Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! As I opened my front door this morning, the sunshine had that sparkling quality that comes as August starts to make way for September and the breezes turn crisp and refreshing. In my cup is a black tea from the Putharjhora Estate, an organic tea garden located in the alluvial floodplains of northern India. This area is known as the Dooars (translation: doors), a gateway between the the plains of India and the hills of Bhutan.

An alluvial plain is a flat landform created from sediment (alluvium, or silt) that has built up over time from the flooding of nearby rivers. Floodplain land is rich in nutrients, making it valuable for agriculture.

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

The golden amber liquor has a creamy almond fragrance with a hint of apricots, inviting me to take my first sip.

The cup is smooth and light with a full, round mouth feel. Notes of flowers, almonds and a pronounced sweetness all linger into the finish. The apricot hint makes another appearance as the finish winds down.

I wonder what it would taste like at 4 minutes? Enjoy!

“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

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Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! I’m sitting here savoring my morning tea, as the sky bruises with a threatening storm. In reviewing my posts of the last several months, I noticed that I had been visiting China teas quite a lot. It’s time for a change and I’ve now turned back to India teas.

This lovely selection is from the Temi Estate in Sikkim, a tiny state in northeast India. Sikkim is surrounded by 3 countries: China to the north, Bhutan to the east, and Nepal to the west. Nestled in the Himalayan mountains, this high-altitude area is ideal for tea growing. Sikkim is home to the third-highest peak on Earth, the majestic Mount Kangchenjunga (28,169 ft).

As you can see, the leaves are well-made with silvery tips peeking out here and there.

Originally a Sherpa village, the Temi Tea Garden was established by the Sikkim government in 1969 and is the only tea estate there. Its gently sloping hills cover about 440 acres.

I steeped the leaves for 3 1/2 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. I use Poland Spring water from Maine, my favorite natural spring water, for steeping all of my tea leaves.

The wet leaves have a rich, honeyed fruit aroma. This inviting fragrance carries over into the tea liquor’s aroma.

With its dark, rich aroma and flavor, this tea reminds me of a second flush Darjeeling. That said, the cup is quite smooth without any “bite” to it. I’m tasting honey as well as many layers of fruit: first, a dried fruit/raisin aspect, then stone fruit/peaches, and lastly, a muscatel flavor leading into the crisp finish. With all of its fruity flavor, this tea would taste wonderful iced.

Hopefully, this storm will pass by quickly and the sun will break through and shine once again.

Until next time, happy sipping!

“By early evening all the sky to the north had darkened and the spare terrain they trod had turned a neuter gray as far as the eye could see. They grouped in the road at the top of a rise and looked back. The storm front towered above them and the wind was cool on their sweating faces. They slumped bleary-eyed in their saddles and looked at one another. Shrouded in the black thunderheads the distant lightning glowed mutely like welding seen through foundry smoke. As if repairs were under way at some flawed place in the iron dark of the world.”

~Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses

Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! As we approach the 4th of July this week, I’m reading a great book about the birth of American independence, called Revolutionary Summer, purchased at the gift shop of our local national park, site of where it all began, the old North Bridge and “the shot heard round the world.” I’ve always been fascinated by American Revolutionary history, and how a group of passionate patriots rose up and joined together to create a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the pursuit of happiness. On to our tea…

My morning cup is a black tea from China, called Yunnan Black Needle Imperial.

As you can see, the large leaves and golden buds have been twisted into long, distinctive needle shapes. Plucked from the large-leafed tea trees that grow in Yunnan province, this lovely tea is a work of art.

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

This tea is so smooth that you could try steeping the leaves for longer, if you like, or experiment with multiple steepings.

The liquor glows like newly polished copper.

Its aroma is warm and toasty with rich earthy hints.

The cup is smooth and sweet with notes of honey and toast and hints of spice that play along the edges of the flavor, whispering into the finish. This tea has a light and refined character, perfect for any time of day.

In 2 weeks, I’ll be away visiting family so my next tea post will be in 3 weeks. Until then, happy sipping!

