Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! As I opened my front door this morning, the sunshine had that sparkling quality that comes as August starts to make way for September and the breezes turn crisp and refreshing. In my cup is a black tea from the Putharjhora Estate, an organic tea garden located in the alluvial floodplains of northern India. This area is known as the Dooars (translation: doors), a gateway between the the plains of India and the hills of Bhutan.

An alluvial plain is a flat landform created from sediment (alluvium, or silt) that has built up over time from the flooding of nearby rivers. Floodplain land is rich in nutrients, making it valuable for agriculture.

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in boiling point (212F) water.

The golden amber liquor has a creamy almond fragrance with a hint of apricots, inviting me to take my first sip.

The cup is smooth and light with a full, round mouth feel. Notes of flowers, almonds and a pronounced sweetness all linger into the finish. The apricot hint makes another appearance as the finish winds down.

I wonder what it would taste like at 4 minutes? Enjoy!

“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

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Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! I’m sitting here savoring my morning tea, as the sky bruises with a threatening storm. In reviewing my posts of the last several months, I noticed that I had been visiting China teas quite a lot. It’s time for a change and I’ve now turned back to India teas.

This lovely selection is from the Temi Estate in Sikkim, a tiny state in northeast India. Sikkim is surrounded by 3 countries: China to the north, Bhutan to the east, and Nepal to the west. Nestled in the Himalayan mountains, this high-altitude area is ideal for tea growing. Sikkim is home to the third-highest peak on Earth, the majestic Mount Kangchenjunga (28,169 ft).

As you can see, the leaves are well-made with silvery tips peeking out here and there.

Originally a Sherpa village, the Temi Tea Garden was established by the Sikkim government in 1969 and is the only tea estate there. Its gently sloping hills cover about 440 acres.

I steeped the leaves for 3 1/2 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. I use Poland Spring water from Maine, my favorite natural spring water, for steeping all of my tea leaves.

The wet leaves have a rich, honeyed fruit aroma. This inviting fragrance carries over into the tea liquor’s aroma.

With its dark, rich aroma and flavor, this tea reminds me of a second flush Darjeeling. That said, the cup is quite smooth without any “bite” to it. I’m tasting honey as well as many layers of fruit: first, a dried fruit/raisin aspect, then stone fruit/peaches, and lastly, a muscatel flavor leading into the crisp finish. With all of its fruity flavor, this tea would taste wonderful iced.

Hopefully, this storm will pass by quickly and the sun will break through and shine once again.

Until next time, happy sipping!

“By early evening all the sky to the north had darkened and the spare terrain they trod had turned a neuter gray as far as the eye could see. They grouped in the road at the top of a rise and looked back. The storm front towered above them and the wind was cool on their sweating faces. They slumped bleary-eyed in their saddles and looked at one another. Shrouded in the black thunderheads the distant lightning glowed mutely like welding seen through foundry smoke. As if repairs were under way at some flawed place in the iron dark of the world.”

~Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses

Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! April showers are gathering in big puddles outside, and it’s blooming spring in my kitchen. Do you recognize the leaf? That’s right, a brand new first flush Darjeeling, one of my favorite spring treats. This lovely selection is from the Tindharia Estate.

The Tindharia tea garden is a bio-organic estate, located in the South Kurseong area of Darjeeling district. I’ve read that the town of Kurseong, whose name means “Land of the White Orchids”, is a quiet hill station. A hill station is “a town in the low mountains of the Indian subcontinent, popular as a holiday resort during the hot season.” At elevations of 400-1000 meters, it sounds like a great destination for cooling off during the hot summer months.

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. For those of you new to tea’s delights, it’s always best to pour the water over the leaves rather than adding the leaves to the water. As you pour, it wakes up the leaves and starts the steeping process.

The aroma coming from the wet leaves is fresh and floral with a hint of vegetal. When I was just starting my tea journey many years ago, I saw a man plunge his nose right into the wet leaves and inhale deeply. At the time, I didn’t quite know what to think but now I understand completely.

The golden-amber tea liquor has a sweet fragrance with notes of flowers and a light toasty hint.

The cup is extremely well balanced with a smoothness that falls on the middle of my tongue and a refreshing pungency that wakes up the sides. Notes of flowers join a suggestion of tart fruitiness in the flavor. This tea is the second lot (EX-2) that was picked at Tindharia this spring. I’ve also tried the first lot (EX-1) and find that to have a gentler character when compared to this lot.

I’m happy and excited to share that my granddaughter, Adelyn Claire, was born on Thursday! A dear friend of mine said it perfectly: her beautiful face is one straight from heaven. I couldn’t agree more.

Saturday Morning Tea will return in 3 weeks as I’ll be in Michigan visiting my family in mid-April. Until then, happy sipping!

“Children are the rainbow of life. Grandchildren are the pot of gold.”

Irish Blessing

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! Happy Christmas Eve to all who celebrate!

With thoughts of a white Christmas, I’ve pulled out my cherished Christmas tea mug and brewed up a pot of tea that has “snow” in its name – a first flush Darjeeling from the Singbulli Estate called “Snow White.” Its name derives from the abundance of tender white tips showcased in this lovely selection.

