Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! This morning’s tea is a special, hand-crafted tea from an area nestled in the mountains of the Nilgiri district at the southern tip of India. Called Avataa Twirl tea, the name of this green tea means “fresh” in Sanskrit.

Grown at the Billimalai estate at an elevation of 6,400 feet, this tea is “specially crafted to form distinctive twirls, these vibrant golden green leaves brew to form a mildly astringent cup with a mellow and earthy aftertaste.”

The leaves are enormous and just stunningly full and intact. I steeped them for 3 minutes in 180F water.

Look at that beautiful leaf set!

As I poured my first cup, a fresh, clean vegetal aroma wafted up from my glass teapot. The greenish, straw-colored liquor has a strong vegetal flavor with a light undertone of fruit.

I love the pattern inside my wonky shaped teabowl. The color of this tea is so light that the “road” clearly shows as I enjoy my cuppa.

It’s a rainy weekend, perfect for curling up with a pot of tea and working on my web design class!

“Don’t wait for inspiration. It comes while working.” ~Henri Matisse

Saturday Morning Tea

Happy first day of fall, dear tea friends! The gray blanket sky has broken up into wisps of cotton fluff revealing a deep blue sky and the promise of a warm day. This morning I’m enjoying a cup of China Oolong tea. Harvested this past spring, it’s called Pre-Chingming Da Hong Pao. Da Hong Pao translates to “Big Red Robe” and I’ve written about it before here.

Are you wondering what big red robes have to do with this tea? Well, there’s a legend that the mother of an emperor fell ill and was cured by a certain tea. The emperor sent big red robes to clothe and honor the bushes from which the tea originated, in the Wuyi mountains of Fujian province. The legend goes on to say that three of the four bushes still survive today and are highly venerated.

As you can see, the leaves of this tea are huge and mainly intact. I steeped them for 4 minutes in 190F water. Because of their immense size, I used 3 teaspoons of tea leaves in my glass teapot.

Right away, I could smell the orchid fragrance as the tea leaves steeped. As I poured my first cup, I also detected honey and a slight vegetal fragrance as well.

The golden-colored tea liquor is smooth and buttery with notes of orchid, peach and honey. Ambrosia! It is suggested to do multiple steepings with this tea as the flavor develops even further with subsequent steepings. Wow, I think this tea is bursting with flavor on the first steep.

This is a lovely tea.

Today will be spent signing up for a hosting plan for my new website, downloading WordPress and starting to learn how to design it. I’m excited and nervous at the same time as I venture into this unknown territory. I know that I eventually want to sell some of my jewelry online. The question is: where do I sell it? On my own website? On Etsy and provide a link on my website to the Etsy shop? I do know that I want to do this but also know that I want to take the route that is less maintenance work so I can fit it in with my full-time job. If anyone has any experience/feedback about this, I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for visiting and enjoy your week and your tea!

“All our dreams can come true – if we have the courage to pursue them.”  ~Walt Disney

Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! This morning I am pleased to present to you a Japanese green tea that was harvested this year. I’m so glad to see the producers able to sell their tea confidently again after the terrible disaster that gripped their nation in March 2011. This tea is called 88th Night Shincha.

Shincha translates literally to “new tea”. It is the first flush in the springtime. This particular tea was harvested on the 88th day after the spring equinox, which I’ve read is February 4th in Japan. I’ve also read that it’s a traditional saying in Japan that if you drink of the leaves of the 88th day tea, you will enjoy a year of good health. Wonderful news as my allergies are really acting up this week!

If you’d like to read more about tea production in Japan, you can go back to my posts here and here. In October 2010, I spent a whole month exploring Japanese teas.

I steeped the leaves for 2 minutes in 170F water. I find that Japanese green teas are very sensitive to the temperature of the water. Do you? As you can see, the dry leaf looks like grass clipping while the wet leaf reminds me of steamed spinach. Speaking of steaming, this tea was lightly steamed in the first step of production. The steaming halts the oxidation process so the tea remains green.

The tea liquor is the most amazing spring green color. I don’t think my camera fully portrayed the loveliness of the color. A strong vegetal, seagrass aroma drifted from my glass teapot as I poured my first cup.

