On the Scented Sea of Desire
March 19, 2011 § 15 Comments
Today we’re going sailing, on the Scented Sea… of Desire.
I know what it sounds like. It sounds just like… well, being a proper young lady I won’t say.
It’s actually a tea.
To quote the supplier:
“Exotic candied fruits, mango, papaya, pineapple and scented flowers have the desired effect!”
(I wonder what the desired effect could be?)
It comes from this beautiful shop on Steep Hill, Lincoln, Merry Old England:
And in this shop is a HOST of glorious teas, and they are not glorious merely for their delicious fragrances and their delectable flavours. They are glorious for their NAMES.
When else do you get to go shopping for Friar’s Potion, White Rabbit, Super Jasmine Dragon Phoenix Pearls or Monkey on Top of the Mountain?
How about Russian Caravan and Keemun Black Tiger?
Gunpowder Special Temple of Heaven?
Yellow Mountain Golden Spears and April Snow?
Secret Garden, White Crystal, Fuchow Snow Buds, Golden Needles, Goddess of Mercy, Love Dedication, Roselle and Lavender… it goes on.
I don’t know about you, but I am completely sold on every single one of those and I don’t even know what most of them look, taste or smell like. I’m just dreaming about the day when I get to stock my kitchen with jar after polished jar labelled up with ‘Flowers in the Sun’, ‘Captain Tea’s Well-Being’, ‘Water Sprite’ and ‘Eight Immortals’.
I’ll put them right next to the jars labelled ‘Eye of Newt’, ‘Frogs’ Legs’ and ‘Wing of Bat’.
Would I feel that way about them if they didn’t have such glorious, outrageous names? Maybe not. Call it ‘green tea’ and it becomes a bit drab. Even ‘jasmine green tea’, which I love, lacks a certain something in comparison with ‘Jasmine Snow Monkey’.
Names, then, are important! Names inspire, and catch at the imagination. Wouldn’t you have more belief in the awesome power of ‘Theodorus the Hero’ than ‘Bob the Impressive Guy?’ I’m telling you, the enduring supremacy of Lancelot is about more than a white horse, shining armour, a chivalrous manner and achingly good looks. It’s because he has a cooler name than Arthur.
Those of us who write fantasy are lucky. We get to make up names to suit the characteristics of the characters. Fantasy names can be musical, thundering, soothing, resounding, fearsome… it’s so much fun to make them up, and so hard to get them just right for the character, that I spend more time on this than I should.
Even if you’re not writing fantasy, there’s scope to be more imaginative with names. Not everyone has to be called Joe, or Deb, or Bob. Try Gwendolyn, Zachary or Sebastian. Even the abbreviations sound cool. (Just don’t mix up the two approaches and have a book set in the modern world where everyone is called ‘Thorn’ or ‘Rowan’ or ‘Misty’. That’s really bizarre to read).
By the way, the website for the above-named tea supplier can be found here. It’s an amazing shop, not the least so for actually being family-run and casually situated in an ancient and decidedly picturesque 12th century building. As far as I know they will post tea (and coffee!) just about anywhere.
Anyway, I’ve made a resolution. Next time I wake up feeling like I cannot be bothered with Life, the World or Anything, I will begin my day with a cup of Scented Sea of Desire. Who knows what could happen?