropping off family members at a cruise ship), the sky looked good. That I should get up to a higher elevation with a camera. I agreed.

It was also a good time to “test” the new backpack I’d bought in the morning. After using a small $14 pack to carry the cameras for nearly seven years, the interior had begun to shed small blue particles which I had to constantly clean off the cameras.

I’m a bit frugal. Perhaps it is my Scottish bloodline, but I don’t like the idea of paying a 500% upcharge for a pack simply because it is called a “photographer’s” backpack.

I went out and found a $20 pack designed for carrying a laptop computer. The largest compartment is padded so I figured it would be good for the Nikon SLR or DSLR. There are several other handy compartments which will hold the smaller G1 (isolated from the larger camera by padding) and many other items. There are two exterior mesh pockets and straps above each, which will work well to secure my Manfrotto tripod and thermos or water bottle. The pack doesn’t leave much to be desired. In fact, I can’t think of any feature that is missing for my purpose.

I loaded the pack up with the SLR, an extra roll of film, the G1, filters, and other odds and ends. There was no small water bottle to take with me, so I filled the thermos with hot water, threw in a bag of black tea, then secured it in one of the mesh pocket/strap combinations on the side of the pack.

The quickest way to get some elevation was to hike up the side of Mount Rubidoux, so I rode the bike to the parking area, then ascended the shoulder of the ridge by cutting between arms of the long, winding asphalt trail, climbing straight up the side.

The view was certainly worth the minimal trouble in spite of the cold wind that was building strength. I spent about an hour on the mountain shooting.

On top of the southern end of the mountain, I sat for twenty minutes watching the clouds scudding quickly above the landscape. Newly arriving clouds became progressively darker, so I walked back down to the motorcycle. As I stowed the pack in the saddlebag, I felt a drop of rain on my face, then noticed droplets beginning to land on the seat and fuel tank. My timing couldn’t have been much better.

Though I had hauled the SLR up the mountain, I never took it out and shot any film. I hadn’t touched the thermos, either. But the black tea was brewed just right when I got home…