Saturday Morning Tea

Sticky Rice Pu-Erh Dry Leaf 12-06-14 Good morning, dear tea friends! It’s a damp, drizzly day, and I can hear the cars splash by outside as I prepare my tea this morning. I’m warming myself up with a dark cup of Pu-Erh tea, called Sticky Rice Pu-Erh Tuo Cha. The leaves have been interestingly mixed with a Chinese herb and then compressed into a square shape. Sticky Rice Pu-Erh Steep 12-06-14 Traditionally, Pu-erh teas are created from leaves harvested in the ancient tea forests of Yunnan province in China. There are two different kinds of Pu-erh tea, raw (Sheng) and cooked (Shou). This Pu-erh selection is of the cooked (Shou) variety. It has been mixed with an herb called Nuo Mi Xiang, which grows in China’s Yunnan province. In consulting with my colleague who speaks Chinese, Nuo Mi Xiang translates to “sticky rice fragrance”, referring to its aroma closely resembling that of sticky rice. I used two squares in my glass teapot and rinsed them for 10 seconds in boiling water first to awaken the leaf. Then I steeped for 5 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. Sticky Rice Pu-Erh Wet Leaf 12-06-14 Cooked Pu-Erh goes through a “composting” step during its processing. The leaves are piled into heaps, much like a compost pile, creating a heat in its core and transforming the leaves into this unique tea. Compressed forms of tea have been produced in China for hundreds of years. It was the most common form transported on the ancient caravan routes because it was less susceptible to physical damage and easier to transport. Sticky Rice Pu-Erh Teapot 12-06-14 The aroma is fragrant with rich earth and autumn leaves. The tea liquor, as is normal for cooked Pu-Erh teas, is the color of black coffee. The flavor is smooth and sweet, with notes of pumpernickel toast and earthy spice. I think the herb lends a unique flavor to this Pu-Erh, which I find very appealing. Sticky Rice Pu-Erh Tea Bowl 12-06-14 This tea can be steeped multiple times. Do any of you steep your Pu-Erh tea that way? The days are shortening as we approach the Winter Solstice and the holiday time. Glowing twinkle lights adorn houses in my neighborhood, chasing away that deep darkness with the promise of the light returning in longer days once again. Have a lovely two weeks and enjoy your tea!

Saturday Morning Tea

Yunnan Silver Tip Dry Leaf 11-22-14

Good morning, dear tea friends! We’ve experienced our first below freezing weather this past week, cold enough for me to pull out my down coat. Of course, nothing like what the poor folks in Buffalo are experiencing right now. My thoughts and prayers go out to them as they dig out of all of that snow.

In my cup this morning is a green tea from China, called Yunnan Silver Tip Mao Feng.

Yunnan Silver Tip Steep 11-22-14

As you can see, the Mao Feng leaf is threaded with a plethora of silver tips (new growth). It brings a taste of spring with its fresh, light dry leaf aroma.

Yunnan Silver Tip Wet 11-22-14

Located in the southwest corner of China, Yunnan province has a long and venerable history of tea growing. There are quite a few native tea trees growing wild in the forests there. A 1,700-year-old wild tea tree, called the king of the tea trees, was found growing in the rainforest. Discovered in 1961, it is 105 feet tall! That kind of age is hard to wrap my head around, wow.

Yunnan Silver Tip Teapot 11-22-14

A green vegetal aroma, like fresh peas, wafted up from my glass teapot as the leaves steeped for 3 minutes in the 180F water.

As the pale golden tea liquor cooled, a fragrance of ripe apricots revealed itself in the aroma. The flavor is clean and light, with a slight citrus tang, and gentle, fruity notes of peach and apricot, which linger long into the finish.

Yunnan Silver Tip Tea Bowl 11-22-14

My tea bowl from Hawaii is perfect for showing off the delicate color of this tea. Whenever I bring this tea bowl out, I remember my dearest best friend who generously gifted it to me. Hawaii was one of his most favorite places on earth.

As we enter Thanksgiving week, I would like to express my deep gratitude for all of my dear tea friends who come and visit here. Thank you all for being there and sharing a cup of tea with me. Happy Thanksgiving!

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”

~Marcel Proust

 

Saturday Morning Tea

Water Fairy Oolong Dry Leaf 11-08-14

Good morning, dear tea friends! The leaves that still cling to their branches are darkening and curling as the late autumn winds dry them. Where October was a riot of warm colors, November brings more of a burnished look to the landscape. My morning cup is an Oolong tea from Fujian province in China. It’s beautifully named Wu-Yi Water Fairy Oolong. Also known as Shui Hsien, which translates to “water sprite”, this type of tea is traditionally grown in the Wu-yi mountain area.

I’ve finally done something I’ve been thinking about for awhile now – I got a tea scale! For an enormous leaf like this, it makes measuring a breeze.

Water Fairy Oolong Tare Scale 11-08-14

After turning on the scale, I set it to cup weight mode, placed my glass teapot infuser on the pad and pressed the Tare button to zero it out.

Water Fairy Oolong Weigh Tea On Scale 11-08-14

I added tea leaves until the digital display read 3 since my glass teapot is 17 oz., one ounce shy of 3 cups. I measure everything according to a 6-ounce cup measure.

Water Fairy Oolong Steep 11-08-14

I steeped the leaves for 5 minutes in 190F water. This tea was oxidized approximately 60% and then heated, by roasting, to stop the oxidation process.

Water Fairy Oolong Wet Leaf 11-08-14

I love the story about how this tea got its name.

About 900 years ago, a Song dynasty emperor was traveling with his entourage to southern China to inspect a tea garden. It was a hot summer’s day and everyone soon became very thirsty. They searched high and low for water but could find none. One of the scouts spotted a bush with bright green leaves and his extreme thirst led him to place one of the brightly colored leaves in his mouth. The leaf was very juicy and he found that it quenched his thirst as he chewed it. Soon, everyone was chewing the leaves of this magical plant. Of course, it was the tea plant that produced Shui Xian tea. So, the emperor named the tea “Water Fairy” for its magical thirst quenching powers.

Water Fairy Oolong Teapot 11-08-14

The aroma is fragrant with chestnuts and sweet pipe tobacco. The flavor is smooth and sweet with a pronounced chestnut note and whispers of fruit. The pipe tobacco nuance shows up again in the lingering finish.

The whisky-colored tea liquor has a gentle smokiness I find quite pleasant for a chilly November morning.

Water Fairy Oolong Tea Bowl 11-08-14

Until next time, dear tea friends, may your tea keep you warm and cozy!

“October extinguished itself in a rush of howling winds and driving rain and November arrived, cold as frozen iron, with hard frosts every morning and icy drafts that bit at exposed hands and faces.”

~J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

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