My first sip filled my mouth with sweetness and an incredibly pronounced vegetal taste of the sea. As I sipped, I detected a light floral quality underneath all of that vegetalness. I enjoyed this tea much better when it cooled.

As I prepared my tea this morning, a cool breeze gusted in the window. We had some rain move in overnight which also swept in some cooler temperatures. Fall is definitely at our doorstep here in New England.

As always, thanks for sharing a cuppa with me!

“There is this mysterious energy that wants us to keep growing.”

~Michelle Cassou, Artist

Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! The tea that I’m drinking this morning is so smooth that I’m already on my second cup in a matter of minutes. Grown at the Nildiya Valley estate in the Matara District of southernmost Sri Lanka, this black tea is the perfect example of an Orange Pekoe, or OP, tea.

Contrary to what the name implies, it is not a flavor but a term used to designate the leaf grade of the tea, in this case, a whole leaf tea. This leaf grading term is typically used in black teas from India and Sri Lanka.

You can see the rolled whole leaf clearly in the photo above of the wet leaf.

I steeped the leaf for 5 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. This tea is so smooth that I think the steeping time could be pushed another minute or two, especially if you’re adding milk.

The fragrance of sweet raisins drifted up from my glass teapot as I poured my first cup.

The dark-amber tea liquor flows like silk over my tongue. As the tea cooled, a hint of fruit was revealed along with a light toasty note.

Summer is hanging on here in New England with warm, humid weather. I’m enjoying it as much as I can because I always find it challenging to give up those warm, lazy, hazy days. Soon it’s time to sharpen those pencils and get to work!

Speaking of getting to work, I just signed up for this online course with the fabulous Susan Lomuto, creator of Daily Art Muse and art curator extraordinaire. Susan will teach us how to create a website to showcase our artwork. With a full-time job and so little free time, I was hesitant at first but then I listened to that small voice inside and took the plunge. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time – improve and expand my online presence and even start selling my jewelry again. This past year has been quite challenging personally and has led me on a journey of looking at what is really important in my life. I’ve been working hard on letting go of negative experiences of the past and moving forward with my art. I’m looking forward to discovering what the future holds!

As always, thanks for taking the time to visit and share a cup of tea with me. Until next week, dear friends…

“Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.”

~Ella Fitzgerald

Summer Earrings

Or more aptly titled – what I made during my summer time off… I found these fabulous glass chili pepper  beads at a bead show a couple of years ago and scooped them right up. Combined with some copper wirework and teal beaded rings, they’re very swingy.

These earrings were created during a fun color mixing session with polymer clay. The discs were made from a sheet using the Stroppel cane, Alice Stroppel’s wonderful technique using cane scraps. The oblong cane slices remind me of pills from a Mario Bros. video game my kids used to play when they were young. Very colorful!

Marbled drops created during another polymer clay playtime session. The agate rounds I found at Munro’s in Michigan last spring and complement the drops very nicely, I think.

More polyclay drops, these ones I created from extrusions. The bead caps were made with my new disc cutter and a tiny spiral stamp. A bit wonky looking but ok with the primitive tribal feel. The copper washers were textured from a brass plate.

These earring components were created from a polymer clay sheet that was painted with alcohol ink, sprinkled with mica powder and then run through my pasta machine when everything dried. They remind me of raku pottery. A glass blossom dangles from a delicate sterling chain.

These polyclay components were created using Randee Ketzel’s Snowflake Jade cane tutorial. I just love the depth achieved from layering with translucent clay. Swarovski crystal raindrops dangle from the delicate sterling chain.

More Snowflake Jade components paired with Swarovski opaque white crystal beads and sterling silver wire.

These earrings were created to go with my “Spacetime” necklace I have yet to introduce to you.

I recently purchased some of Christi Friesen’s Swellegant metal patinas and colorants and started my experimentation with some 16-gauge copper wire spirals. The next 4 earring pairs were created with those spiral dangles.

I think the blue-green patina looks so yummy on the copper! Here we have African opal and turquoise heishi.

Some Czech glass beads and turquoise heishi.

Some gorgeous enameled copper spiral shell beads by Maryann Carroll along with turquoise heishi.

As always, thanks for stopping by!