Ask Ceil – Apple, Tea

Dear Ceil,

I recently heard the following phrase in a song: “You are the apple of my eye.” I have always been confused about this declaration. Can you please help me to understand its meaning?

Wondering in Wilsonville

Dear Wondering,

The phrase has its origins in the late 1980’s, when so many people were excited about the brand new MacIntosh computer, they couldn’t stop looking at it. This eventually culminated in an idolization of the Apple company, finally resulting in a Steve Jobs action figure. (Really.)

Actually, most attribute the origins of this phrase to King Ælfred the Great of Wessex in his book from AD 885 entitled Gregory’s Pastoral Care. (Subtitled “The Rise of the Sheep”, it was panned by critics.)

Here is the quote, in Old English, where the attribution is most often noted: “Hæd æ e on nigh æ ne me se ve de fe re te le me bræwas tearum schnide apple oooaet gewird gelome smush apple.” (OK, that’s not the real quote. I just took the words I liked the most, made some up and added the word “apple” a couple of times. It’s Old English; it’s not like it matters.)

Here is the translation: “A man can see with the pupil of the eye if it is not covered with albugo, but if it is entirely covered with albugo, he cannot see anything.”

Wise words. And in case you think “albugo” is a variety of apple, it is actually a fungus-like microorganism. So, this quote says “apple of my eye” in the same way that it also says “fungal infection of my eye”. Ironically, this is my pet-name for my husband. (That’s love.)

The modern meaning is more easily interpreted from Shakespeare. (He created all the cool idioms.) I would include an excerpt from A Midsummer Night’s Dream for you, but this isn’t your freshman Lit class and I’m not from the Dead Poets Society. Go look it up on your MacBook.

Finally, for people that often mix their metaphors who subscribe to the idea that “An apple of my eye a day keeps the doctor away”, you should know that this may not work due to the proliferation of STD’s.

Dear Ceil,

If herbal tea has no tea in it, shouldn’t we call it something else?

Hubert in Wilmington

Dear Hubert,

According to Merriam-Webster, any time you throw a bunch of weeds in boiling water, you have created tea. (Not their words.) Therefore, the varieties of tea are only limited by the size of the thing you are trying to toss into a pot. Mostly, they are herbs; but not always.

Cayenne Pepper tea was created initially as a method of torture, until they realized that the prisoners were really healthy and chipper, not at all the thing they intended. (You guys don’t still take me seriously, do you?)

China started making tea from mushrooms a long while ago. The family-friendly type is called Kombucha; it is said to balance the Middle Qi. A tea from psychadelic mushrooms can also be made, and is meant to take your Qi out to midnight bowling, get it drunk and hook it up with an old Hendrix bootleg.

Tibetans, who will apparently drink anything that’ll keep them warm, make tea out of salt and yak butter. (Note: the writer of this post takes some time to point out that Tibetans use the milk from dri, the female yak as opposed to a yak, which is the name of the male. So, thankfully, no male yak “milk” is being used. )

Americans, of course, created powdered tea. I always had a problem with powdered tea, only because I can’t figure out what the hell it is. But if you want a real treat, someone has created a “tea” recipe made from Tang and powdered tea. Mmmm. Just add water.

My very favorite two things trending right now in the American “Tea World” (“Tea World” is where I will be retiring) is chocolate tea and tea made with beer. I can’t say I’m surprised by either of these except, as American trends, I would have expected them to be deep-fried and topped with mozzerella.

Ceil Kessler joined the circus when she was 10 years old. She has worked as the Dalai Lama’s (Twitter: @DalaiLama) head buffer, Kato Kaelin’s sock folder and Fran Drescher’s speech therapist. There are days she just likes to say “Fareed Zakaria”. She now consults on business intelligence software, markets and publishes the magazine “Business Perks”, runs the Laurel Highlands Vegetarian Society, and heads a team in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s “Walk for a Cure” on September 17th. To join or donate to Team Kessler, go to the Teams page  and find Team Kessler in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.

If you have questions for Ceil, please send them along to, or you can use the Ask Ceil-o-matic form. You can also follow her on Twitter @ceilck.

This page was made edited on a Macbook.


2 thoughts on “Ask Ceil – Apple, Tea

  1. Nothing says love like a fungal in the eye…or have I missed the point there…? 😀 Thanks for providing the definition of albugo so that I didn’t have to google it (or worse, look it up in a dictionary!).

    Btw, good luck in your JDRF walk…I used to do it every year…till I got too fat to move 😉 – actually seriously it just always clashed with my annual hosting of Pink Ribbon Breakfast to raise money for National Breast Cancer Foundation. Go Team Kessler!

  2. “(Note: the writer of this post takes some time to point out that Tibetans use the milk from dri, the female yak as opposed to a yak, which is the name of the male. So, thankfully, no male yak “milk” is being used. )”
    Good to know!

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