Saturday Morning Tea

Assam Oolong Dry 04-11-15

Good morning, dear tea friends! It’s a blustery, blue sky spring day, and I’m having a new tea experience. In my cup this morning is a tea I’ve never tried before – an Oolong tea from Assam. I’m delighted to introduce you to Belgachi Special Assam Oolong.

The Assam tea growing region is located in northeastern India. It’s well known for producing rich, full-bodied black teas. This special tea is a rare production where the leaves have been processed in an Oolong style. They aren’t oxidized as long as a black tea, resulting in a lighter cup.

Assam Oolong Steep 04-11-15

I brewed the long, twisted leaves for 5 minutes in 190F water. As they steeped, I could see them relaxing their twisted shapes into loose pleats.

Assam Oolong Wet Leaf 04-11-15

The leaves have been entirely hand-processed using old time methods and have been dried over a charcoal fire.

Assam Oolong Teapot 04-11-15

The tea liquor is the color of a chunk of amber, fossilized tree resin revered for its beauty since ancient times.

The aroma is fragrant with a hint of sweet honey and a faint whisper of smoke.

Assam Oolong Teacup 04-11-15

The flavor is lighter and smoother than a black Assam tea, with notes of caramel and a suggestion of pipe tobacco. Its honey syrup-y sweetness reminds me of an Eastern Beauty Oolong.

After a week of cold rain and even some snowflakes, warmer weather is forecasted for this weekend, with temps supposed to climb into the 60s. Hoo-ray! I’ll head out into my garden this afternoon and see what’s coming up, what’s survived the harsh winter we had. I’m getting excited to take a peek into my compost drum, too, and, hopefully, see some great compost there that I can work into my garden beds. It’s such a satisfying feeling to be able to recycle my used tea leaves into nourishment for my garden.

I’m traveling to Michigan this week to visit with my family. Enjoy your tea and I’ll see you in two weeks!

 

Saturday Morning Tea

Risheehat Est. FF Darjeeling Dry Leaf 04-04-15

Good morning, dear tea friends! As I took a step outside the other day, the air smelled fresh and clean with that earthy aroma of growing things. It smelled like spring at last!

This is always a lovely time of year, a time of rebirth and awakening and……..first flush Darjeeling! I’m excited to introduce you to my first cuppa of the 2015 season –Risheehat SFTGFOP Ch. First Flush Organic.

Risheehat Estate FF Darjeeling Steep 04-04-15

The Risheehat Tea Estate is located in a valley with the perfect temperature and rainfall for producing high quality Darjeelings. It’s close to the Darjeeling city area and Kanchanjangha peak to the north. Here’s some information from their website:

“Risheehat literally means “Home of Holy Saints”. The Garden was established by British planters in the mid 19th century and was known as Tsering Bagan because of local population of the Tsering tribe.

Acquired by Jayshree Tea management in 1955, the garden is divided into two major divisions – Rishihat main division and Liza Hill Division. The estate today produces more than 180 tons per year of certified bio-organic teas and healthy zero% vacancy on its estate. The estate has Fair Trade certification, ISO 1901:2008 awarded by TUV NORD and also HAACCP, not to mention organic certificates for NPOP, POP and JAS by IMO.”

Risheehat Est. FF Darjeeling Wet Leaf 04-04-15

Here’s a lovely plucking of new growth. I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in just under boiling point (212F) water.

Risheehat Est. FF Darjeeling Teapot 04-04-15

The tea liquor is the color of golden sunshine. The aroma of the wet leaf is of fresh steamed baby peas with fragrant floral hints. The aroma of the tea is fresh and flowery with notes of tropical fruit.

Risheehat Est. FF Darjeeling Teacup 04-04-15

The flavor is light and fresh, awakening my mouth with its gentle astringency. Notes of flowers and tropical fruit intermingle and linger in a long finish. This tea has a decent caffeine hit, which makes it a great choice for the morning or when you need an extra lift during the day.

I have crocus lifting their yellow cups to the sky in my front yard. They seem to have multiplied since last year. I’m headed out into the garden this afternoon to clear away the winter mulch and debris. Even though it’s dirty work, I’m always rewarded with the sight of what’s starting to peek through the soil. Another garden year has begun!

I’ll be returning next week to share a cup of tea with you as I’m making my spring trek to Michigan the following week.

Have a wonderful week!

 

 

Saturday Morning Tea

Keemun Ji Hong Dry Leaf 03-21-15

Good morning, dear tea friends! Happy Spring to everyone in the northern hemisphere as we celebrated (finally!) the arrival of the Spring Equinox yesterday. The Equinoxes come twice a year, a time when the light and the dark are equally balanced. We’re now entering a time when the days will be longer than the nights, always welcome after a long, dark, snowy winter here in New England. Unfortunately, we still have glaciers of snow everywhere but those glaciers are slowly but surely receding to reveal peeks of dirt and grass at their edges. Now all we need are some spots of colorful crocus to liven up the dingy gray and brown landscape!

