Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! Hot and steamy weather arrived this past week with soaring temps and the rumble of thunder in the early morning hours. As soon as she arrived, she was gone again in a few days and replaced with cooler spring weather. Welcome to our unpredictable New England weather!

More first flush Darjeelings have arrived these past few weeks. I’m enjoying a selection from Liza Hill this morning. Liza Hill is a division of the esteemed Risheehat Estate in Darjeeling. If you look at a map of India, you’ll see Darjeeling, wedged in between Nepal and Bhutan, up in northeast India. Many years ago, Tibetan Buddhist monks named this area Dorje-ling. The Dorje is a sacred ritual object of holy lamas. It symbolized strength and constancy.

The dry leaf smells fresh and invitingI steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 212F (boiling point) water.

A lovely floral aroma drifted up from my glass teapot as the leaves steeped.

After they’ve steeped, I like to comb through the wet leaves to get a sense of the tea and its plucking order. You can see this fine intact plucking with the leaf gently twisted. Beautiful.

The liquor is a glowing golden amber, fragrant with the aroma of spring flowers, a heady scent to awaken my senses as I pour my first cup.

After a long week of very busy work, a lawnmower that won’t start, a hornet in my kitchen, a clogged dryer vent, this tea transports me to another place far from my daily worries – an exotic place of bright sunshine and cool breezes, filled with tea bushes growing in the shadow of majestic Himalayan peaks.

The flavor is rich with floral notes and tropical fruit sweetness. A refreshing pungent quality plays at the edges of the flavor, and lingers in the back of my throat. Delicious.

My weekend will be filled with family – a birthday party for my oldest son, making tea with my 6-year-old grandson and nurturing his new interest, and, of course, spending time with my newest granddaughter.

Until our next cup of tea together, have a wonderful couple of weeks!

“Were it possible for us to see further than our knowledge reaches, and yet a little way beyond the outworks of our divinings, perhaps we would endure our sadnesses with greater confidence than our joys. For they are the moments when something new has entered into us, something unknown; our feelings grow mute in shy perplexity, everything in us withdraws, a stillness comes, and the new, which no one knows, stands in the midst of it and is silent.” 

~Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! April showers are gathering in big puddles outside, and it’s blooming spring in my kitchen. Do you recognize the leaf? That’s right, a brand new first flush Darjeeling, one of my favorite spring treats. This lovely selection is from the Tindharia Estate.

The Tindharia tea garden is a bio-organic estate, located in the South Kurseong area of Darjeeling district. I’ve read that the town of Kurseong, whose name means “Land of the White Orchids”, is a quiet hill station. A hill station is “a town in the low mountains of the Indian subcontinent, popular as a holiday resort during the hot season.” At elevations of 400-1000 meters, it sounds like a great destination for cooling off during the hot summer months.

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. For those of you new to tea’s delights, it’s always best to pour the water over the leaves rather than adding the leaves to the water. As you pour, it wakes up the leaves and starts the steeping process.

The aroma coming from the wet leaves is fresh and floral with a hint of vegetal. When I was just starting my tea journey many years ago, I saw a man plunge his nose right into the wet leaves and inhale deeply. At the time, I didn’t quite know what to think but now I understand completely.

The golden-amber tea liquor has a sweet fragrance with notes of flowers and a light toasty hint.

The cup is extremely well balanced with a smoothness that falls on the middle of my tongue and a refreshing pungency that wakes up the sides. Notes of flowers join a suggestion of tart fruitiness in the flavor. This tea is the second lot (EX-2) that was picked at Tindharia this spring. I’ve also tried the first lot (EX-1) and find that to have a gentler character when compared to this lot.

I’m happy and excited to share that my granddaughter, Adelyn Claire, was born on Thursday! A dear friend of mine said it perfectly: her beautiful face is one straight from heaven. I couldn’t agree more.

Saturday Morning Tea will return in 3 weeks as I’ll be in Michigan visiting my family in mid-April. Until then, happy sipping!

“Children are the rainbow of life. Grandchildren are the pot of gold.”

Irish Blessing

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! Happy Christmas Eve to all who celebrate!

With thoughts of a white Christmas, I’ve pulled out my cherished Christmas tea mug and brewed up a pot of tea that has “snow” in its name – a first flush Darjeeling from the Singbulli Estate called “Snow White.” Its name derives from the abundance of tender white tips showcased in this lovely selection.

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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.

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I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in just under boiling point water. I noticed a lot of dust with this tea. The dust comes from the white hairs on the tips. When the leaves/tips are dried during processing, the hairs dry out, too, and create a “bloom” of fine particles.

The aroma has a fresh tropical fruit fragrance with hints of flowers. Mmmm….

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The tropical fruitiness carries over into the flavor of the golden liquor, with notes of pineapple. This tea has an intense “wake up your mouth” feel with a characteristic Darjeeling “bite.” It lifts up the fruity notes, adding a slight vegetal feel to them, and helps those notes to linger awhile in your mouth.

Another quintessential first flush tea from Singbulli, a tea garden that consistently produces stellar teas.

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I’m making my Christmas journey to Michigan in a couple of days. Another year is drawing to a close and what better way to celebrate than to gather together with those we love and share many cups of tea and good cheer.

To all of my dear tea friends who visit me here, have a wonderful holiday season!

I look forward to sharing more tea with you in 2017!

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!” 

~Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! The first day of fall has come and gone this week and the air has shifted from warm and sultry to crisp and cool. Great sleeping weather.

In my cup this morning is a second flush Darjeeling from the Balasun Estate, located in northeast India. This lovely tea was harvested this year. You can read my post about the 2016 first flush Darjeeling from Balasun Estate here.

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The leaf is beautiful, bold with lots of silvery tips mixed in.

The Balasun estate is located near the tiny hamlet town of Sonada, one of the stations for the heritage Darjeeling Toy train. Built between 1879 and 1881, the 48-mile narrow gauge railway runs between Darjeeling and New Jalpaiguri in West Bengal. This well-loved railway is a delight to travelers and rail enthusiasts.

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

A deep fruity aroma revealed itself as the leaves released their essence into the water.

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The bright amber infusion is rich and flavorful with ripe fruit notes, like crisp apples and juicy peaches. A warm toastiness envelops the fruity quality in both the aroma and the flavor.

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This is the perfect selection to go with a warm apple crisp or apple pie, made from an apple picking adventure, a favorite outing this time of year.

What’s in your cup today?

“Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple.”

~J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Saturday Morning Tea

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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