Saturday Morning Tea

Singbulli2ndFlDarjeelingDryLeaf

Good morning, dear tea friends! Our heat wave has finally broken, we’re back to more seasonable weather, and I’m back to drinking hot tea. The perfect choice for this summertime morning is a classic second flush Darjeeling, this selection from the Singbulli Estate.

SingbulliEst2ndFlDarjeelingSteep

Located in the picturesque Mirik area of Darjeeling in northeastern India, the organically certified Singbulli Estate was established in 1924 by British planters. Its 9 rolling hills are spread out over 14 miles, at an altitude that ranges from 1,200 feet to 4,100 feet. Mirik comes from the word Mir-Yok, which translates to “place burnt by fire.”

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

SingbulliEst2ndFlDarjeelingWetLeaf

The dry leaves are a rich brown color and, after steeping, give off a rich, fruity fragrance.

SingbulliEst2ndFlDarjeelingTeapot

I always love to discover a tea with a flavor unique to what’s expected. Equally, I love to come across a tea that’s the quintessence of its tradition. This tea is the quintessence of a second flush Darjeeling.

Rich and fruity, like ripe grapes and juicy peaches.

SingbulliEst2ndFlDarjeelingTeacup

Toasty, a warm comforting smell and flavor.

Smooth, the liquor caresses your tongue with a silky feeling.

Lively, your taste buds are awakened.

Lingering, the flavor stays in your mouth for awhile.

This tea is all that and more. Yum.

Where a first flush Darjeeling showcases the first plucking and the freshness of spring and all its flavors, a second flush Darjeeling showcases the summer time potential, the rich, round, ripe flavors produced by the finest leaves. One is not better than the other. Each is wonderful for what it is, in its own right.

Until we meet again, enjoy your next cup!

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”

~Henry James

Saturday Morning Tea

AvongoveFFDarjeelingTeapot061116

Good morning, dear tea friends! The weather has turned more seasonable and I gaze out my window on a cool, overcast morning. I slip on my warm fleece and sit down to sip my tea. I’m back to my beloved first flush Darjeelings, this selection from the Avongrove Estate.

AvongroveFFDarjeelingDry061116

Avongrove, meaning “nest of birds,” overlooks the Balasun River in the Rangbhang Valley in Darjeeling district, India. With elevations of 2,200-5,700 in the foothills of the Himalayas, this organically certified estate has the perfect location and climate to produce wonderful Darjeeling teas. From their website:

Five hundred workers live on the estate with their families, in small houses decorated with orange trees and flowers. As our manager walks by, the old hands smile and their children zip past him on improvised skateboards. Life is simple, nobody disturbs the hills and we always welcome our frequent bird visitors drawn to Avongrove as an organic estate, free from chemicals. For our other visitors, also always welcome; sipping a cup of tea, relaxed on the hilltop, enjoying a misty, magical dusk is indeed satisfying.

AvongroveFFDarjeelingSteep061116

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

AvongroveFFDarjeelingWet061116

The finely plucked leaves produce a golden liquor that has a fresh vegetal fragrance with a whisper of flowers. Mmmm, so fresh.

AvongroveFFDarjeelingTeamug061116

There’s a crispness to the mouth feel that wakes up my palate for the flavor notes to come. Floral. Tropical fruit. A lingering sweetness. Another enjoyable first flush!

What’s in your cup today?

“I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart.”

~Vincent Van Gogh

Saturday Morning Tea

YunnanDragonPearlsDry043016

Good morning, dear tea friends! On this last day of April when the trees are budding, the sun is shining brilliantly and there’s not a cloud in the blue sky, I’m veering off the first flush Darjeeling path I’ve been on.

Meet Black Dragon Pearls, a China black tea from Yunnan province.

YunnanDragonPearlsSteep043016

The large, golden-tipped leaves have been carefully rolled into individual pearls. What a time consuming, tedious task that must be. A beautiful tea art form. These pearls are quite big, larger than the Dragon Phoenix Pearl Jasmine tea or Tai Mu Long Zhu green tea.

I steeped the pearls for 4 1/2 minutes in boiling point (212F) water.

YunnanDragonPearlsWetLeaf043016

The tea liquor is a gorgeous coppery-amber color and is fragrant with notes of sweet milky chocolate.

YunnanDragonPearlsTeapot043016

The cup is smooth and sweet with a lighter feel in the mouth than I thought it would have, given its color and aroma. The prominent note is cocoa with some sweet vanilla hints that linger into the finish. Yum.

YunnanDragonPearlsTeaBowl043016

I love my new tea bowl with its brown/blue-green glaze and crackle pattern. It’s great for tea and also could be used for rice as well. I found it at the Japanese pavilion at Epcot during my Disney visit earlier this month.

This is a perfect day to go out and work in the garden. I’m excited to discover what’s growing at my new place. Have a lovely weekend and enjoy your tea!

“It is the twilight zone between past and future that is the precarious world of transformation within the chrysalis. Part of us is looking back, yearning for the magic we have lost; part is glad to say good-bye to our chaotic past; part looks ahead with whatever courage we can muster; part is excited by the changing potential; part sits stone-still not daring to look either way.”

