Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! June is such a lovely time of year with warm days, not yet too hot, and a landscape of colorful, blooming growth. In my cup this morning is a first flush Darjeeling from the North Tukvar estate. If I had to describe this tea with only one word, it would be refreshing!

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This tea estate 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.

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I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in just under boiling point (212F) water.

The aroma is fragrant, fresh and vegetal with a whisper of flowers.

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The golden tea liquor wakes up my mouth with its refreshing flavor. Floral notes are complemented by a citrus zest tang, which lingers long into the finish. It would make a delicious iced tea.

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My son and his girlfriend gave me a gorgeous pink orchid plant for Mother’s Day. It’s a beautiful accompaniment for my tea table, don’t you think?

I’m off to Michigan next weekend for a 2-week visit with my family. I’ll be back with another tea post in July. Enjoy your tea and this great summer weather!

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! On this cool, overcast morning, I’m enjoying another Pre-Chingming tea in my cup, an Oolong called Fenghuang Dan Cong. This tea has been plucked from centuries old “single trunk” tea trees in China’s Guangdong province, rather than from cultivated tea bushes. Also know as Phoenix Oolong, this is a venerable tea indeed.

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I steeped the large, twisted leaves for 4 minutes in 190F water.

A sweet, fruity aroma wafted up from my glass teapot as I removed the infuser. The wet leaf smells like peaches and lemon. Mmmmm…

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The long leaves stayed twisted even after steeping. They lightened up to an olive green from the dark brown color of the dry leaf.

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The light golden tea liquor has a fruity flavor, like fresh juicy apricots and peaches. There’s a slight vegetal note with a silky smoothness that lasts into the finish.

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On the oxidation scale, I think this Oolong falls between the more oxidized chestnut/woody Oolongs and the less oxidized fragrant, floral Oolongs. It would be a great choice for multiple steepings, if you like to do that.

I’m off to my granddaughter’s softball game this morning. Watching the little ones play and have so much fun gives me great joy.

See you in 2 weeks. Enjoy your tea!

Saturday Morning Tea

PCMGreenNeedleOrgDryLeaf Good morning, dear tea friends! It’s a glorious spring day today, and I enjoyed sitting outside in the morning sunshine sipping my tea. In my cup is a Pre-Chingming tea from China, a green tea called Pre-Chingming Green Needle Organic. PCMGreenNeedleOrgSteep052315 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. PCMGreenNeedleOrgWetLeaf052315 This tea is aptly named as the leaves do look like long, thin needles. I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 180F water. PCMGreenNeedleOrgTeapot052315 The tea liquor is a beautiful spring green color. The aroma is sweet and lightly vegetal, like a whisper of sweet baby peas. PCMGreenNeedleOrgTeaBowl052315 The flavor is complex, meaning there are multiple layers of flavor notes that intermingle in a very pleasing way. I taste light sweet corn as well as a faint fruity hint, like apricot. The liquor is smooth and leaves a buttery feeling on my tongue. There’s a quick tang in the finish. A lovely tea to slowly sip and enjoy on a beautiful spring morning. I wish everyone a great Memorial Day weekend filled with lots of relaxation and fun.  See you in two weeks!

The Light Within

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The last year of my life has been a journey through the darkness of grief back to light, or more specifically, connecting with the light inside myself again. In the spring of 2014, I lost someone I love dearly to a most dreaded disease. He faced every moment of his journey courageously, right up until his last breath. It has been a very hard and lonely year without my best friend, and I still find it difficult to speak of the reality of his passing.

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Just as I created this freeform cuff bracelet one bead at a time, so I got through this last year by taking one step at a time, even when it was the hardest thing to do.

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My beads have always been a place of deep healing for me. Sorting them, touching them, weaving them together to create a story. Here is a story of my light within.

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Just as I had done with my Albuquerque Sky necklace, I made the polymer clay focal with my favorite mokume gane layering, this particular one being Barbara McGuire’s Shimmering Gold technique using gold leaf, translucent clay and alcohol inks.

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Layering the translucent polymer clay with gold leaf is a lovely technique that gives an inner light shimmer to the focal piece.

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The colors of a watery realm reflect deep feelings and the undulating paths of the beadwork represent the ups and downs of my grieving path.

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When the beadwork was complete, I found that I didn’t like the feel of the wide cuff directly on my skin so I lined it with teal-colored ultrasuede and then finished the piece with four sew-on snaps. It feels like a hug on my arm.

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I still have my sad days, days when I miss my friend with such an achingly hollow feeling in my heart. Then there are my not so sad days, days when it’s easier to see and acknowledge all of the abundance in my life. On those days, I grab on to hope and my gratitude pulls me back to a more positive place.

I’m glad to be sharing my beadwork with you once again.

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! Spring is in full bloom here in my little corner of the world. I love to watch the landscape come alive with color – soft yellow greens, vibrant fuschia, cheery yellows, and delicate petal whites, to name a few. One of my favorite springtime colors is the glowing golden of a first flush Darjeeling, and that’s what’s in my cup this morning. This lovely selection is called Margaret’s Hope FTGFOP Tippy Cl. First Flush.

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I’ve read that when the Margaret’s Hope Estate was first set up in the 1830s, it was called Bara Ringtong. It was later renamed Margaret’s Hope after the daughter of one of the managers in the early 20th century, Mr Bagdon. His daughter, Margaret, fell in love with the beautiful estate but, on a trip back to England, fell ill and died so she was never able to return and live there as she wanted to. A tragic story but a lovely tribute. It’s so hard to lose someone you love.

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in water just under the boiling point.

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The gorgeous new spring growth brews a tea with a fresh flowery fragrance and flavor.

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Light citrus hints play along the edges of the aroma and the mouth feel is smooth and buttery. A vegetal tang lingers in the finish. I could drink this tea all day long.

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Now that I’m well caffeinated, it’s time for a walk in the spring sunshine. As always, thanks for stopping by and sharing a cuppa with me. See you in two weeks!

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! It’s lovely to be back to share a cup of tea with all of you. My visit to Michigan was a welcome and relaxing break, moreso than usual as I caught a spring cold on the plane ride out there. Despite cooler than normal temps here in New England, the landscape is painting over winter’s dull colors with a palette of fresh greens and splashes of yellow as the daffodils and forsythias start blooming. Oh, welcome spring!

Today’s tea is an interesting Ceylon black tea. Of the “spider leaf” style, with long, wiry dark leaf and a touch of silver tips , it’s called St. Clair FBOPF Ex Spl.

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St. Clair is located in the Talawekellie District of south central Sri Lanka. It’s the home of one of the widest waterfalls in Sri Lanka, called St. Clair’s Falls after the tea estate, and also known as the “Little Niagara of Sri Lanka.”

I steeped the leaves for 4 minutes in boiling point (212F) water.

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The aroma is sweet and winey with that Ceylon brightness.

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The tea liquor is a deep, dark amber color with a flavor reminiscent of the cocoa earthiness of a China black tea. That said, it has the tangy bright flavor notes that wake up the tongue and clearly identify it as a Ceylon tea. Nuances of blackberries emerge as the tea cools. The finish is long and brisk.

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The sun is shining in a light blue spring sky, a perfect day for taking a long walk to enjoy the blooms. Have a wonderful two weeks!

Saturday Morning Tea

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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!