Saturday Morning Tea

Saemidori Sencha Dry Leaf 08-09-14

Good morning, dear tea friends! It’s great to be back and share a cup of tea with you. My vacation to Michigan was restful and restorative, very welcome after the challenging times of this past spring. As I gaze out my window, I see the lush green world of high summer. Rich, ripe vegetables are being harvested.  Flower gardens are vibrant with hot color. My morning tea reflects this colorful time of year with its own bright green color. A spring harvested first flush Sencha from Kagoshima prefecture in Japan, it’s called Sencha Saemidori Superior.

Saemidori refers to the specific cultivar (tea plant variety) this tea comes from. Developed and created in the 1960s from two other cultivars, it gained recognition in 1990 when it was added to the official Japanese tea cultivar list.

Saemidori Sencha Steep 08-09-14

When this tea was processed, it was deep steamed to stop the oxidation of the leaf and keep it green. That deep steaming helps the leaf to retain an intense green color, a dark lustrous green dry leaf and a rich kelly green wet leaf.

I steeped the leaf for 3 minutes in 175F water in my new glass teapot.

Saemidori Sencha Wet Leaf 08-09-14

The wet leaf smells like freshly steamed spinach.

Saemidori Sencha Teapot 08-09-14

While this tea has a beautiful leaf, what I think is most distinctive about it is its intense spring green tea liquor. My photo doesn’t do it justice. It’s even greener than that. Some customers ask for a green tea that is a true green color when steeped. Most green teas steep up more of a yellow or brown color than green. The deep steaming helps to retain a true green color in the liquor, too. What do you think?

The aroma in my cup is of fresh steamed vegetables, like broccoli, and sweet seagrass.

Saemidori Sencha Tea Mug 08-09-14

The flavor is fresh and sweet and smooth as silk with only a hint of tang that doesn’t linger. The notes of vegetables and seagrass are there but much more subtle than the notes in its aroma. As I drink this tea, my body feels lighter and more alive as if its “greenness” is permeating every cell. For those of you looking for a green tea for health, this is a great selection, I think.

Thanks for stopping by to share a cuppa with me. Have a great tea-filled couple of weeks!

I walk without flinching through the burning cathedral of the summer. My bank of wild grass is majestic and full of music. It is a fire that solitude presses against my lips.

~Violette Leduc, Mad in Pursuit

 

 

Saturday Morning Tea

Rooibos Chai Dry 07-19-14

Good morning, dear tea friends! This afternoon I’m flying out to Michigan to visit my family for 2 weeks. One of our favorite activities for a lazy afternoon is to go to the bookstore and browse the stacks, my parents with their decaf Cafe Mocha and me with my Chai Latte (5 pumps!), iced in the summer and hot in the winter. As you probably know from reading my tea posts over the years, my tea preferences tend to be straight tea leaves rather than the flavored kind but there’s just something about the combination of the spices in Chai that I find yummy and comforting. So, why limit my Chai enjoyment to the occasional trek to the bookstore or cafe when I can make my own right at home?

Rooibos Chai Steep 07-19-14

As I like to drink my iced Chai latte in the evenings as well, I’m using Rooibos Chai as my “tea” choice. In this selection, cardamom, citrus peels, ginger, cinnamon, pepper, star-anise, and cloves have been mixed in with the Rooibos. I started my iced Chai journey last night by adding one tablespoon of Chai to 8 ounces of cold spring water. To make my measuring easier, I mixed my ingredients in a small Pyrex measuring cup. I placed the measuring cup in the fridge and then removed it this morning when I was ready to create my latte. You want to steep your tea leaves in cold water for at least 6 hours and then strain into your favorite glass.

Rooibos Chai Strain 07-19-14

In talking to an Indian gentleman I used to work with, Masala (“mixture of spices”) Chai (Hindi word for tea) is traditionally made in a big pot on the family stove, simmering an assortment of aromatic spices on hand with black tea leaves and buffalo milk. With cardamom usually being the primary spice, Masala Chai can also contain cinnamon, cloves, ginger, peppercorn, star anise and nutmeg. As chai, or tea, has been historically considered a medicinal beverage in India, the addition of warming Ayurvedic spices adds to its healing properties.

Rooibos Chai Milk Agave 07-19-14

I like to add milk, agave nectar and ice to my Chai. How about you?

Rooibos Chai Glass 07-19-14

Mmmm, so refreshing!

I hope that you’re cooling off during these hot, hazy summer days with an iced cuppa. See you in 3 weeks!

