Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! I’m back this week to share another cup of tea but with a heavy heart that grieves for all those affected by the unspeakable violence that took place in our beloved city and state this week. I pray for healing and for justice and to Martin, Lingzu, Krystle and Sean – you will not be forgotten.

This morning’s tea is a 2013 first flush Darjeeling from the Glenburn Estate. Three weeks ago, I reviewed another first flush from last year’s harvest at the Glenburn Estate. This 2013 tea is lot number DJ-17, assigned by the tea estate.

I found the leaf on this tea quite interesting in that it was a combination of various colors – russet, olive, spring green, dark brown – and sizes – whole intact leaf, tips and huge broken pieces.

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I steeped the leaves for 4 minutes, pushing the brewing time from my normal 3 minutes for a Darjeeling tea.

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The dark golden tea liquor has a light floral aroma. The flavor is smooth (even at 4 minutes!) and sweet with pronounced floral notes and a hint of that tropical banana note I find in a lot of first flushes. The finish has a citrus tang to it that lingers in my mouth. In my next steeping, I might even push the time on this light-bodied black tea a little more to see what happens.

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As the tea cooled in my teacup, I found the flavor lightened up somewhat. I was surprised at how smooth the liquor is even when cooled.

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As I slowly sip my tea and gaze out the window, I notice peeks of brilliant blue sky here and there amidst the dark gray clouds.

“Truly, it is in darkness that one finds the light, so when we are in sorrow, then this light is nearest of all to us.”  ~Meister Eckhart

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! I’m back this week with a revisit to our 2012 harvest Glenburn Estate first flush Darjeeling. Last week, I reran my post from last April, when I reviewed it shortly after its arrival.

This tea is a very early harvest from the first flush season. The leaf is quite green with silvery white tips threaded throughout the green leaf. That said, this tea has been processed as a black tea.

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Last year, I steeped the leaf for 3 minutes in just under boiling point water (200F). This year I steeped the leaf for 4 minutes in boiling point water (212F).

As I lifted the infuser from my glass teapot, I inhaled a delicate floral aroma from the pale gold tea liquor, as last year.

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Last year, I photographed a pile of the wet tea leaves. This year, I wanted to see what a leaf pile consists of so I lifted out some individual pieces. I see tiny buds (baby leaf) mixed with broken pieces of whole leaf. Look at the serrations on the edge of that leaf to the right.

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The tea liquor color is lighter than the first flush tea I reviewed 2 weeks ago, from the Thurbo Estate. I’m not sure why but it could be because this tea was harvested quite early in the season. The tea estates assign “DJ” numbers to the tea lots. This tea’s “DJ” number is 4 whereas the Thurbo lot is 45. Perhaps the Thurbo was harvested a couple of weeks later in the season?

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At 4 minutes, the tea is quite smooth and very flavorful with pronounced floral notes, just like last year. I even remarked in last year’s post that it would be interesting to push the steeping time as the tea was quite smooth. I think I’m going to try 5 minutes on my next steep. I’ll let you know next week how it tasted.

So, my experiment was a success in that it showed how amazingly well this tea has held up a year later. Sometimes I talk to customers who tend to shy away from the teas from older harvests. I say – try a sample. You will probably be most pleasantly surprised!

I’ve just heard this week that we have three 2013 first flush Darjeelings arriving within the next several weeks. Oh, happy day! I will post a review as soon as they arrive.

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.”

~Rainer Marie Rilke

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! Today I’m conducting an experiment, which I hope to continue over the course of the next several months. In my cup this morning is a 2-year-old first flush Darjeeling from the Thurbo Estate. Yes, that’s right. It was harvested in the spring of 2011.

The 2013 first flushes haven’t arrived yet and it sounds like they had a drought, which has resulted in the season getting started later. Samples so far of those teas harvested have been green and not very flavorful. Ok, let’s get started.

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Interestingly enough, I reviewed this very tea on April 23, 2011 here. Wonderful! Let’s compare. Back then, I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes. Today I steeped the leaves for 4 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. I love the amazing variegation of leaf size and color of this tea!

