GOOD NEWS! We’ve weeded through all of the terrific entries and we’ve chosen our top favourites. I’d like to congratulate our winners and thank all of the entrants for sharing their creativity with us. And now, what you’ve all been waiting for… the winners are… drumroll please…
Andrew Woolner and Heidi McDonald!!!!!!
We will ship Andrew & Heidi teas from across the globe. We hope it brings you enjoyment for the rest of the year curled up in front of the Empress Tea blog. Cheers!
Runner-up in the image category, Candice Keung
Tea Stained Zombie Teeth and a Penchant for Memories
by Andrew Woolner
I have a complicated relationship with
But that’s not what this story is about.
This story is about my zombie teeth. Yeah. So. The year is 2010.
The year is 1994. I am sitting drinking tea with Karla. Her kitchen smells of old Toronto: a sharp mix of stale animal urine and dust. I have just told her that I love her, and she has laughed at me.
I will see her twice more, before she disappears from my life forever.
Back to Yokohama, 2010. I’m off CocaCola for the time being. Director’s orders. I’m rehearsing in the mornings and doing my office work from home in the afternoons. I make a huge thermos pot of tea every day and drink it while I work. It makes me jittery.
Holy shit, but Andie gives me the jitters. 1999, this time. I’m looking at my first bubble tea at some Chinese restaurant in Richmond Hill. Okay, I’m not. I’m looking at Andie: the one that got away (I don’t know it yet). I still think of her whenever I drink bubble tea. You can’t get decent bubble tea in Japan.
I do this for about three months. Then one morning, I go downstairs and look at myself in the mirror. I look pretty good. I can see my ribs a little. The whole more exercise / less ice cream regimen is working out well.
Green tea ice cream: I eat it as Karen and I walk along Bloor Street. 2002. We were a near miss, which is probably why we’re still friends. I point out the building that used to be a Kashmiri restaurant where I ate my first Indian food and drank chai with Sarah. Sarah once said to me that I was too negative. Karen laughs as I complain about a roommate. I really don’t call her enough anymore.
I open my mouth and literally jump back. My teeth have brown lines on them. Like the walking dead. My front teeth are particularly bad. One on the bottom is a little bit crooked and the extra shadow there gives it a charcoal hue. I know a harddrinking Englishman who has better teeth than this. I scratch with my fingernail, but the stain won’t come off.
I scratch a piece of food off the edge of the mug. The smell of peppermint is strong. It’s the only kind of tea that my friend Al drinks. We meet once a week to play guitar and drink tea. He lives in a crumbling old tenement in the beaches, and I live near High Park, meaning that my back teeth are usually floating by the time I get home from his place, just a little past one in the morning. Tonight we’re recording a song about Yokohama that I’m going to send to Kumiko. I’m flying to Japan in a week or so to see her for the first time since September. I’ve got this strange idea in my head that this is the girl I’m going to marry. Does Al think I’m crazy?
He just smiles and drinks his peppermint tea.
Anticlimax: I get a dentist to look at my teeth. She tells me they are tea-stained. She does a cleaning for me. I no longer look like I’m going to eat someone’s brain.
I go home to my wife. I drink a little less tea.
That’s what this story is about.
Tea Cups Full of Family
by Heidi McDonald
Heidi’s grandparents dancing
My grandparents taught me about tea. They were second and third generation Canadian, and the generations before them were all British. When I was little I drank from a cup that had a ceramic duck molded into the bottom of it. It was revealed as the tea was consumed and even though I knew it was a duck, we pretended it was a surprise every time.
They always had their tea with milk, and it was a joke that the milk always had to go in first or the tea tasted wrong. We used to doctor Grampa’s tea in the other room to see if he noticed that the milk had been put in last.
When I was in university the kettle went on as soon as I walked through my Grandparent’s door. I poured my heart out to them so many times, always over a cup of tea.
The only time I have ever deprived myself of tea was when I was pregnant. My now 5 year old daughter enjoys tea in the little duck cup that I used to drink from. And she pretends it’s a surprise every time. Even though both of my grandparents have passed, I still have a tea ritual with someone just as important to me. And I’m sure my daughter will have wonderful memories of tea with me as she grows.
I drink all kinds of tea, but my favourite tea is black tea with rose petals. I drink it when I’m tired, when I’m stressed, when I have a ton of work to do, when I’m sitting at home in the evenings, and with friends and family. And of course, I always have a hot cup in hand when I sit down to read Empress Tea blogs!
First Tea Cup
These are my favourite pictures of my grandparents, taken by my sister for a school project. They are both dancing. And these are pictures of my sweet girl with the very first tea cup she was ever given, plus some other fun tea pics.
Enjoy! Hopefully with a cuppa in your hand!
Runners-up with honourable mention:
Candice Keung, Tea of Chrysanthemum
Joy Grassmick, The Smackdown
Tony Keyes, Bart and the Can of Tea