Saturday Morning Tea

St ames Estate Ceylon Dry 07-05-14

Good morning, dear tea friends! And a Happy 4th of July weekend to my US friends. It’s a clear, bright day after a soggy 4th of July yesterday. Hurricane Arthur reached his outer fingers towards New England as he moved northwards and we got soaked. Firework celebrations got rescheduled, and it turned out to be a good day for the ducks and the gardens.

This morning’s tea is a black tea from Sri Lanka, specifically from the St. James Estate in the Uva district of Ceylon. The “Pekoe” style leaf has been rolled into loose pellets, giving an interesting shape to the dry leaf.

St James Estate Ceylon Steep 07-05-14

I have read that the southeastern Uva province is the second least populated of Sri Lanka’s provinces, with only 1.1 million people. They have two main agricultural crops there: tea, grown in the hills, and sugar, grown on the plains. The St. James tea garden is located in the Malwatta Valley in that province.

I steeped the leaves for 4 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. This tea has that comforting “tea” aroma, what most folks associate as a tea smell. It’s what you can smell if you ever came to visit my company. People walk through the front door and always remark, “It smells SO good in here!”

St James Estate Ceylon Wet 07-05-14

While the dry leaf has a grayish cast, after steeping, the wet leaf unfurled slightly to reveal large, chocolate-colored pieces of broken leaf.

St James Estate Ceylon Teapot 07-05-14

The rich amber tea liquor has a sweet fragrance and a smooth, rich flavor with whispers of rose and toast. When I brew this tea again, I’m going to push the brew time to 5 minutes and see if I can coax more briskness into the flavor. No need for milk and sweetener, this tea is wonderful straight up.

St James Estate Ceylon Teamug 07-05-14

There’s nothing like a delicious cup of tea to start a beautiful day.

Until next time, dear friends, enjoy your tea!

“Liberty is the breath of life to nations.”  ~George Bernard Shaw

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! Now that summer has officially arrived, the temperature has started to creep up again into the 80s and it’s time for a refreshing glass of iced tea. I think that Ceylon black teas taste fabulous iced so this morning’s tea is just that, from the Aislaby Estate in southeastern Uva province, Sri Lanka.

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I have read that Uva province is the second least populated of Sri Lanka’s provinces, with only 1.1 million people. They have two main agricultural crops there: tea, grown in the hills, and sugar, grown on the plains. This particular tea estate has been owned by a British planting family that emigrated to Sri Lanka in the 1880s and has owned the estate since the 1920s.

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The leaf is graded as pekoe (pronounced pe, as in pet, and koe, rhymes with toe), the definition being “a grade of black tea consisting of the leaves around the buds.” As I took photographs of both the dry and wet leaf, its chunkiness reminded me of a CTC grade, with its granular appearance.

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To steep my tea leaves for iced tea, I used double the amount I normally would as for hot tea preparation, so 2 rounded teaspoons in my little glass teapot. I steeped for 3 minutes in boiling point (212F) water.

As the tea steeped to a beautiful deep amber color, a pronounced minty aroma wafted up from my teapot.

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After steeping, I poured the hot tea into a Pyrex glass filled with ice cubes. The Pyrex brand of glass is a borosilicate glass (mainly silica and boron oxide), a glass resistant to thermal shock.  Once the tea had cooled down, I then filled my Mermaid glass (which isn’t boro glass).

The tea tastes rich and full-bodied with an interesting, pronounced wintergreen minty note. Some of my favorite Ceylon teas have this flavor note and I find it especially refreshing in an iced tea. I imagine adding a slice of lemon or some lemon balm leaves to add a citrus note to the mint. Fabulous!

My company is shutting down for our annual vacation June 29-July 7. I’m traveling to Michigan that week to visit with my family. So, there won’t be a new Saturday Morning Tea post for 3 weeks. That said, I’ll be happy to rerun some posts the next two weeks.

Thanks so much for joining me today and I look forward to sharing another cup of tea with you in July!

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

~Henry James

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! As you can see, my morning tea is not a first flush Darjeeling this week (are some of you saying “oh, thank goodness!” haha), in fact, it’s not a Darjeeling at all. Gracing my cup on this bright, blue sky morning is a rich, dark black tea from New Vithanakande in Sri Lanka (Ceylon).

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This tea leaf is an FBOPF Ex Spl leaf style, designated for its long, wiry, twisted leaf and unique for a Ceylon tea. You know the tea that comes in teabags from the grocery store, the kind that we might have drunk when we were sick as kids? Well, that leaf style is called “fannings”, a very finely-particled leaf that fits into those bags easily and steeps very quickly. Astoundingly, this leaf has that same designation which is what the last “F” stands for. It’s because this skinny leaf can fit through the smallest sieves during the leaf sorting process. Amazing, huh?

