Saturday Morning Tea

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Looking out on a brilliant blue sky, I carefully measure my tea leaves into my glass teapot. This morning’s tea is one that I haven’t reviewed before, China Gunpowder green tea. I have never been fond of gunpowder tea because I find that it has a tobacco-ey smoke flavor note. As a reformed smoker, I shy away from anything that reminds me of those days, especially smells and tastes.

I find this tea, called Tippy Gunpowder Imperial, to be an exception in that there is none of that smoky quality to it. The leaves have been withered, heated and then rolled and shaped into the distinctive gunpowder “pellets”. These tea leaves have a looser shape, however, reminding me of the Yunnan Spiral Buds I reviewed 3 weeks ago.

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Steeping the leaves for 3 minutes in 180 degree F water reveals the fine plucking and tips. Wow, that is the intact end of the stem. Beautiful! You can see the tip, the new growth, in the middle between the 2 larger leaves.

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I found this great tea processing flow chart on Wikipedia. I’m a visual learner so it helps for me to visually see the steps taken to create the different kinds of tea.

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The processing of green tea leaves into gunpowder style tea dates back to the Chinese Tang Dynasty (618–907). It was originally done to expose the leaf to less physical damage and to retain more flavor and aroma. The name comes from the resemblance of the rolled leaf to gunpowder pellets.

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As I sip my tea from one of my favorite pottery bowls, I am greeted by a fresh, clean aroma which reminds me of the fresh air smell after a spring shower has passed. The flavor is also fresh and vegetal but not overly so, with a distinct astringent finish that lingers in my mouth for awhile. This tea has a robustness about it that I find very appealing.

It’s time to go make another pot of tea and go play in my studio! Enjoy the unfolding beauty of your world this weekend.

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.

Don’t go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.

Don’t go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the doorsill

where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.

Don’t go back to sleep.

~Rumi

Studio Wednesday on Thursday

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Last weekend I nourished my creative spirit as much as possible as I adjusted to my new schedule. I dedicated myself to creating and finishing a necklace for my “Grow” polymer clay pendant. With the help of my brand new mini bead spinner, I threaded a bead soup of pale blue, green, yellow, ivory and crystal seed beads onto my hand dyed silk cord. It was a little tricky at first to slide into the rhythm of needle and spinning bowl but I finally got the hang of it and then the beads literally jumped onto my needle like eager participants in play. As I eased myself into the flow of the spinning beads, I was reminded of my early school days when I loved jumping Double Dutch. You really couldn’t think about it, you just had to close your eyes and navigate by your inner compass and spacial instinct. In other words, jump in!  Once my cord was saturated with tiny beads, I started crocheting a simple chain stitch, catching one bead in each chain. I made 3 strands like this and tied the ends together.

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My next step was to create small bead caps/cones by weaving the beads in a herringbone stitch. I covered the knotted  silk cord ends with my beaded caps.

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I found a small textured silver toggle clasp in my stash and attached it to the silver loops coming out of the bead caps. I’m still deciding whether I like this clasp for this necklace. It is very easy to put on and take off the necklace so that’s a big plus. And it’s small size goes well with the delicate feel of  the necklace. I’ll have to wear it a couple of times to see how it works.

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Using 20 gauge sterling silver wire, I created a curled spiral bail for my pendant and threaded the strands through the curls.

Curls of soft misty colors. Silvery rebirth spirals. Crystal drops of rain.

Spring is here.

Saturday Morning Tea

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This past week was my first week back to full-time work. I keep telling myself that this is a good thing, giving me the ability to work towards my dream of owning my own home. Still, there has been some sadness associated with things I’ve had to let go of. Time for my art, especially.

As I prepared for my morning tea today I realized that I haven’t had many reviews about herbal tea. Or infusions, I should say, because herbals are not really tea. I apologize to any caffeine sensitive readers who are interested in exploring herbal options. I will strive to be more balanced in my tea choices and if there’s anything – tea or herbal – that you want to hear more about, please do let me know.

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This morning I am enjoying a cup of Honeybush Vanilla, a delightful herbal with Bourbon vanilla pieces and dried marigold petals. Mountain Honeybush, Cyclopia intermedia, is a bush that grows wild on the slopes of the Kouga mountains in South Africa. The leaves of this bush are harvested and processed much like the tea plant, camellia sinensis. It gets its name from the scent of its flowers.

Can you imagine wandering through a field of blooming honeybush and experiencing that sweet scent filling the air?

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This herbal is very smooth so you can steep the leaves for awhile without worrying about it turning bitter like oversteeped tea. I boiled my water and let it cool a short while before steeping the honeybush for 8-10 minutes.

The aroma is of sweet vanilla without being cloying or overpowering. The beautiful pink amber infusion tastes smooth and sweet with fruit and flower underlying the vanilla taste.

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I have filled this beautiful china cup, a gift from a dear friend who knows how much I love new tea “equipage”.

Every week I usually stop by the library to pick up books that I have put on my online queue. However, this week drew me back to my own bookshelf to a book I had picked up about 3 years ago at the bookstore. I remember reading it at that time and enjoying it but this time I can feel each word penetrating my psyche on a deeper level.  Perhaps it is because of all of the changes I’ve experienced this past year and also the ones I am facing in the year to come. Called “The Courage to be Yourself” by Sue Patton Thoele, it is about finding an expanded vision of yourself and getting in touch with any self limiting fears that can get in the way of that expansion. Sue’s writing style is wonderfully down to earth and I feel like we’re sitting down in a cozy place having a cup of tea together while she shares the wisdom of her own personal journey.

She has 2 affirmations that she lives by.

I choose to live my life fully.

I will never give myself away again.

A truly wonderful book. Have a marvelous week.

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked

And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was

oftentimes filled with your tears

And how else can it be?

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being,

The more joy you can contain.

~Kahil Gibran