On to tea… I chose a China black tea today. It’s called Keemun Ji Hong Top Grade Organic, an impressive name, for sure. The long, brown leaves have a crimped appearance, as if each leaf was carefully pleated like the pleats on a little girl’s frock.

Keemun Ji Hong Steep 03-21-15

I steeped the leaves for 4 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. It’s amazing how the dark brown color quickly turned that distinctive red during steeping. Hence the name for China black teas – “red tea” or “hong cha.”

Keemun Ji Hong Wet Leaf 03-21-15

The leaves kept their “crepe paper” look even after steeping.

Keemun Ji Hong Teapot 03-21-15

The aroma is fragrant with a whisper of orchid and a stronger note of cocoa.

The flavor is rich, velvety smooth and medium-bodied with notes of cocoa, stone fruit, and just a hint of sweet smoke. The tea liquor fills my mouth with a thick, solid presence, what’s called a “full mouth feel.”

Keemun Ji Hong Tea Bowl 03-21-15

This tea would stand up well to additions, like milk and sweetener. That said, as it cools, a lovely sweetness, like sweet wine, comes out. I recommend trying it plain first so you can discern and enjoy the many facets of its flavor.

Oh dear, I’m gazing out my window at gently falling snowflakes. Despite what the calendar says, winter isn’t ready to let go quite yet.

Until we meet again, enjoy many delicious cuppas!

 

Saturday Morning Tea

Thurbo Estate 2F Darjeeling Dry Leaf 03-07-15

Good morning, dear tea friends! We’ve entered the month when spring arrives and begins to soften the air with her gentle touch. The snow is starting to melt, the days are expanding with light and there’s hope in the air after a long, hard winter here in New England. The first lots of first flush Darjeelings over in northeast India are beginning to be plucked and processed. There’s much to look forward to.

In celebration of the beginning of the Darjeeling season, a second flush Darjeeling from the Thurbo Estate graces my cup this morning. This tea was harvested in the summer of 2013 on the Thurbo estate, which is located in the Mirik valley in Darjeeling district. I’ve read that this tea estate got its name because the British set up camp there long ago to invade Nepal, which is close by. The local dialect word for “camp” is “tombu” which could have morphed into Thurbo.  An interesting little bit of trivia.

Thurbo Estate 2F Darjeeling Steep 03-07-15

The leaf is a gorgeous variegated mix of color – browns, greens and silvery white tips. I pushed the steeping time a little longer than normal, 3 1/2 minutes in boiling point (212F) water.

Thurbo Estate 2F Darjeeling Wet Leaf 03-07-15

The  vibrant amber-colored tea liquor has a light, fruity fragrance.

Thurbo Estate 2F Darjeeling Teapot 03-07-15

The flavor is rich with light fruity nuances of pineapple and a tang reminiscent of fresh evergreen/pine. The lingering finish invites you to take another sip of this lovely tea.

Thurbo Estate 2F Darjeeling Teacup 03-07-15

I sit and quietly sip my tea, dreaming of the day not that far away when little green leaves start to emerge from the soil after their long winter’s sleep. I can’t wait to get my hands back into gardening!

Thanks for sharing another cuppa with me. Until we meet again, have a wonderful two weeks!

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.

~Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

Saturday Morning Tea

Huang Ya Yellow Tea Dry Leaf 02-21-15

Good morning, dear tea friends! I feel like I’m living in the arctic tundra these days with towering walls of snow and sharp icicles dripping from house eaves like the jagged teeth of the abominable snow monster. Our world is frozen, and we bravely venture outside, wrapped in a multitude of layers, moving gingerly across icy walkways and parking lots. At the grocery store the other day, I had to drive around a jaw dropping mound of snow at least 20 feet tall. Oh dear, will spring ever come?

I chose a light, fresh tea from China for my morning cuppa today. It’s a yellow tea, called Huang Ya Imperial Yellow Tea.

Huang Ya Yellow Tea Steep 02-21-15

How does yellow tea differ from green tea, you might be wondering. From what I’ve researched and read, it is processed very similarly yet varies in the heating/firing steps, which results in a little more oxidation of the leaf. These steps are more time consuming than green tea processing in that the leaves are lightly fried in a pan and then wrapped in some sort of thick cloth. They’re then stored in a darkened room over a number of days and brought out periodically to be reheated/fried in a pan. It produces a tea that tastes more like a white tea than a green tea. Such an art form.

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 180F water.

Huang Ya Yellow Tea Wet Leaf 02-21-15

As you can see, the long, twisted dry leaf sets relax into gently arching shapes after steeping. What a beautiful leaf.

This tea was used as an Imperial Tribute tea in China throughout many dynasties there.

Huang Ya Yellow Tea Teapot 02-21-15

The golden apple-colored tea liquor has a fresh apricot/peach fragrance with floral undertones.