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I didn’t have my micro lens back then so now I can get closer to see the different leaf sizes. Look at the fine hairs on the tiny leaf.

Back in 2011, I found this tea to be very fragrant with an aroma of celery. Today, I found the tea to be still quite fragrant, however, I didn’t detect any celery aroma. The tea smelled quite green (vegetal) with a floral nuance.

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The tea liquor is still a light caramel color with a very smooth, light flavor and notes of tropical fruit, like an unripe banana. I often find this flavor note in first flush teas.

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It is obvious to me that this tea has been stored very well and it’s still quite flavorful. The main difference I detected was in the astringency factor. I was able to steep the leaves for a minute longer without it developing that characteristic “bite” so it appears to have mellowed out, a positive thing for me.

This is a perfect example of how you can take the same tea and need to adjust the steeping time as the tea ages. This tea has satisfied this first flush lover!

Stay tuned for more experimentation and, hopefully, a review of a 2013 first flush by April! Have a great week!

“There is a certain part of all of us that lives outside of time. Perhaps we become aware of our age only at exceptional moments and most of the time we are ageless.” ~Milan Kundera

Saturday Morning Tea

Hello again, my dear tea friends! I’m happy to be back to share another cup of tea with all of you. This morning I’m enjoying another first flush Darjeeling, this selection from the Glenburn estate. So far, 5 first flushes have arrived and I have to say that this one is my favorite so far. The leaf is from the first plucking of the season and, as you can see from my photo, it’s filled with the silvery white tips of the tea bush. So new, so tender.

The leaf shows off its gorgeous green color as it steeps. I steeped for 3 minutes in just under boiling point water, around 200 degrees F. Remember that this is not a green tea but has been oxidized and processed as a black tea.

My online tea friend, Steph, had the opportunity to visit the Glenburn tea estate during a trip to India last year. She shares her wonderful adventure on her blog, Steph’s Cup of Tea, here. To visit a tea estate in Darjeeling would definitely be a dream come true for me. Someday…

Ok, back to the tea. The tea liquor steeped up to such a pale, delicate golden color. A sweet aroma of flowers wafted up from my glass teapot as I gently removed the infuser basket.

While I do love notes of tropical fruit and banana in a first flush tea, my first love has always been the floral notes. This tea is a perfect example of that – in the aroma and pronounced in the flavor. The liquor is so smooth that you could probably experiment with pushing the steeping time a little bit. If you do, please let me know what you think.

Have a wonderful week filled with many delicious cups of tea!

“One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats.”

~Iris Murdoch, Writer

Saturday Morning Tea

Yesterday my company moved from our facility in Hopkinton, MA, where we’ve been for the last 9 years, to a new facility in the nearby town of Holliston. So, needless to say, it was a day of fixing up, hooking up, learning a new phone system and settling in to our new space. Not to mention moving all of that tea. Literally, tons of it. The good news is that we’ve been moving things over to the new space, bit by bit, over the past several months but it was still a big undertaking yesterday nonetheless. Whew!

When I first joined my company in 1995, it was a very  small operation and our packing and shipping areas were in close proximity to each other. The phones were nearby so we could stop to answer a call as we packed and boxed the tea orders. Now, each department has its own huge space and we need to take a bit of a walk to visit each other. We have evolved to have a separate Customer Service department as well as a Purchasing department in a large office area. All that said, the spirit of our company has remained the same no matter how much we grow, with the primary goal of providing our customers with the best tea and service we can. And you will always get a live person whenever you call us during our hours!

This morning’s tea is a first flush Darjeeling from the Makaibari estate. A biodynamic estate located in the Darjeeling district of northeast India, it produces some of the finest Darjeelings I’ve tasted. In all of my years of drinking and enjoying Darjeeling teas, I haven’t met a Makaibari that I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed.

The leaf is resplendent with a profusion of tips which I find smooths out the crisp pungent flavor of a first flush tea. I steeped the leaves at my usual 3 minutes in boiling point water.

Look at that gorgeous color. Yum.

The fragrant aroma has a faint note of juicy citrus and the crisp flavor fills my mouth with notes of a muscatel grape.

