Mystery Tea

Blue sky on January 28, 2023

The sky could not be more blue than it is today. Spring is in the air. More than five weeks since the winter solstice, the sun is as strong as it is in mid November.

We had freezing temperatures this morning for the first time in quite a while.

Light frost
Needle ice

A light frost touched the grass and leaves. Needle ice pushed icy waves out of the ground. If I had the patience, I’d spend a night out and film needle ice forming.

Garlic shoots

The garlic is popping out of the ground. These shoots poked through the leaves covering the garlic bed. Just how thick a matter could they pierce? This is a great time of year. You can see winter fading and spring arriving. It’s a time of great expectations.

But I never expected to learn what I saw on Japanese TV a few days ago. Even the announcers were surprised to learn about a new, mysterious tea. Takeshi Maruoka, a doctoral student at Kyoto University, studies Chemical Ecology. During his studies he became fascinated with insects. And discovered that the droppings of caterpillars which ate cherry blossom leaves smelled like cherries.

So he made a tea from those caterpillar droppings and was amazed at how delicious it was. Since then, he’s made tea from the droppings of many kinds of caterpillars eating many kinds of plants.

Mr. Maruoka formed a company called Chu-Hi-Cha, which translates to Bug-Mystery-Tea 虫秘茶. He plans on commercializing this mysterious tea and bringing it to market this summer.

According to the clip I saw, tea from the caterpillars which eat chestnut leaves and from caterpillars eating cherry blossom leaves are his favorite.

Someone recorded that clip and here it is. It is in Japanese but you can get an idea of what these caterpillar droppings look like and how to make tea from them.

So is this safe? Caterpillars are doing pretty much the same process that makers of black and Chinese tea use. The caterpillars chew the leaves, ferment the leaves in their bodies, and pop it out as little pellets. They are miniature tea making factories.

Mr. Maruoka had these pellets analyzed for safety, and they have no harmful bacteria. There is no danger of getting food poisoning by drinking tea from the caterpillar droppings.

With tens of thousands of plants eaten by tens of thousands of varieties of caterpillars, the variety of teas that can be made by caterpillars is endless.

But this isn’t new. People have been making tea from caterpillar droppings since the late 1700s in China. In Chéngbù in Hunan, a tea farmer stored tea leaves in a hut. But rain leaked into the hut and moths ate all the leaves, leaving behind just their droppings.

While cleaning up the hut, some to the droppings fell into water and the farmer noticed that the water turned reddish like tea and he saw bits of tea leaves in the water. So he took some of the droppings, added hot water to them, and learned that you could make delicious tea from them.

And if you are curious, search for bug poop tea. It’s a thing.

Heol Maes Yr Haf

Heol Maes Yr Haf in Pencoed, Wales.

I see an address that starts with Heol Maes Yr Haf, and I can’t just let it go. What does it look like at Heol Maes Yr Haf? What kind of people live there? More interesting folk than us Bozos who live in Bow?

Fortunately, the internet makes it easy to go down such rabbit holes. So this is what it looks like on Heol Maes Yr Haf. A pleasant sort of place. And it translates to Summer Field Road.

  • Heol = road,
  • Maes = field
  • Yr = the/of
  • Haf = sun

And it is in Pencoed, Wales, which translates to Head Tree. Summer Field Road in Head Tree. Who wouldn’t want to live there?

So now I know and I can go on to doing other things, like celebrating the end of winter! Well, it feels like winter is over.

Daffodil shoots Jan 14

Daffodil shoots are up. As much as I take this as a sign that spring is here and our winter is over, last year the daffodils came out of the ground January 9 while there was still snow. And in late February, on the 21st, heavy snow fell, and a cold spell as brutal as any in Winterfell nearly wiped civilization off the face of Bow.

Witch hazel bloom Jan 14

Here is hoping we don’t suffer a similar fate this year. It is so sunny and warm today with the spicy scent of Witch Hazel to enjoy, that it is easy to believe winter has said good bye.

Morning Lights

Brilliantly colored clouds at dawn

One of these days I will venture to the arctic in winter time to see the Northern Lights, but the Morning Lights in Bow took my breath away the second of January. I stepped outside and the clouds to the southeast glowed spectacularly.

Orange and red clouds at down

The clouds aren’t the blue and green of Northern Lights. Still the flaming orange of these clouds left me speechless.

Morning lights color the dawn clouds in shades of orange to pink.

The pink fringes of the clouds, can I call that hue Dawn Pink or Crimson Dawn? Or is it the color of morning fairies?

The spectacle lasted but a short time. Fifteen minutes at most. The sun rose. The colorful clouds faded to winter shades of slate and gray.

Swans in a field

And what of the swans. What did they think of the morning lights? They are outdoors all the time and mornings when I sleep in and miss the morning lights, they must see them whenever they appear.


Chuckanut Drive

How many get to drive a windy road along a rocky cliff with stunning views on their way home from dentist? That I do is something I am grateful for.

View above Samish Bay.

Gray skies turned the bay a sheet of slate the day I drove home from the dentist. Still Samish Bay is worth stopping to enjoy the view. No matter when I travel this windy road, ships moor out in the bay, waiting to move. But who is on them? And are they grateful to be sitting calmly in Samish Bay and not tossing about in the North Pacific?

Samish Bay

Another grateful moment, or should I say amusing moment, is discovering that Mormons believe God is dead. And I have proof. You often stumble onto startling revelations like this looking for totally other things, like Emmental cheese. A friend mentioned something about Emmental cheese which got me thinking about my Swiss ancestors on my mother’s side.

Which led me to the website, run by the Mormons. I did find many ancestors in Switzerland going back many generations, many in the Emmental region. Which led me to look into the ancestry of my husband’s mother, something that we didn’t know much about.

And while tracing lines of her ancestry into England, Netherlands, Germany, France, and up ancient lines of Scandinavian kings, I discovered that God is deceased. And here is the proof. It says so right on the record GJTK-QST for God on the Mormon run website:

My lineage came to dead ends in Switzerland and Germany mostly in the 1500s with one line going all the way back to 1060. But my husband’s lineage through his mother’s side, reached back many centuries, through various English and French kings, to unlikely sources such as Teispes 1st Persian King born in 705BC, Sceldwea Sceaf Longobard Koning der Asgaren born in Scani in 20BC, and along the way through Odin Woden Woutan The God of War, Death, Wisdom and Poetry in Norse Mythology! How is that even in a genealogical record?

I found several ancestors of his who were beheaded, and one, John of Gaunt, who was a close friend of Geoffrey Chaucer.

It’s all very amusing to read. And another thing to be grateful for.