Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! It’s lovely to be back with you, sharing and enjoying another cup of tea. We’re embraced by sultry July weather here in New England, with temps and humidity both in the 90s. I’m camped up in my 2nd floor studio room, gazing out at the leaden sky and savoring a pot of China Oolong Choicest Organic, a more oxidized (60-70%) Oolong, processed in the style of a Bai Hao (white tip or white hair).

This tea comes from Huangshan (the Yellow mountains) in southern Anhui province. This mountain range is named after the mythical Yellow Emperor, Huang Di, who ruled from 2698-2598 BC. This is a land of uniquely-shaped pine trees twisting out of towering rock formations, swimming in a sea of clouds. In my mind’s eye, I can imagine the venerable old tea bushes growing here and there in the rock crevices.

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

The golden amber liquor is fragrant with notes of peach and honey. mmmmmm…..

The cup is quite smooth with a pronounced honey flavor. As the tea cools, ripe stone fruit notes come forward, enhanced by the honey sweetness.

With its sweet, fruity character, this Oolong would make a great iced tea for these sweltering days of summer. Or, enjoy it hot as I’m doing. I find that sipping hot tea on a hot day refreshes me, rather than making me hotter.

It was great to join you for another cup of tea. As my long-time tea friend and kindred spirit, Anna, always says: Enjoy your next cup!

“Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air.”

~John Quincy Adams

 

Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! As we approach the 4th of July this week, I’m reading a great book about the birth of American independence, called Revolutionary Summer, purchased at the gift shop of our local national park, site of where it all began, the old North Bridge and “the shot heard round the world.” I’ve always been fascinated by American Revolutionary history, and how a group of passionate patriots rose up and joined together to create a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the pursuit of happiness. On to our tea…

My morning cup is a black tea from China, called Yunnan Black Needle Imperial.

As you can see, the large leaves and golden buds have been twisted into long, distinctive needle shapes. Plucked from the large-leafed tea trees that grow in Yunnan province, this lovely tea is a work of art.

I steeped the leaves for 5 minutes in boiling point (212F) water.

This tea is so smooth that you could try steeping the leaves for longer, if you like, or experiment with multiple steepings.

The liquor glows like newly polished copper.

Its aroma is warm and toasty with rich earthy hints.

The cup is smooth and sweet with notes of honey and toast and hints of spice that play along the edges of the flavor, whispering into the finish. This tea has a light and refined character, perfect for any time of day.

In 2 weeks, I’ll be away visiting family so my next tea post will be in 3 weeks. Until then, happy sipping!

“Is it not a saying of Moses, ‘Who am I, that I should go in and out before this great People?’ When I consider the great events which are passed, and those greater which are rapidly advancing, and that I may have been instrumental in touching some Springs, and turning some small Wheels, which have had and will have such Effects, I feel an Awe upon my Mind, which is not easily described.”

~John Adams to Abigail Adams, May 17, 1776

Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! On this misty, late spring morning, I’ve chosen a dark, rich China black tea for my teapot. Meet Pre-Chingming Yunnan Black Snail. As I’ve shared with you before, Pre-Chingming teas are harvested in China on very early spring days when the tea bushes start to flush with new growth after their winter dormancy.

From Yunnan province, this tea is produced from a large leaf varietal. The leaves are rolled into spiral shapes, reminiscent of snails. After a 5 minute steeping in boiling point (212F) water, take a look at these unfurled and partially unfurled leaf sets. This tea would do well with multiple steepings.

The fragrance reminds me of powdered unsweetened cocoa with a hint of malt.

The red-amber liquor is rich and oh so smooth. Pronounced notes of cocoa are embraced by a dark honey sweetness that lingers into the lightly spicy finish.

This tea would make a terrific iced latte with a little milk and sweetener, a great refresher for the hot summer days to come.

I remember when I received my Nikon’s micro lens. It was about 4 years ago, a gift from the love of my life who passed away 3 years ago. Anyway, I remember the joy and delight I felt when I opened this lovely unexpected gift and I entered a whole new world of closeup photography. I could now shoot closeups of my beloved tea leaves! It’s hard to believe that I’ve been sharing tea with you on my blog for over 10 years now. As I look back over all of the tremendous changes I’ve experienced since I started my blog, I see the one constant thread that has stitched my days together with strength and purpose – my tea journey and my deep passion for sharing it with others, through my cupping notes and my photography. I’ve been honored to do so and hope to continue for many more years to come. Whether you’ve been with me for years or have just joined, thank you for sharing the journey with me!

“I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. He taught me that if you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it at full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. Hot is no good either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be.”

~Roald Dahl

Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! I steeped a special tea in my glass teapot this morning. Hint: it was harvested in China before April 5th and its name references a small creature that lives in a shell.

The photo above is what the leaves look like after steeping.

Here’s a before steeping shot.

If you guessed Pre-Chingming Pi Lo Chun, you are correct!

I’ve read that creating the distinctive curly shape of Pi Lo Chun leaf requires five hand motions, a combination of a gentle twist and roll that’s repeated three times. This is done while the leaves are fired in short, round metal cylinders, heated from below. The goal of the “tea firer” is to fix the leaf in its unique curly shape during firing in such a way that this shape will relax during steeping and the leaf will return to its original shape after steeping. In looking at the two photos above, you can see that goal was definitely accomplished. You can see the leaves relaxing during steeping here.

The pale gold infusion has a delicate yet complex aroma, vegetal and buttery with a faint toasty hint.

The cup is silky smooth, sweet and refined. The sweetness is reminiscent of fruit and there’s a nutty suggestion that comes out and lingers in the finish. Mmmm…

This is a great choice for a fresh, elegant green tea that’s not very vegetal.

