Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! For this last Saturday in October, I’ve chosen an Assam which has been described as “a stout cup”. I wanted to review an Assam that knocks your socks off in strength and body.

Meet Langharjan estate TGFBOP Tippy.

Langharjan estate is located near the town of Naharkatiya in extreme northeastern India.

As you can see from the dry leaf above and its leaf designation, TGFBOP or “Tippy Golden Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe”, this is a tea with a lot of leaf tip. I find that the tippier Assams are a lot smoother. And this one is so incredibly smooth.

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

The aroma is lightly malty and rich with a hint of toastiness.

Despite the greyness of the day outside, my teapot glows as if a fire is burning inside of it.

This tea delivers in every way. Rich, malty, smooth as silk, my type of Assam. You could probably coax some astringency out of it by pushing the steep time to 5+ minutes. At that point though you might want to add some milk or cream.

Unbelievably, especially after the winter we had last year, a snowstorm is predicted for our area tonight and into tomorrow. I am not ready for this type of weather again so soon! I will need many cups of tea for comfort as the white stuff descends upon us so unseasonably early.

Stay warm, dear friends, with your hands curled around your favorite cup of tea!

“I like living.  I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.” ~Agatha Christie

Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! In continuing Assam month here at Art and Tea, I have an unusual Assam filling my cup today, a first flush selection from the Amgoorie estate.

Most Assams are harvested during the summer months, or the second flush season. They are well known and loved for their characteristic full-bodied, hearty, malty flavor profile. This first flush was harvested in the springtime, the first growth of the tea leaves. While the characteristic Assam flavor notes are still there, it usually has a much lighter body.

Even though it’s a whole leaf tea, I steeped the leaves in boiling point (212F) water for only 3 minutes because it’s a first flush and since I wasn’t planning on adding milk. It can be steeped for a longer time if adding milk and/or sweetener, or if you like a brighter quality to your plain tea.

I found this photo of the Amgoorie estate factory. Being a confessed clean freak myself, I’m greatly comforted to know how clean their operation is there. Yes, tea leaves are usually sorted and piled on floors.

The wet leaf has a hint of cocoa aroma that is revealed in its flavor as well. The tea liquor is quite smooth with a fuller body than what I was expecting.

The color in my glass teapot reflects the myriad of oranges and reds flaming across our New England fields and forests.

The flavor is lightly malty with a kick of brightness in the finish.

The last 2 weeks have taken me on a journey I’ve never experienced before. Someone very close to me had major surgery and was in a Boston hospital for 10 days, 5 of those in the ICU. I was brought to a place of seeing and then knowing how your life can change forever in an instant revelation of news we all dread to hear. I felt my heart crack wide open as I traveled each step of the recommended path with my beloved friend and observed the compassionate caring of everyone there to help him through the long process. He is finally home and the healing has begun. Nothing is certain in this life, things change constantly and the best we can do is to live and treasure the moments each one at a time. Until next week, dear tea friends…

“It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.” ~Joseph Campbell

Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning! I apologize for not having a new tea review for all of you today. A dear friend of mine has been in the ICU all week and I am headed into Boston to be with him. Please enjoy this tea review from last fall and I’ll be with you all next week to share a review of a new first flush Assam from the Amgoorie estate. Thanks for understanding, dear tea friends.

I was up quite early today for a Saturday. The day dawned bright and clear and as I sipped my tea, I thought of that fateful day 9 years ago. Another beautiful, clear September morning that turned dark and sad as the events of the day unfolded.

I raise my teacup and dedicate my thoughts today in memory of all those lives lost that day…

I’m sipping a China green tea called Jade Cloud Mist. Harvested in the spring in An Hui province, the leaf is exquisite.

The leaf is a very fine plucking of the new growth found at the tips of the tea plant stems.

Simply gorgeous.

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 180 degree F water. A pronounced vegetal aroma wafted up from my glass teapot as I poured my first cup.

Even though the tea liquor is a very pale sage green, the mouth feel is very full and buttery smooth with light notes of asparagus.

A sweetness lingers with every sip.

So pale, so light, yet so very flavorful. A real treat for those who cherish their green tea.

“…to go into yourself and see how deep the place is from which your life flows…….perhaps you will discover that you are called to be an artist….” ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning! Enjoy this “oldie but goodie” tea post on a wonderful and unique white tea from Assam. See you next week, dear tea friends, when I share a brand new Assam tea review.

