Nomological Net

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faults in the clouds of delusion

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Morning tea, evening tea

One of the perils of living in a foreign land for a few years is that one may sometimes be lulled into a false sense of security.

A few weeks ago, I bought a two-pack of Crest. The first tube I opened was the normal fresh-breath-whatever flavor (we marketers call it "vanilla"). It lasted as long as it lasted. Two days ago, I opened the second pack. This one, in contrast, had pictures of green leaves on the outside cardboard packaging. Unable to read the Chinese characters (and frankly, not giving it any thought whatsoever), I assumed it was mint. I opened the pack and squeezed some out onto my toothbrush.

Take a close look at the picture. Turns out I was wrong.


My toothpaste is the flavor of green tea.

There's a lot that could be said about this, but it's possibly best left unsaid. Having said that, I cannot resist going on a little. Wise readers will skip straight to the comments section at this point. Really wise readers will check their email or go do the laundry or something.


Rumination #1. How many flavors of toothpaste are there, that are the flavor of some food item? I know mint is one but does it really count? Promise used to have the flavor of cloves, but that too is a spice, not really a food item. Close-up tasted of bubblegum, which might have qualified in the Reagan administration. I think green tea is conceptually different. It's an integral part of a meal, a separate menu item. That's strangely weird in one sense ~ my mouth tastes of green tea for much of the day now ~ but it's also oddly reassuring. Surely someone will now catch on to this as a Good Thing, and the days of KEBAB toothpaste are not too far away. (That was the caps-lock key by mistake but by golly it's apt.) Why hasn't anyone thought of this before? Are they going to have focus groups? Invite me.

Rumination #2. If any Chinese person is reading this, maybe they could help me out here. Is green tea thought to be good for the teeth? The latest edition of HK magazine (the local Time Out equivalent) has a feature on old people talking about the secrets of their longevity. Several of them mentioned pu-erh cha, one of the stronger varieties of tea. (One blessed lady said it was sau-mei cha, which happens to be my favorite, and she said - the more you drink it the better off you are.) But if that is indeed the case, (a) isn't that funny? And (b), are Chinese people freaking out when they come to India and see toothpaste with cloves in it. What's up with these Indians, putting cloves in tea and in their toothpaste?! (NB: the Americans put baking soda.)

Rumination #3. Will I get to like green tea toothpaste? Some of the most liked flavors of ice cream in Hong Kong are sesame, red bean, and yes, green tea. I recently did a few experiments across Hong Kong and the US, where it was interesting how the preferences for specific flavors were so widely different (loved flavors in HK were hated in the US and vice versa) but generalized overall patterns of behavior were identical. But that's a digression. My point is that when first I heard of green tea ice cream (I was in the People's Republic of Berkeley), the idea turned me off quite a bit. Today, to the extent that I like ice cream, I like the flavor. (I much prefer red bean and sesame.) So it's not inconceivable that I'll grow to like green tea flavored toothpaste. I might even try and hunt out pu-erh and sau-mei flavors. And then, inevitably, I'd miss the whole lot of them when I move out of Hong Kong. Life's a bitch.

Rumination #4. I'd once read that dentists advise you to keep changing your toothpaste (presumably since all toothpastes are frauds but they're all differently fraudulent, so this way you get to keep shifting your zone of vulnerability and dupe the microbes and win friends and influence people). When I was younger and in my experimental mode, one way I implemented this advice was to mix toothpastes on the same brush -- e.g., the top half of the bristles featuring red stripey Something Fresh and the bottom half a different kind of Electric Blue. (Pardon me while I slip in my all time favorite ad line: "Par daddy, aadha KYUN?!") That used to be a whole lot of fun. So now I'm wondering, what flavors if any should I try and mix with my green tea?

Suggestions welcome.

13 Comments:

Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

I like how you assume that all green leaves = mint :-)

But, red bean toothpaste? Really? Just killed my brushing experience. But, tell me, doesn't anyone make wine flavoured toothpaste? :-)

BTW, green tea sounds like a pretty good flavour for a toothpaste to me.

