Saturday Morning Tea

NahorhabiAssamDryLeaf022016

Good morning, dear tea friends! On this late winter day, I chose a real eye-opener for my morning cuppa, an Assam black tea from the Nahorhabi Estate.

The Assam tea growing region lies on either side of the Brahmaputra river, one of the major rivers of Asia. That area of the world has a monsoon period when they can receive up to 10-12 inches of rain per day. The site of this tea estate used to be a forest of the “Nahor” tree, a slow-growing, gracefully shaped tree that’s native to wet, tropical areas.

NahorhabiAssamSteep022016

I steeped the tippy leaves for 4 minutes in boiling point (212F) water.

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A sweet, malty aroma scented my kitchen as the tea steeped in my glass teapot.

NahorhabiAssamTeapot022016

The red-amber tea liquor is rich and malty with a smooth caramel/toffee sweetness that mellows any astringency in the cup. My kind of Assam.

NahorhabiAssamTeaMug022016

This tea is hearty enough for the addition of milk. Its natural sweetness is so lovely that you won’t have to add any sweetener to your cup unless you enjoy your tea extra-sweet. This is a great choice when you need that extra boost in the morning. Or need to tackle a project like I do today, more unpacking and organizing in my studio.

We experienced bitter cold weather last weekend with temps below zero but I think we’ve now turned the corner towards some milder, more spring-like weather, which is always welcome. Have a wonderful two weeks and enjoy your tea!

“You must carry chaos inside you to give birth to a dancing star.”

~Friedrich Nietzsche

 

 

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Saturday Morning Tea

Assam Oolong Dry 04-11-15

Good morning, dear tea friends! It’s a blustery, blue sky spring day, and I’m having a new tea experience. In my cup this morning is a tea I’ve never tried before – an Oolong tea from Assam. I’m delighted to introduce you to Belgachi Special Assam Oolong.

The Assam tea growing region is located in northeastern India. It’s well known for producing rich, full-bodied black teas. This special tea is a rare production where the leaves have been processed in an Oolong style. They aren’t oxidized as long as a black tea, resulting in a lighter cup.

Assam Oolong Steep 04-11-15

I brewed the long, twisted leaves for 5 minutes in 190F water. As they steeped, I could see them relaxing their twisted shapes into loose pleats.

Assam Oolong Wet Leaf 04-11-15

The leaves have been entirely hand-processed using old time methods and have been dried over a charcoal fire.

Assam Oolong Teapot 04-11-15

The tea liquor is the color of a chunk of amber, fossilized tree resin revered for its beauty since ancient times.

The aroma is fragrant with a hint of sweet honey and a faint whisper of smoke.

Assam Oolong Teacup 04-11-15

The flavor is lighter and smoother than a black Assam tea, with notes of caramel and a suggestion of pipe tobacco. Its honey syrup-y sweetness reminds me of an Eastern Beauty Oolong.

After a week of cold rain and even some snowflakes, warmer weather is forecasted for this weekend, with temps supposed to climb into the 60s. Hoo-ray! I’ll head out into my garden this afternoon and see what’s coming up, what’s survived the harsh winter we had. I’m getting excited to take a peek into my compost drum, too, and, hopefully, see some great compost there that I can work into my garden beds. It’s such a satisfying feeling to be able to recycle my used tea leaves into nourishment for my garden.

I’m traveling to Michigan this week to visit with my family. Enjoy your tea and I’ll see you in two weeks!

 

Saturday Morning Tea

Doomni Estate Assam Dry Leaf 02-07-15

Good morning, dear tea friends! The last time we shared a cup of tea, I looked out my window and saw 4-5 inches of snow. Today, I’m gazing out at gently falling snowflakes that touch down on about 45 inches. Yes, you read that right. We’ve got almost 4 feet of the white stuff here. As most of us are saying, our luck ran out after a mild December and most of January. Oh well, so it goes, Mother Nature has a wicked sense of humah (as we say in New England). Ok, on to tea…

To keep winter’s frigid temps and mounds of snow at bay, I chose a hearty black tea for my cup this morning. This selection is from the Doomni Estate, located in the Assam district of northeastern India. The leaf is of the broken type with an abundance of downy golden tips threaded through the dark pieces.

Doomni Estate Assam Steep 02-07-15

I steeped the leaves for 4 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. You could probably push the steeping time to 5 minutes if you like it strong and astringent and/or are adding milk and sweetener.

Doomni Estate Assam Wet Leaf 02-07-15

The aroma is rich with a hint of malt.

Doomni Estate Assam Teapot 02-07-15

The tea liquor is a lovely, deep shade of dark honey amber. The flavor is stout, rich, and hearty, all of the above. There’s an undertone of citrus brightness that contributes to its eye-opening appeal.

Doomni Estate Assam Teacup 02-07-15

My first sips were of the tea plain but then I added a small dollop of honey and a splash of milk. My, oh my. Perfection. This is a great tea for adding milk and sweetener and/or spices to. It would be excellent as a base for your own Chai blend. Add cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, clove, and any other spices you like in a combination you enjoy.

Oh, it has quite the caffeine kick, too.