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This tea is grown in the Ratnapura district, located in southern Sri Lanka. I’ve read that this district is the home of gem mining as well as a crossroads where hill country and plains come together. This tea is processed at a factory supporting 6,000 small landholders and their families. You can read more about it here. So, this tea is named after the place that processes the tea not the tea garden.

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What a gorgeous color!

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

The aroma of the dry leaf is that classic smell that everyone thinks of as the “tea smell”. For me, it brings back comforting memories of my Mom making me tea when I was a child.

The flavor is rich and full-bodied, like an Assam, but with that classic brightness tang of a Ceylon. The tang fills my mouth and lingers on even after I take a sip. There is a thickness to the tea liquor that reminds me of dark chocolate.  This tea would definitely stand up well to milk and sweetener.

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As I drink the last few sips from my teacup, I look forward to an afternoon spent in my garden, planting marigold, cosmos, dahlia and daisies. Tomorrow I’m going to go see the new Star Trek movie in IMAX, an event I’ve been excitedly awaiting for months. Have a wonderful week and enjoy your tea!

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” ~Marcel Proust

Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! I’m running off to take my granddaughter, Ella, to her dance class so today I leave you with a re-post from the very beginning of this year, when the icy winds were blowing outside and I was cozy inside enjoying a cup of white tea.

See you next week!

Happy New Year, dear friends! A brand new year always fills me up with feelings of hope and excitement for new adventures. So, let us sit down together and continue our adventures in tea, shall we?

This morning I’m enjoying a delicate white tea in my cup, from the Adam’s Peak estate in the Dimbula district on the island of Sri Lanka (Ceylon). A rare tea composed of the new tips of the tea bush. To preserve their unique style, this tea is entirely hand processed and dried in sunlight. I wrote about a previous lot of this tea here.

I steeped the tea in 160 degree F water for 4 minutes. Guidelines suggest 170 degree F water but I wanted to see what flavor would be revealed in the slightly cooler water.

As I lifted the infuser from my glass teapot, I caught the faint whiff of flowers from the wet leaf.

The wet leaf reminds me of small swords, probably the influence of my rapt immersion in the world of the Seven Kingdoms lately. If you haven’t read George R.R. Martin’s tale of the Game of Thrones, I highly recommend it.

More swords…but I digress from our talk of tea…

The pale straw-colored tea liquor is delicate yet quite flavorful with pronounced notes of sweet, ripe melon and the faint whisper of floral hints.

This is a simply exquisite white tea which shows us tea in its most natural and least processed state, so incredibly different from the dark tones of a more familiar Ceylon black tea.

Refreshing and soothing to the spirit while the cold winter winds blow outside.

“And now let us welcome the New Year

Full of things that have never been.”  ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! The tea that I’m drinking this morning is so smooth that I’m already on my second cup in a matter of minutes. Grown at the Nildiya Valley estate in the Matara District of southernmost Sri Lanka, this black tea is the perfect example of an Orange Pekoe, or OP, tea.

Contrary to what the name implies, it is not a flavor but a term used to designate the leaf grade of the tea, in this case, a whole leaf tea. This leaf grading term is typically used in black teas from India and Sri Lanka.

You can see the rolled whole leaf clearly in the photo above of the wet leaf.

I steeped the leaf for 5 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. This tea is so smooth that I think the steeping time could be pushed another minute or two, especially if you’re adding milk.

The fragrance of sweet raisins drifted up from my glass teapot as I poured my first cup.

The dark-amber tea liquor flows like silk over my tongue. As the tea cooled, a hint of fruit was revealed along with a light toasty note.

Summer is hanging on here in New England with warm, humid weather. I’m enjoying it as much as I can because I always find it challenging to give up those warm, lazy, hazy days. Soon it’s time to sharpen those pencils and get to work!

Speaking of getting to work, I just signed up for this online course with the fabulous Susan Lomuto, creator of Daily Art Muse and art curator extraordinaire. Susan will teach us how to create a website to showcase our artwork. With a full-time job and so little free time, I was hesitant at first but then I listened to that small voice inside and took the plunge. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time – improve and expand my online presence and even start selling my jewelry again. This past year has been quite challenging personally and has led me on a journey of looking at what is really important in my life. I’ve been working hard on letting go of negative experiences of the past and moving forward with my art. I’m looking forward to discovering what the future holds!

As always, thanks for taking the time to visit and share a cup of tea with me. Until next week, dear friends…

“Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.”

~Ella Fitzgerald