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Located in the picturesque Mirik area of Darjeeling in northeastern India, the organically certified Singbulli Estate was established in 1924 by British planters. Its 9 rolling hills are spread out over 14 miles, at an altitude that ranges from 1,200 feet to 4,100 feet.

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I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in just under boiling point water. I noticed a lot of dust with this tea. The dust comes from the white hairs on the tips. When the leaves/tips are dried during processing, the hairs dry out, too, and create a “bloom” of fine particles.

The aroma has a fresh tropical fruit fragrance with hints of flowers. Mmmm….

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The tropical fruitiness carries over into the flavor of the golden liquor, with notes of pineapple. This tea has an intense “wake up your mouth” feel with a characteristic Darjeeling “bite.” It lifts up the fruity notes, adding a slight vegetal feel to them, and helps those notes to linger awhile in your mouth.

Another quintessential first flush tea from Singbulli, a tea garden that consistently produces stellar teas.

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I’m making my Christmas journey to Michigan in a couple of days. Another year is drawing to a close and what better way to celebrate than to gather together with those we love and share many cups of tea and good cheer.

To all of my dear tea friends who visit me here, have a wonderful holiday season!

I look forward to sharing more tea with you in 2017!

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!” 

~Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! I’m so sorry for missing my tea post last week. Last Friday night, my basement flooded with 4 feet of water from a tremendous rainstorm, and I lost power and heat. In fact, I still don’t have heat but the good news is that will be fixed this week. Going through an experience like this, all I can say is – thank goodness for tea!!!!! This morning’s cuppa is a lovely black tea from the Temi Estate in Sikkim, a state in northeast India just north of Darjeeling.

Originally a Sherpa village, the Temi Tea Garden was established by the Sikkim government in 1969 and is the only tea estate there. Its gently sloping hills cover about 440 acres.

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I steeped the leaves for 3 1/2 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. As the tea steeped, a rich fruity fragrance emerged from my glass teapot.

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The leaf is tippy and infuses to a gorgeous dark amber color, much like a second flush Darjeeling.

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The cup is brisk yet sweet with notes of honey and fruit. It’s rich enough for a dash of milk.

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A hot cup of tea is so welcome in a chilly house! Until next time, enjoy your tea and have a Happy Halloween!

“The wind outside nested in each tree, prowled the sidewalks in invisible treads like unseen cats.
Tom Skelton shivered. Anyone could see that the wind was a special wind this night, and the darkness took on a special feel because it was All Hallows’ Eve. Everything seemed cut from soft black velvet or gold or orange velvet. Smoke panted up out of a thousand chimneys like the plumes of funeral parades. From kitchen windows drifted two pumpkin smells: gourds being cut, pies being baked.”

~Ray Bradbury, The Halloween Tree

 

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! The first day of fall has come and gone this week and the air has shifted from warm and sultry to crisp and cool. Great sleeping weather.

In my cup this morning is a second flush Darjeeling from the Balasun Estate, located in northeast India. This lovely tea was harvested this year. You can read my post about the 2016 first flush Darjeeling from Balasun Estate here.

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The leaf is beautiful, bold with lots of silvery tips mixed in.

The Balasun estate is located near the tiny hamlet town of Sonada, one of the stations for the heritage Darjeeling Toy train. Built between 1879 and 1881, the 48-mile narrow gauge railway runs between Darjeeling and New Jalpaiguri in West Bengal. This well-loved railway is a delight to travelers and rail enthusiasts.

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I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in boiling point (212F) water.

A deep fruity aroma revealed itself as the leaves released their essence into the water.

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The bright amber infusion is rich and flavorful with ripe fruit notes, like crisp apples and juicy peaches. A warm toastiness envelops the fruity quality in both the aroma and the flavor.

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This is the perfect selection to go with a warm apple crisp or apple pie, made from an apple picking adventure, a favorite outing this time of year.

What’s in your cup today?

“Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple.”

~J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! Our heat wave has finally broken, we’re back to more seasonable weather, and I’m back to drinking hot tea. The perfect choice for this summertime morning is a classic second flush Darjeeling, this selection from the Singbulli Estate.

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Located in the picturesque Mirik area of Darjeeling in northeastern India, the organically certified Singbulli Estate was established in 1924 by British planters. Its 9 rolling hills are spread out over 14 miles, at an altitude that ranges from 1,200 feet to 4,100 feet. Mirik comes from the word Mir-Yok, which translates to “place burnt by fire.”

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in boiling point (212F) water.

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The dry leaves are a rich brown color and, after steeping, give off a rich, fruity fragrance.

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I always love to discover a tea with a flavor unique to what’s expected. Equally, I love to come across a tea that’s the quintessence of its tradition. This tea is the quintessence of a second flush Darjeeling.

Rich and fruity, like ripe grapes and juicy peaches.

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Toasty, a warm comforting smell and flavor.

Smooth, the liquor caresses your tongue with a silky feeling.

Lively, your taste buds are awakened.

Lingering, the flavor stays in your mouth for awhile.

This tea is all that and more. Yum.

Where a first flush Darjeeling showcases the first plucking and the freshness of spring and all its flavors, a second flush Darjeeling showcases the summer time potential, the rich, round, ripe flavors produced by the finest leaves. One is not better than the other. Each is wonderful for what it is, in its own right.

Until we meet again, enjoy your next cup!

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

~Henry James