Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! I chose another Pre-Chingming tea for my morning tea – a Yunnan black tea called Dian Hong Yunnan Gold. I have read that “Dian” is the old name used for the Yunnan province and the word “hong” translates to “red” or “red tea”. Black teas from China are often referred to as red teas because of their intense “brassy red” color.

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You can see that color starting to come out in the steeping. I steeped the leaves for 5 minutes in 212F (boiling point) water. This is a great tea for multiple steepings if you’d like to try that.

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The fine plucking is evident in the intact leaf sets. I opened this bud up to reveal the little baby leaves inside.

The downy hairs are visible, even on the wet leaf. When the tea is dried and packaged, the hairs will dry and turn into dust. So, if you open your tea packet and see a bunch of dust, that is a good thing as it indicates a fine plucking.

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There’s that beautiful “brassy red”, which I prefer to call deep amber.

The aroma is sweet and spicy with a whisper of floral perfume and a hint of cocoa.

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I find this tea to be on the lighter side for a Yunnan tea and very smooth in the cup. With flavor notes of spice and cocoa, this tea gets sweeter as it cools. I find that the abundance of golden tip lends a delicacy to the mouth feel, like the liquor is lightly dancing across my palate.

We are celebrating a wonderful family event this weekend – my daughter and her boyfriend have just purchased their very first house. Very exciting! I’m looking forward to helping them clean and paint and turn their new house into a wonderful home.

As always, thanks for stopping by and sharing a cuppa with me. I am just finishing a beaded project that has taken me almost 2 months to complete! Stay tuned for pictures soon…

“Home is the nicest word there is.”  ~Laura Ingalls Wilder

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Saturday Morning Tea

The sun is shining in a deep blue, early spring sky as I begin my day with a cup of Darjeeling. I wish I could tell you that I’m enjoying a cup from this year’s first flush harvest season but they haven’t arrived just yet. This is a cup of an autumnal Darjeeling from the Sungma estate, harvested last fall.

Darjeeling, located in northeastern India, has 3 plucking seasons, first flush, second flush and autumnal. Sometimes there’s a plucking that’s not quite first or second flush and is called “in between”. The autumnal harvest isn’t as famous as the first and second flush, however, it produces a wonderful tea with the characteristics of Darjeeling yet with a much mellower and smoother flavor profile.

As I do with most Darjeeling black teas, I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in boiling point (212 F) water.

The rich liquor glows like dark honey in my glass teapot. As I pour my first cup, a delicate fruity aroma wafts up.

The flavor is incredibly smooth with bright notes of fruit. This would be a great tea for those tea lovers looking for a deeper yet mellow Darjeeling cup. It doesn’t have any of the green astringent notes of a first flush or the bold muscatel notes of a second flush.

I love how the deep blue of the sky mixes with the rich color of my tea.

Sky and earth, water and fire.

My grandkids are visiting from New Mexico right now and I am having such a grand time immersing myself in the little ones’ world. Monday we’re headed into Boston to visit the New England Aquarium. Ella can’t wait to see the fishies!

Enjoy your weekend, dear tea friends!

“The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.” ~Emily Dickinson

Playing with Wire


I’ve been fascinated with wire for as long as I can remember.

I love its versatility and strength for jewelry making. You can bend it into shapes, use it for connections and wrap it around beads. And it’s such an accessible form of metal, requiring only a few simple hand tools to manipulate into a beautiful creation.

When I was visiting my son and his family in Albuquerque last November, we visited a LBS, Mama’s Minerals. It was a good thing that Brendan was with me or I would have become lost in the vortex of bead lust, putting myself into extreme debt and not being able to close my suitcase! If you’re ever in Albuquerque in search of beads, I recommend a stop at this amazing store.

Anyway, we had decided to create a bracelet for my SIL for Christmas and it was up to Bren to choose the beads. I love his choice, don’t you? Before he started his quest, I gently suggested beads that had a southwest feel to them and these Saturn jasper beads he chose, in bands of turquoise and brown, are just perfect.

I love the look of the antiqued, coiled wire against the striking banding in the stone.

Shortly after I came home, I picked up Kerry Bogert’s book, Totally Twisted: Innovative Wirework & Art Glass Jewelry, at the library and became enchanted with Kerry’s colorful wire designs. I chose the project on page 88, “Framed”, for the bracelet.

You can’t really tell from the photos but the wire coils are made from copper wire and the wire wraps on the beads, as well as the clasp, are made from sterling silver wire. I love the look of mixed metals and silver and copper are my favorites.

This was a great project to hone my wireworking skills, especially for wire coiling. I used a tiny double pointed knitting needle for that job.

I love this design so much that I think I’m going to make a bracelet for myself now! I have the beads picked out already – round coins of earthy Owyhee jasper. This is a great description I came across recently – “soft earthy colors of clay, teal, sage, brick, sand, umber with brush strokes of bark brown”. Wow.  It’s a beautiful picture jasper, mined in southern Idaho/eastern Oregon.

When I was a kid, I owned a well thumbed, dog-eared copy of a pocket-sized rocks and minerals book. I used to pour over that book for hours…I just love rocks.

Saturday Morning Tea

This morning we travel to the Yunnan province of China for a cup of black tea called Yunnan Golden Snail. A careful plucking of the top leaves on the tea bush is handcrafted into beautiful curls. The leaf looks like the black tea version of Pi Lo Chun, a China green tea whose name translates to Green Snail Spring. You can read my review of that tea here.

I steeped the leaves in boiling point (212 degrees F) water for 4 minutes. Unlike the twisted, “spider leg” tea leaves from last week, these leaves fully unfurled during steeping in what’s called the “agony of the leaf”.

