Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, my dear tea friends! I’m on my way out to my art guild meeting on this blustery cold morning. The clouds are racing across the deep blue sky and the branches sway back and forth in the brisk wind. I feel a change in the air. Could it be spring? I hope so! Anyway, I leave you with another Chun Mee tea review from a couple of summers ago. Enjoy!

On this hazy summer morning in my pleasantly cooled kitchen, I’m lazily sipping a Chinese green tea called Chun Mee. Traditionally, the Chinese have always been quite fond of rolling the tea leaf into various shapes and then naming the tea accordingly. Chun Mee translates to “Precious Eyebrows”. Can you see it?

After the leaf is withered and steamed, it is rolled into a thin needle-like shape with a curve like a porcelain doll’s eyebrow.

It is a very popular everyday tea in China, especially to accompany strong flavored foods because of its astringent aftertaste which clears the palate.

Upon steeping for 3 minutes in 180 degree F water, the tightly rolled leaves open slightly to reveal their curled edges.

The golden liquor has a hint of chestnuts in the aroma and a rich, full-bodied flavor. Its astringency clears my mouth and makes it feel fresh and clean. A whisper of sweet plum rounds out the taste.

Shopping at the local mall a couple of nights ago, I stopped into a tea store there and found these interesting pottery teamugs on the clearance shelf. The coppery/sage green mottled exterior is rough and textured with a smooth, pale blue interior. I love the juxtaposition of textures and the way the mug feels slightly rough against my palm. I also love finding treasures, especially those at 75% off!

The purpose of craft is not so much to make beautiful things as it is to become beautiful inside while you are making those things.

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I purchased my own domain name!

I feel like I’ve come full circle today with the purchase of my very own domain name for Art and Tea. With the approach of the 5-year anniversary of my blog’s first post, I feel that it’s the perfect way to celebrate that.

If you use a reader service to read my blog, you will probably need to update the URL address. A big thanks for all of your interest and support of my blog over the years.

I believe this auspicious occasion calls for the return of my Art posts!  What do you think?

Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! A couple of weeks ago at work, I took part in a cupping of some China green teas – the Chun Mees and the Young Hysons. This morning I have brewed up a pot of my favorite tea of that grouping – Chun Mee Moon Palace. I do admit that part of its charm lies in its cool name but, for me, it really shined in its flavor.

The name Chun Mee translates to “precious eyebrows”. After withering and steaming, the leaves are rolled into thin curved shapes resembling a porcelain doll’s eyebrows. I wrote about another lot of Chun Mee here.

The Chinese are very fond of naming their teas.

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 180 F water as I do with most green teas. After steeping, the leaves look more like bushy eyebrows, don’t you think?

The deep yellow liquor gives off a fresh vegetal fragrance. The flavor is also vegetal, lightly so with pronounced fruity nuances, like pear and melon. It is the fruity nuances that make this tea so enjoyable for me. As my tea cooled, it got sweeter.

As I continued to sip this tea, an astringency began to flower, leading me to think that I probably oversteeped it. So with my next pot of tea, I’ll experiment by pulling back on the steeping time, probably starting with a 2 1/2 minute steep and then possibly working back to a 2 minute steep.

As I’ve talked about before, it’s amazing how different a tea can taste when you adjust the steeping time a small amount of time. I like to be open to the positive qualities of a tea and believe that I can develop a relationship with it with some minor adjustments. Too often I hear stories of folks thinking that something is wrong with a tea after just one steeping. I encourage everyone to experiment and see what works best for them. After that period of experimentation, if you still don’t like it, well, that’s just what it is – you just don’t like it. It doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s something wrong with the tea. Enjoy the journey!

Next week I will be attending my art guild meeting so there won’t be any new tea post on Saturday. I’ll be back in 2 weeks to share another cup of tea with you. Until then, dear friends, happy sipping!

“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”  ~Buddha

Saturday Morning Tea

A couple of days ago, we did a Yunnan black tea cupping at work, comparing 8 of our current Yunnan selections. I enjoy the cuppings very much because I find it so interesting to taste the teas side by side and discern their similarities and differences, especially within a category. So, with that cupping still fresh in my mind, I chose one of those Yunnan teas as my morning tea today. It’s the only broken leaf one of the group, called Yunnan FBOP (Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe).

From mountainous Yunnan province in southwestern China, this black tea consists of mainly dark leaf with a small amount of yellowish tip sprinkled in. Yunnan teas have traditionally been plucked from very large, old tea trees but I have heard that some of those trees are being cut down or cut in half to make way for monoculture plantings. Hearing that makes me sad but I also know that demand is up for these teas and perhaps that is how they’re accommodating that demand.

I steeped the leaves for only 3 minutes in boiling point (212 F) water. The aroma wafting up from the steeping leaves is sweet and earthy.

The Chinese have traditionally called black tea “red tea” and you can certainly see why as the tea glows a gorgeous russet color in my glass teapot.

The flavor is so incredibly sweet with notes of pepper and earth and a whisper of smoke. The sweet and smoke linger in my mouth reminding me of sweet pipe tobacco. This tea would stand up to milk well but I don’t recommend any sugar because it is plenty sweet already.

I like my wide mouth tea bowl because it allows the tea to cool quickly, revealing the flavor notes. I find it hard to pick out all of the flavor notes when the tea is really hot. How about you?

We had a dusting of snow fall from a gray blanket sky this morning, however, it must be warming up outside because the snow is gone and everything just looks damp now as I gaze out my window. I’ve recently ordered some metalworking supplies, a disk cutter and a dapping set. I’m looking forward to getting back into my studio after an incredibly long period of drought. Way too long…

Happy tea drinking!

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” ~Rabindranath Tagore

Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends. It’s great to be sharing a cup of tea with you once again. On this brisk, blue sky morning, I’ve brewed up a pot of a broken-leaf Assam from the Daisajan estate. As you can see, the broken bits of leaf are fairly large with a sprinkling of tip (the yellowish leaf).

I’ve read that this estate’s name derives from the Assamese words “Doichha Jaan”, meaning “the river with two heads”. It’s located in the Doom Dooma district in the northeast tip of Assam in India, an area once covered in jungle and populated by elephants.

I steeped the leaves for 3 1/2 minutes in boiling point water. As I lifted the infuser from my glass teapot, I noted a rich malty aroma with nuances of red wine. The aroma hinted a stout cup and, to me, that usually means astringency, the kind you can feel in your teeth. Boy, was I surprised.

I was amazed at the silky smoothness of the tea liquor. All of the broken-leaf intensity was there with a fullness suggesting incredibly dark chocolate, the 88% cocoa kind (my favorite).

So dark yet so amazingly smooth. Notes of malt and red wine mingled with the dark chocolate fullness.

If you enjoy milk in your Assam, I would recommend experimenting with pushing the steep time on this one, perhaps 4 minutes or so.

This is a great selection for coffee drinkers who want to transition over and explore the world of tea. Now, I don’t drink coffee anymore because of my sensitivity to its caffeine but I remember that bitterness in a cup of coffee that isn’t quite astringency but could be likened to the bitterness of dark chocolate or a really dark beer. To me, anyway. That is present in this cup but I don’t want to use the word bitter because, in tea, it is used to describe oversteeping. Forgive me if my description falls short of clarity. The bottom line is I love this Assam, in fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s my current favorite.  And for this Darjeeling fanatic, that’s saying a lot!

Enjoy your week and your tea!

“I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.”

~Maya Angelou