Peace and Joy

On this Christmas morning, I wish you all peace, joy and many cups of delicious tea!

Saturday Morning Tea will return on Saturday, January 8th.

Take care, my dear tea friends!

 

Saturday Morning Tea

I experienced sheer joy in taking photos of this morning’s tea, a green tea from the Yunnan province in China. It’s called Yunnan green Snow Dragon.

I don’t think that anyone rivals the tea artisans of China in their tea leaf rolling techniques. Corkscrews? Unbelievably amazing, huh?

With such an auspicious name, I wondered where this tea came from so I looked up if there were any mountains called Snow Dragon in Yunnan.  Here’s what I discovered.

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, located in northern Yunnan province, is the southernmost glacier in the Northern hemisphere. It consists of 13 peaks, the highest one being 18,360 feet. It’s never been climbed. Wow. You can see photos of the area and read about the legend of the creation of Snow Dragon mountain here.

I steeped the little corkscrews for 3 minutes in 180 degree F water. Their shape relaxed considerably towards the end of their steeping time.

As I removed the infuser basket from my glass teapot, I was struck by an intense aroma of fresh pear. This distinct note carried on into the flavor.

These steeped leaves remind me very much of a white tea, consisting of mainly leaf buds, the newest growth on the tea plant. That said, the further manipulation of the leaf into a shape is the mark of a green (or black or Oolong) tea, not a white tea.

The straw colored liquor is as pale as a white tea though.

The flavor is very soft and delicate with notes of pear and fruit. As the tea cools, its sweetness becomes more defined and lingers in my mouth.

As I watched the leaves steep and release their shape, I thought of how we all have a tendency to hold on to things – people, situations, even sickness and emotional wounds – because we get so comfortable with them, even if it is time to move on and change our shape. Even though the unknown is scary, if we are just able to release and let go, we can discover the beauty in a new way of being. Just like the corkscrew tea leaves released their shape and transformed into a delicious cup of tea.

“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Saturday Morning Tea

This past week has been sooooo cold here in New England and it’s not even officially winter yet. Yesterday morning brought single digits temps to our area. Brrr… 10 more days til Winter Solstice and the longest night of the year. I’ve often thought about how our early ancestors must have felt, experiencing the growing darkness and not knowing that it would eventually recede and the lighter days would come back again. No wonder there was much celebration at this time of year, honoring the Return of the Sun.

Ok, on to tea. My morning tea is an Oolong from China, appropriately called Eastern Beauty with its gorgeous full leaf and amazing honeyed aroma.

Back in August, I dedicated the whole month to Oolong, or Wulong, teas. You can start reading about this wonderful type of tea here.

I steeped the tea leaves for 4 minutes in 180 degree F water.

The intense honey aroma greeted me as I poured my first cup. Mmmm….

I love how the color of the liquor reflects the distinct aroma of this tea.

So warm and inviting.

The flavor is silky smooth with notes of honey and flowers and a hint of chestnut in the finish. At this gift buying time of year, a sample of this tea would make an exquisite gift for the Oolong lover on your list. I know that it’s going in a few of my stockings.

You’ve probably noticed the amazing art paper I’ve used as a background today. My dear friend, Amy, found it during her recent trip to Italy. Over dinner the other night, she told us how when they discovered the shop that her husband knew she would be in there for awhile. I’m honored with her beautiful gift. Thanks Amy!

I know that I’ve been sorely neglecting the “art” part of my blog these past months. During this busy time of year, it’s been so challenging to get any kind of time in my studio. What I have been up to though is gift making with my pointy sticks to bring warmth to heads, necks and hearts. My goal in the new year is to get back to my art and sharing it with all of you.

“Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.
~Nathaniel Hawthorne

Saturday Morning Tea

I know that I’ve mentioned this before but if someone asked me the question – what’s your favorite tea? – I would have to be honest and admit it. Darjeelings have a special place in my heart. What is it about them, you might ask, that puts them at the top of my list? Well, there are so many wonderful characteristics but I would have to say that it’s their fragrance that transports me to another place. A quiet, calm place. To me, tea is more than just its flavor. It is an experience and a Darjeeling definitely fulfills that for me.

So, without further ado, this morning’s tea is a Darjeeling from the Arya estate and is called Ruby. A gem of a cuppa, for sure.

As you can see, the leaves are much larger than an average Darjeeling. They are plucked from specially grown clonal tea bushes and carefully processed by hand to ensure their leaf remains intact and the flavor is developed.

I used twice the amount of tea I usually spoon into my glass teapot and steeped the leaves for 3 1/2 minutes in boiling point water.

Just think – this leaf started its life in another part of this world. A land of towering, majestic mountains and a climate that nurtures its careful growth into something unique that produces a delicious brew.

It is said that the Arya estate was started by a group of Buddhist monks who carefully developed their tea plants from some seeds brought over from China. I reviewed another Arya Ruby several years ago on a snowy day in early spring. You can read that review here.

A customer told me this past week that he loves Darjeelings for their beautiful amber color. I agree!

A pronounced fruity, grape aroma wafts up as I pour my first cup.

The fruitiness carries on into the flavor with rich notes of muscatel. This tea is a second flush harvest, picked in the summertime. With each sip, I’m transported to a warm, sunny time where swollen, ripe fruit are just ready to be picked. Mmmmm…

Today I’m attending a holiday concert where a good friend is performing with her harp. I can’t think of anything better to get into the spirit of the season than to close my eyes and settle into the lovely angelic strains of harp music.

What are you doing to get into the spirit of this holiday season?

“Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.” ~Francis P. Church