Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! I’m still wondering when spring will bloom here in my little corner of the world. Last Tuesday, we got a foot of snow dumped on us in a, hopefully, last blast of winter. With frigid temps all week, we’re living in a world of large white piles of snow and ice. Thank goodness for tea! For my morning tea today, I’ve chosen a China Oolong with a venerable pedigree, Da Hong Pao Oolong. Da Hong Pao translates to “Big Red Robe.”

Are you wondering what big red robes have to do with this tea? Well, there’s a legend that the mother of an emperor fell ill and was cured by a certain tea. The emperor sent big red robes to clothe and honor the bushes from which the tea originated, in the Wuyi mountains of Fujian province. The legend goes on to say that three of the four bushes still survive today and are highly venerated.

I steeped the large leaves for 4 minutes in 190F water. It’s always a good idea to use water under the boil when steeping an Oolong tea.

The aroma is rich and complex, with notes of fruit, honey and sweet tobacco.

The leaves yield a gorgeous amber liquor that reflects the sunlight streaming in my kitchen.

My first sip fills my mouth with a silky buttery feel, followed by layers of flavor: honey, chestnut, aromatic wood, stone fruit and a lingering whisper of smoke in the finish. Amazing.

This tea will lend itself to multiple steepings so you could drink it all day long. mmmmm…

The day is drawing near when my granddaughter will enter this world, hopefully, within the next few days. I so can’t wait to meet her. I’m looking forward to sharing the special news with you the next time we meet. Until then, happy sipping!

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

~Mark Twain

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! The blustery arrival of March here in New England is true to the saying “arrives like a lion,” with below freezing weather still hanging on. It’s definitely time for tea! Wrapped up in one of my favorite cozy sweaters on this frosty morning, I steeped up a pot of green tea, called Lu’An Melon Seed (Lu An Gua Pian).

This tea comes from the Lu An region of An Hui province in China, an area of dense bamboo forests and small, remote tea gardens. I’ve read that this is the only China tea that is made from a single leaf, rather than the usual bud and one or two leaves. The plucking order is to take one leaf, along with a little bit of twig, from beneath the new growth on the bush. The tea is carefully hand processed in heated woks with the assistance of small hand brooms to shape the leaves. Final drying takes place in bamboo baskets over a charcoal fire.

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I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 180F water. As the leaves were steeping, I caught a fleeting whiff of a savory cooking aroma, perhaps a small remnant of the drying process.

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Here’s an example of the single leaf plucked for this tea. Beautiful.

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The glowing golden liquor has a creamy nuance in the aroma, which reminds me of creamy almond milk.

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Floral hints bloom around a creamy, buttery mouth feel, finishing with a toasty/nutty whisper. Both the vegetal and astringent quality are very low in this tea. As the tea cooled, I detected a hint of melon, which reminded me of a fine white tea.

As I sip my tea, I gaze out my window and watch the tall limbs of the maple trees in my neighbor’s yard bend with the strong breeze. Spring is only 16 days away and, to quote one of my favorite singers, I welcome its arrival “with open arms.”

As always, I enjoy sharing a cup of tea with you. Happy sipping!

“The snow has not yet left the earth, but spring is already asking to enter your heart. If you have ever recovered from a serious illness, you will be familiar with the blessed state when you are in a delicious state of anticipation, and are liable to smile without any obvious reason. Evidently that is what nature is experiencing just now. The ground is cold, mud and snow squelches under foot, but how cheerful, gentle and inviting everything is! The air is so clear and transparent that if you were to climb to the top of the pigeon loft or the bell tower, you feel you might actually see the whole universe from end to end. The sun is shining brightly, and its playful, beaming rays are bathing in the puddles along with the sparrows. The river is swelling and darkening; it has already woken up and very soon will begin to roar. The trees are bare, but they are already living and breathing.”

