The crocus I planted last fall are pushing their way up through the earth and their leaf blanket. As the days lengthen and warm, they are drawn to grow and burst into bloom. A big welcome to Spring this weekend!
To celebrate the first day of Spring, my morning tea is a scented tea from China called Magnolia Blossom Oolong. Grown and processed in the Guangdong province in South China, this tea is often described as “Orchid Oolong” as the flowers come from a tree that native Chinese call “yulan”, meaning jade orchid. Despite its translation, yulan is actually a type of magnolia tree (Magnolia denudata) which originated in southern China.
The leaves look very much like a Jade Oolong to me, rolled into compressed shapes. I steeped them for 3 minutes in 190 degree F water.
The shapes released as they steeped, giving off a wonderful fragrance. As I lifted the lid from my glass teapot, it was like putting my face into a bouquet of freshly cut flowers!
I find the floral flavor to be similar to a jasmine tea. The flower notes are very strong and sweet but not cloying. The flavor of the Oolong tea comes through the scenting, adding a fuller, silky smooth mouth feel. It doesn’t have the delicacy of a jasmine tea though.
I was able to find out more information about my Hawaiian teabowl. Created by Clayton Amemiya on the Big Island, it was fired in a traditional Japanese kiln called an anagama. Clayton’s work combines Japanese tradition with the unique style of the Big Island. What I thought was glaze on the bowl is actually ash and wood. From his brochure:
“No glaze has been used. A glazed appearance is made by the firing process. Flying ash and wood particles fuse to the clay as they draft through the kiln. Because this is done by the fire, no two pieces can ever be the same. Individual woods have many of their own firing properties. This understanding gives Clayton the opportunity to collaborate with a force of nature.”
Knowing this makes my teabowl that much more special to me. As tea drinkers, we also collaborate with nature when we steep our leaves and transform them into a cup of tea.
“All you need is deep within you waiting to unfold and reveal itself. All you have to do is be still and take time to seek for what is within, and you will surely find it.” ~Eileen Caddy
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