Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! Despite the dark clouds and pouring rain outside, today is an auspicious day because I have a 2016 first flush Darjeeling tea in my cup. That brings sunshine and joy to the darkest of days! This selection is called Victoria’s Peak Moonlight, a name that conjures up mystery and magic to me.

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Here’s the information about this magical place from the grower:

“This is a division within the Steinthal Tea Estate, named after Queen Victoria. Located next to Victoria’s Falls and Victoria Park as a memoir of one of the Queens who visited Darjeeling. It is a picturesque area – on the north  side we can see the Himalayan mountains on the east of this are the Botanical Gardens..and just above is the Darjeeling town. A very small quantity of tea is produced every year from this division, which are manufactured at the adjacent Steinthal factory.”

As I poured the water over the leaves in my glass teapot, a lovely floral aroma wafted up, giving me a preview of the delicious experience to come.

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

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Look at the tender tips mixed in with the leaf. Yes, this is a black tea, despite all of that green you see.

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The amber-gold liquor is oh so fragrant with the scent of flowers and tropical fruit. Mmmmm…..

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The flavor is complex with notes of flowers, tropical fruit and a sweetness that reminds me of cookies. Underlying these notes is that fresh green quality that I love so much about a first flush tea. I’m in heaven!

Tomorrow I’m going to Florida to vacation with my family and that famous mouse. Until next time, dear friends, happy spring and enjoy your tea!

“No bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings.”

~William Blake

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Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! Tomorrow is the first day of spring, the time of year when I want to throw open all my windows and usher out the stagnant winter air in favor of fresh spring breezes. That will have to wait a few days though as we’re expecting some snow tomorrow, a New England welcome to spring. This past week, we had temps near 70, thunderstorms, blustery winds and now snow. Never a dull weather moment in my little corner of the world! On to tea…

First flush season is well underway in the Darjeeling area in northeastern India. Samples are arriving daily and we’re contemplating purchases. Nothing has arrived just yet so I’m celebrating the season with a Namring Upper Estate first flush selection from last year.

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Namring Estate is a very large estate divided into two parts, Namring and Namring Upper. Namring Upper has a steeper elevation and produces the best tea from what I’ve read.

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

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As with most first flush teas, the leaves are variegated from greens to browns with some silver sprinkled in.

Such pretty colors.

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The golden amber liquor has a fresh, inviting aroma with notes of sweet flowers.

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The flavor is as fresh as a spring day you can’t wait to go out walking in because the air is filled with awakening and hope. The cup is smooth and sweet with notes of flowers and a crisp, refreshing finish. Very yummy.

Speaking of walking, that’s next on my agenda today, followed by shopping for Easter goodies for my grandkids.

Until our next time together, enjoy your cuppas and the start of spring!

Something opens our wings

Something makes boredom and hurt disappear

Someone fills the cup in front of us

We taste only sacredness

~Rumi

 

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! In a few days, it will be Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, or the longest night of the year, depending upon your perspective. In my little corner of the world, it occurs on December 21st at 11:49pm. I always try and imagine what is was like for the ancients witnessing the darkness growing with each passing day, not knowing whether the light would ever return. But, of course, it did and they came to celebrate the “birth of the Sun” on this day.

I’m celebrating the holiday season today with a special Darjeeling in my cup, called Victoria’s Peak Gold Organic. It really doesn’t look like a Darjeeling at all, does it? The leaf reminds me of a very tippy Assam or China Black Mao Feng.

This tea was grown on the Steinthal Estate in Darjeeling, northeastern India.

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I steeped the leaves longer than I normally do with a Darjeeling – 4 minutes in 212F water. 5 minutes would work well, too, especially if you like to add milk to your tea.

Here’s some information about Victoria’s Peak from the grower.

“This is a division within the Steinthal Tea Estate, named after Queen Victoria. Located next to Victoria’s Falls and Victoria Park as a memoir of one of the Queens who visited Darjeeling. It is a picturesque area – on the north  side we can see the Himalayan mountains on the east of this are the Botanical Gardens..and just above is the Darjeeling town. A very small quantity of tea is produced every year from this division, which are manufactured at the adjacent Steinthal factory.”

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In looking at the intact leaf sets and whole leaf, you can see that it was processed with great care and artistry. The cup aroma is rich with notes of cocoa.

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The red amber liquor has a mouth feel with majestic presence. The flavor is complex with notes of cocoa and spice and just a hint of malt. A warm toastiness lingers on my tongue. A very enjoyable tea experience!

In honor of Winter Solstice and this holiday season of light, I’m happy to share with you my beaded journal page from years past.

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My December journal page is entitled “The Birth of the Sun”, in honor of the Winter Solstice and the long celebrated “return of the sun.” Inspired by the beautiful color palette of the sunrise, my piece symbolizes the light of the holiday season. The days are now getting longer and my sun contains the seed/embryo of the warmer months to come and its continuing journey towards light. For me personally, I meditated on the light within my own heart as I set down each bead.

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I’m traveling to Michigan for the holidays so Saturday Morning Tea will return in 3 weeks time. Have a lovely holiday season!

You darkness, that I come from,

I love you more than all the fires

that fence in the world,

for the fire makes

a circle of light for everyone,

and then no one outside learns of you.

