The tea that costs more than 30 times its weight in gold

It’s incredible what some tea drinkers are prepared to pay for a pot of their favorite beverage:

“In 2002, a wealthy purchaser paid 180,000 yuan — almost $28,000 — for just 20g of China’s legendary Da Hong Pao tea. Even in a culture that’s valued tea drinking as an art form for around 1,500 years (and has a system of tea classification that makes French wine look simple), the price was astonishing.”

Astonishing, is putting it mildly. “Original Da Hong Pao doesn’t just cost its weight in gold — it costs more than 30 times its weight in gold: almost $1,400 for a single gram, or well over $10,000 for a pot. It’s one of the most expensive teas in the world.”

You absolutely wouldn’t want to knock the teapot over.

Speed-reading isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

How fast is it humanly possible to read? According to an article in the Mail Online, it’s possible to read a novel in 25 minutes and still be able to recall all the plot simply by practicing and mastering an ingenious technique.

But then again, a more recent article in the Mail Online contradicts the premise of the earlier one:

In a world of email and social media, speed reading could be the answer to the always on generation’s prayers.

However, researchers studying the techniques and apps available say they don’t work.

They looked at decades of research—and concluded speed readers don’t remember what they read.

‘Examining decades’ worth of research on the science of reading, a team of psychological scientists finds little evidence to support speed reading as a shortcut to understanding and remembering large volumes of written content in a short period of time,’ they said.

I once got taken in by the claimed benefits of speed-reading and decided to give it a go. I practiced reading ‘groups of words as a whole unit rather than individually,’ as prescribed according to the dogmata.

Several vicious eye-strain-induced headaches later, I gave it up as a bad job.

Reading at my normal speed, I usually get lost in a story; books provide me with hours of unsullied pleasure that can seem as fleeting as minutes.

But when I practiced speed-reading, the reverse was the case; minutes seemed as drawn out as hours, and the intense concentration required was sheer agony.

Nevertheless, if mastering speed-reading could have saved me time while also enhancing my ability to absorb and remember the written material, I might have persevered. But the fact was that speed-reading both wasted my time and hindered my ability to absorb and remember more than just the gist of what the written material was about.

Of course, the proponents of speed-reading continue to extol the purported benefits to be derived by mastering the technique, but their assertions run contrary to scientific opinion—which is that speed-reading simply doesn’t work, that the argument ‘that speed-reading training helps you absorb more information in a single glance than you typically do’ doesn’t hold water.

According to researchers, the speed at which we are able to process text is directly related to our ‘capacity to recognize words and understand text.’ And ‘how many words our eyes take in at a time’ has nothing to do with it.

I heartily concur. In fact, it’s in keeping with the best advice I ever got on how to process text effectively. It came from a book by L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Church of Scientology, entitled Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health that I happened to read about 35 years ago (By the way, I’m not—nor ever have been—a member of the Church of Scientology.):

In reading this book, be certain you never go past a word you do not fully understand.

The only reason a person gives up a study or becomes confused or unable to learn is because he or she has gone past a word that was not fully understood.

So much for speed-reading.

Good and bad news for coffee drinkers

Probably coffee won’t kill you. That’s according to Dr. Greg Marcus, a professor at the University of California-San Francisco who specializes in the treatment of arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats, “the fast, sluggish, or off-kilter rhythms that can trigger sudden cardiac arrest.”

That’s the good news for coffee drinkers.

But then again, he “cautions that the heart risks of caffeine may depend on the individual and that more work needs to be done to unpack the role of a patient’s unique genetics and environmental exposures.”

That’s the bad news for coffee drinkers.

What Dr. Marcus is saying, essentially, is that probably coffee won’t kill you, but you never know, it just might kill you.

Is that supposed to be reassuring to coffee drinkers?

Motherly love — warthog style

The last thing a hungry leopard expected, after grabbing a warthog piglet by the neck, was the furious reaction of the mother warthog.

‘When I pushed the shutter of my camera I heard a noise and thought it was the piglets fighting with one other.

‘But it was a leopard who had appeared from nowhere and caught one of the warthog piglets.

‘The leopard was trying to pin her potential kill to the ground and the piglet was screaming and kicking to try and get away from the leopard.

‘The next moment the mother came running back from behind my vehicle at full speed dropping her head and hit the leopard in the ribcage.’

And the end result of the encounter was that the leopard came off third-best.