Saturday Morning Tea

Eastern Beauty Oolong Dry Leaf 11-30-13

Good morning, dear tea friends! Last week I enjoyed a lightly oxidized Chinese Oolong, called Huang Jin Gui, for my morning tea. This week I’ve chosen another Chinese Oolong, however, this tea’s leaves have been oxidized for a longer period of time. Its name is Eastern Beauty. I love to compare and contrast teas. Let’s get started!

Eastern Beauty Oolong Steep 11-30-13

First, the leaves look very different from one another. Whereas the Huang Jin Gui is greener (less oxidized) and rolled into “bundles”, the Eastern Beauty‘s leaf is darker (more oxidized) and looks more like leaf to me.

What does it mean for a tea leaf to be oxidized anyway? Well, after the leaves are plucked and allowed to wither to remove moisture, they are bruised by rolling, tossing or shaking. This starts the oxidation process, which enzymatically breaks down the leaf’s chlorophyll, causing the leaf to darken. One of my colleagues likens it to a cut apple turning brown. When exposed to oxygen, the cut apple turns brown. Tea leaf does, too.

Last week’s Huang Jin Gui Oolong tea is oxidized under 20%, which is a short time. I honestly don’t know how long this Eastern Beauty Oolong has been oxidized but I would guess longer, about 40-50% or more. I have read that Formosa Eastern Beauty Oolong is oxidized for 70% but this tea doesn’t taste that dark. It’s definitely darker than the lightly oxidized Oolong though.

Eastern Beauty Oolong Wet Leaf 1 11-30-13

I took 2 shots to show you how enormous and intact this leaf is. Not only does it have the “bud” (the little baby leaves), there are 2 larger leaves, all attached to the same stem. Wow!

Eastern Beauty Oolong Wet Leaf 2 11-30-13

Isn’t that an amazing leaf?!!

I spooned 2 teaspoons of leaf into my small glass teapot and steeped for 4 minutes in 190F water. The fragrant aroma smelled of rich, dark honey.

Eastern Beauty Oolong Teapot 11-30-13

The tea liquor is a glowing orange-y gold. The flavor has a pronounced honey note with hints of nuts, like walnuts, and a whisper of fruit. It’s rich and smooth and has a mouth feel like nectar. I didn’t find any floral notes at all in this tea as was so pronounced in the lighter Oolong last week. So, flavor – honey and nuts vs floral. These teas, while both China Oolongs, are very different in both appearance and in flavor.

Eastern Beauty Oolong Tea Bowl 11-30-13

That was a fun comparison! Which tea do I like better, you might be asking? Actually, I like them both equally as well because of their differences. 🙂

Next Saturday I’m going down the Cape to visit my friend in Hyannis and we’re doing the “Hyannis Stroll” for the holidays. See you in two weeks!

Saturday Morning Tea

Huang Jin Gui Oolong Dry Leaf 11-23-13

Good morning, dear tea friends! Life has taken a busy turn lately, and it’s been challenging to find the time for my tea posts. I apologize for my absence last week! Ok, on to tea….

This morning’s cuppa is a Chinese Oolong from Anxi County in Fujian province. It’s called Huang Jin Gui Oolong. Huang Jin Gui translates to “Golden Osmanthus”, which refers to this tea’s intense floral aroma and flavor, as well as its rich gold color in the cup.

Huang Jin Gui Oolong Steeping 11-23-13

The leaves have been oxidized lightly (under 20%), like a Jade Oolong, and loosely rolled into roundish, crumply shapes.

I steeped for 4 and a half minutes, and the leaves unfurled and swelled open in the 190F water.

Huang Jin Gui Oolong Wet Leaf 11-23-13

Here is one of the accordion shaped leaves after steeping. Most of the leaves were huge and still intact.

Huang Jin Gui Oolong Teapot 11-23-

The golden yellow tea liquor is quite fragrant, filling my kitchen with the scent of flowers. Mmmm….

