Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! On this misty, late spring morning, I’ve chosen a dark, rich China black tea for my teapot. Meet Pre-Chingming Yunnan Black Snail. As I’ve shared with you before, Pre-Chingming teas are harvested in China on very early spring days when the tea bushes start to flush with new growth after their winter dormancy.

From Yunnan province, this tea is produced from a large leaf varietal. The leaves are rolled into spiral shapes, reminiscent of snails. After a 5 minute steeping in boiling point (212F) water, take a look at these unfurled and partially unfurled leaf sets. This tea would do well with multiple steepings.

The fragrance reminds me of powdered unsweetened cocoa with a hint of malt.

The red-amber liquor is rich and oh so smooth. Pronounced notes of cocoa are embraced by a dark honey sweetness that lingers into the lightly spicy finish.

This tea would make a terrific iced latte with a little milk and sweetener, a great refresher for the hot summer days to come.

I remember when I received my Nikon’s micro lens. It was about 4 years ago, a gift from the love of my life who passed away 3 years ago. Anyway, I remember the joy and delight I felt when I opened this lovely unexpected gift and I entered a whole new world of closeup photography. I could now shoot closeups of my beloved tea leaves! It’s hard to believe that I’ve been sharing tea with you on my blog for over 10 years now. As I look back over all of the tremendous changes I’ve experienced since I started my blog, I see the one constant thread that has stitched my days together with strength and purpose – my tea journey and my deep passion for sharing it with others, through my cupping notes and my photography. I’ve been honored to do so and hope to continue for many more years to come. Whether you’ve been with me for years or have just joined, thank you for sharing the journey with me!

“I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. He taught me that if you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it at full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. Hot is no good either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be.”

~Roald Dahl

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Saturday Morning Tea

Rooibos Chai Dry 07-19-14

Good morning, dear tea friends! It’s good to be back sharing my love of tea with you!

It’s a steamy morning here in New England with temps forecasted to tower into the 90s today. It’s the perfect weather for a frosty glass of iced tea. A couple of years ago, I shared my iced Chai latte recipe with you and here it is again, for your enjoyment. If you’re experiencing the same heat wave, stay cool!

One of our favorite activities for a lazy afternoon when I’m visiting my family in Michigan is to go to the bookstore and browse the stacks, my parents with their decaf Cafe Mocha and me with my Chai Latte (5 pumps!), iced in the summer and hot in the winter. As you probably know from reading my tea posts over the years, my tea preferences tend to be straight tea leaves rather than the flavored kind but there’s just something about the combination of the spices in Chai that I find yummy and comforting. So, why limit my Chai enjoyment to the occasional trek to the bookstore or cafe when I can make my own right at home?

Rooibos Chai Steep 07-19-14

As I like to drink my iced Chai latte in the evenings as well, I’m using Rooibos Chai as my “tea” choice. In this selection, cardamom, citrus peels, ginger, cinnamon, pepper, star-anise, and cloves have been mixed in with the Rooibos. I started my iced Chai journey last night by adding one tablespoon of Chai to 8 ounces of cold spring water. To make my measuring easier, I mixed my ingredients in a small Pyrex measuring cup. I placed the measuring cup in the fridge and then removed it this morning when I was ready to create my latte. You want to steep your tea leaves in cold water for at least 6 hours and then strain into your favorite glass.

Rooibos Chai Strain 07-19-14

In talking to an Indian gentleman I used to work with, Masala (“mixture of spices”) Chai (Hindi word for tea) is traditionally made in a big pot on the family stove, simmering an assortment of aromatic spices on hand with black tea leaves and buffalo milk. With cardamom usually being the primary spice, Masala Chai can also contain cinnamon, cloves, ginger, peppercorn, star anise and nutmeg. As chai, or tea, has been historically considered a medicinal beverage in India, the addition of warming Ayurvedic spices adds to its healing properties.

Rooibos Chai Milk Agave 07-19-14

I like to add milk, agave nectar and ice to my Chai. How about you?

Rooibos Chai Glass 07-19-14

Mmmm, so refreshing!

I hope that you’re cooling off during these hot, hazy summer days with an iced cuppa.

