Saturday Morning Tea

Havukal Estate Nilgiri Dry Leaf 02-15-14Good morning, dear tea friends! The world outside is a mass of cotton white, including the sky, which speaks of more white to come, snow that is, another 5 or 6 inches to add to the large mounds already there. Spring is still slumbering away under its thick snowy blanket. I hope it wakes up soon…

My morning tea is from Nilgiri in southern India, a selection from the Havukal Estate. I confess that I don’t really drink Nilgiri teas at all and have decided to remedy that by exploring some selections in the coming weeks before the first flush Darjeelings arrive and I get swept away by them.

Havukal Estate Nilgiri Steep 02-15-14

The Havukal tea garden is located outside of Kotagiri in southern India. Surrounded by boulders and native plants called vetiver, which help prevent soil erosion, the estate has been owned and managed by the Thangavelu family since 1957. In reading about the estate practices, it sounds like the family has a good working relationship with their employees and listen to their feedback about ways to improve how they do things on the estate. A network of stone drains runs throughout the garden, and the water running through them is constantly filtered and monitored. I sense a great synergy at work in this tea garden settled high in the mountains.

Havukal Estate Nilgiri Wet Leaf 02-15-14Using one teaspoon per cup, I steeped the leaves for 4 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. The fragrant, fruity aroma reminds me of a Darjeeling tea with its light notes of muscatel.

Havukal Estate Nilgiri Teapot 02-15-14

The light amber tea liquor reflects the frozen world outside, suspended in my glass teapot. As I took my first sip, I was pleasantly surprised by its silky smooth quality. It might look and smell like a Darjeeling but it doesn’t have that astringent bite at all. Citrus hints and notes of fruit dance across my tongue and delight my taste buds. The finish lends a fleeting whisper of almond as it departs.

Havukal Estate Nilgiri Teacup 02-15-14I look forward to exploring more tea selections from the Nilgiri Mountains!

As I approach my 7th blog anniversary in a couple of months, I’ve made a decision that I’ve been contemplating for awhile now. I’m going to be sharing a new tea review every other week instead of every week. As much as I enjoy sharing my love of tea, it’s time to make room in my life for some new things. On the week I won’t have a new review, I’ll be happy to rerun posts from the past. Thanks for understanding, my dear tea friends.

“May the wind under your wings bear you where the sun sails and the moon walks.”

~J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Saturday Morning Tea

Japanese Oolong Dry Leaf 02-01-14

Good morning, dear tea friends! The sun is throwing watery light through my windows as I brew up my morning tea today. I’ve chosen an unusual selection, one I’ve never tried before – an organic Japanese Oolong tea. I haven’t been able to find out much about this tea beyond the fact that it’s rare and only produced in limited quantity by a few Japanese organic tea growers. I love trying a new tea so let’s get started!

Japanese Oolong Steep 02-01-14

The leaf is quite large and looks like it’s been pan fried instead of steamed like Japanese green teas, to halt oxidation. Pan frying is common with Oolong teas. I steeped the leaves for 3 1/2 minutes in 190F water. Because the leaves aren’t fully oxidized like a black tea, it’s always a good idea to steep Oolong teas with water below the boiling point. When the water is too hot, the leaves stew and don’t steep properly, giving you a resulting brew that has a bitter note and doesn’t represent the true flavor of the tea at all.

Japanese Oolong Wet Leaf 02-01-14

Wow, look at this large intact leaf. The leaves unfolded their accordion-like pleating as they steeped.

A warm, toasty aroma wafted up from my glass teapot as  I lifted up the infuser. I could also detect a nutty fragrance, like chestnuts.

Japanese Oolong Teapot 02-01-14

The light amber tea liquor is quite smooth with a pronounced chestnut flavor note and toasty nuances. As I sipped my tea, light fruity nuances revealed themselves in the cup.

This is a great choice for someone who would like to expand out from their Japanese green tea drinking to explore another type of tea from that country. I heartily recommend trying something new!

Japanese Oolong Teabowl 02-01-14

Well, so far things are working out well with my laptop and the Adobe Elements software. I’m still working on the trial and, after using Photoshop for years, this feels very familiar to me. Familiar is good when I’m trying to fit everything in to my weekend!

Have any of you recently tried a tea for the first time? I’d love to hear your story. Until next time, enjoy your tea!

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

~Walt Disney