I took a walk downtown this morning. The air was fresh and cool and the sun was shining. Then I returned home and made myself a pot of tea. Focusing on these small acts helped me to relax in the moment and let go of a very busy, very challenging week.

Until next time, enjoy your tea!

“We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.”

~J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! Hot and steamy weather arrived this past week with soaring temps and the rumble of thunder in the early morning hours. As soon as she arrived, she was gone again in a few days and replaced with cooler spring weather. Welcome to our unpredictable New England weather!

More first flush Darjeelings have arrived these past few weeks. I’m enjoying a selection from Liza Hill this morning. Liza Hill is a division of the esteemed Risheehat Estate in Darjeeling. If you look at a map of India, you’ll see Darjeeling, wedged in between Nepal and Bhutan, up in northeast India. Many years ago, Tibetan Buddhist monks named this area Dorje-ling. The Dorje is a sacred ritual object of holy lamas. It symbolized strength and constancy.

The dry leaf smells fresh and invitingI steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 212F (boiling point) water.

A lovely floral aroma drifted up from my glass teapot as the leaves steeped.

After they’ve steeped, I like to comb through the wet leaves to get a sense of the tea and its plucking order. You can see this fine intact plucking with the leaf gently twisted. Beautiful.

The liquor is a glowing golden amber, fragrant with the aroma of spring flowers, a heady scent to awaken my senses as I pour my first cup.

After a long week of very busy work, a lawnmower that won’t start, a hornet in my kitchen, a clogged dryer vent, this tea transports me to another place far from my daily worries – an exotic place of bright sunshine and cool breezes, filled with tea bushes growing in the shadow of majestic Himalayan peaks.

The flavor is rich with floral notes and tropical fruit sweetness. A refreshing pungent quality plays at the edges of the flavor, and lingers in the back of my throat. Delicious.

My weekend will be filled with family – a birthday party for my oldest son, making tea with my 6-year-old grandson and nurturing his new interest, and, of course, spending time with my newest granddaughter.

Until our next cup of tea together, have a wonderful couple of weeks!

“Were it possible for us to see further than our knowledge reaches, and yet a little way beyond the outworks of our divinings, perhaps we would endure our sadnesses with greater confidence than our joys. For they are the moments when something new has entered into us, something unknown; our feelings grow mute in shy perplexity, everything in us withdraws, a stillness comes, and the new, which no one knows, stands in the midst of it and is silent.” 

~Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! Silver threads of rain fall from a leaden sky on this first Saturday in May. It’s been chilly so far this month and, while the flowers are getting plenty of water, they long for the warm sunshine, as we all do. I’ve chosen a green tea to grace my tea bowl this morning, an Organic Lung Ching from Zhejiang province, located in eastern China.

Lung Jing (Lung Ching, Long Jing) tea has a distinctive flat shape due to its unique processing. This flat shape is intentionally caused by the motion of the charcoal pan when the leaf is pan-roasted to stop oxidation. Its name means “Dragon’s Well,” referring to the place where it has been traditionally grown. Legend has it that a Taoist priest in the 3rd century advised the local villagers to pray to the dragon of a local well to bring rain and end their drought. It worked and the well was named after that dragon. The Dragon’s Well monastery still stands in that spot to this day.

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 180F water. I prefer spring water because of its mineral content. I find that it imparts a liveliness to my steeped tea, which I enjoy. Different water sources can produce different qualities and flavors in the same tea. I encourage you to experiment by steeping the same tea with different water and see which you prefer.

Even on this dark and dreary day, the liquor glows in my glass teapot.

The aroma is sweetly vegetal, with hints of buttered corn.

I love the flavor of Lung Ching tea. This selection is classic, sweet and nutty, smooth and silky on the tongue, with toasty hints and a whisper of fresh corn.

I’m looking forward to a family weekend, spending time with all of my grandchildren and celebrating my youngest son’s birthday.

Until next time, I hope you enjoy many delicious cups of tea!

“I sustain myself with the love of family.” ~Maya Angelou

Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! I’m back from my Michigan trip and am happy to sit down and share another delicious cup of tea with you again. It’s been a very busy week and I need to slow down, take a deep breath and enjoy some meditative time with a cuppa. Why don’t you join me?

My favorite tea for contemplation is white tea. In my teapot this morning is a China white called Organic Pai Mu Tan Supreme. The silvery buds reflect the uniform gray sky hanging over this misty, spring morning.

This tea’s plucking order is the new leaf shoot, or bud, plus the top leaves. Pai Mu Tan, or Bai Mudan, translates to “white peony,” some say because of the shape of the leaves, others because of its fragrance.

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 180F water.

A common question is: “what’s the difference between green tea and white tea?” The difference is in the processing of the leaves. Whereas green tea leaves are heated up pretty much right away, whether steamed or pan fried, for example, to halt the oxidation of the leaf, white tea leaves are allowed to wither naturally in the sun, sometimes for several days. So, the leaves aren’t heated to halt oxidation. In fact, after withering, the leaves are piled and allowed to oxidize a little bit before they are baked to dry the leaves out for packing and transport. This processing contributes to a more herbaceous and much less vegetal flavor.

As I pour the golden wheat-colored liquor into my cup, I detect a honeyed fruit fragrance in the aroma. I look forward to my first sip.

My first sip reveals a very smooth, sweet flavor, with notes of fresh melon and a soft toasty hint. I breath in the fragrance and sip oh so slowly. Slowing down and slipping into the moment allows me to unwind my knotted thoughts and let them float away like the steam from my cup.

Enjoy your next cup.

“Mindfulness practice means that we commit fully in each moment to be present; inviting ourselves to interface with this moment in full awareness, with the intention to embody as best we can an orientation of calmness, mindfulness, and equanimity right here and right now.” 

~Jon Kabat-Zinn