Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! It’s great to be back here with you, enjoying a cup of tea again. Today’s tea is of the spider leaf variety, a Ceylon black tea from the Tea Bank estate, located in the Ruhuna district, on the southern end of the island of Sri Lanka. Spider leaf, or spider leg teas, are so named because of their long twisted shape.

Tea growing in Sri Lanka was started in the late 1800s by a Scottish gentleman by the name of James Taylor. Up until that time, coffee was the number one crop until a rust fungus killed the majority of coffee plants. Starting with a basic tea cultivation knowledge learned in Northern India and 19 acres of land, he soon turned a small business into a very successful one, selling his tea for the first time at the London auction by 1873.

I steeped the tea for 4 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. Usually, I find this Ceylon black leaf style to exhibit characteristics more reminiscent of a China black tea, however, this particular tea definitely smells and tastes like a Ceylon.

Its deep amber liquor has a light cedar-y aroma which is present in the taste. The flavor is very smooth and rich with just a whisper of caramel and raisin. I drank it plain, however, it would stand up very well to milk and sweetener with a longer steep time.

We’re experiencing another wave of heat this weekend, with temps approaching 90. I personally don’t mind the heat. It’s the humidity that I find hardest to tolerate. So, I’ve got all of the fans going – ceiling, window and one directly on me to stay cool while I venture into my studio for an afternoon of play.

Have a great week!

“Synchronicity holds the promise that if we will change within, the patterns in our outer life will change also.” 

~Jean Shinoda Bolen, Author and Wise Woman

Saturday Morning Tea

Hello again, my dear tea friends! This week I’ve stepped off the first flush Darjeeling path for just a bit, in fact, completely off the caffeine path, and am enjoying an herbal infusion in my cup this morning. I’ve recently noted that it’s been awhile since I’ve shared an herbal with you and wanted to do that. This particular selection is an herbal which I have shared with you before, however, in iced tea form. Today I’m enjoying it prepared hot.

Hello again South African Green Rooibos Superior Organic.

South African Rooibos is a bush grown in the Cedarberg mountain region of South Africa. The leaves are harvested and processed much like the tea plant, creating both “green” and “red” Rooibos. The Afrikaans word Rooibos means “red bush”. When the leaves are allowed to oxidize (similar to black tea), they turn a beautiful reddish brown. Left in an unoxidized state, the leaves are variegated flecks of light olive, yellow and brown.

Even though it is “green”, you can steep it in boiling point water (212F). I steeped the leaves for 8 minutes. It’s very forgiving and doesn’t become bitter if left to steep too long. The wet leaf looks much like the dry leaf – small, chopped up needle-like pieces.

The infusion steeps up to a beautiful amber. The aroma and flavor remind me of a very mild Ceylon black tea. Very smooth and sweet yet brisk and flavorful with hints of toast. This is a fabulous choice for those tea lovers looking for a caffeine-free infusion that tastes like tea. It’s not exact but the similarities are definitely there.

This Rooibos is my current favorite for the evening and, just between you and I, it’s perfect for dunking cookies. 😉

As always, thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful week!

“What you love is a sign from your higher self of what you are to do.”

~Sanaya Roman, Writer

Saturday Morning Tea

Happy St. Paddy’s Day! Top of the mahrnin to one and all. I’m celebrating this day with a rich Irish Breakfast blend in my cup. A blend of hearty Indian Assam tea and brisk Ceylon tea, it’s called River Shannon Breakfast Blend, a perfect blend for today.

It’s a broken leaf selection so it’s best to steep the leaves for 3 minutes when drinking it plain. I wanted a little tang in my cup so I pushed the brew time to 4 minutes. It’s dark and stout with a hint of malt and a bright whisper of lemon.

When I visited Ireland back in 1999, this was the kind of tea served at all of the B&Bs we stayed at. It was a wonderful respite from our busy touring schedule to sit down and enjoy a “cuppa”, always served with a tray of delicious scones.

The deep amber tea liquor would go wonderfully with a spot of milk and a little sweetener.

Aside from a teapot of Irish style tea, I’ll be celebrating today with a long walk along the bike path and then some precious time in my studio. How are you celebrating?

Let’s all raise our teacups to the Emerald Isle and enjoy the day!

Saturday Morning Tea

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

A happy Labor Day weekend to one and all! Are you saying to yourself: now where did the summer go? Those long, hazy days seem to always fly by, quickly fading into the coolness of the fall.

This morning I’m enjoying a cup of Ceylon black tea from the Manikkanda estate. It has a leaf style designated as “FF” or “Fancy Flowery”, a special production from this particular estate. I believe the FF means that there is an abundance of golden tip, or new growth.

Historically named Ceylon as a British crown colony, the name is an English translation of the word Ceilão, a name given to the island by the Portugese in 1505. The island officially became known as the “Free, Sovereign and Independent Republic of Sri Lanka” in 1972 and then in 1978 to the “Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka”. A Sanskrit word, Sri Lanka translates to “venerable island” in English.

The Manikkanda tea estate is located in the southwestern Galle district, a district of the Southern province at the southernmost point on the island.

I steeped the leaves for 4 minutes in boiling point (212 F) water, producing a rich russet liquor with a brisk aroma.

Look at that gorgeous color, a deep glowing fall color.

The tea liquor wakes up my palate with its brisk astringency and sweet flavor. I’m enjoying my tea plain but I bet it would taste great if you wanted to added milk and/or sweetener. This tea would also make a wonderful iced tea for those remaining warm days of late summer.

Enjoy this long weekend, dear tea friends!

“September’s song is a two-part harmony, as summer’s lighthearted serenade ends and a deeper melody begins.” 

~Sarah Ban Breathnach