Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! I steeped a special tea in my glass teapot this morning. Hint: it was harvested in China before April 5th and its name references a small creature that lives in a shell.

The photo above is what the leaves look like after steeping.

Here’s a before steeping shot.

If you guessed Pre-Chingming Pi Lo Chun, you are correct!

I’ve read that creating the distinctive curly shape of Pi Lo Chun leaf requires five hand motions, a combination of a gentle twist and roll that’s repeated three times. This is done while the leaves are fired in short, round metal cylinders, heated from below. The goal of the “tea firer” is to fix the leaf in its unique curly shape during firing in such a way that this shape will relax during steeping and the leaf will return to its original shape after steeping. In looking at the two photos above, you can see that goal was definitely accomplished. You can see the leaves relaxing during steeping here.

The pale gold infusion has a delicate yet complex aroma, vegetal and buttery with a faint toasty hint.

The cup is silky smooth, sweet and refined. The sweetness is reminiscent of fruit and there’s a nutty suggestion that comes out and lingers in the finish. Mmmm…

This is a great choice for a fresh, elegant green tea that’s not very vegetal.

I took a walk downtown this morning. The air was fresh and cool and the sun was shining. Then I returned home and made myself a pot of tea. Focusing on these small acts helped me to relax in the moment and let go of a very busy, very challenging week.

Until next time, enjoy your tea!

“We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.”

~J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! Silver threads of rain fall from a leaden sky on this first Saturday in May. It’s been chilly so far this month and, while the flowers are getting plenty of water, they long for the warm sunshine, as we all do. I’ve chosen a green tea to grace my tea bowl this morning, an Organic Lung Ching from Zhejiang province, located in eastern China.

Lung Jing (Lung Ching, Long Jing) tea has a distinctive flat shape due to its unique processing. This flat shape is intentionally caused by the motion of the charcoal pan when the leaf is pan-roasted to stop oxidation. Its name means “Dragon’s Well,” referring to the place where it has been traditionally grown. Legend has it that a Taoist priest in the 3rd century advised the local villagers to pray to the dragon of a local well to bring rain and end their drought. It worked and the well was named after that dragon. The Dragon’s Well monastery still stands in that spot to this day.

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 180F water. I prefer spring water because of its mineral content. I find that it imparts a liveliness to my steeped tea, which I enjoy. Different water sources can produce different qualities and flavors in the same tea. I encourage you to experiment by steeping the same tea with different water and see which you prefer.

Even on this dark and dreary day, the liquor glows in my glass teapot.

The aroma is sweetly vegetal, with hints of buttered corn.

I love the flavor of Lung Ching tea. This selection is classic, sweet and nutty, smooth and silky on the tongue, with toasty hints and a whisper of fresh corn.

I’m looking forward to a family weekend, spending time with all of my grandchildren and celebrating my youngest son’s birthday.

Until next time, I hope you enjoy many delicious cups of tea!

“I sustain myself with the love of family.” ~Maya Angelou

Saturday Morning Tea

luanmelonseeddryleaf030417

Good morning, dear tea friends! The blustery arrival of March here in New England is true to the saying “arrives like a lion,” with below freezing weather still hanging on. It’s definitely time for tea! Wrapped up in one of my favorite cozy sweaters on this frosty morning, I steeped up a pot of green tea, called Lu’An Melon Seed (Lu An Gua Pian).

This tea comes from the Lu An region of An Hui province in China, an area of dense bamboo forests and small, remote tea gardens. I’ve read that this is the only China tea that is made from a single leaf, rather than the usual bud and one or two leaves. The plucking order is to take one leaf, along with a little bit of twig, from beneath the new growth on the bush. The tea is carefully hand processed in heated woks with the assistance of small hand brooms to shape the leaves. Final drying takes place in bamboo baskets over a charcoal fire.

luanmelonseedsteep030417

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 180F water. As the leaves were steeping, I caught a fleeting whiff of a savory cooking aroma, perhaps a small remnant of the drying process.

luanmelonseedwetleaf030417

Here’s an example of the single leaf plucked for this tea. Beautiful.

luanmelonseedteapot030417

The glowing golden liquor has a creamy nuance in the aroma, which reminds me of creamy almond milk.

luanmelonseedteabowl030417

Floral hints bloom around a creamy, buttery mouth feel, finishing with a toasty/nutty whisper. Both the vegetal and astringent quality are very low in this tea. As the tea cooled, I detected a hint of melon, which reminded me of a fine white tea.

As I sip my tea, I gaze out my window and watch the tall limbs of the maple trees in my neighbor’s yard bend with the strong breeze. Spring is only 16 days away and, to quote one of my favorite singers, I welcome its arrival “with open arms.”

As always, I enjoy sharing a cup of tea with you. Happy sipping!

“The snow has not yet left the earth, but spring is already asking to enter your heart. If you have ever recovered from a serious illness, you will be familiar with the blessed state when you are in a delicious state of anticipation, and are liable to smile without any obvious reason. Evidently that is what nature is experiencing just now. The ground is cold, mud and snow squelches under foot, but how cheerful, gentle and inviting everything is! The air is so clear and transparent that if you were to climb to the top of the pigeon loft or the bell tower, you feel you might actually see the whole universe from end to end. The sun is shining brightly, and its playful, beaming rays are bathing in the puddles along with the sparrows. The river is swelling and darkening; it has already woken up and very soon will begin to roar. The trees are bare, but they are already living and breathing.”