“I almost wish we were butterflies and liv’d but three summer days – three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain.”   ~John Keats

Saturday Morning Tea

Rooibos Chai Dry 07-19-14

Good morning, dear tea friends! This afternoon I’m flying out to Michigan to visit my family for 2 weeks. One of our favorite activities for a lazy afternoon is to go to the bookstore and browse the stacks, my parents with their decaf Cafe Mocha and me with my Chai Latte (5 pumps!), iced in the summer and hot in the winter. As you probably know from reading my tea posts over the years, my tea preferences tend to be straight tea leaves rather than the flavored kind but there’s just something about the combination of the spices in Chai that I find yummy and comforting. So, why limit my Chai enjoyment to the occasional trek to the bookstore or cafe when I can make my own right at home?

Rooibos Chai Steep 07-19-14

As I like to drink my iced Chai latte in the evenings as well, I’m using Rooibos Chai as my “tea” choice. In this selection, cardamom, citrus peels, ginger, cinnamon, pepper, star-anise, and cloves have been mixed in with the Rooibos. I started my iced Chai journey last night by adding one tablespoon of Chai to 8 ounces of cold spring water. To make my measuring easier, I mixed my ingredients in a small Pyrex measuring cup. I placed the measuring cup in the fridge and then removed it this morning when I was ready to create my latte. You want to steep your tea leaves in cold water for at least 6 hours and then strain into your favorite glass.

Rooibos Chai Strain 07-19-14

In talking to an Indian gentleman I used to work with, Masala (“mixture of spices”) Chai (Hindi word for tea) is traditionally made in a big pot on the family stove, simmering an assortment of aromatic spices on hand with black tea leaves and buffalo milk. With cardamom usually being the primary spice, Masala Chai can also contain cinnamon, cloves, ginger, peppercorn, star anise and nutmeg. As chai, or tea, has been historically considered a medicinal beverage in India, the addition of warming Ayurvedic spices adds to its healing properties.

Rooibos Chai Milk Agave 07-19-14

I like to add milk, agave nectar and ice to my Chai. How about you?

Rooibos Chai Glass 07-19-14

Mmmm, so refreshing!

I hope that you’re cooling off during these hot, hazy summer days with an iced cuppa. See you in 3 weeks!

“I almost wish we were butterflies and liv’d but three summer days – three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain.”   ~John Keats

 

Saturday Morning Tea

AislabyEstCeylonDry062213

Good morning, dear tea friends! Now that summer has officially arrived, the temperature has started to creep up again into the 80s and it’s time for a refreshing glass of iced tea. I think that Ceylon black teas taste fabulous iced so this morning’s tea is just that, from the Aislaby Estate in southeastern Uva province, Sri Lanka.

AislabyEstCeylonSteep062213

I have read that Uva province is the second least populated of Sri Lanka’s provinces, with only 1.1 million people. They have two main agricultural crops there: tea, grown in the hills, and sugar, grown on the plains. This particular tea estate has been owned by a British planting family that emigrated to Sri Lanka in the 1880s and has owned the estate since the 1920s.

AislabyEstCeylonWet062213

The leaf is graded as pekoe (pronounced pe, as in pet, and koe, rhymes with toe), the definition being “a grade of black tea consisting of the leaves around the buds.” As I took photographs of both the dry and wet leaf, its chunkiness reminded me of a CTC grade, with its granular appearance.

AislabyEstCeylonTeapot06221

To steep my tea leaves for iced tea, I used double the amount I normally would as for hot tea preparation, so 2 rounded teaspoons in my little glass teapot. I steeped for 3 minutes in boiling point (212F) water.

As the tea steeped to a beautiful deep amber color, a pronounced minty aroma wafted up from my teapot.

AislabyEstCeylonTeaglass062

After steeping, I poured the hot tea into a Pyrex glass filled with ice cubes. The Pyrex brand of glass is a borosilicate glass (mainly silica and boron oxide), a glass resistant to thermal shock.  Once the tea had cooled down, I then filled my Mermaid glass (which isn’t boro glass).

The tea tastes rich and full-bodied with an interesting, pronounced wintergreen minty note. Some of my favorite Ceylon teas have this flavor note and I find it especially refreshing in an iced tea. I imagine adding a slice of lemon or some lemon balm leaves to add a citrus note to the mint. Fabulous!

My company is shutting down for our annual vacation June 29-July 7. I’m traveling to Michigan that week to visit with my family. So, there won’t be a new Saturday Morning Tea post for 3 weeks. That said, I’ll be happy to rerun some posts the next two weeks.

Thanks so much for joining me today and I look forward to sharing another cup of tea with you in July!

“Summer afternoon-summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”

~Henry James