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

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! The weather has turned more seasonable and I gaze out my window on a cool, overcast morning. I slip on my warm fleece and sit down to sip my tea. I’m back to my beloved first flush Darjeelings, this selection from the Avongrove Estate.

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Avongrove, meaning “nest of birds,” overlooks the Balasun River in the Rangbhang Valley in Darjeeling district, India. With elevations of 2,200-5,700 in the foothills of the Himalayas, this organically certified estate has the perfect location and climate to produce wonderful Darjeeling teas. From their website:

Five hundred workers live on the estate with their families, in small houses decorated with orange trees and flowers. As our manager walks by, the old hands smile and their children zip past him on improvised skateboards. Life is simple, nobody disturbs the hills and we always welcome our frequent bird visitors drawn to Avongrove as an organic estate, free from chemicals. For our other visitors, also always welcome; sipping a cup of tea, relaxed on the hilltop, enjoying a misty, magical dusk is indeed satisfying.

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

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The finely plucked leaves produce a golden liquor that has a fresh vegetal fragrance with a whisper of flowers. Mmmm, so fresh.

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There’s a crispness to the mouth feel that wakes up my palate for the flavor notes to come. Floral. Tropical fruit. A lingering sweetness. Another enjoyable first flush!

What’s in your cup today?

“I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart.”

~Vincent Van Gogh

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