“Here . . . physically.”
Each fall I try to learn between 130 and 150 new names as quickly as possible. The average teenager is seeking his or her identity in a dozen ways, from companions to clothing, but is hurt when the English teacher doesn’t know who he or she is. The hated seating chart is the answer to that short-term dilemma, but lately I’ve reflected upon the trends in names given to children – and to teas.
Names can be categorized. The roll call given above represents children named after fallen cities, biblical bigwigs, and precious stones. There are also animal adjectives (Sabre, Brittany), vegetables and spices (Heather, Sage), and minerals (Rocky, Jade). Some kids have whimsical names: Pete Moss, Dusty Rhoades, Stormy Wethers. Some cultures are at ease naming children after the Messiah: Mohammed and Jesus; others are not. There are kids named after flowers (Lily, Jasmine), seasons (Autumn, Summer), weather (Rainy, Sunny), and trades (Cooper, Hunter, Miller). In the past two and a half decades, there’s been a trend toward surnames being used as first names, leading to a plethora of Peytons, Madisons, Jacksons, Fletchers, Marlowes, and Baileys. Interesting, just one cardinal direction, North, has been stuck on a kid forevermore. The popularity of some names – Emma, Jacob, Ryan, and Abby – makes those as ubiquitous as Linda, Kathy, Robert, and Michael were in my childhood.
The power of literature is evidenced by the fact that NO ONE names their kid Iago, Judas, Ahab, Benedict, or Cain.
And what about tea? What do the following names say about the tea: Jasmine Daughter’s Earrings, Angel Tears, Sparrow’s Tongue, Phoenix Bird Select, Ti Kuan Yin, Hairy Crab, Yunnan Gold, and Golden Lion’s Paw? That’s just what’s in the cabinet at the present. In the cooler pantry, there is Dream Chai, Calming Chai, Harmutty, Giddapajar Muscatel, and a gorgeous cake of pu’erh I have no idea what to do with. (From the flowers and writing on the front, I am guessing the name is something like “Water lilies at sunrise on mountain lake.”) I love the variety and imagery, but I’m not sure that the names help me in my knowledge of tea. Unlike wine, where merlot is a category separate from cabernet, which is separate from pinot noir . . . tea names keep me forever guessing, and tasting. Perhaps that’s yet another beauty of tea drinking. On the other hand, if a tea has “muscatel” in its name, buyers have an expectation and anticipation when they buy, correct?
Tell me, readers, what’s in a tea name? What do you know when you see a moniker on a tea tin?