My teapot shows the tree in my neighbor’s backyard that still holds a lot of its golden leaf. I just love those colors against the brilliant blue late autumn sky!

Oh, just look at that gorgeous leaf! It imparts a light smoky aroma, reminiscent of cooked bacon. This smoky quality comes through in the flavor as well. It’s not the fireplace smoky of Lapsang Souchong nor is it the tobacco smoky of gunpowder tea. It’s definitely…bacon…mmmm…and to a confirmed vegetarian like myself, an interesting treat to taste that once again.

The russet liquor glows in my teapot as I pour my first cup. Notes of spice and raisin fill my mouth with a bright astringency in the finish that lingers very nicely. This tea tastes great plain but would definitely stand up to a dollop of milk, if desired.

I sit and gaze out the window, my cup warming my hands, and think of my coming trip to New Mexico. I leave in 2 days time to visit my son and his family, including my brand new grandson, Landon, who came into this world last Monday. My son now has his own son and the circle of life continues…

I won’t return from my trip until next Sunday evening so I’m sorry to say that there won’t be any Saturday Morning Tea post next week. However, I will look forward to sharing another cup of tea with you in 2 weeks time when I believe it will be time to review another Pi Lo Chun tea. What do you think? As always, if you ever have any requests for tea reviews or questions about tea, I am always happy to receive them.

Happy tea drinking, dear friends!

“Let us imagine care of the soul, then, as an application of poetics to everyday life.” ~Thomas Moore

Saturday Morning Tea

My morning tea is waking me up with its bold taste and refreshing pungency! From the area of Qianjiang located in Hubei Province, China, it has been processed as a gunpowder green tea.

Gunpowder tea leaves are withered, and then steamed before being rolled into small pellet shapes said to resemble black gunpowder grains. Black gunpowder was invented in China during the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234) for weapons based technology to defend the northern border of China against the invading Mongols. Most gunpowder teas nowadays are rolled by machine but some high grade leaf is still rolled by hand.

The beautifully intact leaf unfurls into circular shapes during its 3 minute steeping in 180 degree F water.

As I pour my first cup, a nutty aroma fills my senses. It carries on into the flavor of the pale gold liquor, also revealing a sweet fruit note and whisper of smoke. This is the perfect tea for those looking for more body and less vegetal flavor in their green tea.

I had a wonderful visit with my parents, as always, way too short and then they are gone. We made our annual trek to Nantucket Island for a lovely 3-day getaway. You can read about last year’s trip here. The weather was sunny and cool, perfect for strolling along the cobblestone streets and embarking on another deep sea fishing journey. This time I stayed on land and cheered the returning fishermen on their bluefish catch. I drank in the sights and sounds of the island and the profusion of gorgeous flowers everywhere.

I leave you with one of my favorite island sights.

“Being with real people who warm us, who endorse and exhault our creativity, is essential to the flow of the creative life.”

~Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Knitting a Spring Cardigan (or two)

My great-nephew recently celebrated his first birthday and I wanted to knit him something bright and colorful. I chose this boxy, cropped cardigan pattern called Haiku that I found on knitty.com, a great resource for knitters and chock full of free patterns.

When I knitted the pumpkin hat for my granddaughter last year, I fell in love with Blue Sky Alpacas organic cotton. With a rainbow of wonderful colors to choose from, it’s so soft and yummy.

I chose Pickle for Liam.

And Lemongrass for my granddaughter, Ella, because I just had to make one for her, too!

I found some brightly colored buttons in the shape of building blocks, rocking horses, and teddy bears at Joann Fabric’s – perfect for Liam’s sweater. But I didn’t really like any of the flower buttons I found there so I made some purply-pink blooms with yellow centers out of polymer clay. It was soooo easy with a flexible Sculpey push mold I found in my toolbox.

Now that the little ones’ cardigans are finished and in the mail, it’s time for a new project for my pointy sticks. Perhaps a summer sweater for myself. This pattern looks promising!

Saturday Morning Tea

The rain clouds have finally parted here in New England but not without some severe flooding in certain areas. My thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by the storm. I hope that the warm temps and bright sunshine help clear all of this water away and folks can return to their homes and businesses.

This morning’s tea is a Ceylon black tea from the Deniyaya estate, located in the Ruhuna district in southern Sri Lanka. I’ve written about another tea grown in this district here.

The plucking is predominantly composed of very fine tip, giving the dry leaf a “salt and pepper” look.  The fine, needle-like structure of the leaf reminds me of South African Rooibos.

Because of its fine structure, I steeped the leaf for 3 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. It didn’t take up much room in my teapot’s infuser at all.

As I poured my first cup, I notice a pronounced, rich molasses aroma wafting up from the dark amber liquor.

I’m enjoying my tea in a new teabowl purchased from Salty Dog Pottery at a recent art show I attended. As I browsed around the show, I was immediately drawn to the soft colors and symbolism on this piece. The shiny glazing is created with salt!

I love the layered complexity of this tea. I taste cocoa, whispers of vanilla, hints of fruitiness and a smoothness that carries into the finish.

Today I am spending the afternoon with my precious 17-month old granddaughter who is here visiting from New Mexico. The day has graced us with warmth and sunshine so we are going to enjoy a trip to the playground and a long walk on the bike trail at a nearby pond. Oh yes, and a trip to the toy store for a Dora the Explorer doll! Ella loves Dora and calls her “Do-ba”, “Do-ba”.

What are you enjoying today?

You are the bows from which your children, as living arrows, are sent forth. ~Kahlil Gibran