Saturday Morning Tea

On this gorgeous late summer’s day, I end my series on Oolong teas with another Tieguanyin style Oolong, this one from the island of Taiwan (Formosa). It is called Tie-Guan-Yin Vintage style.

Not quite as dark as last week’s Buddha’s Palm, this tea is the closest in color and flavor to the first Oolong I reviewed 3 weeks ago called Golden Guan Yin. The dry leaf has been curled during processing, opening up during steeping to reveal the large leaves.

As you recall from my discussion last week on TGY Oolong processing, one of the last steps – the drying/roasting – is critical to the final taste of the tea. This particular tea has been roasted for a longer period of time with a lower temperature. This results in a pronounced toasty flavor note which I find quite pleasing.

I steeped the leaves for 3 1/2 minutes in 190 degree F water. As Oolong teas are not as oxidized as black teas, it’s always a good idea to cool the water from boiling before steeping your tea leaves.

The beautiful light amber colored tea glows in my glass teapot, inviting me to pour my first cup.

The aroma also smells like warm toast and notes of honeyed chestnut and whispers of fruit caress my tongue.

I’ve really enjoyed learning about Oolong teas in more depth and hope you have, too. Soon, our Assam teas should be arriving and I’d love to explore them in more depth as well. Perhaps in October. If there is any category of tea that you’re interested in, please let me know. This has been fun!

Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do.  Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.” ~Ella Fitzgerald

Saturday Morning Tea

In continuing my series on Oolong teas, this morning’s tea, called Bao Jun, comes from the island of Taiwan, located just across the Formosa Strait from Fujian Province in China, home of the Chinese Oolongs.  235 miles long by 90 miles wide, Portugese traders called this island, covered in misty forested mountains, Ilha Formosa.

For many centuries, the island’s original inhabitants, of Polynesian descent, had cultivated and processed tea picked from wild-growing tea trees found high in the mountains. In the 1600s, the Dutch brought over Chinese citizens from Fujian to work as laborers. Some of these immigrants brought tea bush cuttings with them and established tea gardens in various mountain areas, teaching the natives their own methods of tea cultivation. Thus was born a unique history which merged native with immigrant tea knowledge.

Look how these 3 leaves are still connected to the stem. Gorgeous!

This beautiful, hand-made artisan tea, comes from a small family farm located in the Shan Ling Xi area in the mountains of Nantou County, located in central Taiwan. I wrote about another tea grown there and more about this farm here.

I steeped the leaves for 4 minutes in 190 degree F water. You can see how the curled leaves are beginning to unfurl, however, they are not fully unfurled until after the 3rd or 4th infusion. This makes them ideal for multiple steepings.

The aroma carries wisps of a light floral scent.

Its pale gold liquor has a honeyed flavor with notes of flowers and fruit. A magnificent tea!

This past week, our weather has turned cooler and less humid and, yes, there is a very faint hint of the changing season to come. A friend of mine told me that August always makes her sad as she feels the cool winds of change coming our way. Still, our weekend temps are forecasted in the 80s and I will soak up this rich, sunshine-y warmth as long as I can by taking a long, meditative walk on the bike path near my home.

How are you enjoying your August?

“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Saturday Morning Tea

I awoke this morning to rumbles of thunder and teeming rain that have continued on into the morning. A sudden cool breeze lifts my curtains from the windows revealing sharp flashes of lightning that dance across a low sky filled with bruised clouds. As I wrap myself in a warm robe,  I reach for a black tea but not a typical black tea. It is a black tea that actually tastes like an Oolong tea.

From the Jun Chiyabari estate in Nepal, its leaf designation is one that I have never seen before, GHRHT. Meaning Golden Hand Rolled Himalayan Tips, the picking is of only the first two leaves and a bud from the end of the stems, the tender new growth. The tea is created from a secret process that results in a black tea with the characteristics of a fine Silvertip Oolong tea.

Since the tea is grown in the Himalayan mountains in the same part of the world as Indian Darjeeling tea, I steep the leaves for 3 minutes in boiling point water.

As I lift the steeped leaves from my teapot, a rich, fruity aroma greets me. Mmmm…

The wet leaves reveal whole intact leaf in various stages of unfurling from the hand rolling that was done during their processing.

The deep amber liquor is quite sweet with notes of apricot and peach and a whisper of rosemary in the finish. A colleague of mine, with a very fine palate for tea tasting, has also detected fennel notes in her cup.