“I almost wish we were butterflies and liv’d but three summer days – three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain.”   ~John Keats

 

Saturday Morning Tea

St ames Estate Ceylon Dry 07-05-14

Good morning, dear tea friends! And a Happy 4th of July weekend to my US friends. It’s a clear, bright day after a soggy 4th of July yesterday. Hurricane Arthur reached his outer fingers towards New England as he moved northwards and we got soaked. Firework celebrations got rescheduled, and it turned out to be a good day for the ducks and the gardens.

This morning’s tea is a black tea from Sri Lanka, specifically from the St. James Estate in the Uva district of Ceylon. The “Pekoe” style leaf has been rolled into loose pellets, giving an interesting shape to the dry leaf.

St James Estate Ceylon Steep 07-05-14

I have read that the southeastern Uva province is the second least populated of Sri Lanka’s provinces, with only 1.1 million people. They have two main agricultural crops there: tea, grown in the hills, and sugar, grown on the plains. The St. James tea garden is located in the Malwatta Valley in that province.

I steeped the leaves for 4 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. This tea has that comforting “tea” aroma, what most folks associate as a tea smell. It’s what you can smell if you ever came to visit my company. People walk through the front door and always remark, “It smells SO good in here!”

St James Estate Ceylon Wet 07-05-14

While the dry leaf has a grayish cast, after steeping, the wet leaf unfurled slightly to reveal large, chocolate-colored pieces of broken leaf.

St James Estate Ceylon Teapot 07-05-14

The rich amber tea liquor has a sweet fragrance and a smooth, rich flavor with whispers of rose and toast. When I brew this tea again, I’m going to push the brew time to 5 minutes and see if I can coax more briskness into the flavor. No need for milk and sweetener, this tea is wonderful straight up.

St James Estate Ceylon Teamug 07-05-14

There’s nothing like a delicious cup of tea to start a beautiful day.

Until next time, dear friends, enjoy your tea!

“Liberty is the breath of life to nations.”  ~George Bernard Shaw

Saturday Morning Tea

Qing Zhen Dry Leaf 06-21-14

Good morning, dear tea friends! Today dawned cool and bright with low humidity (thank goodness!), the perfect first day of summer here in New England. In keeping with the theme of my last few posts, I’ve brewed up another Pre-Chingming tea this morning, a green tea from Hunan province. It’s called Qing Zhen, which translates to “dark green needles.” As you can see from my photo, it’s the perfect name for this tea leaf. For you GoT fans, I’m reminded of Arya’s sword.

Qing Zhen Steep 06-21-14

I steeped the tea needles for 3 minutes in 180F water. A whisper of flower fragrance drifted up from my glass teapot as the tea steeped.

Qing Zhen Wet Leaf 06-21-14

The wet needles have a sweet, softly vegetal aroma with an underlying hint of tobacco.

Qing Zhen Teapot 06-21-14

The tea liquor sparkles a pale yellow in the morning light. The flavor is fairly robust with notes of sweet tobacco and a faint hint of melon. There’s a slight nuance of fruitiness in the finish, which lingers for quite awhile in my mouth.

Qing Zhen Tea Bowl 06-21-14

The gentle breeze coming in my window is abuzz with the sounds of lawn mowers and weed wackers as my neighbors tend to their landscapes. I myself am headed out into my garden soon to see what new blooms have opened in the sunshine. Have a lovely tea-filled weekend, my dear friends. I’ll be back in two weeks!

“The festival of the summer solstice speaks of love and light, of freedom and generosity of spirit. It is a beautiful time of year where vibrant flowers whisper to us with scented breath, forests and woodlands hang heavy in the summer’s heat and our souls become enchanted with midsummer magic.”  ~Carole Carlton

 

 

Saturday Morning Tea

 

PCM Fairy Oolong Dry Leaf 06-14-14

Good morning, dear tea friends! For those of you in my part of the world, I hope you’re enjoying some beautiful, warm late spring weather. It’s been rainy this week in my area, and my garden is in full blooming glory, soaking up all that moisture. Watching flowers bud and come alive in bloom is so rewarding and healing.

Speaking of flowers, my morning tea today is a floral tasting Oolong called “New Style” Fairy Oolong, a special Pre-Chingming production from Hunan province in south-central China. The name Hunan translates to “south of the lake”, the lake referring to Dongting Lake, a floodbasin for the famous Yangtze river. Dongting Lake is famous as the place of origin of Dragon boat racing, a watersport with ancient roots going back 2,000 years. The boats are decorated with Chinese dragon heads and tails for competition events. So much rich history in China!

PCM Fairy Oolong Steep 06-14-14As you can see, the leaves of this tea are enormous and filled up the infuser of my little glass teapot. I steeped the tea for 4 minutes in 190 F water. The aroma of lilacs wafted up, its fragrance filling my kitchen. Lovely.

PCM Fairy Oolong Wet Leaf 06-14-14

After steeping, this leaf released its tightly rolled shape to reveal an amazingly intact leaf.

