Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! Even though the calendar still says spring, we’re experiencing hot and hazy summer-like weather here in the northeast. Perfect weather for the holiday weekend.

In my cup this morning is another Pre-Chingming tea, called Fairy Oolong. This tea was grown in Hunan province, China.

Hunan province is located in south central China. Its name means “south of the lake,” referring to Lake Dongting, a flood basin for the famous Yangtze River and one of the largest freshwater lakes in China. This beautifully scenic province has been a major center of agriculture for thousands of years, growing rice, tea and oranges. The earliest rice paddies were discovered on the western edge of the lake.

It sounds like a place with a lot of natural beauty and interesting history.

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I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 190F water. They’re quite large and very green.

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The leaves steeped an infusion the color of pale gold.  A fragrant lilac aroma drifted up from my glass teapot.

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As I took my first sip, I found the tea liquor to be light yet it filled my mouth with flavor. Softer notes of lilac are in the cup with a fresh vegetal character and a pronounced sweetness. What a lovely tea this is.

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I have a marvelous 3-day weekend ahead of me, filled with family, garden time, knitting and lots of tea and ice cream. I hope you all have a great weekend!

Morning in a New Land

In trees still dripping night some nameless birds

Woke, shook out their arrowy wings, and sang,

Slowly, like finches sifting through a dream.

The pink sun fell, like glass, into the fields.

Two chestnuts, and a dapple gray,

Their shoulders wet with light, their dark hair streaming.

Climbed the hill. The last mist fell away,

And under the trees, beyond time’s brittle drift,

I stood like Adam in his lonely garden.

On that first morning, shaken out of sleep,

Rubbing his eyes, listening, parting the leaves,

Like tissue on some vast, incredible gift.

~Mary Oliver

 

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! I love this spring time of year when I can throw open my windows to the sweet smelling breezes that bring in a chorus of birdsong. This morning I’m enjoying a cup of white tea called White Needle. It’s from the early Pre-Chingming harvest in China.

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This tea is all silvery-sage downy tea buds that have been dried in the sun.

I steeped the buds for 3 minutes in 180F water. A delicate aroma of flowers drifted up from my glass teapot.

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As I’ve shared with you before, Pre-Chingming teas are harvested before the festival of Qingming (Chingming), usually celebrated on the 15th day from the Spring Equinox (around April 5th). Any teas harvested before that date are referred to as Pre-Chingming teas. In other words, harvested in very early spring.

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The tea liquor is silky smooth and very sweet with notes of honeydew melon and a clean, refreshing pine essence. The flavor is delicate and mellow. A tea of contemplation.

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My tea graces one of my favorite tea bowls, the one my dear friend, Dave, brought back from Hawaii years ago.

Today I’m going to a local ice cream place that makes handmade micro-batches. Yum! Have a great weekend and enjoy your tea!

“Be still, while the music rises above us; the deep enchantment

Towers, like a forest of singing leaves and birds,

Built, for an instant, by the heart’s troubled beating,

Beyond all power of words.”

~Conrad Aiken, At a Concert of Music

Saturday Morning Tea

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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

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Good morning, dear tea friends! Bright sunshine streams through my windows, the first day of spring is only 2 weeks away, and I have a lovely green tea in my cup today.

Life is good.

I’d like to introduce you to Jiu Hua Mao Feng, or “Nine Glorious Mountains,” from China’s An Hui province, specifically Jiu Hua mountain, one of the four sacred mountains of Chinese Buddhism. During the great dynasties of China, this mountain was home to over 300 temples. It’s also a beautiful landscape rich in pine forests, waterfalls, streams and interesting rock formations. Sounds like a wonderful place for tea to grow and thrive.

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A delicate floral aroma scented the air as the leaves steeped for 3 minutes in 180F water.

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The long, twisted Mao Feng leaves released gently during steeping, the “agony of the leaf.”

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The pale gold liquor is light and smooth with sweet vegetal notes and hints of flowers in every sip. The finish is clean and crisp.

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This is the perfect tea for taking a break from your day to sit and just be still. Let all of your daily cares and worries fall away as you savor this tea and contemplate its sacred origins.

Until we meet again, may you enjoy many cups of tea!

“It’s not what you look at that matters. It’s what you see.”