The snowflakes are multiplying and falling at a steady pace now. The weather reports are calling for another foot over the next several days. Not sure where we’re going to put another foot of snow but whatever comes, my tea will keep me warm and energized in between shoveling sessions!

Have a wonderful two weeks until we meet again, dear friends…

Saturday Morning Tea

Mackeypore Golden Tips Dry 12-20-14

Good morning, dear tea friends! On this Winter Solstice Eve day, I’m celebrating the return of the light with a very special tea, called Mackeypore Golden Pekoe Tips. From the Assam tea growing region in northeastern India, this tea has been created from tender buds that were plucked at dawn. I envision a group of tea pickers starting their day, entering the field as the sun’s rays break over the horizon. They move through the tea bushes, carefully plucking only the choicest buds. After picking, the buds are laid out to wither and dry, turning a golden color in the warmth of the sun. Even though this tea is processed similarly to a white tea, its flavor is different, and I don’t think it’s classified as one. Each bud has a coating of fine white, downy hairs giving them a soft, fuzzy appearance.

Mackeypore Golden Tips Steep 12-20-14

I steeped the buds for 3 1/2 minutes in water just under boiling point.

In the Northern hemisphere where I live, the December Solstice, also known as the Winter Solstice, heralds the onset of winter. It also marks the shortest day of the year, a time when the North Pole is tilted away from the sun, causing it to appear further south and far away from us. In thinking about this, I picture the sky as an inverted bowl and the path of the sun at this time of year is closest to the rim, or the horizon.

Mackeypore Golden Tips Wet 12-20-14

As you can see, the buds don’t change much in appearance after steeping. Even the little hairs are still present.

I’ve read that the term solstice means “sun stands still”, referring to the appearance of the sun halting in its incremental journey across the sky and changing little in position during this time. Since ancient times, humans have observed this seasonal milestone and created spiritual and cultural traditions to celebrate the rebirth of sunlight after the darkest period of the year.

So, this is a good news/bad news type of day. The bad news is that the daylight hours are incredibly short – a scant 9 hours and 5 minutes of daylight. The good news, however, is that from now on the days will grow longer, a little bit at a time but steadily increasing in light. Personally, I’d like to focus on the good news part!

Mackeypore Golden Tips Teapot 12-20-14

What I find most interesting about this tea is the tea liquor color. One would think it would be pale and delicate but it has the rich amber color of a black tea. The aroma is sweet with a toasty note. The flavor is more robust than I expected, with notes of dried apricot and, yes, there is some malt there. It’s light but it’s there. I wouldn’t recommend milk with this tea, however, I put a dab of local honey in my cup and it was marvelous.

Mackeypore Golden Tips Mug 12-20-14

I pulled out my glass mug so I could enjoy the color of the tea as I sipped.

A beautiful golden amber light.

As we enter Christmas week, I’d like to wish all of you Happy Holidays. Whatever and wherever your celebrations may be, I hope that they’re filled with love and light and joy! And, of course, many cups of delicious tea! I’ll be traveling to Michigan for the holidays so Saturday Morning Tea will return in the New Year on January 10th. See you next year!

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

 

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

Halmari Estate Assam Dry Leaf 09-21-13

Good morning, dear tea friends! A blanket of clouds covered the sky as I poured my first cup of morning tea but now as I sit down to write, I see peeks of blue here and there. Tomorrow marks the Autumnal Equinox here in my corner of the world, the Northern Hemisphere, however, I’ve felt the winds of seasonal change for several weeks now. Going with that change, I’m enjoying an Assam tea today, a tea I enjoy most as the cooler weather comes. This one is a broken leaf selection  from the Halmari Estate. Look at all that beautiful golden tip interspersed among the leaves!

Halmari Estate Assam Steep 09-21-13

It seems like the color orange pops out and surrounds us in the fall – pumpkins, butternut squash, autumn sunsets, chrysanthemums, even the light has a crisp golden-y orange hue. This tea fits right into the the colors of fall, with its wonderful russet glow. I steeped the leaves for 4 minutes in boiling point (212F) water.

Located on the plains of upper Assam in northeastern India, the Halmari Estate was started in the 1940s and is owned by the Daga family. You can see some cool pictures of their factory, where the tea processing takes place, here. That’s where it all happens, leaf to cup.

Halmari Estate Assam Wet Leaf 09-21-13

Most of the leaf particles are broken, however, I found some little tips, which had turned the same color as the rest of the leaf, during steeping.

The aroma has light malty hints with a whisper of red wine.

Halmari Estate Assam Teapot 09-21-13

The burnt orange colored tea liquor reflects the changing colors of the leaves on the trees. The flavor is silky smooth, one of my favorite qualities to find in an Assam tea. The notes are dark honey sweet with hints of spice that linger in the finish. If you enjoy milk in your Assam tea, I recommend steeping this one longer than 4 minutes.

Halmari Estate Assam Teamug 09-21-13

The clouds are now moving swiftly, dark grey with tufts of white higher up. The glimpses of blue sky are growing as the moving clouds part. It’s a fine day for a long walk on the bike path, methinks…

I’ve been lately enjoying the audiobook version of The Fellowship of the Ring during my work commute. I leave you with one of my favorite poems from the book.

Have a wonderful week and enjoy your tea!

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king

-J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings