Saturday Morning Tea

Green Puerh Tuo Cha Dry 01-25-14

Good morning, dear tea friends! It has been bitterly cold this past week in New England and we were visited once again by the white stuff. Thank goodness for our hot tea to keep us warm and cozy! This morning’s tea is an interesting shape, don’t you think? Compressed into the shape of a small bowl, its name is Ancient Green Pu-Erh Tuo Cha Organic.

Green Puerh Tuo Cha Steep 01-25-14

Traditionally, Pu-erh teas are created from leaves harvested in the ancient tea forests of Yunnan province in China. There are two different kinds of Pu-erh tea, raw (Sheng) and cooked (Shou). This Pu-erh is of the raw green variety. The leaves are sun dried and then compressed into small tuo cha shapes. I broke the tuo cha in half and then crumbled the half a bit for steeping purposes. That’s the way I like to do it.

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As the compressed leaf pieces steep for 3 minutes in 180F water, they loosen up and release to reveal the individual leaves. This is an excellent tea for resteeping.

Green Puerh Tuo Cha Teapot 01-25-14

The tea liquor is a pale yellow straw color with a delicate herbaceous aroma that has underlying fruity tones. The flavor is light and delicate yet flavorful with notes of melon and sugar cookie, very much like a white tea.

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The wind is howling around the eaves outside. I’m so glad to be tucked into my little nook, snug and warm, sipping my tea gently to enjoy its delicate character. Time seems to stop for awhile in my world…

Have a wonderful and warm tea-filled week!

“A cold wind was blowing from the north, and it made the trees rustle like living things.”  

~George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

Saturday Morning Tea

Tonganagaon Est Assam Dry Leaf 01-18-14

Good morning, dear tea friends! I’m glad to be back with a new tea post to share with you. My poor desktop is gone, replaced by my laptop, which is actually much faster. My biggest challenge was finding a new photo editing software that didn’t break the bank. I’m trying out Photoshop Elements on a free trial and, so far, it’s doing everything I’d like it to do. I hadn’t realized how slow my old desktop was. She served me well for 15 years. Ok, on to tea…

This morning’s tea is an Assam tea from the Tonganagaon Estate. This black tea from northeastern India has been cultivated without the use of synthetic pesticides and herbicides so it’s a certified organic tea. I couldn’t find much information about this tea garden other than it’s small and located near the Namdapha National Park, one of the richest areas of biodiversity in all of India.

Tonganagaon Est Assam Steep 01-18-14

I steeped the variegated, tippy leaves for 4 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. If you enjoy milk in your tea, I recommend steeping for a minute or so longer. A pronounced toasty aroma wafted up from my glass teapot as the leaves steeped.

Tonganagaon Est Assam Wet Leaf 01-18-14

This tea is considered a whole leaf tea but all I saw were large broken pieces of leaf. I think that a tea can be designated as whole leaf if the leaf bits are above a certain size as they’re running them through sieves during processing.

Tonganagaon Est Assam Teapot 01-18-14The tea liquor is a gorgeous, glowing orange. The flavor is silky smooth with light notes of spice and malt, along with some toasty nuances. This is the most complex organic Assam tea I’ve tasted in a long time, quite a pleasure.

Tonganagaon Est Assam Teamug 01-18-14

A little while ago, it was teeming rain and now big fat flakes of snow seem to be pouring out of the sky, coating everything with an icy white frosting. I’m spending an afternoon with my family this afternoon, celebrating another birthday and looking forward to a wonderful year to come!

Have a great week and enjoy your tea!

“With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.”  ~William Shakespeare

Saturday Morning Tea

A good morning to you, dear tea friends! I’m still experiencing computer issues, unfortunately, but there is some good news to report. My tech savvy friend is coming over today to see if my computer can be brought back to life. If not, I’ll have to make some decisions and move forward. As my tea post library is rich and full, I leave you with a Yunnan tea review from a couple of years ago. Enjoy!

A couple of days ago, we did a Yunnan black tea cupping at work, comparing 8 of our current Yunnan selections. I enjoy the cuppings very much because I find it so interesting to taste the teas side by side and discern their similarities and differences, especially within a category. So, with that cupping still fresh in my mind, I chose one of those Yunnan teas as my morning tea today. It’s the only broken leaf one of the group, called Yunnan FBOP(Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe).

From mountainous Yunnan province in southwestern China, this black tea consists of mainly dark leaf with a small amount of yellowish tip sprinkled in. Yunnan teas have traditionally been plucked from very large, old tea trees but I have heard that some of those trees are being cut down or cut in half to make way for monoculture plantings. Hearing that makes me sad but I also know that demand is up for these teas and perhaps that is how they’re accommodating that demand.

I steeped the leaves for only 3 minutes in boiling point (212 F) water. The aroma wafting up from the steeping leaves is sweet and earthy.

The Chinese have traditionally called black tea “red tea” and you can certainly see why as the tea glows a gorgeous russet color in my glass teapot.

The flavor is so incredibly sweet with notes of pepper and earth and a whisper of smoke. The sweet and smoke linger in my mouth reminding me of sweet pipe tobacco. This tea would stand up to milk well but I don’t recommend any sugar because it is plenty sweet already.

I like my wide mouth tea bowl because it allows the tea to cool quickly, revealing the flavor notes. I find it hard to pick out all of the flavor notes when the tea is really hot. How about you?

We had a dusting of snow fall from a gray blanket sky this morning, however, it must be warming up outside because the snow is gone and everything just looks damp now as I gaze out my window. I’ve recently ordered some metalworking supplies, a disk cutter and a dapping set. I’m looking forward to getting back into my studio after an incredibly long period of drought. Way too long…

Happy tea drinking!

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” ~Rabindranath Tagore

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.

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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.

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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