Saturday Morning Tea

Fall has arrived under a grey blanket sky. We’re in a rainy weather pattern here in New England and I don’t think we’re supposed to see the sun for a week. It’s a good day for a rich, warm Assam black tea in my morning cup, this one from the Banaspaty estate, a small organic tea garden tucked into the hills of Kabi Anglong district in northeast India.

This particular Assam is a broken leaf tea so I steeped it for only 3 minutes in boiling point (212 F) water. Assams have such a gorgeous russet color, don’t they? It reminds me of the warm colors of the setting sun.

The wet leaf has a pronounced malty aroma, foretelling of its rich malty flavor notes. As I took my first sip, I detected a crisp astringency that could be enjoyed plain or toned down with a splash of milk.

There’s nothing like a pot of tea to brighten up a gloomy day.

As my tea cooled, some fruity hints were revealed, darkly sweet like the sweetness of raisins. We’ve just received a big shipment from India so I look forward to reviewing more Assams in the weeks to come. Shall I make October Assam month? Or do you like to read about a different type of tea every week? I welcome your feedback!

Have a wonderful week, dear tea friends…

“The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.”  ~Thomas Moore

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Saturday Morning Tea

The first day of fall is only days away and here in New England, temps have dropped almost 20 degrees literally overnight. Even though fall is one of my most favorite seasons, spring is, too, and I’ve chosen a tea this morning that reminds me of those promising days when the soil is just warming up and the tea bushes have started their growth cycle. Yes, one of my most favorite teas – a first flush Darjeeling! This one is from the Makaibari estate, an organic, biodynamic, Fair Trade tea garden in northeast India.

I’ve written about it before here.

As the tea steeps (3 minutes in 212 F water) in my glass teapot, you can see the green bits of leaf that are a good indicator of its first flush designation. Some folks actually believe they’ve received a green tea when they look at the first flush leaf. Yes, it is processed as a black tea but it seems that this first leaf growth, or flush, retains its greenish color, unlike a second flush tea.

As I lift the lid of my teapot, a faint aroma of nuts arises from the light amber tea liquor.

My teapot wears a necklace of pearl bubbles that adorns its glowing, inviting color. As I pour my first cup, I also detect a whisper of ripe fruit.

What strikes me first and foremost about the flavor is its amazing smoothness. Usually, not always, first flushes exhibit a healthy level of astringency. While it is there in this tea, I might say that it is bright rather than astringent. There is also a honey-like sweetness and a bit of fruitiness that lingers in my mouth.

As I wave goodbye to the very last days of summer, I now look forward to cozy sweaters and dark, rich cups of tea. How about you?

Until next week, dear tea friends…

Let us, then, be up and doing

With a heart for any fate;

Still achieving, still pursuing,

Learn to labor and to wait.

                               ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Saturday Morning Tea

This morning I was all set up to do a new tea review and as I went to snap my first photo, my camera’s battery died. No problem, I have another so I changed batteries only to discover that battery was dead, too! So, it appears that the universe is giving me a message today so I’ll share a post from my archives. Enjoy and have a great week!

Even though we are on the cusp of autumn and the temps are dropping rapidly here in New England, especially at night, I’m still in the mood for a light tea.

I introduce you to Huangshan Mao Feng Supreme, a beautiful, spring harvest Chinese green tea. Perhaps springtime in a cup can banish away the gloominess I feel on this dark, cloudy day.

The leaf is from a very fine plucking and careful processing resulting in an amazingly intact leaf set. I loved watching the leaves dance in my glass teapot as they infused.

Just the tips, the very new growth, are plucked to create this special tea.

I have read that Huangshan is another name for Mount Huang, located in the Anhui province of China. It’s a place of  granite peaks, hot springs and beautiful sunsets and sunrises. An optical phenomenon known as Buddha’s Light occurs a couple times a month there with the sunrise. Sounds like an amazing place.

This tea is quite pale in color with a vegetal whisper in the aroma.

I chose this particular teabowl because the pale liquor allows me to see the beautiful texture inside the bowl. The flavor is light yet fills my mouth with its soft, fruity sweetness. Mmmm….

As I sip my tea, I watch the gray blanket of sky and contemplate the seasonal changes to come. My cup of springtime seems to hold back the thickening clouds as it releases the scent of new growth with every sip.

“Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.” ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Saturday Morning Tea

A happy Labor Day weekend to one and all! Are you saying to yourself: now where did the summer go? Those long, hazy days seem to always fly by, quickly fading into the coolness of the fall.

This morning I’m enjoying a cup of Ceylon black tea from the Manikkanda estate. It has a leaf style designated as “FF” or “Fancy Flowery”, a special production from this particular estate. I believe the FF means that there is an abundance of golden tip, or new growth.

Historically named Ceylon as a British crown colony, the name is an English translation of the word Ceilão, a name given to the island by the Portugese in 1505. The island officially became known as the “Free, Sovereign and Independent Republic of Sri Lanka” in 1972 and then in 1978 to the “Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka”. A Sanskrit word, Sri Lanka translates to “venerable island” in English.

The Manikkanda tea estate is located in the southwestern Galle district, a district of the Southern province at the southernmost point on the island.

I steeped the leaves for 4 minutes in boiling point (212 F) water, producing a rich russet liquor with a brisk aroma.

Look at that gorgeous color, a deep glowing fall color.

The tea liquor wakes up my palate with its brisk astringency and sweet flavor. I’m enjoying my tea plain but I bet it would taste great if you wanted to added milk and/or sweetener. This tea would also make a wonderful iced tea for those remaining warm days of late summer.

Enjoy this long weekend, dear tea friends!

“September’s song is a two-part harmony, as summer’s lighthearted serenade ends and a deeper melody begins.” 

~Sarah Ban Breathnach