Saturday Morning Tea

A most Happy Thanksgiving weekend to you all!

While the wind howls at the eaves outside, I am inside cozily sipping from a cup of this exquisite Formosa white tea. I watch the empty tree branches bow and sway and think about how resilient they are. While outside forces seek to move them, they simply go with the flow of the wind and then bend back to their original shape. Having strong roots and an inner core helps ground them against these forces.

The trees have much to teach us about life and change.

Tea is firmly woven into Taiwan culture, with tea houses or “tea-art” shops located all over the island. Its old fashioned name, Formosa, is Portugese for “beautiful island”. Many Taiwanese families collect teaware in the form of unglazed clay pots.

This excerpt from Wikipedia:

“Traditionally, “raising the teapot” at home is a way of life in Taiwan. Teapots are used to brew teas intensively so that the surface of the teapot becomes “bright”. This process is called “raising the teapot”, which enhances the beauty of the clay teapot. Tea stores are virtually everywhere in Taiwan. In big cities like Taipei one can easily find tea for sale on nearly every city block.”

Sounds like my kind of place. I love that they refer to their tea shops as “tea-art” shops!

Most tea grown on the island is processed as Oolong tea, or Wu-long tea. That’s what makes this particular tea very unique as it has been processed as a white tea. White tea leaves are allowed to dry slightly first and then heated up right away to prevent oxidation (darkening of the leaf) from occurring.

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 180 degree F water.

The aroma is fresh and delicate. The words I would use to describe the taste of this tea.

Clean. Fresh. Soft. Buttery. Smooth. Fruity, just a whisper.

Unlike the teas I have reviewed lately, this tea is crystal clear, a pale, straw color.

About 10 years ago, I attended an arts and crafts show locally and purchased a set of teabowls and a teamug. This is my favorite piece. I remember how the potter told me that she dreamed the symbols she painted on her teaware. I love the road running through this one.

The road of tea, one that I am most happy to be on.

I can’t recall the potter’s name. I think that she was from Colorado. If anyone recognizes this work, please do let me know as I would love to contact her and see her new work.

Last Wednesday, we had a tea and cheese pairing/tasting at work. It was a new experience for me and introduced me to the wonderful world of specialty cheeses. So far, my experience has been very limited in that area. I took some photos and am hoping to be able to post and share my thoughts with you soon.

This weekend will be spent painting my bathroom over at my new place. Starting several weeks ago, they ripped out the ceiling, walls and floor to reveal the inner structure of the room. Now everything has been transformed with new wallboard and beadboard. I’ve been pouring over Benjamin Moore paint chips and never realized how many creams and whites there were! The theme of my new bathroom will be luminescence.

There will come a time when you believe everything is finished.

That will be the beginning.

~Louis L’Amour

Saturday Morning Tea on Sunday

I am craving more comfort this morning, this time in the form of chocolate. Chocolate Earl Grey tea, that is. I know, not my usual choice in a cuppa but I am always intrigued to try new types of tea. To close your mind and your palate in saying that you wouldn’t enjoy something before you try it is not the way that I’d like to approach life.

Not only does this black tea Earl Grey contain chocolate pieces and cacao beans, it also has lemongrass, lemon peel, corn flowers, jasmine flowers and sunflower blossoms in the blend.

A very colorful mix indeed as you can see in my photo above!

I steeped the tea for 4 minutes in boiling point (212 degree F) water.

A chocolate aroma wafted from my teapot along with tangy notes of bergamot and lemon. Comforting and refreshing…

This tea was a delight to photograph with all of the little colorful bits mingling in with the tea leaves.

It’s a crystal clear day here on Ramble Road. My jewelry show yesterday was a wonderful success in that it gave me the opportunity to share my work with many visitors to my booth. It’s always gratifying to receive positive feedback and appreciation for one’s artwork.

While I find many Earl Greys to be too “perfumy” for my taste, the addition of chocolate and lemon gave it such an interesting combination of flavors – the light tang of the lemon along with the deep, rich flavor of the chocolate.

What a perfect gift for the chocolate lovers on your list!

Today will be spent moving art supplies over to my new place and setting up my studio space. Have a lovely Sunday, my dear tea friends.

There is much beauty in a simple cup of tea…

Saturday Morning Tea

Hello, tea friends!  This morning I am up before the sun to get ready for a day at the Middlesex Community College annual Arts & Crafts Fair in Bedford, MA.  It’s from 10-4 and is filled with handmade items perfect for holiday gift giving.  I am quite partial to the handmade soaps myself. Please come visit if you are in the area!

I invite you to join me for tea tomorrow morning as I will be sipping and reviewing a very unique Earl Grey tea. See you then!

Saturday Morning Tea

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Outside the sky is weeping, reflecting what my heart feels inside. This past week was a very sad one in my home. We lost our beloved black Lab, Jack, and the world feels as if it has shifted upon its axis and will never be the same again. It came suddenly, however, we had time to say our farewells and honor our dear old friend. It is amazing to me how everyone who hears the news comes forward and generously opens their heart and shares their own story about the passing of a beloved pet. They are in our lives for what feels like the briefest amount of time, like a shooting star blazing across the heavens and then it is gone. But their wonderful memory lives on forever in our hearts. Jack taught me so much about loyalty and unconditional love. So much about love…

I need a big dose of comfort this morning and so I turn to green tea. I am sipping a green tea from China that one usually associates with Japan, an organic Gyokuro. Produced for the Japanese market, everything about this tea is Japanese except for where it is grown. I have written about Japanese Gyokuro tea and its unique growing and processing here and here.

