Saturday Morning Tea

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It’s that time of year again. The official start of summer, a time we New Englanders cherish and dream about when the frigid winter winds are howling outside. One of my favorite summertime treats is a glass of frosty cold iced tea. So, to kick off this holiday weekend and the start of summer, I’m resurrecting my post on how to prepare iced tea for you all to enjoy.

Have a wonderful holiday weekend, dear tea friends!

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I make iced tea with the “cold brew” method. It’s so easy to make iced tea this way. Gather up your supplies either in the morning before work or in the evening before bedtime. This will give the leaves sufficient time to steep either all day or all night.

You’ll need a container, a tablespoon and some tea leaves. For my iced tea, I use a glass pitcher I purchased at Target and some organic green South African Rooibos. I’ve written about this herbal before here and here.

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Spoon your tea leaves into your pitcher, using one tablespoon for every 6-8 ounces of water. Next, pour your water into your pitcher. I recommend either bottled spring water or filtered tap water. Hard water can definitely affect the taste of your tea.

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Now all you have to do is place your container in the fridge. That night or the next day, strain the tea into another container to remove the leaves. I use a large Pyrex measuring cup to strain my tea into. Then I clean the leaves out of my pitcher and pour the tea back into it. You can also use an infuser or tea filter papers to put your loose leaves into, making cleanup easier.

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There are so many variations with iced tea creation. You can put lemon or orange slices in either while the tea is steeping or after you strain it. Or, you can fill your glass halfway with iced tea and then pour some flavored seltzer water in for a fizzy iced tea. The possibilities are endless!

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I’m enjoying my iced tea plain with ice and a bowl of fresh blueberries on plain yogurt. Mmmmm…. I’ve been exploring ways in which I can remove sugar from my diet because I believe there is just way too much of it in the food we buy. Even my Stonyfield Farm yogurt cup, while it’s very delicious and organic, has sugar added to it. So, I’m now buying plain yogurt and mixing it with fresh fruit, depending on what’s in season.

Whatever your plans are for the long holiday weekend, stay safe and have fun!

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Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! As you can see, my morning tea is not a first flush Darjeeling this week (are some of you saying “oh, thank goodness!” haha), in fact, it’s not a Darjeeling at all. Gracing my cup on this bright, blue sky morning is a rich, dark black tea from New Vithanakande in Sri Lanka (Ceylon).

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This tea leaf is an FBOPF Ex Spl leaf style, designated for its long, wiry, twisted leaf and unique for a Ceylon tea. You know the tea that comes in teabags from the grocery store, the kind that we might have drunk when we were sick as kids? Well, that leaf style is called “fannings”, a very finely-particled leaf that fits into those bags easily and steeps very quickly. Astoundingly, this leaf has that same designation which is what the last “F” stands for. It’s because this skinny leaf can fit through the smallest sieves during the leaf sorting process. Amazing, huh?

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This tea is grown in the Ratnapura district, located in southern Sri Lanka. I’ve read that this district is the home of gem mining as well as a crossroads where hill country and plains come together. This tea is processed at a factory supporting 6,000 small landholders and their families. You can read more about it here. So, this tea is named after the place that processes the tea not the tea garden.

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What a gorgeous color!

I steeped the leaf for 4 minutes in boiling point (212F) water.

The aroma of the dry leaf is that classic smell that everyone thinks of as the “tea smell”. For me, it brings back comforting memories of my Mom making me tea when I was a child.

The flavor is rich and full-bodied, like an Assam, but with that classic brightness tang of a Ceylon. The tang fills my mouth and lingers on even after I take a sip. There is a thickness to the tea liquor that reminds me of dark chocolate.  This tea would definitely stand up well to milk and sweetener.

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As I drink the last few sips from my teacup, I look forward to an afternoon spent in my garden, planting marigold, cosmos, dahlia and daisies. Tomorrow I’m going to go see the new Star Trek movie in IMAX, an event I’ve been excitedly awaiting for months. Have a wonderful week and enjoy your tea!

