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

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

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