Saturday Morning Tea

As we go deeper into the season of spring, the world is shedding its neutral cloak of browns and grays and blossoming into color – from palest pink to sunny yellow to bright, spring green. I love the green haze of the woods at this time of year. Lovely!

This morning’s tea, called Keemun Jade Pekoe, is a black tea from China with an unusual leaf shape for a Keemun. The long, flat leaf blades remind me more of a Lung Ching, a China green tea I’ve shared with you here.

I steeped the leaf for 4 1/2 minutes in boiling point (212 F) water.

The leaf is handcrafted from a fine plucking (2 leaves and a bud) as you can clearly see from the photo below.

The steeping tea gave off a sweet, cocoa aroma, warming my kitchen and my soul. Being a confirmed dark chocolate lover, I enjoy a China black best when it has notes of cocoa.

The dark amber liquor has the typical Burgundy notes of Keemun, rich and sweet. There are also hints of nutmeg in the very smooth cup.

Do you like my new little teacup?

I treated myself during my visit out to Michigan. I purchased it at Teavana. While I’m not really into their exotic fruit-flavored tea concoctions, I do enjoy browsing their selection of tetsubin (iron) and Yixing (unglazed clay) teapots. I also love their Buddha and Guan Yin statues. They always have such a look of serenity on their face.

Today is a day for getting back into my garden to nourish and ground my soul once again in its earthy beauty. Have a wonderful week, my dear friends!

“Let us imagine care of the soul, then, as an application of poetics to everyday life.”  ~Thomas Moore

Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! It’s great to be back sharing another cup of tea with you. And I’m incredibly happy to report that today’s tea is…..drum roll, please…….

a first flush Darjeeling!

The first arrival of the season from the Thurbo estate.

Oh my, oh my.

I’m just savoring every sip of this marvelous tea, the quintessence of springtime in a cup.

Have I ever mentioned that first flush Darjeelings are my favorite tea??

The leaf is bold and quite tippy, meaning the plucking has been from the very new growth on the tea plant. Even though there are  spring green-colored bits of leaf, this tea has been processed as a black tea. Still, the newness of the growth renders the processed leaf and steeped tea liquor very light and “green” tasting. However green, it’s still very different from an actual green tea.

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in just under boiling point water. As I lifted the lid of my glass teapot to remove the infuser basket, a fragrant aroma reminiscent of the crisp spiciness of celery greeted me.

The light caramel-colored liquor has a sweet flavor with a mild pungency and whispers of tropical fruit like banana.

What a special treat to enjoy just back from my Michigan trip.

I had another fabulous visit with my family and visited 2 bead stores while I was there, Bead Haven in Frankenmuth and Munro’s in Berkeley. I’ll share photos of my piles of treasure very soon. For now, it’s time to make another pot of tea and get my bones back into my studio.

Happy Easter and Passover to all who celebrate!


The time. Redeem

The unread vision in the higher dream…”

~T.S. Eliot

Ribbon Bracelets

Throughout all of my years of playing with seed beads, one of my most favorite off loom stitches is herringbone weave. Also known as Ndebele stitch, it is the traditional beading stitch of the South African Ndebele tribe. They create the most amazing beadwork in colorful, geometric patterns which they also paint onto their houses. I imagine a beautiful village full of vibrant color and pattern where women sit in a circle and bead together.

With this stitch, pairs of beads are woven in such a way that they stand in a v-shape next to each other, creating a very strong fabric of beads. I just love the feel of this bead “fabric”.

In my playtime with this weave, I created these bracelets that remind me so much of colorful ribbon. They feel wonderful encircling my wrist and are a great way to showcase a special bead or button as part of the clasp.

For my bracelets’ clasps (in the order above), I used a beaded Swarovski rivoli, a stamped and gilded polyclay button and my version of polyclay faux turquoise. For my faux turquoise version, I used Tory Hughes’ faux amber technique (from her book “Polymer, The Chameleon Clay“) and just used turquoise-colored clay instead. A simple peyote stitch loop completes the clasp.

I used size 11 seed beads woven with 6 lb. “smoke” Fireline thread and to create interest, I inserted size 6 beads down the middle length. I love the idea of embedding beads with this stitch and would love to explore this idea further by placing the embedded beads in a random pattern. Does anyone know how to do free-form herringbone? That’s another idea I’d like to play with.

