Saturday Morning Tea

Hong Tao Keemun Dry Leaf 10-25-14

Good morning, dear tea friends! After a week of dark, gloomy days, the clouds have all been swept away by the autumn winds and the sun is shining brightly in my corner of the world. As the leaves fall and pile up in bright patches on the ground, that leafy, woodsy smell permeates the air. I’ve chosen a China black tea for my morning tea today, one that reflects that rich autumn fragrance.

I’m pleased to introduce you to Hong Tao Keemun, a 2014 lot newly arrived from China.

Hong Tao Keemun Steep 10-25-14

The leaf is dark and twisted. Ooo, that sounds like the beginning of a scary story, doesn’t it? Perfect for the approaching All Hallows Eve.

I steeped it for 5 minutes in boiling point (212F) water.

Hong Tao Keemun Wet Leaf 10-25-14

Keemun tea is named after a county, Qimen, in Anhui province. There are several stories about its origins but the most common is one of a governmental official in the late 1800s who learned about black tea production in Fujian province and then decided to return to his native county, Qimen, to produce black tea there. He met with success and his new black tea was imported to England where it was enjoyed as a breakfast tea.

With its stout, warming flavor profile, this tea would be a perfect start to your day.

Hong Tao Keemun Teapot 10-25-14

My teapot sits next to my kitchen window, which overlooks a red maple tree. At this time of year, the leaves have turned a rich shade of deep burgundy with glowing amber undersides. The color of this tea matches that beautiful leaf.

As I pour my first cup, I can smell its fragrance of autumn leaf with whispers of Burgundy and smoke.

Hong Tao Keemun Tea Bowl 10-25-14

The flavor is deep and complex, with notes of Burgundy wine, a cocoa nuance, and a sweet, smooth quality that lingers long into the finish. For tea lovers that enjoy their tea British style, this tea would stand up quite well to milk.

I’ve recently acquired a compost tumbler and have set it up in my backyard. I’m so excited to start composting my tea leaves and turn them into rich fertilizer for my garden beds. Speaking of which, I’m headed out there today to continue the preparations for their winter sleep. Yes, to quote one of my favorite book series – winter is coming!

Until next time, enjoy your tea!

“Moreover to light a fire is the instinctive and resistant act of man when, at the winter ingress, the curfew is sounded throughout Nature. It indicates a spontaneous, Promethean rebelliousness against the fiat that this recurrent season shall bring foul times, cold darkness, misery and death. Black chaos comes, and the fettered gods of the earth say, Let there be light.”

`Thomas Hardy, Return of the Native 

 

Saturday Morning Tea

Puttabong BOP Dry Leaf 10-11-14

Good morning, dear tea friends! A steady rain is falling from the leaden sky on this October morning. The fiery palette of autumn is muted as I look through the curtain of water sheeting down outside my kitchen window. I’m watching the rain and sipping a second flush Darjeeling, newly arrived from India. Let me introduce you to Puttabong Estate STGBOP1 (DJ-261) Organic. As you can see, the leaf is of the broken variety. I usually find broken leaf Darjeelings too astringent for my palate, however, this offering is silky smooth and oh so drinkable. I’ve already had two cups!

Puttabong BOP Steep 10-11-14

I steeped the leaf for 1 1/2 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. As with all broken leaf teas, especially Darjeelings, a quick steeping is all that’s needed to extract full flavor.

Puttabong BOP Wet Leaf 10-11-14

Also known as the Tukvar Estate, this tea garden was first planted in 1852 and is nestled in the foothills of the Himalayan mountains near Kanchendzonga peak. With altitudes ranging from 1,500 to 6,500 feet above sea level, it is one of the highest elevation tea gardens in Darjeeling district, in northeastern India.  Its tea plants consist mainly of clonal bushes and China jat, meaning tea bushes with origins from China.

Puttabong BOP Teapot 10-11-14

The aroma of the glowing amber-colored liquor is toasty with honey sweet hints. The first sip fills my mouth with rich flavor. Notes of fruit are highlighted by a citrus-like brightness. A lovely sweetness greets you throughout, lingering long into the finish and becoming more pronounced as the tea cools.