“Is it not a saying of Moses, ‘Who am I, that I should go in and out before this great People?’ When I consider the great events which are passed, and those greater which are rapidly advancing, and that I may have been instrumental in touching some Springs, and turning some small Wheels, which have had and will have such Effects, I feel an Awe upon my Mind, which is not easily described.”

~John Adams to Abigail Adams, May 17, 1776

Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! On this misty, late spring morning, I’ve chosen a dark, rich China black tea for my teapot. Meet Pre-Chingming Yunnan Black Snail. As I’ve shared with you before, Pre-Chingming teas are harvested in China on very early spring days when the tea bushes start to flush with new growth after their winter dormancy.

From Yunnan province, this tea is produced from a large leaf varietal. The leaves are rolled into spiral shapes, reminiscent of snails. After a 5 minute steeping in boiling point (212F) water, take a look at these unfurled and partially unfurled leaf sets. This tea would do well with multiple steepings.

The fragrance reminds me of powdered unsweetened cocoa with a hint of malt.

The red-amber liquor is rich and oh so smooth. Pronounced notes of cocoa are embraced by a dark honey sweetness that lingers into the lightly spicy finish.

This tea would make a terrific iced latte with a little milk and sweetener, a great refresher for the hot summer days to come.

I remember when I received my Nikon’s micro lens. It was about 4 years ago, a gift from the love of my life who passed away 3 years ago. Anyway, I remember the joy and delight I felt when I opened this lovely unexpected gift and I entered a whole new world of closeup photography. I could now shoot closeups of my beloved tea leaves! It’s hard to believe that I’ve been sharing tea with you on my blog for over 10 years now. As I look back over all of the tremendous changes I’ve experienced since I started my blog, I see the one constant thread that has stitched my days together with strength and purpose – my tea journey and my deep passion for sharing it with others, through my cupping notes and my photography. I’ve been honored to do so and hope to continue for many more years to come. Whether you’ve been with me for years or have just joined, thank you for sharing the journey with me!

“I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. He taught me that if you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it at full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. Hot is no good either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be.”

~Roald Dahl

Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! Hot and steamy weather arrived this past week with soaring temps and the rumble of thunder in the early morning hours. As soon as she arrived, she was gone again in a few days and replaced with cooler spring weather. Welcome to our unpredictable New England weather!

More first flush Darjeelings have arrived these past few weeks. I’m enjoying a selection from Liza Hill this morning. Liza Hill is a division of the esteemed Risheehat Estate in Darjeeling. If you look at a map of India, you’ll see Darjeeling, wedged in between Nepal and Bhutan, up in northeast India. Many years ago, Tibetan Buddhist monks named this area Dorje-ling. The Dorje is a sacred ritual object of holy lamas. It symbolized strength and constancy.

The dry leaf smells fresh and invitingI steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 212F (boiling point) water.

A lovely floral aroma drifted up from my glass teapot as the leaves steeped.

After they’ve steeped, I like to comb through the wet leaves to get a sense of the tea and its plucking order. You can see this fine intact plucking with the leaf gently twisted. Beautiful.

The liquor is a glowing golden amber, fragrant with the aroma of spring flowers, a heady scent to awaken my senses as I pour my first cup.

After a long week of very busy work, a lawnmower that won’t start, a hornet in my kitchen, a clogged dryer vent, this tea transports me to another place far from my daily worries – an exotic place of bright sunshine and cool breezes, filled with tea bushes growing in the shadow of majestic Himalayan peaks.

The flavor is rich with floral notes and tropical fruit sweetness. A refreshing pungent quality plays at the edges of the flavor, and lingers in the back of my throat. Delicious.

My weekend will be filled with family – a birthday party for my oldest son, making tea with my 6-year-old grandson and nurturing his new interest, and, of course, spending time with my newest granddaughter.

Until our next cup of tea together, have a wonderful couple of weeks!