~Marion Woodman

Saturday Morning Tea

BalasunEstFFDarjDryLeaf041615

Good morning, dear tea friends! It’s a sunny spring day here in my corner of the world, cool but filled with light. I have another brand new first flush Darjeeling in my cup, a lovely selection from the Balasun Estate.

BalasunEstFFDarjSteep041616

Established in 1871, the Balasun Estate spreads across rolling hills and a wide open valley with the Balasun river flowing through the lower part of the garden.

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. As the tea steeped, it gave off a wonderfully fresh floral fragrance.

BalasunEstFFDarjWetLeaf041616

With its finely plucked leaves threaded with delicate, silvery buds, this was one of the best of the hundreds of Darjeelings we’ve tried this first flush season.

BalasunEstFFDarj041616

The golden liquor sparkles in the sunlight.

The aroma is very fresh with sweet floral notes.

The flavor is sublime – smooth, sweet and very floral, with an interesting spicy kick in the finish.

BalasunEstFFDarjTeaBowl041616

I had a great vacation with my family and so enjoyed going to the famous mouse’s kingdom. It truly is the happiest place on earth.

Until next time, dear friends, enjoy your tea!

“Although some use stories as entertainment alone, tales are, in their oldest sense, a healing art. Some are called to this healing art; and the best, to my lights, are those who have lain with the story and found all its matching parts inside themselves and at depth. In the best tellers I know, the stories grow out of their lives like roots grow a tree. The stories have grown them, grown them into who they are.”

~Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Saturday Morning Tea

VictoriasPeakFFDry040216

Good morning, dear tea friends! Despite the dark clouds and pouring rain outside, today is an auspicious day because I have a 2016 first flush Darjeeling tea in my cup. That brings sunshine and joy to the darkest of days! This selection is called Victoria’s Peak Moonlight, a name that conjures up mystery and magic to me.

VictoriasPeakFFSteep040216

Here’s the information about this magical place from the grower:

“This is a division within the Steinthal Tea Estate, named after Queen Victoria. Located next to Victoria’s Falls and Victoria Park as a memoir of one of the Queens who visited Darjeeling. It is a picturesque area – on the north  side we can see the Himalayan mountains on the east of this are the Botanical Gardens..and just above is the Darjeeling town. A very small quantity of tea is produced every year from this division, which are manufactured at the adjacent Steinthal factory.”

As I poured the water over the leaves in my glass teapot, a lovely floral aroma wafted up, giving me a preview of the delicious experience to come.

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

VictoriasPeakFFWetLeaf040216

Look at the tender tips mixed in with the leaf. Yes, this is a black tea, despite all of that green you see.

VictoriasPeakFFTeapot040216

The amber-gold liquor is oh so fragrant with the scent of flowers and tropical fruit. Mmmmm…..

VictoriasPeakFFTeamug040216

The flavor is complex with notes of flowers, tropical fruit and a sweetness that reminds me of cookies. Underlying these notes is that fresh green quality that I love so much about a first flush tea. I’m in heaven!

Tomorrow I’m going to Florida to vacation with my family and that famous mouse. Until next time, dear friends, happy spring and enjoy your tea!

“No bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings.”

~William Blake

Saturday Morning Tea

NamringUpperFFDarjDryLeaf031916

Good morning, dear tea friends! Tomorrow is the first day of spring, the time of year when I want to throw open all my windows and usher out the stagnant winter air in favor of fresh spring breezes. That will have to wait a few days though as we’re expecting some snow tomorrow, a New England welcome to spring. This past week, we had temps near 70, thunderstorms, blustery winds and now snow. Never a dull weather moment in my little corner of the world! On to tea…

First flush season is well underway in the Darjeeling area in northeastern India. Samples are arriving daily and we’re contemplating purchases. Nothing has arrived just yet so I’m celebrating the season with a Namring Upper Estate first flush selection from last year.

NamringUpperFFDarjSteep031916

Namring Estate is a very large estate divided into two parts, Namring and Namring Upper. Namring Upper has a steeper elevation and produces the best tea from what I’ve read.

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

NamringUpperFFDarjWetLeaf031916

As with most first flush teas, the leaves are variegated from greens to browns with some silver sprinkled in.

Such pretty colors.

NamringUpperFFDarjTeapot031916

The golden amber liquor has a fresh, inviting aroma with notes of sweet flowers.

NamringUpperFFDarjTeamug031916

The flavor is as fresh as a spring day you can’t wait to go out walking in because the air is filled with awakening and hope. The cup is smooth and sweet with notes of flowers and a crisp, refreshing finish. Very yummy.

Speaking of walking, that’s next on my agenda today, followed by shopping for Easter goodies for my grandkids.

Until our next time together, enjoy your cuppas and the start of spring!

Something opens our wings

Something makes boredom and hurt disappear

Someone fills the cup in front of us

We taste only sacredness

~Rumi

 

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.

NahorhabiAssamWetLeaf022016

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