The Search for a Universal Beverageme is Futility—Ferdinand de Ramotswe SpecGram Vol CLXXIII, No 2 Contents Get Back to Work!—A Rebuttal from the Editor-in-Chief

Which Tea You Should Be Drinking
A Guide by Linguistic Subdiscipline

Hitosarai Yōkai Ūron
Senior Research Fellow
Capsule Corporation, West City

The drinking of tea is and always has been an important part of academic linguistics, and the slow but steady decline of armchairs in the global research communityi means this situation will only get worse. It is also now becoming apparent that the new generation of future researchers in our field often struggle immensely with knowing what they are meant to be doing and what signals they send to their established colleagues through simple choices such as the statistical model they use or the variety of tea they drink. While it is rather difficult to help with most of these things (because sometimes there just doesn’t seem to be a good answer unless we were all to actually invest some time in training ourselves to be proper scientists, ha!), there is no reason why your choice of beverage should impact negatively on you, and possibly even cloud your mind and affect your research outcomes.ii To help you in assessing your own current situation and make future beverage-related choices that will further rather than hinder career prospects in your chosen sub-discipline, I have gone to great pains in collecting over the course of several years all the information I could on who in our departments drinks what and why, summarised concisely for your help and guidance below.

Undergraduate Linguistics Majors should exclusively drink Breakfast Tea. Preferably the bagged variety rather than loose-leaf. This will help you avoid getting drawn into the sometimes very divisive tea wars early on, so you can focus on gaining a broad foundation instead. Experiment with regards to the effects of varying amounts of milk, sugar and steeping time.

Graduate Students in Linguistics should try to be diverse in their choices and get used to a multitude of different teas; try every variety of tea you can get your hands on. This is partially because drinking other people’s tea will save you a lot of money and partially to make yourself more employable. Bad enough that your PhD thesis will have a slim chance of landing you a job on its own merits. You don’t want to lose out on a perfectly good job just because you can’t handle a department’s tea, do you?

Minimalist Syntacticians should drink Assam and only Assam. You want to avoid contaminating your mind with anything but the purest and simplest in taste. This is the one for you. No sugar or milk unless you work on one of the interfaces, but if you venture this way be sure to always give the Assam’s persuasive taste centre stage.

Philologists and Comparative Linguists will prefer Darjeeling. Your goal is to build a systematic collection of various sub-varieties at all recognised stages of oxidisation: white, green, oolong and black. You get a deep sense of satisfaction from studying the subtle variations in taste and how they develop during the oxidisation process. In addition to this, the musky aftertaste transports your palatal memory back to the times of the Empire, where you fantasise about endless quests in the search for the lost links, returning invariably as the celebrated prince of philologia.

Morphologists will love Genmaicha. This is a combination of traditional Japanese green tea with roasted brown rice; ideal for someone who is invariably dealing with a lot of interface issues and likes to have the best of both worlds. If this is not enough, and especially if traditional Genmaicha is not intense enough for you,iii you may find yourself interested in Matchairi genmaichaGenmaicha enhanced with additional powdered green tea (Matcha).

Historical Linguists will pretty much stick with Chinese green tea. Your personal challenge consists in making sure that you obtain the least adulterated product, only made from the least modified forms of the tea plant, Camellia sinensis. What is important for you is to know where your tea comes from originally. You want to know the heritage of the very plant the leaves in your tea were picked from. Of course you don’t buy loose-leaf or bagged tea. You go to great trouble to procure traditional handmade brick tea, which you grind with a stone mortar and then infuse in historically accurate earthenware.

Pragmaticians find their fulfilment in Scented Tea. Floral fragrance and layers of aroma are what you’re after. You revile the way amortisation can completely change the inherent characteristics of a certain variety of tea. You may also like the combination of Ceylon tea with a fresh slice of any kind of citrus fruit.

Cognitive Linguists don’t care much. For all we know, you might as well drink Sweet Southern-style Iced Tea, yuck. You don’t care about history or purity, and you believe firmly that tea is basically an epiphenomenon, recycling the ingredients already present in most modern beverageshence your frequent appealing to commercially produced Iced Tea; people still sort-of agree it is tea, in some way or other, but you have an easy time pointing out how it is mostly just the same as cola.

Discourse and Conversation Analysts take tea only in the form of an elaborate tea ceremony. Chinese, Japanese, Korean or Vietnamese, you don’t mind. What’s important for you is the process and the interaction. You get impatient during set-up and then find your mind elevated when the cup is passed around. It’s time-consuming, but you’re pretty certain it’s all worth it and the only way to truly understand tea.

Phonologists should try out Nuwara Eliya. Light but fragrant, this is a straightforward variety with floral to fruity flavours that form clear patterns in the oral cavity. Picked on the foothills of the Pidurutalagala mountain in Sri Lanka, this tea is just as exclusive and unique as most of the languages you use to justify your ideas about underlying phonological structure.

Field Linguists are in good company with the more exotic Roasted Grain teas. As the name suggests, these are brews made from roasted grains such as rice, barley, spelt, corn, wheat, and so forthmeaning your work can be carried out largely independent of a ready supply of real tea. You can start out with the relatively common and uncontroversial barley based Boricha or Mugicha, then advance to the more exclusive rice based Hyeonmicha. With a little experience you will soon master this discipline and may well be the first person in your particular corner of The Vast Nowhere to make a delicious cuppa from Quinoa, Sorghum, Amaranth or Khorasan!