“Were it possible for us to see further than our knowledge reaches, and yet a little way beyond the outworks of our divinings, perhaps we would endure our sadnesses with greater confidence than our joys. For they are the moments when something new has entered into us, something unknown; our feelings grow mute in shy perplexity, everything in us withdraws, a stillness comes, and the new, which no one knows, stands in the midst of it and is silent.” 

~Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! April showers are gathering in big puddles outside, and it’s blooming spring in my kitchen. Do you recognize the leaf? That’s right, a brand new first flush Darjeeling, one of my favorite spring treats. This lovely selection is from the Tindharia Estate.

The Tindharia tea garden is a bio-organic estate, located in the South Kurseong area of Darjeeling district. I’ve read that the town of Kurseong, whose name means “Land of the White Orchids”, is a quiet hill station. A hill station is “a town in the low mountains of the Indian subcontinent, popular as a holiday resort during the hot season.” At elevations of 400-1000 meters, it sounds like a great destination for cooling off during the hot summer months.

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. For those of you new to tea’s delights, it’s always best to pour the water over the leaves rather than adding the leaves to the water. As you pour, it wakes up the leaves and starts the steeping process.

The aroma coming from the wet leaves is fresh and floral with a hint of vegetal. When I was just starting my tea journey many years ago, I saw a man plunge his nose right into the wet leaves and inhale deeply. At the time, I didn’t quite know what to think but now I understand completely.

The golden-amber tea liquor has a sweet fragrance with notes of flowers and a light toasty hint.

The cup is extremely well balanced with a smoothness that falls on the middle of my tongue and a refreshing pungency that wakes up the sides. Notes of flowers join a suggestion of tart fruitiness in the flavor. This tea is the second lot (EX-2) that was picked at Tindharia this spring. I’ve also tried the first lot (EX-1) and find that to have a gentler character when compared to this lot.

I’m happy and excited to share that my granddaughter, Adelyn Claire, was born on Thursday! A dear friend of mine said it perfectly: her beautiful face is one straight from heaven. I couldn’t agree more.

Saturday Morning Tea will return in 3 weeks as I’ll be in Michigan visiting my family in mid-April. Until then, happy sipping!

“Children are the rainbow of life. Grandchildren are the pot of gold.”

Irish Blessing

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! With my tea choice this morning, I’m traveling to the island of Java, the largest in the string of volcanic islands that make up the Southeast Asian nation of Indonesia.

This tea was grown on the Malabar Tea Estate, located in West Java, near Mount Malabar, a stratovolcano built up from many layers of lava, pumice and volcanic ash.

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This tea estate has been in existence for over 100 years. The well-known and beloved planter and philanthropist, Karel Albert Rudolf Bosscha, managed the estate for many years until his death in 1928. Sometimes called KAR Bosscha, he traveled to the Netherlands Indies in 1887, working at various jobs such as gold exploration and mining before he took on the management of Malabar in 1896. The son of a Dutch physicist, he carried on his family’s science interest by developing an astronomical observatory as well as a Cancer Center in the nearby city of Bandung. A lot of interesting history there.

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

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As I removed the infuser from my glass teapot, I detected a strong aroma of peppery spice and aromatic wood wafting up from the very dark tea liquor.

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My first sip had a caramel-like sweetness, very smooth, which wrapped around the spicy, woody notes. The liquor is quite robust with an interesting flavor that draws you in like a magic spell. It’s the kind of tea that intrigues your palate with its aromatic spicy darkness. My first cuppa went very quickly!

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If you’ve never tried an Indonesian tea before, I encourage you to give this selection a try. It’s definitely hearty enough for milk and sweetener.

My day will be spent wrapping tiny knitted things, preparing for my daughter’s baby shower tomorrow. Yes, I’m so excited to share that I’m going to be a grandma again! Life is truly filled with many blessings.

Happy sipping!

If one feels the need of something grand, something infinite, something that makes one feel aware of God, one need not go far to find it. I think that I see something deeper, more infinite, more eternal than the ocean in the expression of the eyes of a little baby when it wakes in the morning and coos or laughs because it sees the sun shining on its cradle.

~Vincent Van Gogh