As I gaze outside my window, I see that it is still mid-winter and we are encased in snow and ice here on Ramble Road. However, inside my cozy house, in my cup of morning tea, it’s a different story. I am sipping the first picking from the Arya estate in Darjeeling. Lot 1 of 2009. But it’s only January, you say. Is this a first flush tea?
Actually, it is labeled as a “winter tea”. Oh dear, and here I thought I was cheating winter a little bit with springtime in my cup. Still, it is the first 2009 Darjeeling I’m enjoying and that is cause for celebration.
The preparation for this tea began last July when select bushes were carefully pruned. This pruning process encourages the bushes to “flush” right after the monsoon season which ends in September. This is actually considered the fifth season in India besides the regular four seasons that we know of – spring, summer, autumn and winter. It is a season of intense torrential rains that can cause landslides that block the Darjeeling district off from the rest of India.
The leaf has a lot of green bits and some stem mixed in with the darker leaf. This tea has been processed as a black tea where the leaf is allowed to oxidize and turn dark.
I steeped the leaves in water just under boiling temperature for 3 minutes.
A soft floral whisper drifts up from the amber liquor as I take my first sip. I taste a fresh fruitiness with a hint of green, almost like a ripe fruit that holds echoes of its unfolding flavor before it ripened.
I am enjoying my cuppa with my latest favorite treat, an oatmeal raisin flax cookie from Kashi. These wonderful cookies contain all sorts of goodness and one cookie is very filling.
My shoulder continues to heal, slowly but surely, and the pain fog is starting to recede, allowing my ability to concentrate to return bit by bit.
This past week I found a sketchbook that I had purchased last summer and, in the evenings after my acupuncture treatment, I started painting the pages with Twinkling H2Os, shimmery watercolor paints. Very simple. I place swirls and washes of color on each page randomly, allowing myself to just play with the paint. In my online browsing, I discovered Teesha Moore’s website and blog. Her unique and creative art journal pages have inspired me to create my own. You can read Teesha’s tips and recommendations on how to layer the pages here. I love to have guidelines when first attempting a new art technique. Guidelines allow the spirit of experimentation and play to come out and dance. Speaking of play, I want to purchase some crayons. Teesha recommends Caran D’Ache Neocolor II crayons. I found a bunch of different sets at Dick Blick’s and they look positively scrumptious.
Dipping into my creative life once again feels like a long, cool drink of water after a journey through the desert.
Creativity – like human life itself – begins in darkness.