Hello everyone. First off, we at Hoogly would like to extend our best wishes to everyone during this challenging period; we hope you are all doing as well as possible under the circumstances. It can seem trivial to talk about tea during such a turbulent time—and yet, throughout history, people have turned to simple pleasures when things are tough, finding comfort in the familiar and the reliable. Flipping on the kettle is a symbol of crisis management; a beacon that draws us together; a plastic click that says sit down and tell me about it and I’m here for you. So, we say: fill the kettle, flip the switch, and make your favourite cuppa. It won’t change the world, but it might bring a small moment or two of calm, solace and tranquillity.
The main topic of this blog was going to be about the great outdoors and the treasures one can find there. But at a time when less and less of us are venturing outside, this topic, at first, seemed a touch counterintuitive. However, the more I thought about it, the more I figured that the wonderful things I’d seen and learned about didn’t get less wonderful just because I wasn’t going to visit them for a while. In fact, thinking about them took my mind off current events, and put a smile on my face. So, in the end, I decided that I would write about them—and hopefully you’ll find something here that will put a smile on your face too.
The first thing I discovered was something extremely contemporary in terms of nature: a phenomenon known colloquially as ‘witches knickers.’ This is where a shred of stray plastic bag gets caught high up in the branches and twigs of trees, bringing to mind, to those who named it, images of old hags flying around on their broomsticks (presumably without much clothing) and swooping low enough to snag their undergarments in a most unfortunate way. Although this is also a reminder of the excesses of human production, it always gives me a chuckle when I see it.
The second thing I learned about was a spheroblast or burr. This is something I’d seen many times without being able to put a name to it: an anomaly in trees causing various sizes of growths to bulge out from the trunk, sometimes as big as footballs. Burr—as in burr walnut—is often used by luxury car manufacturers and makers of pipes, and the fractal grain of these growths appeal greatly to wood carvers. I like to think of it as trees puffing out their chest with pride—or perhaps with hostility—seeing as Spheroblast sounds like something the X-Men might do battle with!
The final part of the natural world that I discovered was the word Dumbledore. Steady on, Potter fans, it’s not what you think! This is actually another name for the bumblebee! In Britain, our gold and black friend has, in fact, gone by many names: ‘foggy bumbler,’ ‘drumbledrane’ and until fairly recently, the ‘humble-bee.’ Beatrix Potter chose ‘bumble’ instead of ‘humble’ in Tale of Mrs Tiittlemouse (1910)—and by the middle of that decade, Beatrix’s choice had become the norm! Our other literary Potter, of course, has a headmaster with the name Dumbledore, but the character is out of sync with the original West Country meaning: a person who is lethargic, slow, and a little dim.
Fun fact: the bee’s buzz doesn’t come from its wings! It’s actually the sound of the bee’s muscles firing up before take-off, much like a plane or helicopter! Take a peek and have a listen next time you spot a bee on a flower!
And to celebrate the natural world, why not try one of our latest creations…Apricot Blossom green tea?! This uniquely elegant brew is a combination of the downy leaves of Chinese Pai Mu Dan white tea and refreshingly crisp green tea, underscored by the ripe, sunny flavours of soft stone fruit. It’s the perfect accompaniment to an afternoon tea, or can be enjoyed on its own as a tasty treat that will help you relax and unwind.
That’s it until next time, Hoogly fans. Take good care of yourselves, do Hygge, and keep filling your kettle!
Written by Chris Bedford