~Anton Chekhov, The Exclamation Mark

 

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! I was greeted by brilliant sunshine streaming through my windows as I padded down to my kitchen to prepare my morning tea. The days are getting longer as we march towards spring, and it’s exciting to have my path home from work now illuminated by the last light of the day. What’s in my cup today? You wouldn’t know it from my photos but I’m enjoying a pot of China Pu-Erh tea. This is very light for a Pu-Erh tea, you say? That’s because it’s a Sheng Cha, or “raw” Pu-Erh. There are 2 types of Pu-ehr, raw (Sheng or Qing) and cooked (Shou).

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Pu-Erh teas technically start out green but have a tea category all of their own because of their unique processing methods. Some people use the word “fermentation” when describing the oxidation process that turns tea leaves dark. In this instance, the correct term is “oxidation.” Pu-Erh leaves are truly fermented, in the sense of the word, because various components are introduced during processing that allow the leaves to ferment. This process is a long held secret. Leaves and tips (buds) are harvested and sun dried, much like white tea, and then the magic happens that creates Pu-Erh tea.

I used 180F water and steeped the leaves for 4 minutes.

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The aroma is sweet and earthy with a pronounced dried apricot note in both the wet leaves and the liquor.

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Even the tea liquor is a golden apricot color, giving this selection a stone fruit theme, for sure. The flavor is sweet, tempered by an earthiness and suggestion of tobacco. The stone fruit note is still there, however, not as strong as in the aroma.

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This is a great choice to start your exploration of Pu-Erh teas, if you haven’t tried them yet. Better yet, try this alongside some cooked Pu-Erh so you can enjoy the pronounced difference between them. And they all amazingly come from the same plant!

Tomorrow is a big day for us football fans here in New England. Our beloved Patriots are headed to the Super Bowl once again. Go Pats!!!

“If you ask me how I want to be remembered, it is as a winner. You know what a winner is? A winner is somebody who has given his best effort, who has tried the hardest they possibly can, who has utilized every ounce of energy and strength within them to accomplish something. It doesn’t mean that they accomplished it or failed, it means that they’ve given it their best. That’s a winner.”

~Walter Payton

 

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! Even though we’ve had a mild January overall here in New England, my dreams are calling to spring. With its rich floral character, this morning’s tea has answered my call. I’m happy to introduce you to a China Oolong tea, aptly named Floral Tie-Guan-Yin.

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The leaves are rolled into tight little bundles but look at the magic that happens during steeping, 3 minutes in 185F water.

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The bundles unfurl into enormous green leaves. This tea is a lightly oxidized Oolong so it’s more on the “greener” side.

I’m happy to share my favorite Tie-Guan-Yin story again!

Many years ago in Fujian Province in China, a poor tea farmer named Mr. Wei would walk by a temple everyday on his way to the tea fields. As each day passed, he noticed that no one cared for the temple so it was becoming quite run down. Inside he found a statue of Guan Yin, the bodhisattva of compassion. He did not have the means to fix up the temple but he felt that something needed to be done. One day he brought his broom and some incense. He lit the incense as an offering to the Goddess and swept the temple clean. That night Guan Yin came to him in a dream and told him of a cave where he would find a beautiful treasure for himself and to share with others. The treasure turned out to be a tea shoot which Mr. Wei planted and nurtured into a large tea bush, producing the finest tea in the region. He shared cuttings with all his neighbors and started calling the tea produced from this bush Tie-Guan-Yin. Mr. Wei and all his neighbors prospered and were able to restore the temple to its beauty and many came to gather there. Now Mr. Wei felt joy everyday as he passed the temple on the way to his tea fields.

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Look at that lovely golden color in my glass teapot. The aroma is filled with the fragrance of spring flowers and a touch of butter.

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With my first sip, the liquor fills my mouth with a silky buttery feeling. The floral notes predominate and are lifted up by the buttery notes. I feel the breath of fresh spring air already…mmmmm…

Tomorrow is a big day for New England football fans. Go Pats!!!

“It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get back up.”

~Vince Lombardi

 

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! Happy New Year to you! We welcome a new tea year, too, with the harvests – Pre-Chingming, first flush Darjeeling, and more – only a few months away. I hold onto that hope of spring and new growth as I gaze out my window at the first snowflakes of a Nor’easter snowstorm making its way up the coast to us. It’s a good time to cozy inside with a pot of delicious tea, which is just what I’m doing. I’d like to introduce you to a green tea from China, called Fujian Green Snow Buds, the perfect tea name for today.