Huang Jin Gui Oolong Tea Bowl 11-23-13

The smooth flavor is rich and buttery feeling on my tongue, with pronounced floral notes that linger well into the finish.

The last of the dried leaves are rattling like bones off the trees, and the wind blows colder as winter approaches near. This tea is perfect for lifting my spirits with the sweet scents of spring flowers.

Have a lovely week and a happy Thanksgiving!

“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual…O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches. No run on my bank can drain it, for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.”

~Henry David Thoreau

Saturday Morning Tea

Noble Madam Dry Leaf 11-09-13

Good morning, dear tea friends! On this cool, brisk fall morning, I’m watching an unfolding taking place. The unfolding of tea leaves to reveal a lovely rose pink carnation. I love surprises, especially when flowers are involved! This artful display tea is called Noble Madam. Watch and enjoy!

Noble Madam Steep 1 11-09-13

The green tea leaves are hand tied and compressed into a “pod” around the flower.

Noble Madam Steep 2 11-09-13

I’ve shared my delightful experiences with display teas here.

Noble Madam Steep 3 11-09-13

and here. As the 180F hot water soaks into the pod, the leaves open up oh so slowly…

Noble Madam Steep 4 11-09-13

Like a little sea creature gently reaching out…

Noble Madam Steep 5 11-09-13

and there is its heart.

Noble Madam Steep 6 11-09-13

A beautiful rose pink carnation. Gorgeous!

Noble Madam Steep 7 11-09-13

I’ve read that hand tied teas have been created in China for hundreds of year, however, it’s only been in the last 30 years or so that the showier teas, such as this one, have been made.

Noble Madam Wet Leaf 11-09-13

This photo shows how they bundle the leaves and tie them.

Noble Madam Teapot 11-09-13

The carnation flower lends a rose tinge to the light colored tea liquor.

Noble Madam Teabowl 11-09-13

The flavor is light and vegetal with delicate floral notes. I think this would make a lovely gift, along with a glass teapot, to show off its steeping display.

My company has just received a big shipment of glass teapots – 5 different styles – and we’ll be introducing them shortly, just in time for holiday gift giving. Glass teapots are my favorite!

Have a wonderful week and enjoy your tea!

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

~Anais Nin

Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! It’s a busy weekend here in artandtea land so I’m sharing a tea post from last fall. Enjoy!

Are you wondering where the tea leaves are today? Well, this morning’s tea is a unique beverage greatly enjoyed in Japan, called Ku-Ki Ho-Ji Cha, which translates to roasted twig tea.

The stems, stalks and twigs from the Camellia Sinensis plant are used for this beverage. Usually, they are unoxidized and green with small bits of green leaf mixed in. In this particular version, the “Ho-Ji” part refers to roasting, like Ho-Ji Cha tea, which is roasted bancha tea, a common green tea that has been roasted. So, these twigs have been roasted, giving them a toasty flavor.

I steeped the twigs for 3 minutes in 180 degree F water. The steeping tea filled my kitchen with a warm, toasty aroma.

Most Japanese green teas are steamed. I have read that Ho-Ji Cha tea is roasted over charcoal at a very high heat.

The whisky-colored liquor is creamy smooth and woody/toasty with nutty notes. Because most of the caffeine in the tea plant is located in the leaf, especially the new growth, the twigs contain a negligible amount so this tea is very low in caffeine.

I’ve read that this tea is one of the beverages recommended in a macrobiotic diet, an eating lifestyle that concentrates on natural grains and vegetables, avoiding highly refined foods.

There’s something about the flavor of this tea that reminds me of coffee, maybe even chicory. Perhaps it’s the toastiness that fills my mouth with each sip. Please keep in mind though that I’m not a coffee drinker at all. I much prefer its wonderful aroma to the jittery feeling I get when I drink it.

I’ll be back next Saturday with a brand new tea post. Have a wonderful week!