Saturday Morning Tea

After a cool very springlike May, temperatures have started to slowly creep up this past week so now mornings are in the 50s when I leave for work. With temps in the 40s every morning for the longest time, I was beginning to feel that I had put away that winter jacket way too early! Last week I tried a first flush black Darjeeling from the Arya estate. This morning I am continuing with my Arya theme by trying their white tea called White Pearl. Its processing is as precious as its name. The full leaf sets are plucked at dawn when the dew is still wet on the leaves. After drying in the sun for several hours they are then carefully rolled in silk cloth and then allowed more drying time. This is truly a very unique artisan tea.

The beauty and quality of the leaf is apparent in this full leaf set I extracted from my steeped leaf. Guidelines call for an 8-11 minute steeping time in 180 degree F water. As I only had a precious 4 grams of this tea, I wanted to be able to resteep the leaves so my first steeping was at 3 minutes. The resulting liquor is a pale straw color with crisp delicate vegetal notes. It was very light tasting.

I decided to resteep the leaves for 8 minutes and lowered the water temperature to 170 degrees F. The resulting liquor is stronger with a more pronounced crisp fruitiness that reminds me of a light crisp white wine. This tea would be fabulous iced with a floating slice of lemon in your glass and a wedge of melon on the side. Summer is coming!

A Woodland Walk

Yesterday we went for a walk in the woods. The moment I step on the path, I feel enveloped in a hush, a quiet that I don’t know in my regular day to day world. To me, the woods are a sacred place where everything is as it should be and “being” is the way of life. A deep calm permeates my whole being with every step along my woodland journey.

The ladyslippers, orchids of the woodland, are in full bloom under the trees. We found this beauty in a ray of sunlight, like she was on stage taking her bows. Oh, what treasures we find as we go deeper along our path.

I love the way the light plays amongst the leaves, giving it that dappled appearance.

I found this little hidden place at the base of a tree. Why am I so drawn to trees these days? Their strength, their majesty, their rootedness. I think of all of these qualities as I lay down the beads on my March journal page. As predicted, I didn’t get much done at my guild meeting but I had some time last night to work on it and, hopefully, some time this evening, too. I’m still considering what to do about the roots and the sides of the tree. I want to hang a couple of dangly roots to symbolize my inner feeling of rootlessness. Maybe a suggestion of branches since my main focus was on the bark texture and knots. I’m also thinking of what lies ahead for my April page. An image of a heart inside of a house is starting to form in my mind.

Saturday Morning Tea

I think I mentioned this before but one of the experiences I love the most about springtime besides all of the colorful blooms, is the arrival of the first flush Darjeelings. This morning I am sipping a cup of Arya estate Aroma Darjeeling. The Arya tea garden is located in the Darjeeling district in northeast India. I wrote a little about its history in a former post. To me, its name even conjures up images of a fairytale kingdom high in the misty mountains.

I was so excited to find this intact large leaf in my cup. The color and quality of the leaf is outstanding. The amber colored liquor smells like delicate fruit and flowers and its taste fills my mouth with a slight hint of sweet bananas and other tropical fruits. A heavenly treat to start out the long holiday weekend.

Today I am attending my polymer clay guild meeting where I will try and get some work done on my March journal page. “Try” is the key word here as I will probably be visiting and sharing with my fellow guild members for the first few hours! A veritable gab fest, if you know what I mean. I’ll post a photo soon of the progress I make today on my page.

More Progress on my March Beaded Journal Page

Here’s a peek at the progress I’ve made on my March journal page. I enjoy creating the texture of the tree bark. As I bead each twist and turn, I contemplate all of the twists and turns I’ve taken in my life up to where I am right now. I think I will make some fringy roots that will hang free. As I’ve only been in my new home for 3 weeks, I’m not feeling especially rooted right now.

Beads and Yarn

I have a secret. I love coming home from a bead show, dumping all of my purchases into one big pile on the table and running my fingers through all of my new beads. All that beautiful color and texture! Even though I buy from different vendors, my purchases reflect ideas and images I’ve been thinking about lately and they all seem to match in one way or the other. Do you experience the same thing?

I’m thinking of a bead embroidery cuff for the face cab from Earthenwood Studio. Isn’t it fabulous?

My dumping/ooh-ing and aah-ing ritual reminds me of when my kids returned from trick or treating on Halloween night and all the stashes got dumped on the family room rug. First, Mom or Dad would go through to pick out any suspicious looking items (and the Butterfingers) and then the trading would begin.

Here’s some detail of a strand of unique snakeskin jasper and pearls I couldn’t resist along with amethyst and peridot. A lot of my stone bead purchases were made from Momminia of Cold Spring, NY. A husband and wife team, Marlene and Steve Goodrich are quick to share their in depth knowledge about any of their stones. So, buying from them is both an education and a treat to the eyes. Even though my daughter isn’t at all into beads like I am, she listened intently while they named the different stones and where they originated. Here’s some faceted rhodolite garnet. We couldn’t resist that amazing raspberry color. It will go fabulously with black, I think.

Last but not least, my yarn purchases from my Michigan trip in March. I also discovered a yarn store called Knitting Pointers, right down the street from my new home, and I visited there last weekend. I couldn’t resist the pale muted colorway on the left.

The brand name is “Poems”. What a perfect name for what these colors inspire in me.

“I want to make poems that look into the the earth and the heavens and see the unseeable.

I want them to honor both the heart of faith, and the light of the world;

the gladness that says, without any words, everything.”

-Mary Oliver

Saturday Morning Tea

After a night of pouring rain, the clouds have cleared away and the world outside is freshly washed with sunshine. As I was taking the photos of my tea this morning, I was amazed to see how the beautiful color variations of the dry leaf are very reminiscent of the beadwork I’m doing on my March journal page. I’m creating a twisting tree trunk in browns, silvers and greens and will post a photo very soon of my progress.

So, on this dazzling Saturday morning, I’m sipping a cup of Sikkim black tea from the Temi estate. The Indian state of Sikkim is located slightly north of the Darjeeling district. Since its location and climate is very similar to Darjeeling, teas produced in this district taste very much like a Darjeeling tea but I find that they are softer without that characteristic astringent “bite” that a Darjeeling can have.

The steeped leaf reveals some whole intact leaf along with tightly curled new growth, the whitish tips of the plant. The abundance of white tips lend a gorgeous silvery cast to the dry leaf. The liquor is a medium amber color with a whisper of a floral aroma. The taste is fruity and floral all at once with a silky softness. Darjeelings are considered the “champagne of teas” and there is no doubt to their unique status in the world of tea. Every Spring I look forward to the arrival of the first flushes with great anticipation. That being said, I think that this first flush Sikkim is a wonderful choice, exhibiting the same aromatic nuances as many first flush Darjeelings I’ve tried in this range.

I am enjoying my tea with a piece of Zwieback toast. This toast is well known as a teething biscuit for babies and this is how I discovered it when my children were young. After sharing it with 3 babies, I’ve developed a taste for it’s crunchy texture and lemon-y cinnamon flavor myself. It’s a great snack to have with tea because the flavor is very mild and the texture clears your palate for the next cup of tea.