Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! Even though the calendar still says spring, we’re experiencing hot and hazy summer-like weather here in the northeast. Perfect weather for the holiday weekend.

In my cup this morning is another Pre-Chingming tea, called Fairy Oolong. This tea was grown in Hunan province, China.

Hunan province is located in south central China. Its name means “south of the lake,” referring to Lake Dongting, a flood basin for the famous Yangtze River and one of the largest freshwater lakes in China. This beautifully scenic province has been a major center of agriculture for thousands of years, growing rice, tea and oranges. The earliest rice paddies were discovered on the western edge of the lake.

It sounds like a place with a lot of natural beauty and interesting history.

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I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 190F water. They’re quite large and very green.

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The leaves steeped an infusion the color of pale gold.  A fragrant lilac aroma drifted up from my glass teapot.

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As I took my first sip, I found the tea liquor to be light yet it filled my mouth with flavor. Softer notes of lilac are in the cup with a fresh vegetal character and a pronounced sweetness. What a lovely tea this is.

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I have a marvelous 3-day weekend ahead of me, filled with family, garden time, knitting and lots of tea and ice cream. I hope you all have a great weekend!

Morning in a New Land

In trees still dripping night some nameless birds

Woke, shook out their arrowy wings, and sang,

Slowly, like finches sifting through a dream.

The pink sun fell, like glass, into the fields.

Two chestnuts, and a dapple gray,

Their shoulders wet with light, their dark hair streaming.

Climbed the hill. The last mist fell away,

And under the trees, beyond time’s brittle drift,

I stood like Adam in his lonely garden.

On that first morning, shaken out of sleep,

Rubbing his eyes, listening, parting the leaves,

Like tissue on some vast, incredible gift.

~Mary Oliver

 

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! I love this spring time of year when I can throw open my windows to the sweet smelling breezes that bring in a chorus of birdsong. This morning I’m enjoying a cup of white tea called White Needle. It’s from the early Pre-Chingming harvest in China.

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This tea is all silvery-sage downy tea buds that have been dried in the sun.

I steeped the buds for 3 minutes in 180F water. A delicate aroma of flowers drifted up from my glass teapot.

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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 (around April 5th). Any teas harvested before that date are referred to as Pre-Chingming teas. In other words, harvested in very early spring.

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The tea liquor is silky smooth and very sweet with notes of honeydew melon and a clean, refreshing pine essence. The flavor is delicate and mellow. A tea of contemplation.

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My tea graces one of my favorite tea bowls, the one my dear friend, Dave, brought back from Hawaii years ago.

Today I’m going to a local ice cream place that makes handmade micro-batches. Yum! Have a great weekend and enjoy your tea!

“Be still, while the music rises above us; the deep enchantment

Towers, like a forest of singing leaves and birds,

Built, for an instant, by the heart’s troubled beating,

Beyond all power of words.”

~Conrad Aiken, At a Concert of Music

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! On this last day of April when the trees are budding, the sun is shining brilliantly and there’s not a cloud in the blue sky, I’m veering off the first flush Darjeeling path I’ve been on.

Meet Black Dragon Pearls, a China black tea from Yunnan province.

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The large, golden-tipped leaves have been carefully rolled into individual pearls. What a time consuming, tedious task that must be. A beautiful tea art form. These pearls are quite big, larger than the Dragon Phoenix Pearl Jasmine tea or Tai Mu Long Zhu green tea.

I steeped the pearls for 4 1/2 minutes in boiling point (212F) water.

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The tea liquor is a gorgeous coppery-amber color and is fragrant with notes of sweet milky chocolate.

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The cup is smooth and sweet with a lighter feel in the mouth than I thought it would have, given its color and aroma. The prominent note is cocoa with some sweet vanilla hints that linger into the finish. Yum.

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I love my new tea bowl with its brown/blue-green glaze and crackle pattern. It’s great for tea and also could be used for rice as well. I found it at the Japanese pavilion at Epcot during my Disney visit earlier this month.

This is a perfect day to go out and work in the garden. I’m excited to discover what’s growing at my new place. Have a lovely weekend and enjoy your tea!

“It is the twilight zone between past and future that is the precarious world of transformation within the chrysalis. Part of us is looking back, yearning for the magic we have lost; part is glad to say good-bye to our chaotic past; part looks ahead with whatever courage we can muster; part is excited by the changing potential; part sits stone-still not daring to look either way.”

~Marion Woodman

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! It’s a sunny spring day here in my corner of the world, cool but filled with light. I have another brand new first flush Darjeeling in my cup, a lovely selection from the Balasun Estate.

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Established in 1871, the Balasun Estate spreads across rolling hills and a wide open valley with the Balasun river flowing through the lower part of the garden.

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. As the tea steeped, it gave off a wonderfully fresh floral fragrance.

