Saturday Morning Tea

Balasun First Flush Darjeeling Dry Leaf 04-26-14

Good morning, dear tea friends! Since we’ve last shared a cup of tea together, I’ve traveled out to Michigan and back to visit with my family. It was a wonderfully relaxing time, a time to share great food and conversation and, of course, many delicious cups of tea. When I returned home, I found more flowers blooming in my garden – sunny daffodils, crimson tulips, snowy white bleeding heart, pink and purple hyacinth and the tiny purple hyacinth called muscari. Oh, joyous spring!

Of course, it was inevitable that I share a brand new first flush Darjeeling with you! This selection is from the Balasun Estate, located in the foothills of the majestic Himalayan mountains.

Balasun First Flush Darjeeling Steep 04-26-14

Established in 1871, the Balasun Estate is located in the Darjeeling tea district amidst rolling hills and its namesake, the Balasun river. At this time of year, blooming magnolia, rhododendrons and orchids grace the surrounding moss-laden forests, the region being a popular spot for hiking and bird watching. In addition to tea cultivation, the estate also grows oranges, ginger, cardamom and broom grass. It sounds like a lovely place for growing tea.

I steeped the leaves in my glass teapot for 3 minutes in boiling point (212F) water.

Balasun First Flush Darjeeling Wet Leaf 04-26-14

The leaf is so green! The aroma is quite vegetal with nuances of floral perfume.

I was so sorry to hear that they’re experiencing a severe drought in northeastern India, a drought that is affecting both Darjeeling and Assam. It hasn’t rained there since February and the leaves are scorching on the plants. They can’t apply fertilizer because it’s so dry and now they are worrying about pest infestations as well. Oh dear. Let’s hope and pray that they receive rain very soon in that part of the world.

Balasun First Flush Darjeeling Teapot 04-26-14

The pale golden liquor tastes smooth and very fresh with sweet notes of flowers and an overall pleasant vegetal quality. As I sip a first flush Darjeeling, I always feel like I’m drinking the essence of springtime in my cup. How about you?

Balasun First Flush Darjeeling Tea Bowl 04-26-14

My daughter and her boyfriend recently gifted me with a lovely set of tea bowls from Japan. Japan at Epcot, that is, as they vacationed in their favorite place, Disneyworld. I love the wide mouth on this beautifully speckled bowl, perfect for enjoying my tea.

It’s a wet, gray day today with a white blanket of clouds that’s releasing a steady, gentle rain to quench the thirst of the spring plants waking up from their winter sleep. A good day to stay inside, drink tea and play with my beads.

Until next time, enjoy the spring and enjoy your tea!

Saturday Morning Tea

Towkok FF Assam Dry Leaf 04-12-14

Good morning, dear tea friends! It’s first flush season, one of my favorite times of the year. After a long, cold winter, I always look forward to the fresh new teas of the spring. In my cup this morning is a first flush tea, however, as you can tell from the photo, it’s darker with none of the usual green bits of leaf. What’s up?

I’m happy to introduce you to a first flush Assam tea, this one from the Towkok Estate.

Towkok FF Assam Steep 04-12-14

The Towkok Estate is located in the Assam district of northeastern India. Surrounded by a nature preserve teeming with wildlife, the western side of the estate borders the Towkak river. The story goes that the tea garden was named after the dancing tortoises found in the river as the name Towkok means “dancing tortoise” in the native Tai language. Thinking of this story as I sip my tea makes me feel happy.

I steeped the leaves for 5 minutes in boiling point (212F) water.

Towkok FF Assam Wet Leaf 04-12-14

The “Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe 1” leaf designation is of a whole leaf but, as you can see from the photo of the wet leaf, it means big pieces of leaf, not necessarily whole, intact ones. The leaf designations result from a sieving and dividing the leaf process after the tea has been withered, rolled, oxidized and dried.

Towkok FF Assam Teapot 04-12-14

The amber red tea liquor has a malty aroma with a refreshing minty quality. The flavor is smooth and malty with crisp, bright notes of mint. The flavor lingers ever so gently, enticing me to take another sip.

Towkok FF Assam Tea Bowl 04-12-14

In the past, I’ve had first flush Assams that are so light-bodied they remind me of a Darjeeling tea. Not so with this tea. It’s rich and malty and easily identified as an Assam tea. That said, the refreshing minty quality sets it apart from the usual flavor notes of second flush Assam offerings.

What have you all been up to lately? I’ve been taking a watercolor class and enjoying playing with the flowing colors. I’ve been teaching myself geometric beadwork and have completed a number of cuffs, which I’m looking forward to sharing with you as soon as I take some pictures. I’m looking forward to visiting my family in Michigan in the coming week. So, lots of abundance in my life to be grateful for!

I’m also looking forward to being back in two weeks when I’ll share a brand new first flush Darjeeling!  Oh happy Spring!

 “…I hear the sounds of melting snow outside my window every night and with the first faint scent of spring, I remember life exists…”

~John Geddes, A Familiar Rain