Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! I had a wonderful trip to NJ and NYC last weekend, visiting my elderly relatives and then taking in the sights of the city.

The 9-11 Memorial was a very sobering place. The day we went there it poured rain and it felt like the sky was weeping for all those souls who lost their lives on that tragic day. It was very sad but I’m really glad I went there. Ok, on to tea…

This morning’s tea is a special treat from the Arya Estate in the Darjeeling district of northeastern India. Called Arya Estate Ruby 2nd Flush, it truly is a “gem” of a tea!

As you can see, the leaves of this tea are much larger than an average Darjeeling. They are plucked from specially grown clonal tea bushes and carefully processed by hand to ensure their leaf remains intact and the flavor is developed. As I’ve mentioned before, the term “clonal” means that this tea came from tea plants grown from the cuttings from other tea plants of superior stock.

I used twice the amount of tea I usually spoon into my glass teapot and steeped the leaves for a little over 3 minutes in boiling point water (212F).

It is said that the Arya Estate was started by a group of Buddhist monks who carefully developed their tea plants from some seeds brought over from China. I love the stories and history about tea, don’t you? It gives more depth to my tea experience.

The beautiful, amber-colored tea liquor glows like a jewel in my glass teapot. As I gently lift the lid, a strong fruity, pineapple aroma delights my senses.

This pineapple quality follows through into the flavor, along with notes of muscatel and other tropical fruit. It is very smooth with the characteristic second flush rich body and a sweetness that lingers in the finish. Yum! This tea would stand up well to milk but I recommend drinking it straight to enjoy the fruity ambrosia.

Today is my grandkids’ birthday party. They are two years apart but their birthdates are 2 days apart so it’s a party for the both of them – a “Princess and Pirate” party. What fun!

Thanks for joining me for a cup of tea and I’ll see you next week!

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year.”

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ripe Berries Necklace

As it happens with a lot of my creations, I start out by playing with a technique or a concept and then it evolves into something entirely different. Such it was with my Ripe Berries necklace.

About 4 years ago, I was experimenting with creating a beaded tube using herringbone stitch, one of my favorite beading stitches. You can read my thoughts about that stitch here. I beaded a 6-inch length of tube, played with some ideas, none of which inspired me and then that tube sat in my studio until a couple of months ago when I picked it up again. Does that ever happen with your creative process?

As I played around with the tube and some gemstone beads, I began to think of how much I enjoy taking a palette of beads and creating one of my fringy bracelets, which I have been making for over 10 years now. You can see one of my bracelets here. I start off by stringing a length of size 8 seed beads and then I add a beaded fringe in between each bead. It’s a wonderful way to bring together an eclectic mix of beads and you can make the fringe as thick or thin as you want.

Anyway, how about if I added fringe to the tube, with the gemstone beads I had gathered? And that’s just what I did! However, instead of adding longer fringe as I usually do, I just added one bead at a time for a tighter, encrusted look. If any of you have seen Laura McCabe’s beautiful beadwork, that was definitely an inspiration for me.

It took many hours to add all of the beads but I am quite happy with how it turned out! A strand of amethyst rondelles along with a sterling silver box clasp finishes the necklace.

This necklace is one featured on the homepage of my new portfolio website created in the website design class I’ve been taking with the fabulous Susan Lomuto. I invite you to take a look at Karen Park Studio and welcome any feedback.

As always, thanks so much for visiting and sharing in my artwork!

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! I’m in New Jersey right now visiting relatives so I share a post from 3 years ago. It was Halloween and I was enjoying a cup of a very floral Oolong tea. Enjoy and I’ll see you next week!

The bronzed leaves are rattling across my backyard deck like dried bones as they welcome this last day of October, All Hallowed Eve. Pouring rain and wind this past week have swept clean most of the leaves from their trees to create an autumn carpet laid across the lawns and streets. As I drove home last night, glowing jack-o-lanterns brought memories of carving pumpkins, and I inhaled the woodsy smell of fallen leaves as I got out of my car and made my way up the path home. I love this autumn time of year, perfect for cozying up with a hot cup of tea.

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As promised last week, this morning’s tea is very special. Called Zhang Ping Shui Hsian (or Xian), its leaves are finely plucked, hand processed and compressed into small bricks. Each “brick” is then exquisitely packaged into a shiny red, black and gold vacuum sealed packet for freshness.