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With its finely plucked leaves threaded with delicate, silvery buds, this was one of the best of the hundreds of Darjeelings we’ve tried this first flush season.

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The golden liquor sparkles in the sunlight.

The aroma is very fresh with sweet floral notes.

The flavor is sublime – smooth, sweet and very floral, with an interesting spicy kick in the finish.

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I had a great vacation with my family and so enjoyed going to the famous mouse’s kingdom. It truly is the happiest place on earth.

Until next time, dear friends, enjoy your tea!

“Although some use stories as entertainment alone, tales are, in their oldest sense, a healing art. Some are called to this healing art; and the best, to my lights, are those who have lain with the story and found all its matching parts inside themselves and at depth. In the best tellers I know, the stories grow out of their lives like roots grow a tree. The stories have grown them, grown them into who they are.”

~Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! Despite the dark clouds and pouring rain outside, today is an auspicious day because I have a 2016 first flush Darjeeling tea in my cup. That brings sunshine and joy to the darkest of days! This selection is called Victoria’s Peak Moonlight, a name that conjures up mystery and magic to me.

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Here’s the information about this magical place from the grower:

“This is a division within the Steinthal Tea Estate, named after Queen Victoria. Located next to Victoria’s Falls and Victoria Park as a memoir of one of the Queens who visited Darjeeling. It is a picturesque area – on the north  side we can see the Himalayan mountains on the east of this are the Botanical Gardens..and just above is the Darjeeling town. A very small quantity of tea is produced every year from this division, which are manufactured at the adjacent Steinthal factory.”

As I poured the water over the leaves in my glass teapot, a lovely floral aroma wafted up, giving me a preview of the delicious experience to come.

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

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Look at the tender tips mixed in with the leaf. Yes, this is a black tea, despite all of that green you see.

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The amber-gold liquor is oh so fragrant with the scent of flowers and tropical fruit. Mmmmm…..

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The flavor is complex with notes of flowers, tropical fruit and a sweetness that reminds me of cookies. Underlying these notes is that fresh green quality that I love so much about a first flush tea. I’m in heaven!

Tomorrow I’m going to Florida to vacation with my family and that famous mouse. Until next time, dear friends, happy spring and enjoy your tea!

“No bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings.”

~William Blake

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! Tomorrow is the first day of spring, the time of year when I want to throw open all my windows and usher out the stagnant winter air in favor of fresh spring breezes. That will have to wait a few days though as we’re expecting some snow tomorrow, a New England welcome to spring. This past week, we had temps near 70, thunderstorms, blustery winds and now snow. Never a dull weather moment in my little corner of the world! On to tea…

First flush season is well underway in the Darjeeling area in northeastern India. Samples are arriving daily and we’re contemplating purchases. Nothing has arrived just yet so I’m celebrating the season with a Namring Upper Estate first flush selection from last year.

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Namring Estate is a very large estate divided into two parts, Namring and Namring Upper. Namring Upper has a steeper elevation and produces the best tea from what I’ve read.

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

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As with most first flush teas, the leaves are variegated from greens to browns with some silver sprinkled in.

Such pretty colors.

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The golden amber liquor has a fresh, inviting aroma with notes of sweet flowers.

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The flavor is as fresh as a spring day you can’t wait to go out walking in because the air is filled with awakening and hope. The cup is smooth and sweet with notes of flowers and a crisp, refreshing finish. Very yummy.

Speaking of walking, that’s next on my agenda today, followed by shopping for Easter goodies for my grandkids.

Until our next time together, enjoy your cuppas and the start of spring!

Something opens our wings

Something makes boredom and hurt disappear

Someone fills the cup in front of us

We taste only sacredness

~Rumi

 

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! Bright sunshine streams through my windows, the first day of spring is only 2 weeks away, and I have a lovely green tea in my cup today.

Life is good.

I’d like to introduce you to Jiu Hua Mao Feng, or “Nine Glorious Mountains,” from China’s An Hui province, specifically Jiu Hua mountain, one of the four sacred mountains of Chinese Buddhism. During the great dynasties of China, this mountain was home to over 300 temples. It’s also a beautiful landscape rich in pine forests, waterfalls, streams and interesting rock formations. Sounds like a wonderful place for tea to grow and thrive.

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A delicate floral aroma scented the air as the leaves steeped for 3 minutes in 180F water.

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The long, twisted Mao Feng leaves released gently during steeping, the “agony of the leaf.”

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The pale gold liquor is light and smooth with sweet vegetal notes and hints of flowers in every sip. The finish is clean and crisp.

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This is the perfect tea for taking a break from your day to sit and just be still. Let all of your daily cares and worries fall away as you savor this tea and contemplate its sacred origins.

Until we meet again, may you enjoy many cups of tea!

“It’s not what you look at that matters. It’s what you see.”

~Henry David Thoreau