8/21/2006 1:00 PM  
Blogger Szerelem said...

green tea ice cream is pretty nice...
a new gelato shop i passed by sometime back had wasabi flavor...beat that!!
i wouldnt want to try it. My friend swears its really nice, but then she eats wasabi like we eat achaar..crazy

btw, apparently the best powder/paste for teeth is good old laal dant manjan =)

8/21/2006 1:51 PM  
Blogger gIftoFwIngs said...

u ve a serious research acumen TR :). but green tea flvr won't b bad either...

8/21/2006 2:47 PM  
Blogger Sonia said...

i've seen ads of chocolate and tangerine, litchi flavoured ones here. ( makes me nauseous just to think about it!) but you could try those if you wanna!

8/21/2006 6:58 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

ghost:
well it's either that or spinach, innit? :-D i have to say, though, wine flavor sounds like a home run to me -- way better than green tea. more universal appeal, for one.

szerelem:
i'd go with wasabi ice cream. i once won ten rupees (back when that actually meant something) on a bet eating a green apple with tabasco. the funny thing is i liked it so much i actually did it for a while afterwards.

gift:
thanks, i'll make sure to request you as a reviewer next time! but you're talking about ice cream again, aren't you?

sonia:
hi there, thanks for stopping by! are you talking about ice cream as well? because i mix all flavors of ice cream - it's all good. but chocolate flavored toothpaste really boggles the imagination. i'd say no mother would stand for it.

8/21/2006 11:18 PM  
Blogger km said...

Pardon me while I hurl a little rivulet into the bathroom sink.

*Wiping corners of my mouth*.

There. Much better.

All toothpastes are fraud, except for this one Indian brand called "Meswak". That's the real deal.

Oh, and green tea paste with a drop or two of a Sikkim rum that I once had might kill germs FOREVER.

8/21/2006 11:47 PM  
Blogger MockTurtle said...

Nicotine flavored toothpaste would go down big with me. I could clean my teeth and get my morning fix in one stroke (well actually a series of rapid up-and-down strokes).
I also remember this Vermont vegan girl in school with me who claimed to use an "Orange-Mango" natural toothpaste.

8/22/2006 1:40 AM  
Blogger Szerelem said...

apple with tabasco??? yucks!!
i dont mind wasabi actually, but in ice cream form? - very dubious.
Re: back when ten rupees actually meant something - umm youre giving away your age eh...i dont even remember such a time =P

8/22/2006 2:51 AM  
Blogger thalassa_mikra said...

Green tea is one of those acquired tastes that I have never quite managed to acquire. I've tried hard enough, buying packets and packets of green tea, eating green tea icecream, green tea flavoured mochi, Korean rice cakes, etc. Nope, just cannot do it. I'd never be able to use green tea toothpaste.

Surprisingly, I actually like a lot of red bean based Asian desserts, including sweet buns and red bean icecream.

8/22/2006 1:32 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

km:
admit it -- the green tea paste would only be an eyewash.

mt:
and round and round too, right?
i'd forgotten about tom's of maine. man, that's one crappy-tasting brand. i'd once flicked a little aniseed-flavored stuff from a niece's tube. never again.

szerelem:
what do you think the ten bucks were for! oh, and i'd happily give even more of my age away, kiddo. want some? :-D

tm:
i like green tea mochi. i really like japanese green tea. better than the chinese varieties, i think. (i'm sure you've tried them with your sushi, though.)

have you ever tried the red bean soup desserts, or any of the other bean soup desserts? they look *just* like bowlfuls of rajma or daal. quite wild, just on appearance -- and the taste isn't half bad either.

8/22/2006 3:32 PM  
Blogger thalassa_mikra said...

I do drink Japanese green tea with sushi, but I wouldn't be completely honest if I don't say that I wish I could substitute it with black tea. But from what I've had, I do agree that Japanese green tea is superior.

I've had the red bean soup dessert, but I prefer the ones made with red bean paste. I love the fried sesame balls stuffed with red bean paste, my favourite Chinese dessert.

8/23/2006 2:33 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

tm, any chance of your stopping by in hong kong this coming academic year (e.g., on your way to/from india)? i'll treat you to some chinese desserts that's knock your socks off.

8/23/2006 8:51 PM  
Blogger Dr.Gray said...

There are a lot of green tea toothpastes now. Have you ever wondered why the most chemically processed items always try to appear the most natural. I love green tea flavor and like seeing it come to the US however these major companies are ruining it I think.

6/25/2008 10:47 AM  

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