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This Chinese Oolong is grown in Fujian province and lightly oxidized to create a greener Oolong tea, similar to a Jade or Tung Ting. I gently broke some leaves off of the brick for steeping.

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Because the leaves are not as oxidized as a darker Oolong or a black tea, I decided to steep at a green tea temperature and time, 180 degrees F for 3 minutes.

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As the leaves steeped in my glass teapot, they swirled and floated downward, reminding me of the dance of the leaves outside.

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It might be fall outside but it was like a springtime garden in my kitchen. A sweet lilac fragrance drifted up from my teapot as I removed the infuser basket. Mmmmm…

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The tea liquor is a pale gold brown with very distinctive floral aroma and flavor notes. A sweetness fills my mouth and gently lingers after each sip.

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I am sipping my tea from a gorgeous coppery red teabowl, generously lent to me by a colleague/friend at work. Thanks Rebecca. She purchased it at Target. I’ll have to go check out the teaware at Tar-zjay.

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The bronze leaves compliment the darker glazing on the bowl. After the Color Workshop I attended last weekend, I notice color everywhere! And, after looking through my tea leaf pictures, I’m not surprised that I chose green and orange as the color palette for my collage in the workshop. My life is steeped in tea leaves…

Happy Halloween, everyone!

“Never jump into a pile of leaves with a wet sucker.”

~Linus from It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! After a week of rain and fog, this morning dawned clear and bright but quite cold for this time of year. The forecast last night called for a freeze, which means a temp of below freezing for several hours or more. Brrr! The temperature decline is always inevitable at this time of year but is still a shock after being warm for so long. On to tea…

I chose a strong, bracing Indian black tea this morning to chase away the chill, a broken-leaf Assam tea from the Doomni estate.

The Doomni tea estate is one of 3 tea gardens located in the Nalbari district of western Assam in northeast India. The leaf has been plucked and processed with a bounty of golden tips which I find lends a complexity and depth to the flavor of the tea.

I steeped the leaves for only 3 minutes in boiling point water (212F). Even at this lower steeping time, this tea has an astringent kick that I can feel in my teeth.

The aroma is strong and malty with a whisper of walnut and blackberries.

The beautiful, deep-amber tea liquor is hearty and thick with strong notes of malt and a light sweetness. I experienced a burst of flavor in my mouth, which lingered for quite some time.

This is one of those Assams that is perfect for adding milk to smooth out the astringency and bring the flavor forward even more. For those of you who don’t put milk in your Assam, perhaps try a shorter steep if you want to smooth out that astringent bite.

What’s up for your weekend? Well, my spring bulbs have arrived, a whole box of them, and they’re calling to me to plant them in the ground today. So, on go the overalls and garden gloves and it’s out into the sunshine-y fall day to plant for the afternoon. I am looking forward to the burst of color in my garden come next spring!

As always, thanks for visiting and sharing a cup of tea with me.

“Boldness has genius, power, and magic. Engage, and the mind grows heated. Begin, and the work will be completed.”

~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

More Excavations

Back in the spring, I wrote about my creative adventures in digging into baked polymer clay with a carving tool. You can read that post here. At the time, I constructed a bracelet of my carved components. Recently, I created a necklace using a pendant from that series of components. I went on an archeological dig peeking into colored layers of polymer clay.

At first, I thought that a simple buna or leather cord necklace would let the pendant shine on its own. But then I did some more digging… Using some of the colors from the pendant, I rolled each color into a “snake” and covered it with a thin layer of black. I fashioned individual round beads and textured them with a nifty hardware tool I received in Julie Picarello’s workshop 2 years ago. Once the beads were baked, more digging commenced. The beads were strung with cobalt-colored seed beads and small copper jumprings I made with a knitting needle and a pair of sharp snips.

This necklace is all about texture and color, two of my very favorite art expressions.

The copper wire clasp is one I had forged in Deryn Mentock’s “The Art of Closure” class. It’s an online class I took last spring. I have one of those Chinese food containers that I cleaned out and filled with clasps I made in that class. As I finish a piece, I like to look in my clasp treasure box to see if one of them will look good with my creation. I thought this clasp worked out very nicely.

Thanks for visiting and allowing me to share my creation with you!