I just had to enjoy this tea in a white teabowl so I could keep gazing upon that amazing color.

The muggy humidity has left us here in New England and we are blessed with a clearer, cooler day today. I’m going to find some time to spend in my studio, getting back to my experimentations with acrylic paint and polymer clay.

What’s in your teacup this weekend?

“Being an artist means: not numbering and counting, but ripening like a tree, which doesn’t force its sap, and stands confidently in the storms of spring, not afraid that afterward summer may not come. It does come. But it comes only to those who are patient, who are there as if eternity lay before them, so unconcernedly silent and vast.”

~Rainer Maria Rilke

Saturday Morning Tea

I feel like a kid in a candy store at this time of year with the first flush Darjeelings arriving freshly plucked from different tea gardens. Oh joy!

This morning’s tea is from the Arya estate, an organic tea garden located high in the Himalayan mountains of northeastern India.

I’ve read that it was started by a team of Buddhist monks who carefully developed their tea plants from Chinese seeds. They practiced Aruyvedic medicine and their original house may still be found on the grounds of the estate.

I imagine a beautiful place nestled in the shadow of great towering peaks where, if you listen very closely, a rich history whispers its secrets.

Many first flush Darjeeling leaves are very green even though they are processed as black teas (allowed to oxidize and turn dark).

This first flush of spring growth doesn’t want to give up its greenness, the essence of spring and rebirth.

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in slightly less than boiling point (212 F) water. The green leaf is transformed into a glowing liquid amber.

A fresh, sweet aroma wafts up from my glass teapot as I quietly lift the lid to remove the infuser basket. The only sound at this early hour is the sweet song of the birds outside my window.

The flavor is bright and astringent, waking up my mouth with sweet, fruity notes that linger, linger, linger…

Last weekend’s adventure in my little patch of garden involved an all day affair with a stubborn yew stump that finally had to be ripped out with a heavy chain and large pickup truck. Thank goodness for the generosity of new neighbors! Now that the stump is removed, I have a gathering of shade plants – astilbe, coral bells, bleeding heart, impatiens – that are patiently waiting to be planted in their new home.

“Solitude – walking alone, doing things alone – is the most blessed thing in the world, the mind relaxes and thoughts begin to flow and I think I am beginning to find myself a bit.” ~Helen Hayes

Saturday Morning Tea

Hello tea friends! It’s good to be back home and share a cup of tea with you again. I do love to travel and see new places or revisit favorite places but it is always good to come home, especially after a full day of air travel. I felt my shoulders relax the moment I walked through my front door. Ahhh, home again.

This morning I’m enjoying a very special treat, one of my most favorite experiences of springtime – the first sip of a brand new first flush Darjeeling. This tea is from the Puttabong estate. Located in the mountainous Darjeeling district of northeast India and also know as the Tukvar estate, I’ve written about this estate before right here.

Unfortunately, the weather conditions in Darjeeling this spring were less than ideal but you would never know that when looking at the gorgeous leaf and inhaling the fragrant aroma of this tea. That said, the lower quantity produced this season has made these first flush teas very expensive.

This tea is processed as a black tea but because the plucking is from the first leaves of springtime, it has a very “green” feel to it, in both the dry and wet leaf and also the aroma and taste.

The tea liquor steeps to a deep golden color after 3 minutes in slightly less than boiling point water.

The aroma and flavor is of ripening fruit. It calls to mind a green banana that has just turned ripe enough to eat but still retains its not yet quite ripeness. So new, so fresh, so smooth.

I have one word for the flavor. YUM. How do you like that for a technical tea description? I just want to keep drinking this tea it’s so wonderful! Unfortunately, I only have enough for 4 cups of tea in the sample I have so I will savor each delicious sip. I have looked forward to this moment all winter long. Mmmmm….

My workplace is located 3 blocks from the starting line of the Boston Marathon so I have Monday off and a delicious 3-day weekend stretching out in front of me. I’ve been on the go for the last month so I am taking this opportunity to just hang out at home and do nothing.

What tea are you enjoying today?