Saturday Morning Tea

This morning’s tea comes from an ancient tea forest located in the misty Jing Mai mountain area in southwestern Yunnan province of China. The hill tribe people of this area, originally called the “Pu”, have been cultivating tea in this forest for over a thousand years. The history of their sacred tradition is documented in ancient stone relics and scrolls. This tea, harvested from a varietal of the tea plant called Camellia Sinensis Assamica, a broad leafed tree, is called Ancient Organic Green Pu-Ehr Tuo Cha tea. As you can see, the leaves have been compressed into a little bowl called a tuo cha (tea cake).

Pu-ehr teas technically start out as green tea but have a tea category all of their own because of unique processing methods. There are 2 types of Pu-ehr, raw and cooked. My morning tea is a raw Pu-ehr. The new growth, buds, are harvested from the tree and sun dried. After the buds are dry, they are heated to halt oxidation and then compressed into a bowl shape. A tradition dating back to the old caravan routes, compressing the tea into cakes makes for an easier form to transport from one place to another.

The tea liquor is the color of a white tea, having some of its delicate flavor characteristics as well. Notes of honey and fruit caress your tongue as you sip from your cup. This tea is great for multiple steepings so I can keep adding water to my teapot all day long. My first steeping was 4 minutes with 180 degree F water. I will decrease my steep time as I go along but keep the water temperature the same. Since 80% of the caffeine is extracted in the first 30 seconds, each subsequent brew will be decaffeinated.

What is your experience with Pu-ehr tea?


Rainforest Choker

rainforestchoker.jpg

Here’s my latest creation. This choker style necklace was inspired by a wonderfully inspiring and colorful book called Rainforest. It’s filled with gorgeous closeups of plants, birds, animals and insects found in the rainforests around the world. I highly recommend it to add to your inspiration library.

rainforestbead.jpgrainforestchokerclosure.jpg

I made the polymer clay bead by covering it with canework and molding it into the oval shape. The cane itself is a Skinner blend bullseye plug separated into 5 pieces which is then layered and surrounded with a striped cane. I capped the ends of the bead with the same stripes. The cord is a woven herringbone tube strung on soft flex wire. The fit of the tube on the beading wire is tight so I was able to twist the tube. As I was stringing it, the tube kept twisting anyway so I figured that’s the way it wanted to be. Despite careful design planning, my jewelry sometimes develops a life of its own as I am creating it! I finished the choker with a button made from the cane and a simple beaded loop. Now, it’s time to make a bracelet and earrings to match!


Beady Eye Candy

mexagturqsugbeads.jpg

A couple of weeks ago, I made some bead purchases during my trip to Michigan. Twisted together are Mexican fire agate, turquoise, and sugilite, purchased at Munro’s Crafts in Berkeley, MI. I usually like to purchase stone beads at the bead shows I attend but they had an irresistible sale going that day I visited. I couldn’t resist these gorgeous strands! I found the fire agate oval bead at the Bead Haven in Frankenmuth, MI the following day.

beadhanks907.jpg

At the same bead store was a whole wall of bead hanks where I found these beauties. I’ve never done any bead crochet and I thought it was time to learn. So, that’s my plans for these gorgeous beads. I especially love the second hank from the right. It’s so earthy looking.

variegatedglassbeads.jpg

I seem to be drawn to variegated colors lately and these glass beads spoke to me from their little hooks on the wall. Don’t they like great just as they are?

Saturday Morning Tea

A cool, rainy day in New England. Even though the skies are dreary and dark, this rain is heartily welcomed as we are experiencing low rainfall and drought right now. It’s wonderful to wake up every morning to bright sunshine but it’s always beneficial to have a balance between the sunshine and the rainfall to nourish our gardens and trees.

tributeoolongdryleaf.jpg

This morning’s tea is a Chinese Oolong called Tie-Guan-Yin Tribute Special. This type of tea was offered to the Chinese Emperor as tribute during the Song Dynasty in China. A very special tea indeed. As you can see, the dry leaf is rolled in such a way that it curls upon itself. There is a a hint of the full leaf there.

tributeoolongwetleaf.jpg

After a 3 minute steep in 180 degree F water, the leaf opens to reveal its structure. The unfurling of the leaf during steeping is often referred to as “The Agony of the Leaf”. I’m not sure why they actually term the meeting of water and leaf “agony” because it is a beautiful sight to watch the leaves open up. The aroma of this tea is like walking through a blooming garden and being surrounded by its heady fragrance.

tributeoolongliquor.jpg

The tea liquor is pale, a light greenish straw color. The flavor is delicate with notes of lilac. This would also be a perfect tea to sip during a winter snowstorm to conjure up images of a colorful summer garden!

Saturday Morning Tea

teaflowers.jpg

Whereas last Saturday gave us cool early morning temps, this Saturday morning it is already 85 degrees and promises to climb into the 90s. So, the heat of summer has not entirely left us yet!

Inspired by the heat and humidity, I have chosen a lighter tea today. It is an infusion of tea flowers instead of the leaf of the tea plant. For caffeine sensitive tea lovers like me, it can be a wonderful beverage choice for late afternoon and evening as it only has a hint of caffeine in its flowers. Most of the caffeine is concentrated in the new leaf growth of the plant. The flower petals are white on the plant but turn a golden yellow when they dry.

teaflowersliquor.jpg

The tea liquor is amber colored and its taste is fairly robust for an herbal with hints of honey and nuts. I also like to make a blend of half tea flowers and half white tea. This not only decreases the caffeine level in the resulting cup but also results in an interesting blend of flavor notes as well, depending upon the white tea.

Tea flowers are also very good as an iced tea. Ok, time to turn on the AC and ice the rest of my tea flower infusion!