Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! This week I’m moving away from Indian teas and have steeped up a China green tea in my glass teapot. A China tea whose leaves were still on the bush, unfolding and reaching towards the sunlight a mere few months ago.

I introduce you to Pre-Chingming Pi Lo Chun.

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The name Pi Lo Chun translates to “green snail spring”, so named because the leaf is rolled into tight spiral shapes resembling snail shells. I have read that they roll the leaf this way to retain its freshness.

As I’ve shared with you before, Pre-Chingming teas are harvested before the festival of Qingming (Chingming), usually celebrated on the 15th day from the Spring Equinox. Any teas harvested before that date are referred to as Pre-Chingming teas. In other words, harvested in very early spring.

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Just as this tightly rolled leaf has unfurled and opened up to reveal its beauty, spring is a time of opening up, of blossoming, when everything comes back to life. I feel infused with new energy at this rebirth time of year. How about you?

This tea tastes like a fresh spring day.

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The words that come to mind as I gently sip from my tea bowl are:

delicate. pale. fresh. new.

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The pale spring green tea liquor gives off a fresh vegetal fragrance. The flavor is also fresh and vegetal with a natural sweetness that softly greets my mouth.

This is the perfect cuppa to celebrate the spring. What tea are you enjoying in your cup today?

“Can words describe the fragrance of the very breath of spring?”

~Neltje Blanchan

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Albuquerque Sky

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In the fall of 2010, I traveled to Albuquerque, NM to visit my son and his family a week after my precious grandson, Landon, was born. Landie had surgery when he was only one day old so it was a challenging time for our family but it was also a celebratory time as his healing was going very well. He came home from the NICU the day after I arrived there. I spent a wonderful week getting to know my courageous little grandson and also having loads of fun with my beautiful granddaughter, Ella, then 2 years old. Her exuberance and excitement infused my life with a breath of fresh air. It still does!

One evening, my son and I went out to pick up dinner at a traditional New Mexican style restaurant. I wish I could remember the name of the place because the food was excellent. Anyway, as we turned west onto a main thoroughfare, I looked up and I distinctly remember that my jaw literally fell open as I beheld the sunset. The whole immensity of the western sky was ablaze in brushstrokes of fiery orange, shimmering gold and twilight purple. We have great sunsets here in New England but with our hilly terrain and lots of trees, you see a much smaller portion of the sky. Here in the flat desert landscape of New Mexico, the sky was a huge expanse, saturated with color.

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That experience inspired me to create this necklace, which I have named “Albuquerque Sky”. I made the polymer clay focal with my favorite mokume gane layering, this particular one being Barbara McGuire’s Shimmering Gold technique using gold leaf, translucent clay and alcohol inks. Even the name is perfect. Yummy.

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Starting with the sunset image that had been emblazoned in my imagination on that fall day, I chose my seed bead color palette with the aid of Beverly Ash Gilbert’s “Eye for Color” color wheels. They’re a wonderful artist tool for creating “bead soup”, as Beverly calls it. I’ve created bead soup before and wrote about it here and here.

I was also inspired by her netting technique for beading necklaces. For my freeform beaded pieces, I usually use a one-bead peyote stitch and sometimes use multiple beads in one stitch or to create “bridges” within my work. Beverly’s technique uses 3 beads in one stitch, which I found worked up much faster. That said, this necklace took many hours to complete. I don’t mind. I love the process and find it meditative and soothing.

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I bead embroidered around the focal and then improvised a netted frame around it. Instead of fashioning a clasp from beads or wire as I usually do, I sewed on 2 dressmaker’s snaps, which are hidden when the necklace is closed. Another inspiration from Beverly, thank you!

This necklace is the manifestation of a treasured memory, one I will always hold dear in my heart. As always, thanks for stopping by my little corner and allowing me to share my work with you!

“Memory is the diary we all carry about with us.”  ~Oscar Wilde

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! I’m back this week to share another cup of tea but with a heavy heart that grieves for all those affected by the unspeakable violence that took place in our beloved city and state this week. I pray for healing and for justice and to Martin, Lingzu, Krystle and Sean – you will not be forgotten.

This morning’s tea is a 2013 first flush Darjeeling from the Glenburn Estate. Three weeks ago, I reviewed another first flush from last year’s harvest at the Glenburn Estate. This 2013 tea is lot number DJ-17, assigned by the tea estate.