Huang Ya Yellow Tea Tea Bowl 02-21-15

The flavor has those same fresh, juicy apricot/peachy notes with a vegetal whisper and a nuance of tangerine brightness. The finish lingers with a golden raisin sweetness. A truly lovely cup of tea, mmmmm…

We’re expecting warmer temperatures tomorrow, creeping up towards a balmy 40 degrees. Maybe we can get a little melting before we’re plunged into the deep freeze again.

See you in two weeks!

Saturday Morning Tea

Doomni Estate Assam Dry Leaf 02-07-15

Good morning, dear tea friends! The last time we shared a cup of tea, I looked out my window and saw 4-5 inches of snow. Today, I’m gazing out at gently falling snowflakes that touch down on about 45 inches. Yes, you read that right. We’ve got almost 4 feet of the white stuff here. As most of us are saying, our luck ran out after a mild December and most of January. Oh well, so it goes, Mother Nature has a wicked sense of humah (as we say in New England). Ok, on to tea…

To keep winter’s frigid temps and mounds of snow at bay, I chose a hearty black tea for my cup this morning. This selection is from the Doomni Estate, located in the Assam district of northeastern India. The leaf is of the broken type with an abundance of downy golden tips threaded through the dark pieces.

Doomni Estate Assam Steep 02-07-15

I steeped the leaves for 4 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. You could probably push the steeping time to 5 minutes if you like it strong and astringent and/or are adding milk and sweetener.

Doomni Estate Assam Wet Leaf 02-07-15

The aroma is rich with a hint of malt.

Doomni Estate Assam Teapot 02-07-15

The tea liquor is a lovely, deep shade of dark honey amber. The flavor is stout, rich, and hearty, all of the above. There’s an undertone of citrus brightness that contributes to its eye-opening appeal.

Doomni Estate Assam Teacup 02-07-15

My first sips were of the tea plain but then I added a small dollop of honey and a splash of milk. My, oh my. Perfection. This is a great tea for adding milk and sweetener and/or spices to. It would be excellent as a base for your own Chai blend. Add cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, clove, and any other spices you like in a combination you enjoy.

Oh, it has quite the caffeine kick, too.

The snowflakes are multiplying and falling at a steady pace now. The weather reports are calling for another foot over the next several days. Not sure where we’re going to put another foot of snow but whatever comes, my tea will keep me warm and energized in between shoveling sessions!

Have a wonderful two weeks until we meet again, dear friends…

Saturday Morning Tea

Select TGY Oolong Dry Leaf 01-24-15

Good morning, dear tea friends! I woke up to a white world this morning, our first significant snowstorm of the winter. Can you believe that, at the end of January?!! No one’s complaining but it is certainly strange for New England. It has been bone chilling cold though. On to tea…

For my morning tea, I chose a lightly roasted Oolong tea. Grown in Anxi, Fujian province, China, it’s called Select Tie-Guan-Yin Oolong.

Select TGY Oolong Infuser Before 01-24-15

The leaves have been rolled into loose spiral looking chunks. I wanted to show you the before and after photo of the tea in my infuser. The before picture doesn’t look like much tea, does it? After 4 minutes of steeping in 190F water, it expands considerably!

Select TGY Oolong Infuser After 01-24-15

Tie-Guan-Yin Oolong goes through a complex processing, which requires a master hand. As I mentioned, this particular selection has had a finishing light roast, called the “Muzha” style.

There is a legend regarding how this particular Oolong came into being. I’ve shared this story before but love it so much that I’m happy to share it with you again!

Many years ago in Fujian Province in China, a poor tea farmer named Mr. Wei would walk by a temple everyday on his way to the tea fields. As each day passed, he noticed that no one cared for the temple so it was becoming quite run down. Inside he found a statue of Guan Yin, the bodhisattva of compassion. He did not have the means to fix up the temple but he felt that something needed to be done. One day he brought his broom and some incense. He lit the incense as an offering to the Goddess and swept the temple clean. That night Guan Yin came to him in a dream and told him of a cave where he would find a beautiful treasure for himself and to share with others. The treasure turned out to be a tea shoot which Mr. Wei planted and nurtured into a large tea bush, producing the finest tea in the region. He shared cuttings with all his neighbors and started calling the tea produced from this bush Tie-Guan-Yin. Mr. Wei and all his neighbors prospered and were able to restore the temple to its beauty and many came to gather there. Now Mr. Wei felt joy everyday as he passed the temple on the way to his tea fields.

I love that story.

Select TGY Oolong Teapot 01-24-15

The golden tea liquor glows with its own light. It’s aroma is fragrant with floral notes, lilac and orchid. A toasty, chestnut-y note whispers in the aroma and becomes more pronounced in the flavor, joining those lovely floral notes. This tea is sweet with an incredible buttery mouth feel that lingers, giving my mouth a silky feeling.

Select TGY Oolong Tea Bowl 01-24-15

Now that I’ve fortified myself with hot tea, it’s time to go out and do some shoveling. No worries though as my tea will be waiting to warm me up when I come back inside.

Until next time, dear friends, have a wonderful 2 weeks.