Puttabong BOP Tea Bowl 10-11-14

A truly satisfying cup of tea.

Today is the perfect day to stay inside and work on my watercolor pencil class. My next assignment – draw a ribbon and all its highlights and shadows. I’m looking forward to the challenge. What’s up for your weekend?

Have a great tea-filled day and I’ll see you in two weeks!

“The rain to the wind said,
You push and I’ll pelt.’
They so smote the garden bed
That the flowers actually knelt,
And lay lodged–though not dead.
I know how the flowers felt.”

~Robert Frost

Saturday Morning Tea

Drum Mountain White Dry Leaf 09-27-14

Good morning, dear tea friends! The autumnal equinox has come and gone this past week, pushing us into the fall time of year, with its glorious colorful foliage and cooler temperatures. This weekend, however, we’re experiencing warmer temperatures, in the 80s, a lingering taste of summer much welcomed.

I’m feeling very quiet today so I chose a quiet sort of tea, the kind of tea that complements my meditative mood. From the northern mountainous region of Fujian province, this white tea, called Drum Mountain White Pekoe, was grown on a small tea farm nestled in the heart of the mountain.

Drum Mountain White Steep 09-27-14

From the China Facts Tours website:

“Drum Mountain, an important scenic area in Fuzhou, has enjoyed a long history and reputation. As early as the Jin Dynasty, it was appraised as one of “The Two Matchless Scenic Beauties in Fujian Province.” Lying 8 km southeast of the city on the northern side of the Min River, the beautiful mountain with four peaks nemed Lion, White Cloud, Alms Bowl (of a Buddhis monk) offers over 160 sites of interest, centred by the Gushing Spring Temple (aka Fountain Temple). Since ancient times, men of letters and celebrities vied to visit the place, wrote poems and had their inscriptions carved on rocks, adding to the attraction of the mountain.”

It sounds like a beautiful place.

Drum Mountain White Wet Leaf 09-27-14

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 180F water. A fresh vegetal aroma wafted up from my glass teapot as I poured my first cup.

Drum Mountain White Teapot 09-27-14

The tea liquor is of the palest yellow with a whisper of spring green. Its flavor is lightly vegetal and silky smooth with notes of tangerine and flowers. Mmmmm…

Drum Mountain White Tea Bowl 09-27-14

One of the many things I love about tea is its ability to bring my focus into the present moment, to my cup of tea. I gently pick up my tea bowl and cradle it in my hands and just dwell in a peaceful place for awhile.

It’s always a pleasure to share a cup of tea with you. See you in 2 weeks!

“I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love, for love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith, but the faith and the love are all in the waiting. Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.”

~T.S Eliot

 

Saturday Morning Tea

Huangshan Mao Feng Dry Leaf 09-13-14

Good morning, dear tea friends! I’m back from Michigan and happy to share another cup of tea with you. Today’s tea is a green tea from An Hui province in China. It’s called Huangshan Mao Feng.

The Mao Feng (translates to “Hairy Mountain” or “Fur Peak”) leaf style is long and wiry, created by twisting the leaves during processing. I have read that Huangshan is another name for Mount Huang, located in An Hui province. It’s a place of  granite peaks, hot springs and beautiful sunsets and sunrises. An optical phenomenon known as Buddha’s Light occurs a couple times a month there with the sunrise. Sounds like an amazing place.

Huangshan Mao Feng Steep 09-13-14

These huge leaves are always tricky to measure so I usually take a pinch rather than use a measuring teaspoon. I used a couple of pinches per cup and steeped for 3 minutes in 180F water.

Huangshan Mao Feng Wet Leaf 09-13-14

You can really see the twisting of the leaf in this photo after steeping. Beautiful.

Huangshan Mao Feng Teapot 09-13-14

The aroma has a distinctive fresh floral note, like walking through a spring garden after it rains. The pale greenish hay-colored liquor is smooth and light with a harmonious blend of  flavors – floral like lilacs, vegetal like fresh peas and a whiff of pipe tobacco in the finish.

