Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! I’ve been told that this season has not been a very good one for Indian teas, Darjeelings and Assams alike. So, I decided that I would expand my horizons and start exploring the African teas, which I’ve been told are excellent this year, at reasonable prices. I’d like to introduce you to a black tea from the country of Tanzania – Luponde Estate GFOP Organic.

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I quote from the Luponde website:

“The Luponde Tea Estate is one of the oldest organic tea estates in the world and the climate is perfect for growing tender leaves and flowers which are handpicked, bringing you the highest quality single estate teas. The estate is situated in the stunning Livingstonia Mountains in Southern Tanzania and at an altitude of 7,000 feet. Tea was first planted on the estate in 1954 and today covers 2,212 hectares. There are 730 hectares of planted tea, of which 401 are organic and there are currently 20 hectares of herbal plants. The estate produces on average 2 million kilograms of black tea a year and the majority of this is tea bag grade. The Luponde estate is the only steady source of income for the people who live in this area and in peak season 80 kilograms of wet leaf will be picked per day by one person.”

You may read more about this tea estate here.

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I steeped the leaf for 4 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. The aroma of the brewing leaves was of a lemony freshness, portending its crisp flavor.

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Look at that gorgeous deep amber color! Magnificent.

The smooth flavor is well balanced with notes of lemon and cedar.  If you like a more pronounced briskness, steep the leaves for 5 minutes. Fair warning though. We recently did that at work and one of my colleagues remarked that it tasted like he was licking a cedar block. Oh my.

This tea would make a wonderful iced tea. Its flavor reminds me of a high quality Ceylon black tea.

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On this beautiful summer day, I’ve captured a puffy white cloud in my teacup.

Have a wonderful week!

“So fine was the morning except for a streak of wind here and there that the sea and sky looked all one fabric, as if sails were stuck high up in the sky, or the clouds had dropped down into the sea.”

~Virginia Woolf, To The Lighthouse

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Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! We’ve been experiencing a heatwave all this week in New England, with temps in the mid 90s. Even with the AC on full blast, I’m feeling very drained and foggy. The good news is that a cool front is sweeping in tonight with a line of thunderstorms that will bring relief from the oppressive heat. As I was out walking the other day, I was thinking how blessed I am to live in a place with changing weather. Ok, on to tea…

My morning cuppa is a lightly oxidized Oolong from Thailand called Ruan Zhi Thai Oolong.

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Tea cultivation and production in the high mountains of Thailand was started and established in the 1980s by Chinese immigrants. What began as small economic activity has grown to a strong community of independent tea gardens.

This tea is plucked from Taiwanese bushes that were brought over for Oolong tea production and the whole leaves are carefully rolled in the tradition of Taiwanese tea crafting.

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The tea came in a beautiful stylized packet with colorful images of flowers and birds. Does anyone know what kind of bird that is?

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As you can see from the photo of the dry leaf, the leaf is tightly rolled into large spiral-shaped pellets. After a 3 minute steeping in 190F water, the pellets unfurled to reveal finely plucked, well intact enormous leaf sets.

I’m not sure about the percentage of oxidation for this tea but I would guess around the same level as a Jade or Spring Dragon Formosa (Taiwan) Oolong, in the teens, as it is created in that style.

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The pale jade tea liquor has a light floral fragrance with a very rich, buttery flavor. Notes of orchid gently dance across my tongue and linger into the finish. This tea is light yet richly flavored all at the same time. It would taste excellent iced, especially on a hot, steamy day like today.

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I’ve decided to sip my tea hot so I can show off my new teabowl. A lovely shade of seagreen with washes of reddish brown on the rim, it’s covered in light speckles that glitter in the sunlight falling on the inside of the bowl.

To beat the heat today, I’m going to catch a movie this afternoon in an air-conditioned theater. How about you? Tomorrow will be a much nicer day to spend outside, a perfect day to have a picnic with my grandkids.

As always, thanks for visiting and have a wonderful week!

“You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.” 

~Alan Alda

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! It’s wonderful to be back here with you enjoying a cup of tea again. My first 2nd flush Darjeeling tea review from the 2013 season, this selection is from the Puttabong Estate.

Also known as the Tukvar Estate, it was first planted in 1852 and is nestled in the foothills of the Himalayan mountains near Kanchendzonga peak. With altitudes ranging from 1,500 to 6,500 feet above sea level, it is one of the highest elevation tea gardens in Darjeeling district, in northeastern India.  Its tea plants consist mainly of clonal bushes and China jat, meaning tea bushes with origins from China.

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Look how dark the tea leaf and steeping liquor is when compared to a first flush Darjeeling, whose color has been compared to apple juice. This tea was harvested in later spring as compared to the first flush early spring harvest. What a difference a few months can make!

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The dark chocolate color of the leaf contains no green bits as a first flush does.

This tea has an interesting leaf designation called Kakra. I’ve read that this word translates to “dehydrated leaf”. Free of pesticides, the tea leaf is allowed to be attacked by a green fly, which looks similar to an aphid. The fly bites the leaf and starts sucking on its juices. This causes the leaf to start to oxidize on the plant. Only the leaves that have been exposed to the green fly, identified by their yellowish color, are plucked. So, in essence, the leaf undergoes a double oxidation – on the plant and then during its regular processing. Isn’t that cool?

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I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. The glowing dark-amber tea liquor has a rich aroma of fruits and chestnuts, reminiscent of a darker Oolong tea. This brings up an interesting point as I’ve read that the tea leaf that goes on to become Oriental Beauty Oolong from Taiwan has also been exposed to the ministrations of the green fly.

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I find the flavor, whose richness literally bursts in my mouth, also reminiscent of an Oolong tea in its nutty, almost woody quality. I also detected faint notes of fruit in the smooth cup.

We’ve been getting rain almost everyday here in New England this past week  and the gardens are bursting with rich color, just like the rich flavor of this tea. In my garden, I have coneflower, hydrangea, roses, tall phlox, astilbe and even some chrysanthemum starting to bloom. I hope that you’re enjoying the season wherever you may be with lots of cups/glasses of tea to keep you company. Have a wonderful week!

“Be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”

~Max Ehrmann