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” ~Marcel Proust

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! I know that I’ve been sharing a lot of first flush tea selections with you lately but I couldn’t resist just one more. This is a special lot, the leaves plucked at sunrise for optimum flavor retention, called Victoria’s Peak Sunrise First Flush Clonal Darjeeling.

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The leaf is quite large, with a goodly number of downy tips. I steeped it for 4 minutes in 190 F water. Why the lower water temperature, you might ask? The leaf was harvested quite early in the season and with all of the new “greeny” growth, I decided to cool the water for steeping. Since I cooled the water and also knowing that this tea was quite smooth and light, I increased the steeping time. I’m going to try 5 minutes next time and see what happens. I have so much fun experimenting!

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Here’s some information about Victoria”s Peak from the grower.

“This is a division within the Steinthal Tea Estate, named after Queen Victoria. Located next to Victoria’s Falls and Victoria Park as a memoir of one of the Queens who visited Darjeeling. It is a picturesque area – on the north  side we can see the Himalayan mountains on the east of this are the Botanical Gardens..and just above is the Darjeeling town. A very small quantity of tea is produced every year from this division, which are manufactured at the adjacent Steinthal factory.”

It sounds like a beautiful area.

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The light golden tea liquor had a pronounced vegetal aroma when I first removed the infuser from my glass teapot. This vegetal quality dissipated rather quickly to reveal a sweet floral fragrance, which I found quite appealing.

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The flavor is silky smooth and light, very fresh, with pronounced floral notes and a hint of sweetness that reminds me of a ripe pear. Yum!

The month of May is blessing us with warmer weather so I was able to throw open all of my windows and breathe in the fresh scent of flowers from my garden. As I gaze out my window now, I watch windswept gray clouds racing across the sky heralding a bit of stormy weather headed our way. The faint rumble of thunder rolls across the darkening sky, confirming my thoughts.

Well, I guess I won’t be gardening this afternoon. Time to brew up another pot of this lovely tea and sit with my latest beading project, a freeform cuff that just keeps on growing. I’ll be happy to share it with you once it’s all finished.

As always, thanks for stopping by and visiting. Until next week…

Happy Mother’s Day!

“When tea becomes ritual, it takes its place at the heart of our ability to see greatness in small things. Where is beauty to be found? In great things that, like everything else, are doomed to die, or in small things that aspire to nothing, yet know how to set a jewel of infinity in a single moment?”

~Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! This morning I’m enjoying another tea that was harvested before Qingming (Chingming) day, an Oolong called Fenghuang Don Cong, from Fujian province in China. Having a long and auspicious history, this tea was once given in tribute to Chinese Emperors.

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Its leaves are enormous, each about an inch and a half long and well twisted. The dry leaf is dark, however, as you can see from the above photo, they lighten up to a beautiful olive green as they’re steeping.

I steeped the leaf for 4 minutes in 190 F water and used about 3 teaspoons per cup. The leaf is so big that it doesn’t even fit in my teaspoon so I used my fingers and estimated. One of these days I’ll have to get myself a tea scale. Do any of you have one? If so, do you like it? Sure would make measuring huge tea leaves like this so much easier!

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I love the russet edging on this leaf. That must happen as the leaf is allowed to oxidize. I’m not sure exactly how much percentage-wise this leaf is oxidized. The tea liquor is similar in color to that of a lighter first flush Darjeeling.

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The fragrant aroma smells of peaches and flowers. The flavor is smooth and light with notes of peaches and apricots and a pronounced honey sweetness. It feels silky on my tongue.

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It’s a gorgeous spring day outside, the deep blue sky reflected in my teabowl. My garden is abloom with phlox, daffodils, tulips, pansies and white bleeding heart. We haven’t had much rain lately so I’m going to spend the afternoon spreading a thick layer of brown mulch in all of the beds.

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

“A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in–what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars.”

~Victor Hugo, Les Miserables