Tomorrow morning I travel to Michigan to visit my family so there won’t be a Saturday Morning Tea post this weekend. I will rejoin you the following Saturday to share a cup of tea once again. During my time in MI, I’m looking forward to another trip to Beadhaven in Frankenmuth. Their seed bead selection is beyond fabulous! Oh joy!

Have a wonderful week, dear friends.

Saturday Morning Tea

I’m still anxiously awaiting the arrival of this year’s first flush Darjeeling teas, as I know I’ve mentioned many times before, one of my favorite times of year. Still not here yet though. There’s been some political upheaval in Darjeeling that resulted in a strike of the workers. So, the first flush season has experienced some ups and downs. I’ve heard that tea is being plucked and processed once again but the first flush season is just about over now. I’m hoping to be able to enjoy a cup by the end of April.

All that said, we were very pleasantly surprised by the arrival of some Pre-Chingming teas from China yesterday. So, in my cup this morning, a Pre-Chingming Pi Lo Chun.

Just look at that fresh, gorgeous leaf!

Chingming, or Qingming, is a festival in China, usually celebrated on the 15th day from the Spring Equinox, or April 5th. It is a day for going outside to enjoy the return of greenery and tend to the graves of departed loved ones. So, Pre-Chingming refers to the tea being plucked before this festival time.

I steeped the leaf for 3 minutes in 180 degree F water. The delicately spiraled leaf shapes unfurled to reveal their spring green glory. Pi Lo Chun tea is one of the most famous types of green tea produced in China. I’ve written about it before here. This tea is from Fujian province.

Because of its very early plucking, the tea is quite delicate, the straw-colored liquor resembling the color of a white tea. The aroma and flavor are light, fresh and vegetal but not overly so. With my first sip, I detected a hint of smokiness that vanished as the tea cooled.

I am giving this early 2011 tea a place of honor in my Hawaiian teabowl. So smooth, so refreshing, so sweetly delicate.

This beautiful spring weekend will be spent walking on the bike path and hiking in the woods. I love getting out into nature at this time of year to smell the fresh air and celebrate all the little shoots peeking up out of the soil. So far, clumps of sunny yellow crocus and one lone daffodil are blooming out in my garden.

What’s blooming in your life?

“Smells are surer than sights and sounds

to make heartstrings crack.” ~Rudyard Kipling

Saturday Morning Tea

A clear, bright day dawned today with the promise of warmer temps and a long walk on the bike path for this tea lover. Only a thin, wet layer of snow remains as the only trace of yesterday’s April Fool’s Day snowfall. I bet it’ll be all melted away by day’s end.

This morning’s tea is another selection from the Nepal Jun Chiyabari estate called Pine. Back in February, I reviewed their Pouchong Jade.

Whereas the Jade is a Pouchong tea, meaning a slightly oxidized green tea, this Pine is processed as a true green tea, meaning no oxidation of the leaf at all.

I steeped the beautiful spring green leaf for 3 minutes in 180 degree F water. The aroma arising from my glass teapot is light and vegetal.

The liquor is the color of morning sunshine. Its flavor is light and smooth with only a vegetal whisper. A sweetness lingers in my mouth with each sip from my teabowl.

With April’s arrival and, hopefully, some warmth here in New England, I’m beginning to think of teas that would be great iced and this is surely one of them!

Perhaps you’ve noticed that I’m now marking my photos with a copyright symbol. I think the reason that I’ve never done that before is because I didn’t want to take away from the photo’s appearance. However, I’ve lately discovered that a website is lifting my blog posts on a regular basis and will not stop even though I’ve sent them a letter asking them to do so. I also saw that someone lifted one of my photos to use as their Facebook avatar. In that case, if the person had asked me first, I probably would’ve said yes but they never asked. I find this all very discouraging and have even considered just giving up my blog and bowing away from having an internet presence altogether. However, what’s really stopped me from doing so is that I so enjoy sharing my love of tea with you all. And also my art, of course. So, I will move forward and not let these thieves stop me from doing something I love. Thanks for being there, my dear tea friends.

“April, the Angel of the Months.” ~Vita Sackville-West

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