Saturday Morning Tea

As I sip my tea this morning, I’m mesmerized by the 2 foot long icicles drip, drip, dripping from my neighbor’s roof. With a snowstorm arriving regularly every week, it’s hard to imagine that spring will ever arrive. This last one brought 14 inches of snow to my neighborhood. My garden lies in a deep sleep under an immense world of white.

Inside, however, it’s nice and toasty and my hands draw warmth from the hearty Assam tea in my cup. It’s a single estate Assam from the Doomni estate, a black tea.

The Doomni tea estate is one of 3 tea gardens located in the Nalbari district of western Assam in northeast India. The leaf has been plucked and processed with a bounty of golden tips which lend a complexity and depth to the flavor of the tea.

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

Ahhh, what a rich aroma greeted me as I lifted my infuser out!

The first word that popped into my mind as I took a sip was

stout

The dark amber liquor is very hearty yet smooth with notes of rich maltiness. This tea would take milk very well. I recommend steeping the leaves longer if you plan on adding that. I used to always add milk to my Assam tea but have moved away from doing that unless the tea is really astringent. With most Assam teas, you can pull back on the steeping time to control that astringency.

This is the perfect “wake you up in the morning” tea. With its thick liquor, it is the tea equivalent of a pint of Guinness stout.

Well, I’ve finished my teapot and am ready to start my day!

What helps you to start your day?

“It is a good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters in the end.” ~Ursula K. LeGuin

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Saturday Morning Tea

The sun is shining in a clear blue sky today, sparkling all of the mounds of snow, now 7 inches higher since yesterday’s storm. Here in New England, we’re already above the snowfall norms for the season and more is coming our way next week. We seem to be stuck in a pattern of white.

Good times to be snug inside with a hot cuppa.

Today’s tea is called Jasmine Fannings Organic. Now I am not a fan of scented teas to begin with and even more not a fan of the fannings style of leaf, very finely cut particles of tea leaf so you might be wondering why I chose this tea. The fine bits fall right through my glass infuser basket and even through my strainer when I try to strain it further. With this type of leaf, I think it’s best to use a tea filter paper or really fine mesh infuser, if you have one. Ok, I like a challenge.

After steeping the leaf for 1 and a half minutes in 180 F water, boy, was I pleasantly surprised. Smooth, sweet and lightly jasmine-y, it reminds me of the tea served in Chinese restaurants. It fills my mouth with an almost creamy feeling. There’s no bitterness at all.

Another point to remember with this style of leaf is that it steeps very quickly in a minute or so. So, if you’re the type of tea drinker who likes to pour your water and go fold some laundry for awhile, this tea might not be for you.

As I’ve talked about in previous posts, most jasmine tea leaf is processed first as a green tea and then later that green tea leaf is scented with jasmine blossoms. Tea leaves will absorb the scent of anything placed in close proximity to them so they are perfect for scenting with flowers. Jasmine tea is the most famous scented tea in China, originating from the time of the Song Dynasty 800 years ago.

As I sip my tea, I think about how long its history stretches back. Wow.

I think that the reason I’m not a big fan of jasmine tea, or any flavored teas as well, is that they can be so cloying and overwhelming in their flavor and hide all of the tea flavor. Not so with this tea. The taste of the tea comes through and is caressed gently by the light notes of jasmine.

This tea is teaching me an important lesson. Even if you’ve had an unpleasant experience with something or someone, give them another chance. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Stay warm, dear tea friends!

“One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats.”

~Iris Murdoch

Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends!

A world of white greets me these days as I walk out my front door and carefully negotiate my way to my car along channels cut into the snow. After all was said and done, 19 inches of the white stuff fell last Wednesday. And now our temps have sunk down into single digits. 5 degrees…brrrr..

I’m glad to be inside right now, hot cup of tea warming my hands. In my cup is a second flush Darjeeling from the Thurbo estate. It is considered a “silver tip” Darjeeling because of the profusion of tips, the new silvery growth on the plant.

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in boiling point temp (212 F) water. In the picture above, you can see some of the huge mounds of snow we have.

The Thurbo estate is located in the Mirik valley in Darjeeling district in northeastern India. I’ve read that it got its name because long ago the British set up camp there to invade Nepal which is close by. The local dialect word for “camp” is “tombu” which could have morphed into Thurbo.  An interesting little bit of trivia.

When the sky is clear, the snow glows blue and purple at twilight. It’s a magical sight. I think those colors have seeped into my consciousness.

The rich amber liquor has a predominant chestnut aroma which carries on into its flavor. Hints of ripe fruit round out the very smooth cup.

This tea is perfect for this frosty, frigid January morning.

Despite the hours of shoveling and clearing away, the snow has brought some positive benefits with it. A snow day from work this past Wednesday pushed me right into my studio (yay!) and I finally finished my Towers and Turrets pendant. Now I’d like to turn it into a necklace so it’s off to the bead store I go today, armed with a very generous gift certificate from my oldest son (thanks Justin!).

I know that I’ve spoken about the art side of my blog being sorely lacking these past months. I’ve been thinking about that a lot this week, even reading art posts from past years and wondering where that motivation and passion went. Buried underneath a full-time job, I guess.

Anyway, one of my personal goals for 2011 is to share more of my artwork with you once again and I’d love for you to share your creations with me.

What are you creating?

The Eskimos had fifty-two names for snow because it was important to them: there ought to be as many for love. ~Margaret Atwood

Saturday Morning Tea

Happy New Year! I hope that you all enjoyed the holiday season. And now here we find ourselves in January of a brand new year.

A time of new beginnings…

As I gaze out my window at an iced world of white, it inspired me to reach for a delicate leaf to steep in my cup this morning, a China white called White Point Reserve.

Composed entirely of unopened leaf buds, this tea is soft and sweet.

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

The buds remain unopened in their pristine state even after steeping. White tea is the least processed of all teas, plucked, dried, gently heated to halt oxidation and there you go.

The tea liquor is a pale ecru color and allows my teapot to reflect the winter wonderland outside. A lightly sweet aroma drifts from my cup and the flavor is also sweet with nutty notes. It always amazes me how white tea usually doesn’t have a hint of the vegetal quality of green tea.

I chose my “iced” tea bowl to enjoy my tea in. Notice a color theme (or lack thereof) going on here?

This type of weather at this time of year always induces a quiet, reflective state of mind for me. I just want to sit and do nothing else but sip my tea and gaze out my window…

“Let us be silent, that we may hear the whispers of the gods.”

~Ralph Waldo Emerson