Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! The first day of fall has come and gone this week and the air has shifted from warm and sultry to crisp and cool. Great sleeping weather.

In my cup this morning is a second flush Darjeeling from the Balasun Estate, located in northeast India. This lovely tea was harvested this year. You can read my post about the 2016 first flush Darjeeling from Balasun Estate here.

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The leaf is beautiful, bold with lots of silvery tips mixed in.

The Balasun estate is located near the tiny hamlet town of Sonada, one of the stations for the heritage Darjeeling Toy train. Built between 1879 and 1881, the 48-mile narrow gauge railway runs between Darjeeling and New Jalpaiguri in West Bengal. This well-loved railway is a delight to travelers and rail enthusiasts.

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

A deep fruity aroma revealed itself as the leaves released their essence into the water.

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The bright amber infusion is rich and flavorful with ripe fruit notes, like crisp apples and juicy peaches. A warm toastiness envelops the fruity quality in both the aroma and the flavor.

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This is the perfect selection to go with a warm apple crisp or apple pie, made from an apple picking adventure, a favorite outing this time of year.

What’s in your cup today?

“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 and the Deathly Hallows

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! It’s a quiet, gray-sky day, a good day for sitting with a cup of tea, and remembering those fallen on that fateful day 15 years ago tomorrow. I have my favorite tea for contemplation, a white tea from China, this selection called Jinggu Spring Buds.

Located in the Pu-Erh prefecture in Yunnan province, Jinggu County has a subtropical, monsoon climate with steep, high mountains, ideal for tea growing. This tea is made up entirely of tender spring tea buds. Beautiful.

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I steeped the buds for 3 minutes in water a little under 180F.

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The aroma is soft and delicate with a toasty, nutty fragrance.

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The tea liquor is the color of winter wheat.

I stop and pay attention as I take my first sip. Let the tea sit quietly in my mouth for a moment. Let the flavor reveal itself.

It’s light and smooth, silky in the mouth feel. First, I taste a toasty herbaceousness. Next, a nutty hint. The finish imparts a suggestion of green melon but it’s fleeting, doesn’t linger. The toastiness does linger.

As the tea cools, a honey-like sweetness grows, suggesting the possibility of a lovely iced tea.

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After a quiet morning spent with my tea, I’m spending the afternoon with my grandchildren today. I love seeing the world through their eyes as we play games and laugh and eat ice cream.

Have a great couple of weeks enjoying many cups of tea!

“No day shall erase you from the memory of time.” ~Virgil

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! August is winding down and it’s back to school this week in our area. The summer skips by much too fast, especially when it hits August. I’m looking forward to the vibrant colors of fall.

An interesting black tea from Sichuan province graces my cup this morning. The leaves have been shaped into small pearl shapes, giving it the name China Black Pearls. Its artful form makes this a truly special tea.

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As the pearls steeped for 5 minutes in boiling point (212F) water, they gently unfurled to reveal long, twisted leaves.

The aroma is fragrant with toasty notes and hints of cocoa.

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The leaves infuse a deep dark amber cup. The cocoa hints in the aroma become more pronounced in the flavor, a sweet cocoa rather than bittersweet.

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A warm toastiness enhances the cocoa flavor. A suggestion of spice presents itself in the finish and lingers in my mouth. This tea is medium-bodied and very smooth. I wonder what a 5+ steeping time would reveal…

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I bet this tea would make a wonderful iced latte, in a tall glass with a splash of milk and a smidgen of sweetener.

My family is coming to visit from Michigan for the long Labor Day weekend. We’ve planned some fun activities, including a trip to Boston for a day of touring and, of course, a seafood dinner. I’m so looking forwarding to it!

Have a lovely two weeks and enjoy your tea!

“This miraculous living gift from the sea–the only gemstone to be produced from a living entity–is the creation of beauty from adversity, of art from irritation. It illustrates that even the worst and most painful invasion can become something of healing artistry. The pearl is a glowing example of a mortal threat transformed into magnificence.”

~Mary Olsen Kelly, Path of the Pearl

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! It’s a hot and steamy August so far, the kind of weather where the air is so thick you can taste it and towering dark clouds build up in the afternoon sky. I love this time of year.

I’ve traveled to the Ruhuna district of southern Sri Lanka with my cuppa this morning. This selection is from the Lumbini Estate.

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The Lumbini Tea Estate was founded in 1984 by Mr. Dayapala Jayawardane. It’s located in the hilly village of Pallegama, close to the Sinharaja forest reserve, a small national park that’s home to many endemic species, including the purple-faced langur monkey.

The leaves are small with a profusion of beautiful golden tips. I steeped them for 4 minutes in boiling point (212F) water.

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The aroma is fragrant and sweet. The liquor has a rich, syrupy quality with notes of dried fruit and hints of cocoa and spice. There’s a crispness that identifies it as a Ceylon black tea, however, I’ve always found this “spider leg” leaf style to be more reminiscent of a black tea from China. I love the mouth feel, thick and sweet.