But the darkness pulls in everything;

shapes and fires, animals and myself,

how easily it gathers them!–

powers and people–

and it is possible a great energy

is moving near me.

I have faith in nights.

~Rainer Maria Rilke, On Darkness

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! I’m happy to be sharing a cup of tea with you from my new home. After unpacking all week, it feels great to sit down and savor a cuppa. This morning’s tea is a second flush harvest from the Teesta Valley Estate in Darjeeling, India.

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Teesta Valley Estate was named for the nearby Teesta, a turbulent mountain river. Along with the Gielle Estate, Teesta Valley was laid out gradually from 1841 to 1856, using carefully selected China bushes. Stretching upwards from 2500 to 6500 feet above sea level, this lovely garden is located at the highest point above the valley and blessed by cool mists, bright sunshine and crisp winds, the perfect growing conditions for great teas.

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

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The leaves steeped up to a beautiful amber color. The aroma wafting up from my glass teapot is sweet and floral. This tea is a bit lighter and smoother than a typical second flush selection. With that in mind, I think I’ll experiment with increasing the steeping time and see what happens.

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The flavor has a pronounced sweetness, especially as it cools, with notes of fruit and flowers. A suggestion of apricot lingers in the crisp finish.

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I’ve enjoyed this peaceful respite with you. Now it’s time to return to the stacks of boxes piled up in my new space.

Have a wonderful weekend and enjoy your tea!

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! It’s a chilly, overcast autumn day here in my corner of New England. On a day like this, I’m happy to warm my hands as well as my spirit with a hot cup of tea. Or two. Or three. Today’s tea is a second flush selection from the Castleton Estate in Darjeeling, northeastern India. This renowned estate produces high quality, classic Darjeelings every year.

Here’s some interesting information about the estate from an article by Shyamali Ghosh on World Tea News:

Castleton Tea Estate, perched in Darjeeling’s misty Kurseong South Valley, actually has a castle of sorts, as well as a history colored by storybook details. No one is sure of the castle’s origin, though it’s probably just a building left behind by a long-ago money lender.

Originally planted in 1885 by an enterprising Englishman, the estate has passed through the hands of Calcutta royalty, and still uses names rather than numbers to designate specific areas in the garden. The original name of this garden was Kumseri. The various sections of this gardens are known as Bhalu Khop (bear cave), Jim Basha (the erstwhile manager’s domain), Dhobitar (washerman’s clothes line) and Baseri (resting place).

I love reading stories about tea and its history.

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

A marvelous fruity fragrance greeted me as I poured my first cup.

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As you can see, the liquor is a beautiful amber color. The flavor is rich with that characteristic Darjeeling “bite” awakening my palate.

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I detected notes of muscatel, a warm toastiness and bright highlights, reminiscent of citrus, in the flavor. This tea is definitely strong enough to add a splash of milk but I encourage you to try it plain first and see what notes you find. This would make a lovely companion to a rich dessert.

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I’m going to relax today and work on a new knitting project, a rosey pink cardigan for someone special. How are you spending your day?

The next time I join you for a cup of tea, I’ll be moved in to my new home. Until then, enjoy your tea!

 

 

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! On this hot and hazy summer day, I’ve brewed up a pot of second flush Darjeeling, as promised in my last post. This particular selection is from the Sungma Estate. The reason I chose it is because I think it’s a great example of a second flush tea, starting with the variegated tones of brown in the leaf color.

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Established in the 1860s, the Sungma Estate experienced a major loss in 1934 when a terrible earthquake destroyed its factory. After that, Sungma merged with a neighboring tea garden called Turzum Estate.

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 212F water.

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A rich, fruity fragrance wafted up from my glass teapot, filling my kitchen with its delicious aroma.

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Look at that gorgeous color! A deep amber-colored liquor tells you that this is a second flush Darjeeling, as opposed to the light golden color of a first flush.

The flavor bursts in my mouth, like biting into a piece of ripe fruit, very rich with notes of muscatel and nutty hints. The fruitiness lingers deliciously on my tongue. A honey-like sweetness is also present in the cup, which gets even sweeter as the tea cools, making it a wonderful choice for an iced tea as well as a hot cuppa.

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August is the month of abundance when so much is being harvested from nature’s bounty. A cup of second flush Darjeeling is the perfect companion to rich and flavorful foods.

Until next time, dear friends, enjoy your tea!

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! This first day of August dawned clear and bright, a beautiful summer’s day. My morning tea is a wonderful treat, a tippy, first flush Darjeeling from the Singbulli Estate. As you can see, the leaf is gorgeous, a multi-hued work of art from nature.

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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 leaf for 3 minutes in just under boiling point (212F) water.

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The wet leaf aroma after steeping is bright and vegetal. The cup aroma is sweet with pronounced notes of flowers.

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The glowing golden-yellow liquor has a fresh, crisp mouth feel and a pronounced floral flavor with a whisper of tropical fruit. Mmmmmm….

This tea is the epitome of a first flush Darjeeling.

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I chose this lovely teacup this morning because the inside is glazed the exact same color as my tea.

In my next post, I’ll show you what I think exemplifies the second flush Darjeeling character. Until then, enjoy your summer and your tea!