Saturday Morning Tea

Hello again, my dear tea friends! This week I’ve stepped off the first flush Darjeeling path for just a bit, in fact, completely off the caffeine path, and am enjoying an herbal infusion in my cup this morning. I’ve recently noted that it’s been awhile since I’ve shared an herbal with you and wanted to do that. This particular selection is an herbal which I have shared with you before, however, in iced tea form. Today I’m enjoying it prepared hot.

Hello again South African Green Rooibos Superior Organic.

South African Rooibos is a bush grown in the Cedarberg mountain region of South Africa. The leaves are harvested and processed much like the tea plant, creating both “green” and “red” Rooibos. The Afrikaans word Rooibos means “red bush”. When the leaves are allowed to oxidize (similar to black tea), they turn a beautiful reddish brown. Left in an unoxidized state, the leaves are variegated flecks of light olive, yellow and brown.

Even though it is “green”, you can steep it in boiling point water (212F). I steeped the leaves for 8 minutes. It’s very forgiving and doesn’t become bitter if left to steep too long. The wet leaf looks much like the dry leaf – small, chopped up needle-like pieces.

The infusion steeps up to a beautiful amber. The aroma and flavor remind me of a very mild Ceylon black tea. Very smooth and sweet yet brisk and flavorful with hints of toast. This is a fabulous choice for those tea lovers looking for a caffeine-free infusion that tastes like tea. It’s not exact but the similarities are definitely there.

This Rooibos is my current favorite for the evening and, just between you and I, it’s perfect for dunking cookies. 😉

As always, thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful week!

“What you love is a sign from your higher self of what you are to do.”

~Sanaya Roman, Writer

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Saturday Morning Tea

Hello again, my dear tea friends! I’m happy to be back to share another cup of tea with all of you. This morning I’m enjoying another first flush Darjeeling, this selection from the Glenburn estate. So far, 5 first flushes have arrived and I have to say that this one is my favorite so far. The leaf is from the first plucking of the season and, as you can see from my photo, it’s filled with the silvery white tips of the tea bush. So new, so tender.

The leaf shows off its gorgeous green color as it steeps. I steeped for 3 minutes in just under boiling point water, around 200 degrees F. Remember that this is not a green tea but has been oxidized and processed as a black tea.

My online tea friend, Steph, had the opportunity to visit the Glenburn tea estate during a trip to India last year. She shares her wonderful adventure on her blog, Steph’s Cup of Tea, here. To visit a tea estate in Darjeeling would definitely be a dream come true for me. Someday…

Ok, back to the tea. The tea liquor steeped up to such a pale, delicate golden color. A sweet aroma of flowers wafted up from my glass teapot as I gently removed the infuser basket.

While I do love notes of tropical fruit and banana in a first flush tea, my first love has always been the floral notes. This tea is a perfect example of that – in the aroma and pronounced in the flavor. The liquor is so smooth that you could probably experiment with pushing the steeping time a little bit. If you do, please let me know what you think.

Have a wonderful week filled with many delicious cups of tea!

“One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats.”

~Iris Murdoch, Writer

More Ribbon Bracelets

I just love beading these bracelets. They’re a great way to play with color palettes inspired by the different buttons I use for the clasps. I first wrote about my love affair with these herringbone stitch bracelets here.

These wonderful porcelain buttons were created by Maryann Carroll of Artisan Beads Plus. The delicate, muted colors remind me of the awakening spring world outside.

Here’s another view. Maryann describes her bead/component process as follows:

– Individually hand-crafted
– Dried and then smoothed with a sponge
– Bisque fired to about 1850 degrees F (1000 C)
– Glazed with about 3 coats of glaze
– Fired again to about to 2200 degrees F (1240 C)

Amazing, beautiful work.

This color palette reminds me of sea and sand. I just love the texture on these buttons.

Herringbone stitch gets its name from the way the beads sit next to each other in a v-shaped pattern. The beads in my bracelets are woven in 2 at a time except for the single row of larger beads running down the middle of the bracelet. This stitch creates a bead fabric that feels silky and sinuous against the skin. Almost like a second skin. The button and loop clasp make for a super easy on and off that my “getting older” fingers are grateful for.

For this bracelet, I chose a vibrant color palette to match this beautiful vintage style button I purchased years ago at a Whole Bead show in Providence, RI.

For the center row of larger beads, I chose triangle shaped seed beads that interlock together perfectly. The majority of beads in these bracelets are a size 11.

Interestingly enough, I shared my ribbon bracelets last year right before a spring trip out to Michigan and here I am leaving tomorrow for a trip out there. I’ll be sure to visit my favorite bead store in Frankenmuth, Bead Haven, as well as a stop by Munro Crafts in Berkley. Stay tuned for treasure sharing!

As always, thanks for stopping by and have a most wonderful week.

Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! About a month ago, I reviewed a Pu-erh tea which had been compressed into a small square. You can see the photos of it here. I also talked about the two different kinds of Pu-erh tea, raw (Sheng) and cooked (Shou). The mini-square Pu-erh is the cooked kind and the tea in my cup this morning, called Ancient Forest Pu-erh Cake, is the raw kind. During its processing, this tea was compressed into “cakes” and each cake was wrapped to look like this:

Pretty cool, huh? Anyway, I find this particular raw type of Pu-erh tea fascinating in that it started out as a green tea, processed back in 1999. 13 years ago! One would think that a tea hanging out for that long would get stale and flavorless. Not so. The tea leaves aren’t heated up in the normal green tea processing way; they are allowed to dry in the sun, like white tea.

So, please correct me if I’m wrong, my understanding of raw Pu-erh is that it is stored in a special way allowing it to darken (oxidize) through its exposure to the natural elements. That’s why Pu-erh afficionados talk about storage and the aging process. The longer it’s “aged”, the darker it gets?

Because it is raw yet aged for 13 years, I steeped the leaves for 5 minutes in water under the boiling point, probably around 200 degrees F. So, hotter than what I normally use for green tea steeping.

This would be an excellent tea for experimenting with different steep times and water temperature. We did that at work and didn’t find a lot of difference between a 3 and 5 minute steep except for a bit smoother tea at 3 minutes.

Traditionally, Pu-erh teas are created from leaves harvested in the ancient tea forests of Yunnan province in China. You can see from the photo above that when the leaves unfurl from their compressed state, they’re pretty large.

The aroma is earthy and sweet with a faint hint of artichokes.

Compared to other Pu-erh teas I’ve tried, the flavor of the amber-colored liquor is quite mild and sweet, very smooth with a lingering earthy note in the finish. As I sip, that distinctive earthy flavor conjures up images of walking through a deep, dark ancient forest.

Much like wine lovers collect wines, some Pu-erh lovers collect these raw type, compressed Pu-erh teas and age them, waiting for just the right moment to break off a piece and steep a cup. If you have any experience with this, I’d love to hear your story.

Next weekend I’ll be out in Michigan visiting with my family so there won’t be any Saturday Morning Tea post. I’ll look forward to returning in 2 weeks to share another cuppa with you.

To all who celebrate, have a wonderful Easter and Passover!