Etymologists will probably take a liking to Yā Shĭ Xiāng Dān Cōng Wūlóng Chá fairly quickly. Grown in the legendary Phoenix Mountains in Guangdong Province, tracking down the true meaning and origins of this tea’s name will not only be a delight to you, but you will soon find yourself exploiting every opportunity to relate all you have found out to every single one of your colleagues.

Functionalist Grammarians are usually well-served by Rooibosalso known as Red Tea. While this is actually a legume rather than a true tea, it both possesses all the hallmarks of a good brew and is commonly accepted as a variety of tea by society. You especially like the fact that Rooibos demonstrates that caffeine is in no way a necessary pre-requirement to achieving functional tea-hood.

Celticists have only really one choice: Dalreoch Smoked White Tea. Grown in the Scottish highlands this gentle but not subtle white tea comes with aromas from peachy to nutty with just a hint of smoke. People may give you a big “but why?” but you’re more than used to that question, and you will take the opportunity to explain to them what untold beauty and gentleness hides behind both the bold Scottishness of this tea and the ancient sounds and grammars of the Celtic languages.iv

Forensic Linguists will find a perfect match in Gunpowder Tea. Producing strong flavoured green teas that can be aged with little effect on character over time, the forensic phonetician will surely approve of this kind of lossless compression while the text analyst will find pleasure in determining origin and rolling method from size, form and look of the pellets. Those concerned with the cross-section of language and law will especially enjoy the inherent controversy in pitching the mainland-produced Pingshui varieties against the Taiwanese Formosa; are you drinking Chinese gunpowder tea or not?

Phoneticians really want to stick with Earl Grey. You should make sure to tell people that, really, they should always cover their bases by having some Earl Grey lying around whenever you visit somewhere they try to serve you something else. It’s a well-established blend with a pleasant citrusy touch, but it exudes superiority well beyond the level of any other commonly drunk tea in the Anglophone world. The trick is to really know your methodology and so produce solid and consistent results to make a name for yourself. Have a look at the section on brewing technique below.v

Semanticists generally fare well with Jasmine Tea, or Mòlìhuā Chá as the technical term goes. A sweet scented white or green tea based infusion, this tea is highly complex yet generally regarded as one of the most well-refined, purest and most traditional of commixed teas; verily a tea fit for a formidable brain such as yours.

Now that you have a good idea of what variety of tea you should probably be drinking there remains the small but important matter of how one goes about preparing his or her tea in a manner befitting the learned environment of a linguistic department’s kitchenette. I would at this point without hesitation refer you to our brethren in science at the Royal Society of Chemistry, who have in the past unselfishly and illustriously offered their own expertise in the matter. Alas, their excellent, simple and accessible guide is somewhat difficult to procure in our present dayit is not known whence its disappearance, though there exist theories. Given this situation, here is a brief summary of what instructions they impart, though of course my recapitulation cannot do justice to the original:

First, you must source fresh and softly water and bring it to a boil in a kettle. It is pertinent to pay attention to the quantity of water as you do not want to boil more than necessary for the number of cups you intend to fill, for purposes of both conserving nature and time.

Second, and while the fresh and softly water is still a-heating in the kettle, you prepare your ceramican tea pot by placing therein with care about 5 centilitres of water. Leave the watered tea pot in an activated microwave oven for the duration of a single minute. When you hear a loud ping, go about emptying the tea pot and place in it one heaped teaspoonful of tea per cup, selected in accord with the above instructions.

Third, when the fresh and softly water has come to a boil, pour it over the tea in the teapot. Stir and leave to steep for three full minutes. In the meantime, if and only if you do take milk, prepare your favourite mugvi by now placing in it the desired amount of milk, before it has any tea in it.

Lastly, once the tea has steeped for a full three minutes, pour it from the teapot into the mug, applying a strainer at the interface. If and only if you do take sugar, place the desired amount into your teaified mug now and stir one last time. Check the temperature of your tea until you can sip comfortably without burning your tongue, then proceed and enjoy your beverage.

i Something that is having a significant detrimental effect on the ability of each of us to justify work-related consumption of alcoholic beverages before sundown.

ii What in behavioural sciences proper is commonly known as the Choice-of-Beverage-Bias.

iii Perhaps because you break with the traditions of old and subscribe instead to Distributed Morphology or Nanosyntax; or because you do diachronic comparative work on Bantu morpheme-ordering restrictions.

iv Celticists who are stretched for cashand let’s face it, that’s probably the majoritycan also always fall back on the large variety of Cornish-grown teas from the Tregothnan estate, although this does come with the caveat of being marketed British.

v But don’t think you can leave it at that. As a serious phonetic tea-drinker you have to go on from there and study the primary tea making methodology literature in-depth.

vi If you do not yet have a favourite mug, there are several ways of aiding a newly acquired mug in becoming such an item. True and tried methods include using it as a celebratory mug whenever you pass peer-review or are invited to give a keynote, letting famous visitors to the department drink from it (and telling everybody about that time X drank from your mug, of course), and occasionally sipping a nice comforting grog from it, typically on a long and cold grant-writing night.

The Search for a Universal Beverageme is FutilityFerdinand de Ramotswe
Get Back to Work!A Rebuttal from the Editor-in-Chief
SpecGram Vol CLXXIII, No 2 Contents