~Anton Chekhov, The Exclamation Mark

 

Saturday Morning Tea

fujiangreensnowbudsteacup010716

Good morning, dear tea friends! Happy New Year to you! We welcome a new tea year, too, with the harvests – Pre-Chingming, first flush Darjeeling, and more – only a few months away. I hold onto that hope of spring and new growth as I gaze out my window at the first snowflakes of a Nor’easter snowstorm making its way up the coast to us. It’s a good time to cozy inside with a pot of delicious tea, which is just what I’m doing. I’d like to introduce you to a green tea from China, called Fujian Green Snow Buds, the perfect tea name for today.

fujiangreensnowbudsdryleaf010716

The beautifully hand processed leaves have a goodly portion of downy tea buds. Located on the southeastern China coast, Fujian province is well known as a big tea producer. A heavily forested, mountainous environment with a subtropical climate makes it ideal for tea growing.

fujiangreensnowbudssteep010716

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 180F water. A savory aroma wafted up from the leaves as they released their flavor to the water.

fujiangreensnowbudswetleaf010716

The light golden wheat colored liquor has a sweet, herbaceous fragrance, inviting me to take my first sip. The cup is delicate and buttery smooth with a lovely sweetness that envelops the flavor. I found notes of melon predominant, enhanced by a touch of honey.

fujiangreensnowbudsteapot010716

Today is a good day for a movie marathon with my knitting and a continuously filled pot of tea. Until next time, enjoy your tea!

“Snow was falling,
so much like stars
filling the dark trees
that one could easily imagine
its reason for being was nothing more
than prettiness.”

~Mary Oliver

Saturday Morning Tea

jaoanesegyokuroteapot111216

Good morning, dear tea friends! It may be autumn outside, with dried up leaves rattling against my house like old bones, but inside I have springtime in my cup. My morning cuppa is a beautiful selection from Japan, called Organic Gyokuro.

Produced in the spring from the first plucking of the tea bush, Gyokuro is one of Japan’s most treasured teas.

japanesegyokurodryleaf111216

What distinguishes a Gyokuro tea from other Japanese green teas is that as soon as the bushes start to flush with new growth, they are shaded. The first shading method, called tana, is when a black netting is thrown over trellises that have been built up around the rows of tea bushes. The second method, called jikagise, is when each bush is individually wrapped in cloth.

japanesegyokurosteep111216

The bushes will grow in the shade for approximately 3 weeks.  The shading increases the chlorophyll production which in turn affects the balance of caffeine, flavanols and sugar in the leaf.  The absence of photosynthesis also increases the theanine component in the leaf.  Theanine is an amino acid that gives tea its vegetal taste.  With the increase of theanine, Gyokuro tea is quite vegetal.

japanesegyokurowetleaf111216

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in just under 180F water.

The dry leaves have a fresh, nutty aroma, however, when submerged in water, the leaves impart a sweet, vegetal fragrance.

japanesegyokuroteamug111216

The infusion is the color of light yellow jade, sparkling in the sunlight streaming through my windows. The cup is rich and brothy with a strong umami flavor, complemented by a smooth sweetness. Truly a Japanese tea lover’s delight!

Enjoy your weekend and your tea!

“You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintery light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen. When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person died for no reason.”

~Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

Saturday Morning Tea

VietnamGreenWetLeaf062516

Good morning, dear tea friends! On this warm summertime morning, I have a green tea in my cup, one that I haven’t had for a long time – a green tea from Vietnam.

Green tea is the most popular tea in Vietnam, accounting for a large percentage of retail sales in the country. I’ve read that it has been traditionally associated with natural or artistic activities, such as writing poetry, tending flowers and being out in nature. What a wonderful way to enjoy a cup of tea!

VietnamGreenDryLeaf062516

This particular tea is a Mao Feng leaf style. The Mao Feng (translates to “Hairy Mountain” or “Fur Peak”) leaf style is long and wiry, created by twisting the leaves during processing. There’s a nice amount of silvery tips threading through the darker green leaf.

VietnamGreenSteep062516

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 180F water. The leaf color lightened up as the leaves steeped.

VietnamGreenTeapot062516

The infusion is a clear golden color. The aroma is fruity with a whisper of sweet tobacco.

VietnameGreenTeamug062516

The liquor fills my mouth with fruitiness. What is it? One minute I thought melon, the next stone fruit. Either way, it’s yummy. That whisper of sweet tobacco is there as well. This tea has a lot of body for a green tea and is a great choice for those looking for less vegetal.

My vacation is starting very soon and I’ll be spending some nice relaxing time in MI with my family. Saturday Morning Tea will be back in 3 weeks. Until then, dear friends, happy tea drinking!

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”

~F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Saturday Morning Tea

JiuHuaMaoFengDryLeaf030516

Good morning, dear tea friends! Bright sunshine streams through my windows, the first day of spring is only 2 weeks away, and I have a lovely green tea in my cup today.

Life is good.

I’d like to introduce you to Jiu Hua Mao Feng, or “Nine Glorious Mountains,” from China’s An Hui province, specifically Jiu Hua mountain, one of the four sacred mountains of Chinese Buddhism. During the great dynasties of China, this mountain was home to over 300 temples. It’s also a beautiful landscape rich in pine forests, waterfalls, streams and interesting rock formations. Sounds like a wonderful place for tea to grow and thrive.

JiuHuaMaoFengSteep030516

A delicate floral aroma scented the air as the leaves steeped for 3 minutes in 180F water.

JiuHuaMaoFengWetLeaf030516

The long, twisted Mao Feng leaves released gently during steeping, the “agony of the leaf.”

JiuHuaMaoFengTeapot030516

The pale gold liquor is light and smooth with sweet vegetal notes and hints of flowers in every sip. The finish is clean and crisp.

JiuHuaMaoFengTeaBowl030516

This is the perfect tea for taking a break from your day to sit and just be still. Let all of your daily cares and worries fall away as you savor this tea and contemplate its sacred origins.

Until we meet again, may you enjoy many cups of tea!

“It’s not what you look at that matters. It’s what you see.”

~Henry David Thoreau