Saturday Morning Tea

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It’s a grey day here in New England, perfect for staying inside and curling up with a good book, cup of tea by my side. It’s supposed to rain all day, wonderful nourishment for all the newly growing plants and flowers.

I’m stepping out of the box today from my normal tea choices. I’m sipping a black tea from the Bogawantalawa estate in Sri Lanka. Boy, those Ceylon names sure can be a challenge to spell let alone to say. My colleagues and I have a lot of fun at work  practicing pronunciation before we have to talk about them with a customer.

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This is a broken leaf tea. While the tea is being processed, some of the leaf breaks up into smaller bits. The leaf is then run through various size sieves to separate it into piles of the same size leaf bits. This is because a broken leaf tea has a shorter steeping time than a whole leaf tea. If the broken and whole leaf parts were mixed together, you would end up with either under-steeped or over-steeped leaf in your tea.

The Bogawantalawa tea estate is in the Dimbula region of Sri Lanka, located to the west of the central mountains at an elevation of about 4,000 feet. The island of Sri Lanka (old name Ceylon), located off the tip of India, has a highland ridge running right down the center of the island. This ridge blocks the monsoon winds that come in from the northeast in December to March and the southwest from June to August, creating a perfect climate for growing tea. Warm days, cool mornings and infrequent rain are perfect for producing the most flavorful leaf.

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As there is more surface area on the broken leaf that is exposed to the water, it brews up quickly in 2 1/2-3 minutes. The tea liquor is a dark amber with a fragrance that I can best describe as a “tea fragrance”, full bodied, lemony and brisk. It is the aroma that most people would identify with a cup of tea.

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The flavor is smooth yet brisk with citrus notes. While I am very much enjoying this tea hot, it would make an excellent iced tea with its lemony nuances. To enhance my citrus experience, I have spread some orange marmalade on honey crackers. This tea would also stand up well to milk but I recommend trying it without milk at first so you can taste its wonderful flavor notes.

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Continuing my work in my art journal, I filled 3 pages with journaling using the prompt “Today I feel…”. I then gessoed over the pages with a dry brush. The next assignment was to write my name all over the first page. I brought out my watercolor pencils and had so much fun doodling and coloring.

I created a little spring tulip garden.

“How does the Meadow flower its bloom unfold?

Because the lovely little flower is free down to its root,

and in that freedom bold”

~William Wordsworth

Studio Wednesday – Art Projects

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A Spring nest of yarn.

With these 2 luscious skeins, I’m knitting a “Ripple” scarf, a pattern I purchased from Spincycle Yarns. The yarn in the nest is the Berroco “Seduce’ yarn I was talking about last week. Yum…

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I love the contrast in textures between the linen/silk yarn and the mohair-y wool yarn. I find myself being deeply drawn to pale blue these days.

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With this wonderful pattern, I’m learning all about “yarn overs” and how they can create a fabulous see-thru lacy look. I’m also being drawn to lacy, flowy designs.

More work on my free-form bracelet. It will be ready for the clasp very soon.

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For the past several months, I’ve been gessoing the pages of an old datebook, preparing it for transformation into an art journal. I walk by it everyday and feel its call to add color and images and words and doodles. I daydream about what I will do. Yet, I do nothing. A couple of days ago, I stumbled across the most wonderful blog called Caspiana and posts about Soul Journaling, a 22 day step by step guide to creating a soul journal. Hoo-ray! It was just what I needed to inspire and guide me to sit down with my art journal once again.

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I’ve glued down my ripped up dictionary pages and am ready to write using the prompt “Today I feel…” I’ll do that tonight. Next will be gessoing over my words and doodling my name all over the first page with colored pencils and markers.

I am joyously taking the first steps in my art journaling experience.

I stopped by the library on the way home from work and have a new pile of books to snuggle up in bed with tonight.

Opening each book and sifting through its words. That pleasure and a steaming cup of herbal tea to guide me toward sweet dreams.

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Books let us into their souls and lay open to us the secrets of our own. ~William Hazlitt

Saturday Morning Tea

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Spring is the most wonderful time of year in many ways.

One of my favorite happenings in Spring is the arrival of the very first First Flush Darjeeling. The term “first flush” refers to the brand new spring leaf buds, the first growth of the year on the tea bushes, highly prized.

In the 1800s, there was stiff competition to see who could build the fastest clipper ship, the one that could reach port with their treasured cargo first. You can read more about that here.

While the tea chests that the tea is packed in are not that much different from days of old, the method by which the tea arrives is radically different, of course. This tea arrived by plane, shortening its long journey considerably from bush to cup.

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My morning tea just arrived this week from the Namring estate. It is their very first plucking of the season, lot EX-1. As you can see, there is a lot of green-ness to the leaf even though it is processed as a black tea. I’ve spoken to many customers inexperienced with first flushes who thought that they had received a green tea in error.

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I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 212 degree F (boiling point) water. I noticed a lot of movement of the leaf while it was steeping.

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The liquor is a soft glowing amber. The incredibly fresh aroma filled my senses as I poured my first cup.

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The flavor is bright yet smooth with barely ripe fruit nuances and a light sweetness that lingers in my mouth.

Now, to sit back and savor this long anticipated moment…mmmm…

Something opens our wings

Something makes boredom and hurt disappear

Someone fills the cup in front of us

We taste only sacredness”

~Rumi

Studio Wednesday

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This week I finished the crochet chain necklace and attached my polyclay swirl pendant to it. I fashioned a hook and eye clasp from 18 gauge sterling wire. A little liver of sulfur dip made it a cool bronzy color to match the bronze crocheted wire.

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I crocheted 6 chain segments in all, 3 for each side, and left long tails for wrapping. I threaded the tails through the pendant and then wrapped around the chain on the other side to secure them in place.

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I am so enjoying bringing my love of crochet into my jewelry creations. I recently purchased a skein of Berroco Seduce yarn, a simply luscious blend of silk, linen, rayon and nylon. I’ve got some ideas floating around in my head of crocheted bracelets using this yarn and some polyclay beads.

Who knows what women can be when they are finally free

to become themselves?

~Betty Friedan