Saturday Morning Tea

BlackMonkey012613

Good morning, dear tea friends! I hope that you had a great week and stayed warm if you’re experiencing a bitterly cold winter as we are here in New England. Oh my. Each day has started with these numbers – 3, 8, 10…brrrr! I need some serious warmup here! So, with that in mind, I chose a dark, rich China black tea to grace my teabowl this morning. Meet Organic Black Monkey, with its fuzzy golden tips threading through long, twisted, dark leaves.

BlackMonkeySteep012613

I steeped the leaves for 5 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. As I lifted the infuser from my glass teapot, a strong aroma of sweet pipe tobacco greeted my senses. With the name “Monkey”, I thought this tea might be more like a Golden Monkey, with those rich, cocoa notes, however, I found this tea to be more like a Bohea in aroma and flavor.

BlackMonkeyWet012613

The long, twisted leaf reminds me of a dark Oolong tea, one that has been oxidized at 40-50%, in fact, there are some of those toasty, woody nuances in the flavor as well.

BlackMonkeyTeapot012613

The dark-russet tea liquor is thick and bittersweet, like a very dark chocolate, leaving the suggestion of cocoa in my mouth. The tobacco notes that I found so pronounced at first mellowed out as the tea cooled. Aside from that cocoa bitterness, the tea is quite smooth, leading me to think that this tea would be fun to “monkey” around with the steeping times.

BlackMonkeyTeabowl012613

This tea did a great job of warming my bones, a perfect cuppa for a frigid, mid-winter’s day.

I started playing around with my polymer clay stash last weekend and want to continue that this weekend. I had purchased a DVD from polymer clay artist, Barbara McGuire, on her version of mokume gane, involving gold leaf, alcohol inks and poking the clay with geometric shapes. I’ve been imagining ways to combine the beautiful, watercolor effect of this technique with either free-form beading or bead embroidery. Stay tuned to see what manifests!

As always, I so enjoy our time together, sharing a cup of tea. Thanks for stopping by!

“I dream a lot. I do more painting when I’m not painting. It’s in the subconscious.”  ~Andrew Wyeth

Advertisements

Saturday Morning Tea

SpringHarvestSenchaDry01191

Good morning, dear tea friends! As the wind howls outside my windows, I dream of spring and those thoughts have led me to my morning tea – a Japanese green tea called Spring Harvest Sencha. This tea is a rare treat as a tea of this high grade is usually not exported outside of Japan.

SpringHarvestSenchaSteep011

As the name suggests, it is a spring harvest, like a first flush Darjeeling. The most well known Japanese green tea is Sencha, which is harvested after Shincha, the very first tea of the spring. With each subsequent harvest, the tea becomes stronger and darker with leaves of lesser quality and price. The exceptional quality of this tea shows that it was an earlier harvest.

SpringHarvestSenchaWet01191

Japanese teas are recognizable by their grassy, needle-like shape. The shape is attained by sending the leaf through a series of rolling machines. Paddles move the tea back and forth over metal ridges while heat is applied so the leaf is slowly formed into its needle shape.

I steeped the leaf for 2 minutes in 175 degree F water. Some Japanese tea lovers will use a lower temp and steeping time when preparing their tea. I have found that this works best for my taste.

SpringHarvestSenchaTeapot01

The tea liquor is a pale spring green with a delicate vegetal aroma. The flavor is quite sweet and light with only a whisper of a vegetal note. I usually find Japanese green teas to be much more vegetal tasting than this tea is.

SpringHarvestSenchaTeamug01

This tea allows me to show off my new Cherry Blossom mug, a wonderful birthday gift from my lovely daughter. It came with a ceramic infuser basket but I don’t really see myself using that basket as the holes are much too large.

I’ve been fighting off a virus this week, which has left me feeling tired and washed out. I feel refreshed and rejuvenated after several cups of this wonderful tea.

As always, thanks for stopping by and sharing a cuppa with me!

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”

~Anne Bradstreet

Saturday Morning Tea

SnowBudsSuperiorDry011213

Good morning to you, dear tea friends! I woke up to a misty, foggy world outside, probably the result of warmer temps, called a January thaw. I love a January thaw! It feels so pleasant to go outside and not be assaulted by a sharply cold breeze and instead feel an almost balmy quality to the air. On now to our tea…

In my cup this morning is a delicate, white tea called Snow Buds Superior. Described as a fine plucking processed similarly to a Pai Mu Tan, it has a greater concentration of downy buds, as seen in my photo above. I love how my new lens has captured those fine silvery-white hairs on the leaf, which is what gives white tea its name.

SnowBudsSuperiorSteep011213

This leaf is so bold that I used 3 teaspoons in my glass teapot and steeped for 3 minutes in 180 degree F water.

SnowBudsSuperiorWet011213

I imagine small, delicate hands plucking the tea leaf and careful hand-processing, which has resulted in this beautifully intact leaf that has traveled thousands of miles to be in my kitchen.

SnowBudsSuperiorTeapot01121

The pale, ecru tea liquor has the faintest tinge of green. The aroma is fresh and quite vegetal for a white tea. A light sweetness mellows out the vegetal tang. The cup is delightfully refreshing.

SnowBudsSuperiorTeabowl0112

I love to show off one of my teabowls when I drink a white tea as the pale liquor reveals the beautiful glazing patterns inside. I feel calmer after a gentle tea meditation with a white tea. There’s something about its delicate quality that soothes and comforts. What do you think?

As always, thanks for visiting and I look forward to our next cup of tea together!

“Be like a duck. Calm on the surface, but always paddling like the dickens underneath.”

~Michael Caine

Saturday Morning Tea

YunnanBlackSnailDry010513

Happy New Year, dear tea friends! I hope that everyone had a great time over the holidays and now here we are in a brand new year with many wonderful tea moments to look forward to. Shall we get started?

I have some exciting news to share with you! One of my dreams came true when I received the most amazing gift on Christmas – a micro lens for my Nikon camera. I’ve enjoyed photography for many years, starting out by taking loads of pictures of my kids as they were growing up. Over the years, I found myself drawn more and more to the closeup shots, especially when I started taking tea pictures almost 6 years ago. This morning I share with you my first shots with my brand new lens – a China black called Yunnan Black Snail.

YunnanBlackSnailSteep010513

From Yunnan province in China, this tea is produced from a large leaf varietal. The leaves are rolled into spiral shapes, reminiscent of snails. After a 5 minute steeping in boiling point (212F) water, take a look at this gorgeous unfurled leaf.

YunnanBlackSnailWet010513

You can see how it was twisted as it was rolled and curled.

YunnanBlackSnailTeapot01051

The deep dark amber-colored tea liquor has a spicy aroma with hints of cocoa. The flavor is smooth and rich with a sweet caramel-y nuance along with notes of spice and cocoa. For its beautiful leaf and depth of flavor, this tea is an amazing value. I’m already on my second cup!

YunnanBlackSnailTeamug01051

Speaking of cups, I received this beautiful, handmade teamug as a gift. The blue glaze drips down a brown background in a lovely pattern, which I’m so enjoying looking at as I sip my tea and contemplate the new year.

I’ve already set some goals for myself this year, one of them being to move on beyond the portfolio website I created in my online class and create a new website where I can sell my jewelry. Another goal is to share my art much more often here on my blog. What goals have you set for 2013?

As always, thanks for stopping by and joining me in a cup of tea!

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”  ~Henry David Thoreau