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I have a lovely afternoon planned with my grandkids. With more thunderstorms on the way, it’ll probably be best enjoyed indoors, maybe a movie and popcorn, which is always fun.

Enjoy your tea!

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

~Vivian Greene

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! Our heat wave has finally broken, we’re back to more seasonable weather, and I’m back to drinking hot tea. The perfect choice for this summertime morning is a classic second flush Darjeeling, this selection from the Singbulli Estate.

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Located in the picturesque Mirik area of Darjeeling in northeastern India, the organically certified Singbulli Estate was established in 1924 by British planters. Its 9 rolling hills are spread out over 14 miles, at an altitude that ranges from 1,200 feet to 4,100 feet. Mirik comes from the word Mir-Yok, which translates to “place burnt by fire.”

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

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The dry leaves are a rich brown color and, after steeping, give off a rich, fruity fragrance.

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I always love to discover a tea with a flavor unique to what’s expected. Equally, I love to come across a tea that’s the quintessence of its tradition. This tea is the quintessence of a second flush Darjeeling.

Rich and fruity, like ripe grapes and juicy peaches.

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Toasty, a warm comforting smell and flavor.

Smooth, the liquor caresses your tongue with a silky feeling.

Lively, your taste buds are awakened.

Lingering, the flavor stays in your mouth for awhile.

This tea is all that and more. Yum.

Where a first flush Darjeeling showcases the first plucking and the freshness of spring and all its flavors, a second flush Darjeeling showcases the summer time potential, the rich, round, ripe flavors produced by the finest leaves. One is not better than the other. Each is wonderful for what it is, in its own right.

Until we meet again, enjoy your next cup!

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”

~Henry James

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! It’s good to be back sharing my love of tea with you!

It’s a steamy morning here in New England with temps forecasted to tower into the 90s today. It’s the perfect weather for a frosty glass of iced tea. A couple of years ago, I shared my iced Chai latte recipe with you and here it is again, for your enjoyment. If you’re experiencing the same heat wave, stay cool!

One of our favorite activities for a lazy afternoon when I’m visiting my family in Michigan is to go to the bookstore and browse the stacks, my parents with their decaf Cafe Mocha and me with my Chai Latte (5 pumps!), iced in the summer and hot in the winter. As you probably know from reading my tea posts over the years, my tea preferences tend to be straight tea leaves rather than the flavored kind but there’s just something about the combination of the spices in Chai that I find yummy and comforting. So, why limit my Chai enjoyment to the occasional trek to the bookstore or cafe when I can make my own right at home?

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As I like to drink my iced Chai latte in the evenings as well, I’m using Rooibos Chai as my “tea” choice. In this selection, cardamom, citrus peels, ginger, cinnamon, pepper, star-anise, and cloves have been mixed in with the Rooibos. I started my iced Chai journey last night by adding one tablespoon of Chai to 8 ounces of cold spring water. To make my measuring easier, I mixed my ingredients in a small Pyrex measuring cup. I placed the measuring cup in the fridge and then removed it this morning when I was ready to create my latte. You want to steep your tea leaves in cold water for at least 6 hours and then strain into your favorite glass.

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In talking to an Indian gentleman I used to work with, Masala (“mixture of spices”) Chai (Hindi word for tea) is traditionally made in a big pot on the family stove, simmering an assortment of aromatic spices on hand with black tea leaves and buffalo milk. With cardamom usually being the primary spice, Masala Chai can also contain cinnamon, cloves, ginger, peppercorn, star anise and nutmeg. As chai, or tea, has been historically considered a medicinal beverage in India, the addition of warming Ayurvedic spices adds to its healing properties.

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I like to add milk, agave nectar and ice to my Chai. How about you?

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Mmmm, so refreshing!

I hope that you’re cooling off during these hot, hazy summer days with an iced cuppa.

“I almost wish we were butterflies and liv’d but three summer days – three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain.”   ~John Keats

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! On this warm summertime morning, I have a green tea in my cup, one that I haven’t had for a long time – a green tea from Vietnam.

Green tea is the most popular tea in Vietnam, accounting for a large percentage of retail sales in the country. I’ve read that it has been traditionally associated with natural or artistic activities, such as writing poetry, tending flowers and being out in nature. What a wonderful way to enjoy a cup of tea!

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This particular tea is a Mao Feng leaf style. The Mao Feng (translates to “Hairy Mountain” or “Fur Peak”) leaf style is long and wiry, created by twisting the leaves during processing. There’s a nice amount of silvery tips threading through the darker green leaf.

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I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 180F water. The leaf color lightened up as the leaves steeped.

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The infusion is a clear golden color. The aroma is fruity with a whisper of sweet tobacco.

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The liquor fills my mouth with fruitiness. What is it? One minute I thought melon, the next stone fruit. Either way, it’s yummy. That whisper of sweet tobacco is there as well. This tea has a lot of body for a green tea and is a great choice for those looking for less vegetal.

My vacation is starting very soon and I’ll be spending some nice relaxing time in MI with my family. Saturday Morning Tea will be back in 3 weeks. Until then, dear friends, happy tea drinking!

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”

~F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby