Saturday Morning Tea

Hong Tao Keemun Dry Leaf 10-25-14

Good morning, dear tea friends! After a week of dark, gloomy days, the clouds have all been swept away by the autumn winds and the sun is shining brightly in my corner of the world. As the leaves fall and pile up in bright patches on the ground, that leafy, woodsy smell permeates the air. I’ve chosen a China black tea for my morning tea today, one that reflects that rich autumn fragrance.

I’m pleased to introduce you to Hong Tao Keemun, a 2014 lot newly arrived from China.

Hong Tao Keemun Steep 10-25-14

The leaf is dark and twisted. Ooo, that sounds like the beginning of a scary story, doesn’t it? Perfect for the approaching All Hallows Eve.

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

Hong Tao Keemun Wet Leaf 10-25-14

Keemun tea is named after a county, Qimen, in Anhui province. There are several stories about its origins but the most common is one of a governmental official in the late 1800s who learned about black tea production in Fujian province and then decided to return to his native county, Qimen, to produce black tea there. He met with success and his new black tea was imported to England where it was enjoyed as a breakfast tea.

With its stout, warming flavor profile, this tea would be a perfect start to your day.

Hong Tao Keemun Teapot 10-25-14

My teapot sits next to my kitchen window, which overlooks a red maple tree. At this time of year, the leaves have turned a rich shade of deep burgundy with glowing amber undersides. The color of this tea matches that beautiful leaf.

As I pour my first cup, I can smell its fragrance of autumn leaf with whispers of Burgundy and smoke.

Hong Tao Keemun Tea Bowl 10-25-14

The flavor is deep and complex, with notes of Burgundy wine, a cocoa nuance, and a sweet, smooth quality that lingers long into the finish. For tea lovers that enjoy their tea British style, this tea would stand up quite well to milk.

I’ve recently acquired a compost tumbler and have set it up in my backyard. I’m so excited to start composting my tea leaves and turn them into rich fertilizer for my garden beds. Speaking of which, I’m headed out there today to continue the preparations for their winter sleep. Yes, to quote one of my favorite book series – winter is coming!

Until next time, enjoy your tea!

“Moreover to light a fire is the instinctive and resistant act of man when, at the winter ingress, the curfew is sounded throughout Nature. It indicates a spontaneous, Promethean rebelliousness against the fiat that this recurrent season shall bring foul times, cold darkness, misery and death. Black chaos comes, and the fettered gods of the earth say, Let there be light.”

`Thomas Hardy, Return of the Native 


Saturday Morning Tea

Puttabong BOP Dry Leaf 10-11-14

Good morning, dear tea friends! A steady rain is falling from the leaden sky on this October morning. The fiery palette of autumn is muted as I look through the curtain of water sheeting down outside my kitchen window. I’m watching the rain and sipping a second flush Darjeeling, newly arrived from India. Let me introduce you to Puttabong Estate STGBOP1 (DJ-261) Organic. As you can see, the leaf is of the broken variety. I usually find broken leaf Darjeelings too astringent for my palate, however, this offering is silky smooth and oh so drinkable. I’ve already had two cups!

Puttabong BOP Steep 10-11-14

I steeped the leaf for 1 1/2 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. As with all broken leaf teas, especially Darjeelings, a quick steeping is all that’s needed to extract full flavor.

Puttabong BOP Wet Leaf 10-11-14

Also known as the Tukvar Estate, this tea garden 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.

Puttabong BOP Teapot 10-11-14

The aroma of the glowing amber-colored liquor is toasty with honey sweet hints. The first sip fills my mouth with rich flavor. Notes of fruit are highlighted by a citrus-like brightness. A lovely sweetness greets you throughout, lingering long into the finish and becoming more pronounced as the tea cools.

Puttabong BOP Tea Bowl 10-11-14

A truly satisfying cup of tea.

Today is the perfect day to stay inside and work on my watercolor pencil class. My next assignment – draw a ribbon and all its highlights and shadows. I’m looking forward to the challenge. What’s up for your weekend?

Have a great tea-filled day and I’ll see you in two weeks!

“The rain to the wind said,
You push and I’ll pelt.’
They so smote the garden bed
That the flowers actually knelt,
And lay lodged–though not dead.
I know how the flowers felt.”

~Robert Frost