~Henry David Thoreau

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! The sun is shining in a deep purple-blue sky on a world of white today. It snowed for much of the day yesterday, a heavy snow that fell in wet clumps. Around sunset, I was outside shoveling when the skies cleared and the landscape came alive with this unearthly glow. I stopped for a moment and just gazed at the western sky ablaze in streaks of orange and pink. It looked like a painting. A beautiful moment.

Everything about my tea this morning is warm and inviting from its deep cocoa aroma to its rich, complex flavor. I’m pleased to introduce Panyang Congou Select, a black tea from northern Fujian province in China.

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

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I found these wet leaves twisted together and as I drew them apart, magic happened. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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The dark amber liquor has a pronounced aroma of cocoa, which carries over into the smooth, full-bodied flavor. It’s more the flavor of unsweetened cocoa so this tea would go great with a little sweetener and a splash of milk. Yum. There are some spicy hints, almost like cinnamon toast, which linger into the finish.

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This is a great winter tea, one to be savored as you watch the snowflakes swirl around outside your window. Ok, time to go outside for more shoveling. Have a wonderful two weeks and enjoy your tea!

“There is in us an instinct for newness, for renewal, for a liberation of creative power. We seek to awaken in ourselves a force which really changes our lives from within. And yet the same instinct tells us that this change is a recovery of that which is deepest, most original, most personal in ourselves. To be born again is not to become somebody else, but to become ourselves.”

~Thomas Merton

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! The light gray clouds are heavy with the promise of snow as I pour my first steaming cup of tea, a China Oolong called Feng Huang Dan Cong Supreme.

Feng Huang translates to “phoenix,” referring to the mountain in Guangdong province  where this tea is grown. Dan Cong means “single tree,” referring to the tea trees this tea comes from.

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These venerable old trees grow amongst the rocks of the mountain. This harsh environment causes the leaves to grow very slowly, and a rich store of minerals develops from this slow rate of growth. The trees grow randomly on the mountain and the area is never weeded. The leaves from native plants fall and decompose, thus enriching the soil and the tea trees with nutrients.

I steeped the large leaves for 3 minutes in 190F water.

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The golden liquor has a rich, fruity aroma, foretelling of the burst of flavor to come.

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With my first sip, pronounced notes of ripe stone fruit, with woody hints, greet me and linger long into the finish, leaving a light silky feeling on my tongue.

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It’s amazing to me that such a fruity flavor could be naturally occurring. The perfect conditions come together to create this truly wonderful tea.

See you in two weeks and enjoy your tea!

“A sailor lost at sea can be guided home by a single candle. A person lost in a wood can be led to safety by a flickering flame. It is not an issue of quality or intensity or purity. It is simply an issue of the presence of light.”

~Kent Nerburn

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning and Happy New Year, dear tea friends! I hope everyone had a lovely holiday season. I’m feeling full of hope, with a generous dollop of joy thrown in, as we start this brand new year. How about you?

A China white tea, called Pai Mu Tan Special Grade Organic, graces my cup this morning. Its plucking is of the new leaf shoot, or bud, plus the top two leaves. Pai Mu Tan, or Bai Mudan, translates to “white peony,” some say because of the shape of the leaves, others because of its fragrance.

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Many folks ask, “what is the difference between a green tea and a white tea?” After all, look at the leaf in the photo above. It’s green, right? Well, it’s all in the processing of the leaf. Whereas green tea leaves are heated up pretty much right away, whether steamed or pan fried, for example, to halt the oxidation of the leaf, white tea leaves are allowed to wither naturally in the sun, sometimes for several days. So, the leaves aren’t heated to halt oxidation. In fact, after withering, the leaves are piled and allowed to oxidize a little bit before they are baked to dry the leaves out for packing and transport.

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 180F water. A gentle, sweet fragrance wafted up from my glass teapot as the leaves released their flavor into the water.

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The tea liquor is the light golden color of the morning sky right before the sun breaks the horizon.

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A ripe melon note is present in both the aroma and the silky smooth flavor. A lovely tea that’s sweet, fruity and light.

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Bits of down from the white hair on the tea leaf float in my tea bowl.

Outside my window, thick, winter white clouds sprinkle down a fine, damp mist, foretelling of the wind and rain storm expected here tomorrow. It’s a good weekend to stay inside, wrapped in a cozy blanket with a hot cup of tea in hand. I just started a new knitting project I’ll work on, a jasper green cardigan sweater with cables for myself. I love new projects!

“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. And on a quiet day, if you really listen, you can hear her breathing.”  ~Arundhati Roy