For my morning tea on this bright spring morning, I’ve chosen an Assam tea. Wait a minute, you might be saying as you look at my photo, that doesn’t look like an Assam tea at all! That’s because it is a white Assam. Located in northeast India, Assam is most noted for its full-bodied, rich black teas. This unique white tea is from the Mothola estate.

I have read that this tea estate was flooded back in the 60s when the banks of the Brahmaputra river eroded and water swept through the estate. Through the combined efforts of the workers and management, they were able to restore 1000 acres to grow tea once again.

This tea is meticulously crafted using only the tips of the Assamica variety of the Camellia Sinensis tea plant. Native to this lowland region, this variety has large leaves and grows to be a small tree.

When these indigenous tea plants were first identified by Major Robert Bruce around 1823, many believed that they were not capable of producing quality tea as the China variety was. You can read more about that here.

I steeped the leaves for 4 minutes in 180 degree F water. The glowing gold liquor has a distinct malty aroma, immediately identifying it as an Assam tea. However, that’s where the similarity ends.

The flavor is delicate and sweet with complex malty notes. A hint of fruitiness makes a brief appearance across my tongue.

This tea is exquisite and can be compared to a specialty white tea from China. While I do love their white teas, this tea has an extra special something that calls me back for more.

As my hands wrap lightly around my hand-crafted teabowl, I watch the trees dance in the wind outside my window. It’s a perfect day to work in the garden.

Enjoy your weekend!

I wandered lonely as a cloud

that floats on high o’er vales and hills,

when all at once I saw a crowd,

a host of golden daffodils:

beside the lake, beneath the trees,

fluttering and dancing in the breeze….

for oft, when on my couch I lie

in vacant or in pensive mood

they flash upon that inward eye

which is the bliss of solitude;

and then my heart with pleasure fills,

and dances with the daffodils.

~William Wordsworth

Saturday Morning Tea

Welcome to Assam month here at Art and Tea!

I’m starting off the month with an Assam from one of my most favorite estates, the Mangalam estate. As I look back on my tea posts, I’m surprised to see that I’ve only reviewed a Mangalam once, way back in 2008. You can read that review here.

Assam, located in northeast India, has one of the richest biodiverse climates in the world with tropical rainforest, bamboo and deciduous forests, grasslands and wetlands. The tea plant, Camellia sinensis, was found growing wild there in the 1830s, one of the few areas in the world where tea is a native plant.

I’ve read that this estate was named after one of the estate owner’s sons (who later became one of its managers) and that the word Mangalam means “auspicious” in the Sanskrit language. The estate was founded in 1973.

When I opened the tea packet, a hint of cocoa wafted up from the dry leaf. There is a profusion of beautiful golden tips (new growth) peppered amongst the deep brown whole leaf.

I steeped the leaves for 4 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. I discovered that for enjoying this tea plain, this is the perfect steeping time.

The tea liquor’s aroma is rich with a hint of malt and red wine. The flavor is silky smooth with a thick mouthfeel and a sweetness that lingers on my palate. It has a richness that would stand up well to any additions but if you are going to do that, I recommend steeping the leaves for longer than 4 minutes. As always, experiment and see what works best for you.

Even on this grey, drizzly day, the tea glows like rich antiqued copper in my glass teapot.

This tea is a great choice for anyone who doesn’t like the characteristic astringency of Assam. Speaking of astringency, one thing to watch out for is no matter how you steep the loose tea leaves, make sure that all of the leaf, including the smallest bits which might escape from your infuser, are removed from the tea. Those small bits not removed will continue to steep in your tea and lend more astringency to the flavor.

My parents are visiting me next weekend so there won’t be a new tea review next Saturday. However, I will search my archives and post another “oldie but goody.” Until next time, dear tea friends, I wish you many delicious cuppas…

October by Robert Frost

O hushed October morning mild,

Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;

Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,

Should waste them all.

The crows above the forest call;

Tomorrow they may form and go.

O hushed October morning mild,

Begin the hours of this day slow.

Make the day seem to us less brief.

Hearts not averse to being beguiled,

Beguile us in the way you know.

Release one leaf at break of day;

At noon release another leaf;

One from our trees, one far away.

Retard the sun with gentle mist;

Enchant the land with amethyst.

Slow, slow!

For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,

Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,

Whose clustered fruit must else be lost–

For the grapes’ sake along the wall.