Huangshan Mao Feng Tea Glass 09-13-14

I am absolutely in love with our new tea glass. Even though the tea is hot, the glass is cooler to the touch because of the double walls. The tea looks like it’s floating on air, so lovely and elegant. I’m imagining a cupping with these glasses lined up so you can enjoy the beautiful colors of a range of different teas. I love color!

The day started off without a cloud in the azure sky but now a bank of billowing gray clouds have moved in, bringing with them some much needed rain for my garden. It’s a perfect day to stay inside and curl up with a good book. I’m reading a great fantasy story, called The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. What book can’t you put down these days? Tea and books go so well together, don’t you think?

See you in 2 weeks!

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me. ”

~C.S. Lewis

 

Saturday Morning Tea

Black TGY Dry Leaf 08-30-14

Good morning, dear tea friends! This morning’s tea is a black tea created from a Chinese cultivar usually reserved for Oolong. It’s called Black Tie-Guan-Yin, from Fujian province. I imagine that its processing would be very similar except for the lengthier oxidation.

Guanyin, also known as Quan Yin or Kwan Yin, is the East Asian Goddess of Compassion and Mercy. I’ve read that Guanyin is a shortened version of Guanshiyin, which means “observing the sounds (or cries) of the world.” Some Buddhists believe that when they depart this world, Guanyin will place them in the heart of a lotus flower. What a lovely image.

Black TGY Steep 08-30-14

I steeped the long, twisted leaves for 5 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. A distinct chocolate aroma was evident in the dry leaf and also while steeping.

Black TGY Wet Leaf 08-30-14

You can see how the leaf is rolled and twisted in this closeup photo. It looks like the pleats on a girl’s dress.

Black TGY Teapot 08-30-14

The tea liquor is a dark, rich amber color, very similar to the Ceylon tea I reviewed last week. A spicy, cocoa aroma wafts up from my glass teapot.

The flavor is deep, full-bodied, and satiny smooth with tangy notes of bittersweet cocoa and hints of spices – nutmeg, cinnamon and a whisper of mace. If I had to speak only one word about this tea, it would be – yummy.

Black TGY Tea Bowl 08-30-14

Summer is officially over as Labor Day weekend passes and the kids return to school. How did that happen so fast? Thoughts of sweater weather ahead cause me to turn to the darker, rich-bodied teas. This is a great selection to add to my cupboard.

Enjoy the long weekend!

“Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple.”

~J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows

 

 

Saturday Morning Tea

New Vithanakande Ceylon Dry Leaf 08-23-14

Good morning, dear tea friends! Since early morning, the sun has been playing peek-a-boo, much like a child who hides behind a curtain. When she steps out, the sky is brilliant with her smile.

A black tea from Sri Lanka fills my tea bowl this morning. From the gem mining Ratnapura district in the south, it’s called New Vithanakande Ceylon.

New Vithanakande Ceylon Steep 08-23-14

Silver mixes with dark brown like snippets of thread woven through the thin, wiry leaf.

I steeped the leaves for 4 1/2 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. The distinctive aroma of cocoa rises from my glass teapot. Mmmm…

New Vithanakande Ceylon Wet Leaf 08-23-14

Dark and light meld into a chocolate brown color in the wet leaf, which exhibits more of a characteristic Ceylon aroma, bright and citrus.

New Vithanakande Ceylon Teapot 08-23-14

The dark amber colored tea liquor smells of dark notes of chocolate and malt, which spill over into the flavor ,along with a bright lemon tang that lingers into the finish. This is a great eye-opening breakfast tea.

New Vithanakande Ceylon Tea Bowl 08-23-14

Now that we’ve entered the last month of summer, the air feels less sultry, a little cooler, and the plants are showing tinges of tiredness around the edges. They’ve given forth their bounty and are beginning to whisper of decline into cooler weather. Still, I busy myself in the garden, snipping spent flowers to encourage a little more blooming and color as August fades and September approaches.

Until next time, dear friend, enjoy your tea!

“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

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