PCM Fairy Oolong Teapot 06-14-14

The pale yellow-green liquor has a soft floral fragrance reminding me of lilacs and orchids. This floral aspect carries over into the taste as the main flavor note. The taste is also rich and buttery smooth with some creamy hints. There’s a whisper of vegetal quality, like fresh greens, in both the aroma and the flavor.

PCM Fairy Oolong Tea Bowl 06-14-14

I’m sipping this fragrant tea out of one of my favorite tea bowls, purchased here. The birds are singing merrily outside my window, and I believe I spy a few peeks of blue as the clouds slowly clear. The promise of a walk on the bike path is in the air.

I’ll be back again next week with a new tea to share with you as my daughter is having her house warming party in two weeks. I hope that you all have a wonderful week filled with many cups of delicious tea!

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”  

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Saturday Morning Tea

PCM Ya Bao Dry 05-31-14

Good morning, dear tea friends! I’m sharing a new tea with you this week because next Saturday I’m leaving early to go visit a dear friend in her new place up on the north shore in Newburyport, MA. It will feel great to go and breath in the fresh sea air and have a wonderful visit with my friend. On to tea…

This morning’s tea has a unique appearance as it is all tea buds. Harvested in Hunan province in China before April 5th, it is called Pre-Chingming Ya Bao white tea.

PCM Ya Bao Steep 05-31-14

As I’ve shared with you before, Pre-Chingming teas are harvested before the festival of Qingming (Chingming), usually celebrated on the 15th day from the Spring Equinox. Any teas harvested before that date are referred to as Pre-Chingming teas. In other words, harvested in very early spring.

I steeped the Ya Bao buds for 3 minutes in 175 degree F water. As you can see, the buds retain the same appearance after steeping.

PCM Ya Bao Wet 05-31-14

The essence of spring – a new bud just beginning to open.

Can you see the fine downy white hairs on the bud? That’s what gives white tea its name.

PCM Ya Bao Teapot 05-31-14

The tea liquor is so pale that it looks like water. It has a fresh melon-y aroma that carries over into its sweet delicate flavor. A vegetal hint lingers into the finish.

PCM Ya Bao Tea Bowl 05-31-14

This is the perfect tea for this tea bowl as it reveals the beautiful spiral shape on the inside of the bowl.

As the tea cools, more sweetness comes out. This would taste lovely iced, with a slice of fruit.

Thanks for joining me for a cuppa today. See you in 2 weeks!

“A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.”

~Elbert Hubbard

 

Saturday Morning Tea

GABA Oolong Dry Leaf 05-24-14

Good morning, my dear tea friends. It’s been awhile since we’ve shared a cup of tea together. I have been helping a cherished friend make his last journey out of this world. It has been a very hard time. This past week the sky has been weeping cleansing rain from gray clouds with peeks of blue here and there. I have found that grief can be very much like that – torrential rain one minute and then peeks of blue sky the next. I am hopeful that the combination of cleansing raindrops and peeks of sun can bring a rainbow for healing. It takes time though. Tea has been such a solace and comfort. My morning cup today is called GABA Oolong.

GABA Oolong Steep 05-24-14

GABA, or Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid, is a compound that naturally occurs in the human body. It is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter and prevents over-excitement in our nervous system. Neurotransmitters are what neurons send to each other to either excite of inhibit a signal. You must be thinking – what does this have to do with tea? Well, in the 1980s, Japanese scientists were experimenting with different ways to preserve food and discovered that when tea leaves were exposed to nitrogen, it increased the levels of GABA in the tea. GABA tea then became a staple in many Japanese diets because they believe it has a wide range of health benefit because of its calming properties.

GABA Oolong Wet Leaf 05-24-14

To create the tea, tea plants are shaded for about 10 days prior to harvest, which increases the levels of glutamic acid, a precursor to GABA, in the leaf. After harvest, the tea leaves are placed in stainless steel drums and the oxygen is then replaced with nitrogen for about 8 hours. What does GABA do exactly? I have read that it increases the alpha brain waves, which can improve mental focus and promote a greater sense of well being. That said, my question then is how does the GABA get past the blood brain barrier? A good question for the scientists out there.

GABA Oolong Teapot 05-24-14

I steeped the leaves for 4 minutes in 180 degree (F) water. The gentle aroma is quite sweet with fruity nuances.

GABA Oolong Tea Bowl 05-24-14

The light golden tea liquor is also quite sweet and buttery smooth with notes of cantaloupe and tropical fruit. This lovely fruity tea would make an excellent iced tea!

Thanks for understanding about my long absence and I’ll see you in two weeks when I’ll be reviewing a new Pre-Chingming tea. Until then, dear tea friends, enjoy your tea!