For this special tea, I bring out my teamug purchased in Arroyo Seco, NM last fall. You can see the fingertip imprints of the potter on the side of the mug from when they dipped the mug in glaze. That is my favorite part of this beautiful russet and charcoal teamug.

While I had originally thought that I’d be able to work on removing a bush stump from my garden today and prepare the soil with some loam for planting, it looks like it’s going to be an indoor day. Oh dear, I guess I’ll just have to play in my studio then!

Happy Mother’s Day!

“Women need solitude in order to find the true essence of themselves: that firm strand which will be the indispensable center of a whole web of human relationships.”

~Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Saturday Morning Tea

OolongExtraFancyDry080809

Between work and visiting with my granddaughter, this past week has flown by. The almost daily rain pattern has finally left us and it’s felt more like summer these days. The air was even quite brisk this morning when I got up, a reminder that summer is winding down towards the fall. Even though August is a rich month full of color and harvest, it always makes me feel a little bit wistful.

This morning’s tea is quite the treat – a very high grade of Oolong Extra Fancy tea from Taiwan. Its leaf is very large and twisted, all processed by hand. After steeping, many of the leaves unfurl to reveal a whole, intact structure. This style is often referred to as “Champagne Oolong” and I can see why.

OolongExtraFancyWet080809

Using 190 degree F water, I steeped the leaves for 4 1/2 minutes. Because the leaf is so large, I used 3 generous teaspoons for my small teapot.

OolongExtraFancySteep080809

My oldest son gave me this beautiful leather journal. Isn’t it yummy? I love to write down my daily thoughts as I sip my tea.

OolongExtraFancyTeapot08080

My glass teapot glows like an amber jewel in the early morning light. A light floral aroma drifts up, sweetening the cool air.

As I slowly sip from my cup, I taste juicy ripe peaches, warm in the sun, and a honeyed wine note fills my senses. Mmmmm…

OolongExtraFancyTeacup08080

I invite you to read about other Oolong teas I’ve enjoyed and reviewed here.

This weekend I hope to get more granddaughter time in before they return home on Tuesday. I think that this picture from our zoo trip yesterday says it all – one joyful gramma!

EllaAndMeAtTheZoo080709

“If a child is to keep his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.”

~Rachel Carson

Saturday Morning Tea

XiangPaoOolongDry070409

Happy Birthday America! I am so blessed to call you home.

I’m hoping that this weekend will bring a break out of this cool, rainy weather pattern we’ve been stuck in here in New England. The sun has peeked out here and there but hasn’t stayed for very long. My colleagues at work and I were celebrating yesterday when we saw some blue sky!

XiangPaoOolongSteep070409

My tea today, a hand-made Oolong called Xiang Pao, comes from a small family farm located in the Shan Ling Xi area in the mountains of Nantou County, Taiwan, approximately 1800 meters above sea level. As part of their business philosophy, this farm practices the LOHAS concept. LOHAS is an acronym for Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability and its companies promote “responsible capitalism” by providing goods and services using economic and environmentally sustainable business practices.

After graduating from college, the family’s daughter made the decision to stay and work in the family business. In an e-mail to my company, she writes:

“I told my father we need to insist on selling top quality and handmade when I graduated. Special Oolong tea is well received in Taiwan. We have paid more attention and have tried some ways to make sure our tea quality, and we got some awards from competitions in Taiwan.

We asserts LOHAS concept, to provide top teas to customers in order to make sure all customers get the nature health and nature beauty in the life. Therefore, we emphasize the quality and manufactureer processes so that our teas are high quality and good benefits.”

Just as I am happy to support small local businesses in my area, I am glad to support and share teas from an environmentally and socially conscious tea farm such as this.

XiangPaoOolongTeapot070409

I steeped the leaves for 4 minutes in 190 degree F water. The aroma and flavor are of earth, wood and chestnuts with a mild sweetness. A hint of flowers lingers in my mouth after each sip.

XiangPaoOolongTeacup070409

I am enjoying my cuppa with a bowl of lusciously ripe black plums. I love the velvety, dark sweetness of the fruit combined with the tang of its skin. Mmmm…

Today I am going to a dear friend’s home to sit out amongst the profusion of blooming flowers in her backyard garden. We’ll enjoy some tea and even read each other’s tea leaves using an interesting new teacup she just purchased at the bookstore recently. It’s called “The Cup of Destiny”. What fun! Stay tuned to see what the cup has to say…

“…do you think there is anywhere, in any language,

a word billowing enough

for the pleasure

that fills you,

as the sun

reaches out,

as it warms you

as you stand there…”

exerpt from the poem The Sun by Mary Oliver