Saturday Morning Tea

This morning I’m enjoying another tea from the Jun Chiyabari estate in Nepal. Called Himalayan Oolong, it reminds me very much of a tea I reviewed about a year ago in this post.

The leaves look very much like an Oolong tea, large and rolled, yet there are some differences in the taste, creating a tea, in my opinion, whose flavor notes are a melding of Oolong and Darjeeling. As I said in a previous post, their Himalayan Oolongs are created with a secret process resulting in a black tea with the characteristics of a Silvertip Oolong tea. True Silvertip Oolong teas come from Taiwan (Formosa).

The dry leaf gave off a sweet cookie aroma as I spooned the leaves into my glass teapot. Since they’re so huge, I used 2 teaspoons per cup. I steeped the leaves for 4 minutes at a water temperature of approximately 185 degrees F. Based on my experience several weeks ago, I’m trying a longer steeping time initially. After steeping, I detected a light floral aroma in the wet leaf, a faint whisper of a green Oolong’s (like Spring Dragon) floral characteristic.

As you can see, the tea liquor is a lighter amber color than the Himalayan Oolong I reviewed last year. It’s also lighter-bodied in the cup. The flavor is rich and fruity and quite smooth. I might try steeping for 5 minutes at the lower temp and see what happens.

Isn’t it fun to experiment with your tea and see what happens? Some wonderful surprises and some….well…I guess that didn’t work. But then you know and you go on from there.

Some people like to stick with a tea and try different steeping times until the flavor suits them and others don’t want to be bothered with the “fuss”. One’s not right and one’s not wrong. They’re just different ways of approaching something. I think you can tell which way I am. Which way are you?

“It is the soul’s duty to be loyal to its own desires.  It must abandon itself to its master passion.”  ~Rebecca West

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, my dear tea friends. This morning I am headed out to my monthly polymer clay guild meeting in Rhode Island. I have resurrected a tea post from back when I lived in Upton. It’s a review of one of my most favorite Oolong teas. Enjoy this blast from the past and I’ll see you back here next week when I review a brand new tea!

This morning there is a very cool breeze coming in my windows. As I gaze out over the treetops, I see a variety of reds, oranges, maroons and golds blooming amongst the greenery. October is one of my favorite months because I love so much about this autumn time of year – the aroma of dry leaf as it dances across my path, the explosion of color across the landscape, the crisp, tart taste of a just picked apple, the bright orange pumpkins displayed in wooden carts along the side of the road. This morning, however, I am feeling wistful as the memory of summer slips away. So, in light of my mood, I have brewed up a green Formosa Oolong called Spring Dragon.

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After plucking the new growth (2 leaves and a bud), the leaves are spread out to dry and oxidize. They are shaken periodically during this drying period to bruise the leaf and release its volatile oils for flavor. This also helps in the oxidation process, the turning brown process of the leaf. This Oolong is only lightly oxidized so it is carefully monitored during this time. Once the tea master judges the oxidation to be sufficient, the leaves are pan roasted to halt oxidation. Then they are rolled and dryed some more.

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It is amazing that you can see the serration on the edges of the intact leaf that I have spread out after I steeped the tea. I left a portion of one leaf still rolled up a little so you can see how it has opened up. The aroma is sweet and delicately flowery. The light honey colored liquor is also sweet with lilac flavor notes. Mmmmmmm….

Saturday Morning Tea

I’m back from vacation and feeling rejuvenated despite a busy return to work this week. I’d like to share an interesting experience I had a few days ago. My colleague brewed a pot of a newly arrived Castleton estate second flush Darjeeling and the first word that popped into my head as I took my first sip was

PHENOMENAL!

It had a honeyed peach aroma with rich peach and muscatel flavor notes.

Ambrosia.

Naturally, we all requested it for our morning tea the following day. As I took my first sip that morning, I thought I had poured the wrong tea into my cup. While it was a very good Darjeeling, all of the wonderful flavor notes I had experienced the day before weren’t there. As my tea cooled, however, I detected them but they were very subtle.

So, what happened?

Different steeping times.

The first cup was steeped at 4 minutes and the second at 3 minutes. What a difference a minute makes, huh?

Look at this gorgeous leaf. It’s huge and chock full of tips/intact leaf sets.

Just like your water source can make all the difference in your resulting cup of tea so too can your steeping time. In light of my recent experience (and it’s happened to me before), I highly recommend that you experiment with different steeping times to find what works best for you. A tea you don’t like with your first cup could end up being your favorite tea by just making an adjustment to the steeping time!

This is the tea steeped for 3 minutes in boiling point water – a glowing medum amber hue.

The cup on the right is the tea steeped for 4 minutes. The color goes deeper and the peach/muscatel aroma and flavor are much more pronounced.

As my tea cooled, I was expecting the longer steeped tea to develop that characteristic “bite” but it never did. I might even try this tea steeped for 30 seconds longer. I like to push the steeping time to just before it develops that bitterness, that well known bitterness of being oversteeped.

So, I encourage you, dear tea friends, to experiment with the steeping times for your tea. That being said, however, I think that it’s best not to change the water temperature or the amount of tea leaves used per cup.  Those should remain consistent.

For this tea, I used 2 teaspoons of leaf per cup since the leaf is so huge and boiling point water.

Do you have a story similar to mine? If so, please share!

Enjoy your weekend!

Saturday Morning Tea

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It’s that time of year again when my company shuts down and we all get 9 glorious days off from our regular work schedule. I’m leaving for the airport shortly to go visit my family in Michigan so I’ll leave you with my favorite method for making iced tea.

Have a wonderful holiday weekend, dear tea friends!

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I make iced tea with the “cold brew” method. It’s so easy to make iced tea this way. Gather up your supplies either in the morning before work or in the evening before bedtime. This will give the leaves sufficient time to steep either all day or all night.

You’ll need a container, a tablespoon and some tea leaves. For my iced tea, I use a glass pitcher I purchased at Target and some organic green South African Rooibos. I’ve written about this herbal before here and here.

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Spoon your tea leaves into your pitcher, using one tablespoon for every 6-8 ounces of water. Next, pour your water into your pitcher. I recommend either bottled spring water or filtered tap water. Hard water can definitely affect the taste of your tea.

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Now all you have to do is place your container in the fridge. That night or the next day, strain the tea into another container to remove the leaves. I use a large Pyrex measuring cup to strain my tea into. Then I clean the leaves out of my pitcher and pour the tea back into it. You can also use an infuser or tea filter papers to put your loose leaves into, making cleanup easier.

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There are so many variations with iced tea creation. You can put lemon or orange slices in either while the tea is steeping or after you strain it. Or, you can fill your glass halfway with iced tea and then pour some flavored seltzer water in for a fizzy iced tea. The possibilities are endless!

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I’m enjoying my iced tea plain with ice and a bowl of fresh blueberries on plain yogurt. Mmmmm…. I’ve been exploring ways in which I can remove sugar from my diet because I believe there is just way too much of it in the food we buy. Even my Stonyfield Farm yogurt cup, while it’s very delicious and organic, has sugar added to it. So, I’m now buying plain yogurt and mixing it with fresh fruit, depending on what’s in season.