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The beautifully hand processed leaves have a goodly portion of downy tea buds. Located on the southeastern China coast, Fujian province is well known as a big tea producer. A heavily forested, mountainous environment with a subtropical climate makes it ideal for tea growing.

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I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 180F water. A savory aroma wafted up from the leaves as they released their flavor to the water.

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The light golden wheat colored liquor has a sweet, herbaceous fragrance, inviting me to take my first sip. The cup is delicate and buttery smooth with a lovely sweetness that envelops the flavor. I found notes of melon predominant, enhanced by a touch of honey.

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Today is a good day for a movie marathon with my knitting and a continuously filled pot of tea. Until next time, enjoy your tea!

“Snow was falling,
so much like stars
filling the dark trees
that one could easily imagine
its reason for being was nothing more
than prettiness.”

~Mary Oliver

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! A frigid wind is blowing in from the north and it’s beginning to feel more December-like around here. A great time for drinking lots of tea.

I came across a lovely tea this week, a perfect selection to slow down with and, hopefully, ease the stress that sometimes comes with the holiday season. Plus, I love its name – Jasmine White Monkey. From Fujian province in China, this silver tip green tea has been scented with jasmine flowers.

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The tea leaves are plucked in the springtime, processed as green tea and then stored until the jasmine plants get ready to bloom in the summer. The flower buds are plucked in the early morning and kept cool all day. As early evening approaches, the flower buds are mixed with the tea leaves. As the night blooming jasmine flowers open, the tea leaves absorb their scent. This process is repeated every day over the course of a week. Quite a bit of dedicated work goes into creating this unique tea.

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Most of the time, the dried flowers are separated from the leaves after scenting. Sometimes, the dried blossoms are left mixed in with the tea leaves. Since they’re dried out, their scent is gone so perhaps it’s for decoration? I find that the dried flowers may lend a sourness to the tea liquor so I prefer just the scented leaves for steeping my tea.

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes using 180F spring water. As the leaves steeped, my kitchen smelled like a spring garden. mmmm….

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The leaves infused a golden wheat colored liquor. This tea is much more robust than some of the delicate jasmine selections. You can really taste the green tea so the jasmine scenting isn’t the predominant flavor. These two flavors, vegetal and floral, balance nicely. I also found a balance of sweetness with astringency that lingers into the finish.

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This afternoon, I’m getting together with some dear art friends who I haven’t seen in years. Just like taking a break and sitting down with a cup of tea, it’s important to jump off the carousel of busy day-to-day life and connect with good friends. It rejuvenates my spirit.

Enjoy the season and many delicious cups of tea!

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! It’s a quiet, gray-sky day, a good day for sitting with a cup of tea, and remembering those fallen on that fateful day 15 years ago tomorrow. I have my favorite tea for contemplation, a white tea from China, this selection called Jinggu Spring Buds.

Located in the Pu-Erh prefecture in Yunnan province, Jinggu County has a subtropical, monsoon climate with steep, high mountains, ideal for tea growing. This tea is made up entirely of tender spring tea buds. Beautiful.

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I steeped the buds for 3 minutes in water a little under 180F.

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The aroma is soft and delicate with a toasty, nutty fragrance.

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The tea liquor is the color of winter wheat.

I stop and pay attention as I take my first sip. Let the tea sit quietly in my mouth for a moment. Let the flavor reveal itself.

It’s light and smooth, silky in the mouth feel. First, I taste a toasty herbaceousness. Next, a nutty hint. The finish imparts a suggestion of green melon but it’s fleeting, doesn’t linger. The toastiness does linger.

As the tea cools, a honey-like sweetness grows, suggesting the possibility of a lovely iced tea.

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After a quiet morning spent with my tea, I’m spending the afternoon with my grandchildren today. I love seeing the world through their eyes as we play games and laugh and eat ice cream.

Have a great couple of weeks enjoying many cups of tea!

“No day shall erase you from the memory of time.” ~Virgil