A to Z Challenge, About ZR

Zenobia – What’s in a name?

So for the last post of the A to Z challenge (which I am determined to finish, even though it’s now May) I figured I might as well make use of my own name!

Growing up, I struggled a lot with my identity. Many young people do. I was born in India and came to New Zealand when I was less than six months old. My parents are both Anglo-Indian, which means they’re a mix of English, Indian, and a couple of other bits. They were brought up in India, but with the influence of British culture.

For me, this meant that I didn’t quite fit into an easy cultural box – I wasn’t quite an Indian (my dad’s specialties in the kitchen are roast potatoes and Irish stew), I wasn’t quite a kiwi, and even though my heritage gives me more English blood than anything else, I’m certainly not culturally English.

So for me, I needed something that was already mine, and was completely mine. This is is where my name comes in. It’s a Greek name meaning ‘daughter of Zeus’ or ‘sent by God’. It was also the name of Queen Zenobia of Palmyra. I wasn’t by any stretch of the imagination a goddess or a queen, but my name gave me something to hold on to that made me feel worthy, important and strong.

Interestingly, not many people actually call me Zenobia anymore! In my late teens, I was given and later adopted the easier name of ‘Zee’ and it stuck. It’s easy to say and easy to remember. More importantly, I began to feel better within myself and didn’t need to hold on to my name to give me that sense of identity and self-worth it could provide.

I don’t think my parents realised any of that when they named me, though. When I questioned their choice of name they said ‘We just liked it’.

There’s a lot in a name.

A to Z Challenge, About ZR

Tea!

While most writers’ preferred beverage is coffee, I prefer a different caffeinated drink: tea (although there are some days when coffee is necessary – this morning, for instance).

This is from a post originally published on my writers blog, which still exists but I don’t add to anymore – enjoy!

Black Tea

Honestly, nothing really beats a good cup of black tea (though Joy might argue with Turkish Delight Hot Choc!). The standard here is Ceylon or English Breakfast (my favourite brands are Dilmah and Twinings, and there’s a NZ brand Chanui who do beautiful blends), which is usually seeped for a couple of minutes, then had milk added, and perhaps a spoon of brown sugar. Irish Breakfast is a stronger variant of this, andEnglish Afternoon is a lighter  version. The next most common tea is Earl Grey, which people either love or hate, and British tradition tells us should be had black with a dash of lemon. It has the bergamot herb in it, which gives it a highly delicate flavour, a bit like lavendar. My new favourite, especially in the morning, is Assam Bold tea, preferring Twinings’ blend. For a black tea with a crisper feel, try Ceylon Orange Pekoe (it’s not an orange flavour, but an indication of the high tea grade).

Green Tea

I have to admit I’m not a huge fan of green tea, as it has an almost bitter tinge (make sure you don’t burn it by leaving the water to cool slightly after boiling) though I do like to have a little cup of it with dinner sometimes, especially as it’s good for the digestive system. When I do drink green tea, I use Chanui’s Organic Green, or Dilmah’s Jasmine Green. One I’d like to try is Twinings Lemon Green, as I think the lemon flavour might take a bit of the bitterness out of the green.

Fruit Tea

There are so many fantastic blends of fruit tea available, and they’re great in summer iced – just soak a couple bags of tea in a quarter cup of hot water, then pour over a tall glass of ice. Delish! For starters, I’d suggest a blackcurrant-based infusion, as it has a slightly sweet flavour and a smooth texture, like Blackcurrant & Apple. For slightly sweet bit of an edge, try Cranberry & Pomegranate blends. Twinings used to this amazing blend of Pink Grapefruit, Lime & Mandarin, so if anyone knows of a similar blend – let me know! It had a crisp texture, a refreshing sweet-and-sour flavour, and an uplifting after taste.

Rooibos Tea

‘Rooibos’ is Afrikaans for ‘Red Bush‘, as when the leaves are oxidised (or fermented, using technical tea terms) they turn a reddish-brown colour.  Rooibos is mostly grown in South Africa, indigenous to the Cedarberg region, north-west of Cape Town, and – this is the important bit – it’s naturally caffeine-free. This means that you can enjoy a yummy black tea without having any extra caffeine – perfect for an evening cuppa. I’ve never had a bad cup of Rooibos, so I’d suggest that any brand is good, although I tend to buy Red Seal.

Kiwi Blends

Twinings have come out with two ’New Zealand blends’ on black tea classics. The New Zealand Breakfast has a super-smooth texture, almost malty, with a smoky after-taste. Somehow, it reminds me of camping – I LOVE it! The New Zealand Earl Grey has the traditional bergamot, but also has orange blossom, which appeals to a larger range of tea-drinkers with a sweet after taste.

Masala Chai (Indian Spiced Tea)

‘Masala’ is the Hindi word for ‘spice’, and ‘chai’ is the Hindi word for ‘tea’ – so masala chai quite literally means ‘spiced tea’. Now, I’m not talking about the Chai Lattes, made from a masala chai-inspired syrup, but the real deal. Basically, it’s a black tea (my preference is Assam) with spices in it. My favourite combination is star anise and cinnamon, with a hint of honey. Other spices I add on occasion are peppercorn (1 or 2 per cup), ginger (a wee slice), nutmeg, and cardamom. It is best brewed altogether on a stove-top from cold water – the flavours are infused beautifully this way.

Special Mention: Pirate Tea!

I had to put this in here – because Pirates, and tea, what more could one want? This was a Christmas pressie from friend & blogger Cat Brown, and is super awesome. You can see it in the photo above, and you can buy it here. It’s a mix of Gunpowder Green & Seaweed, in a tin – and even comes with a pirate map, and pirate ‘rules’. On a side note, Pirate Captain Bartholomew Roberts was known for his tea-drinking habits, due to his dislike of drunkenness at sea. Who woulda thunk it?

So what new tea will you try from this list? And what tea blends would you add? (I might already have a grand collection, but I love trying new ones – I’m looking forward to your suggestions).