Saturday Morning Tea

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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!

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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.

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

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

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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

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! Since we last shared a cup of tea together, I’ve moved again. This is my fourth move in a little over a decade. Moving does seem to be a part of my life’s path, and I’m trying my best to embrace it. Again. That’s a story for another time, however. Today’s story is about a well-known and well-loved tea from China, a green tea called Pi Lo Chun Imperial.

The name Pi Lo Chun translates to “green snail spring”, so named because the leaf is rolled into spiral shapes resembling snail shells. I have read that they roll the leaf this way to retain its freshness.

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I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 180F water. The water turned murky as the silvery dust released from the tippy leaf.

As I lifted the infuser from my glass teapot, a sweet, vegetal fragrance was released.

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The leaves were loosely rolled so steeping released them into their original leaf bud shape.

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The golden yellow tea liquor has a fresh buttery mouth feel with notes of sweet melon and flowers and sea-grassy vegetal hints.

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As I sip my tea, I gaze out the window at the colorful autumn leaves swaying in the breeze and think about change. The change of seasons. The changes in one’s life. The change from a spiral shaped leaf to a delicious cup of tea.

Thanks for your patience with my sporadic tea posts as I get used to this newest change in my life. Enjoy your tea!

 

Saturday Morning Tea

PCMGreenNeedleOrgDryLeaf Good morning, dear tea friends! It’s a glorious spring day today, and I enjoyed sitting outside in the morning sunshine sipping my tea. In my cup is a Pre-Chingming tea from China, a green tea called Pre-Chingming Green Needle Organic. PCMGreenNeedleOrgSteep052315 As I’ve shared with you before, Pre-Chingming teas are harvested before the festival of Qingming (Chingming), usually celebrated on the 15th day from the Spring Equinox. Any teas harvested before that date are referred to as Pre-Chingming teas. In other words, harvested in very early spring. PCMGreenNeedleOrgWetLeaf052315 This tea is aptly named as the leaves do look like long, thin needles. I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 180F water. PCMGreenNeedleOrgTeapot052315 The tea liquor is a beautiful spring green color. The aroma is sweet and lightly vegetal, like a whisper of sweet baby peas. PCMGreenNeedleOrgTeaBowl052315 The flavor is complex, meaning there are multiple layers of flavor notes that intermingle in a very pleasing way. I taste light sweet corn as well as a faint fruity hint, like apricot. The liquor is smooth and leaves a buttery feeling on my tongue. There’s a quick tang in the finish. A lovely tea to slowly sip and enjoy on a beautiful spring morning. I wish everyone a great Memorial Day weekend filled with lots of relaxation and fun.  See you in two weeks!