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The tea bushes are shaded with a dark cloth approximately 3 weeks before plucking. This gives the leaf an amazing deep emerald color.

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It reminds me of cooked spinach, very healthy and very green.

I steeped the leaves in 180 degree F water for 3 minutes.

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The color of the tea liquor kind of reminds me of that Italian liqueur, Limoncello, made from lemon zest, alcohol, sugar and water. The taste is not lemony at all, however, but clean and quite vegetal.

As I slowly sip and gaze out at the wet day, a gentle calm slips over me.

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As the tea cools, a lively, tart pungency is revealed, a flavor note that I associate with Japanese green teas.

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Clean. Fresh. Simple. Calm.

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Rest in peace, my dear, beloved friend. You will always live in my heart…

I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive.

~Gilda Radner

Saturday Morning Tea

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Now that all of the leaves have been swept off the trees, the weather has turned much quieter, with only the slightest movement of the stark branches that reach up to the deep blue sky.

Today dawned bright and brisk, just like the morning tea I’ve selected to share with you. Kenilworth estate Ceylon is a black tea from one of the best known tea gardens in the Kandy district in Sri Lanka. This 700-acre estate lies in the heart of Ceylon, at about an altitude of 4,000 feet above sea level.

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I’ve made it known before that Ceylon black teas are not among my top favorites. Some are too astringent and not particularly complex for my taste buds. That being said, they can be perfect for an everyday tea because of their reasonable price when compared to Assams and Darjeelings. They also make a fabulous iced tea as well because of their good strength and lemon flavor notes.

This particular tea has interesting complexity, a delightful surprise.

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My backyard deck hovers suspended in the gorgeous amber color of this tea.

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I steeped the leaves for 4 minutes in 212 degree F water (boiling point). As I lifted the lid from my teapot, a tart lemony aroma greeted me.

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The brisk liquor wakes up my mouth to taste the intriguing notes of toast and lemon, cedar and sweet raisin. While this tea is full-bodied enough to enjoy British style with milk, I prefer it plain.

With a corn muffin.

KenilworthBOPTeacup110709This weekend will be spent moving bookcases over to my new home and choosing a marble for the vanity top in my bathroom. Something warm, to go with my copper sink. Originally, I was going to go with a granite top but I much prefer the interesting vein/cracking formations of marble than the “speckly” look of granite. How about striations the color of my tea?

Have a great weekend and happy tea drinking, my friends!

“Tea! thou soft, sober, sage and venerable liquid;- thou female
tongue-running, smile-smoothing, heart-opening, wink-tippling cordial, to whose glorious insipidity I owe the happiest moment of my life, let me fall prostrate”

~Colley Cibber (English actor and playright, 1671-1757)

A Color Workshop

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My art voice has been very quiet here lately. As I have become increasingly focused on fixing up my new home and moving in, I know that I have been neglecting the playful, art side of myself in a big way. Now, feeling totally overwhelmed, I’m quickly learning how very important it is for me to set time aside and regularly nurture that side of myself to maintain balance in my life. I think that when that feeling of overwhelm creeps into our lives, it is because something important is being neglected. All that said, I embraced my art self once again when I attended Lindly Haunani’s color workshop called Dancing with the Rainbow.

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With her soft voice and gentle manner, Lindly patiently brought us to a greater understanding of the world of color and, most appealingly to my inner “Color Kitten” (my favorite childhood book by Margaret Wise Brown), how to mix colors (oh joy!) to achieve a color palette that is a true expression of your artistic voice.

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Our homework before the workshop was to gather pure color images clipped from magazines. As described on pages 44-47 in Lindly’s book (written with Maggie Maggio), Polymer Clay Color Inspirations, our first task was to sort these images into subsets of color families, those colors that “went together”. We then chose the subset that resonated most strongly with our inner spirit. As we went through this process, Lindly spoke with each participant one by one and carefully observed their body language and listened to their voice very closely for clues to individual palette preferences.

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Once we chose our subset, we created a collage with the images. Out came the scissors and glue sticks and I felt like a little kid again, joyfully arranging my images onto a sheet of Bristol board.

Fall was definitely in the air that day as quite a number of us chose a similar autumn color palette.

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Once our collages were complete, we brought them together and carefully studied each one, choosing the polymer clay primary colors that best represented our collage colors. Zinc or cadmium yellow? Fuschia or cadmium red? Ultramarine or cobalt blue?  We used the Premo brand of clay but you can use any brand as long as you have a “cool” and “warm” version of each primary.

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One of the most amazing teachings of this workshop was about “mud”, the color you get when you mix all 3 primaries together in equal proportions. We all think of mud as being, well, mud brown. Well, the “mud” mixed from my set of primaries was actually dark green. And the neatest part was when we took small pieces of mud and mixed them into our primary and secondary colors to achieve the most gorgeous earthy shades. Wow!

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With a range of colors mixed from our primaries, we then began to cover a wood framed mirror that Lindly had brought for each person. Just when I got into the groove of covering mine, it was time to go home! Isn’t that always the way of it?

Here are some closeups of the beautiful collages and frames started.

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I passionately encourage you to run, not walk, to your nearest bookstore and pick up a copy of Lindly’s book. If you have the wonderful opportunity to take one of her workshops, even better. It will change the way you view color forever. It has with me and I am looking forward to studying again with this marvelously talented artist.

Lindly, you are truly my color hero and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your inspiration.