I found the leaf on this tea quite interesting in that it was a combination of various colors – russet, olive, spring green, dark brown – and sizes – whole intact leaf, tips and huge broken pieces.

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I steeped the leaves for 4 minutes, pushing the brewing time from my normal 3 minutes for a Darjeeling tea.

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The dark golden tea liquor has a light floral aroma. The flavor is smooth (even at 4 minutes!) and sweet with pronounced floral notes and a hint of that tropical banana note I find in a lot of first flushes. The finish has a citrus tang to it that lingers in my mouth. In my next steeping, I might even push the time on this light-bodied black tea a little more to see what happens.

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As the tea cooled in my teacup, I found the flavor lightened up somewhat. I was surprised at how smooth the liquor is even when cooled.

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As I slowly sip my tea and gaze out the window, I notice peeks of brilliant blue sky here and there amidst the dark gray clouds.

“Truly, it is in darkness that one finds the light, so when we are in sorrow, then this light is nearest of all to us.”  ~Meister Eckhart

Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! As promised last week, here is my original Tumsong Estate first flush Darjeeling tea post from May 2011.

The skies may be gray outside my window but I am inside enjoying sunshine in my teacup – a first flush Darjeeling from the Tumsong estate.

I have read that the Tumsong tea garden was first planted in 1867 around a temple devoted to the Hindu goddess Tamsa Devi. Devi is the Sanskrit word for goddess.

When I opened the tea packet, an aroma of fresh flowers and sugar cookies greeted my senses.

I steeped the bright olive tea leaves for 3 minutes in boiling point (212F) water.

From the Tumsong tea estate:

“Tumsong’s teas are known to be among the best in the Darjeeling area and command high prices at auctions. Perhaps the first credit for this should go to the goddess, on whose land the garden grows. The goddess Tamsa presides over this serene and surreal landscape and fills the atmosphere with harmony. In the area, Tumsong is often referred to as the garden of happy hearts.”

The leaves may be intensely green but the liquor they produce is a golden yellow, creating pearl bubbles of light in my glass teapot.

I have also read that the entire tea garden faces some of the highest ranges in the Himalayan mountains and receives a constant, cool breeze sweeping across the tea bushes. This breeze causes the plants to grow gradually, allowing them to slowly develop their flavor.

And this tea is positively bursting with flavor! Notes of nut (almond), tropical fruit and citrus pungency sweep across my palate as I slowly savor each sip from my teacup.

All I can say is – yum, and let me go make another pot right now!

I’m headed out to my garden this afternoon to do some more planting – 2 peonies with flowers of raspberry sorbet, tipped in yellow, a lavender for my herb garden, some olive/eggplant-colored coleus for a shady spot under a tree, and some cheerful daisies for the morning sun side of the house.

Have a wonderful weekend, dear friends!

“How to be happy when you are miserable. Plant Japanese poppies with cornflowers and mignonette, and bed out the petunias among the sweet-peas so they shall scent each other.  See the sweet-peas coming up.

Drink very good tea out of a thin Worcester cup of a colour between apricot and pink…”   ~ Rumer Godden

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! I hope you all had a wonderful, tea-filled week. I have another experiment in my cup this morning, with a 2-year-old first flush Darjeeling from the Tumsong Estate. I’ve decided to do the opposite of my last experiment and try the tea first before going back and looking at my first post about it. So, here goes…

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Taking into account its age, I used a little bit more leaf and steeped for 4 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. The olive-colored leaves are mostly broken up but I was able to find an intact baby leaf here and there.

Like this lovely specimen.

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Isn’t that marvelous? Whenever I see a whole leaf like that, it conjures up images of tea bushes growing under a wide, blue sky on the other side of the world, with women in brightly colored garments weaving in a delicate dance amongst the rows, plucking the newly grown leaf.

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The tea liquor is a brilliant golden sunshine-y color with an orange tinge reminding me of fresh papaya. The flavor is tangy, with a rounded pungency that wakes up my taste buds. A whisper of almond and refreshing citrus greets those awakened taste buds with each sip.

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I love the color of this tea so much that I brought out my glass teamug so I could enjoy it while I sipped.

My conclusion is that like the other older first flush teas I’ve tried, this tea has stood up well and can be quite a wonderful cup if you give it some tweaks to how it might have been originally steeped when it was a newborn.

Stay tuned for next week when I rerun my post from two years ago. I’m really enjoying this first flush journey and hope you are, too!

“When you have a dream, you’ve got to grab it and never let it go.”

~Carol Burnett