Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning dear tea friends! It’s beginning to look a lot like a New England winter around here. Up until this week, we’ve been blessed with mild temps and…should I speak the words?….oh dear…no snow. There. I said it. Well, it’s finally happened and the white stuff is gently falling from the sky, blanketing everything. Compared with our last winter though this is nothin, folks.

Ok, on to tea. This morning’s tea is a good solid everyday broken leaf second flush Darjeeling from the Margaret’s Hope estate. Some folks like to avoid the broken leaf Darjeelings because they steep very fast and if you don’t catch it in time, tend to get quite bitter. As opposed to a tea like a China black say, where you can oversteep with no bitter consequences.

Do you know how this tea garden got its beautiful name? Story has it that in the 1930s, the garden was owned by a Mr. Bagdon who, with his two daughters, sailed from England to India to visit the garden. The younger daughter, Margaret, fell in love with the estate and hoped that some day she could return. It was not to be, however, as she became ill and died on the return voyage home. In her memory, her father named the estate Margaret’s Hope. What a poignant story.

Both the wet leaf and the tea give off a mild fruity aroma. There’s not much complexity to this tea but I think that it’s a wonderful value for a Darjeeling tea you can drink everyday.

The flavor of the deep amber-colored liquor is rich and full with hints of fruit. What strikes me the most about this tea is how incredibly smooth it is with no lingering bite. As long as you go easy on the steep time, this tea delivers a flavor and smoothness I’ve not experienced in most BOP Darjeelings.

I think this selection would also make a wonderful iced tea for all of you lucky tea lovers who are not gazing out onto a world of snow and ice as I am right now. Another one to place on my list to audition for iced tea when the weather warms up.

Ok, time for another cup and then it’s time to think about going outside and picking up my shovel. Next Saturday is my art guild meeting so I won’t be able to review a new tea, however, I’ll be sure and repost another oldie but goodie for you. Have a wonderful week and stay warm and dry, cup of tea in hand!

Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o’er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river, and the heaven,
And veils the farmhouse at the garden’s end.
The sled and traveller stopped, the courier’s feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed In a tumultuous privacy of storm.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Saturday Morning Tea

Tea.  Earl Grey.  Hot.

I’ve always wanted to say that but, between you and I, I’ve never cared for Earl Grey tea. I’ve always thought it to be too perfume-y for my taste. I’ve since discovered that perhaps I was being a bit too hasty in my judgment and it had nothing to do with Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Well, maybe a little.

Several months ago, a dear friend was in the hospital for a month. Each day that I would go to visit him, I would stop at the small cafe on the first floor on my way up to his room and get a cup of tea. The selection wasn’t extensive, to say the least (I know, I’m spoiled), and I found myself reaching for a cup of Earl Grey tea. And I liked it. Wait a minute, what? Granted, I laced it with milk and a little sugar but I liked it and found it quite comforting given the circumstances.

So, this morning, dear tea friends, I introduce you to a new love of mine – Earl Grey – this one called Natural Bergamot Earl Grey.

Earl Grey tea is a tea that has been flavored with the oil of the bergamot orange, a small fragrant citrus fruit grown in Italy. If you’d like to read more about its history, I wrote about it here. I find it fascinating that way back in 2007 when I first wrote about Earl Grey tea, my photos included a new journal, too.

This particular Earl Grey has a whole leaf China black tea base. I steeped it for 4 minutes in boiling point water.

Ah, there’s my new journal. I had dinner with a dear friend last night and she gifted me with a beautiful journal. I just love a new journal. It’s a trusted friend, carried with me wherever I go, helping me to record my thoughts, my feelings, my ideas. I’ve always had one as long as I can remember.

The tea brewed up strong and hot, just as Jean-Luc likes it. The best thing about this tea is how the flavor of the China black comes through, true and rich with a hint of earthiness. The natural bergamot oil is just the right level for me, not too overbearing and perfume-y but not too light either. Just right.

I enjoyed my Earl Grey tea plain this time but it will stand up very well to milk or cream, sugar or honey, whatever you’d like to add. As my tea cools, a sweetness becomes more pronounced and lingers in the finish. That sparked an idea about iced Earl Grey with a thick slice of orange or lemon. I’ll have to give that a try when the warm weather arrives.

Do you like Earl Grey tea? I’d love to hear about your experiences with it!

“Tea. Earl Grey. Hot. And whoever this “Earl Grey” fellow is, I’d like to have a word with him… “~Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Captain of the Starship Enterprise, Star Trek, The Next Generation

Saturday Morning Tea

Happy New Year, dear friends! A brand new year always fills me up with feelings of hope and excitement for new adventures. So, let us sit down together and continue our adventures in tea, shall we?

This morning I’m enjoying a delicate white tea in my cup, from the Adam’s Peak estate in the Dimbula district on the island of Sri Lanka (Ceylon). A rare tea composed of the new tips of the tea bush. To preserve their unique style, this tea is entirely hand processed and dried in sunlight. I wrote about a previous lot of this tea here.

I steeped the tea in 160 degree F water for 4 minutes. Guidelines suggest 170 degree F water but I wanted to see what flavor would be revealed in the slightly cooler water.

As I lifted the infuser from my glass teapot, I caught the faint whiff of flowers from the wet leaf.

The wet leaf reminds me of small swords, probably the influence of my rapt immersion in the world of the Seven Kingdoms lately. If you haven’t read George R.R. Martin’s tale of the Game of Thrones, I highly recommend it.

More swords…but I digress from our talk of tea…

The pale straw-colored tea liquor is delicate yet quite flavorful with pronounced notes of sweet, ripe melon and the faint whisper of floral hints.

This is a simply exquisite white tea which shows us tea in its most natural and least processed state, so incredibly different from the dark tones of a more familiar Ceylon black tea.

Refreshing and soothing to the spirit while the cold winter winds blow outside.

“And now let us welcome the New Year

Full of things that have never been.”  ~Rainer Maria Rilke