Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! It’s lovely to be back with you, sharing and enjoying another cup of tea. We’re embraced by sultry July weather here in New England, with temps and humidity both in the 90s. I’m camped up in my 2nd floor studio room, gazing out at the leaden sky and savoring a pot of China Oolong Choicest Organic, a more oxidized (60-70%) Oolong, processed in the style of a Bai Hao (white tip or white hair).

This tea comes from Huangshan (the Yellow mountains) in southern Anhui province. This mountain range is named after the mythical Yellow Emperor, Huang Di, who ruled from 2698-2598 BC. This is a land of uniquely-shaped pine trees twisting out of towering rock formations, swimming in a sea of clouds. In my mind’s eye, I can imagine the venerable old tea bushes growing here and there in the rock crevices.

I steeped the leaves for 4 minutes in 190F water.

The golden amber liquor is fragrant with notes of peach and honey. mmmmmm…..

The cup is quite smooth with a pronounced honey flavor. As the tea cools, ripe stone fruit notes come forward, enhanced by the honey sweetness.

With its sweet, fruity character, this Oolong would make a great iced tea for these sweltering days of summer. Or, enjoy it hot as I’m doing. I find that sipping hot tea on a hot day refreshes me, rather than making me hotter.

It was great to join you for another cup of tea. As my long-time tea friend and kindred spirit, Anna, always says: Enjoy your next cup!

“Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air.”

~John Quincy Adams

 

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Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! I’m still wondering when spring will bloom here in my little corner of the world. Last Tuesday, we got a foot of snow dumped on us in a, hopefully, last blast of winter. With frigid temps all week, we’re living in a world of large white piles of snow and ice. Thank goodness for tea! For my morning tea today, I’ve chosen a China Oolong with a venerable pedigree, Da Hong Pao Oolong. Da Hong Pao translates to “Big Red Robe.”

Are you wondering what big red robes have to do with this tea? Well, there’s a legend that the mother of an emperor fell ill and was cured by a certain tea. The emperor sent big red robes to clothe and honor the bushes from which the tea originated, in the Wuyi mountains of Fujian province. The legend goes on to say that three of the four bushes still survive today and are highly venerated.

I steeped the large leaves for 4 minutes in 190F water. It’s always a good idea to use water under the boil when steeping an Oolong tea.

The aroma is rich and complex, with notes of fruit, honey and sweet tobacco.

The leaves yield a gorgeous amber liquor that reflects the sunlight streaming in my kitchen.

My first sip fills my mouth with a silky buttery feel, followed by layers of flavor: honey, chestnut, aromatic wood, stone fruit and a lingering whisper of smoke in the finish. Amazing.

This tea will lend itself to multiple steepings so you could drink it all day long. mmmmm…

The day is drawing near when my granddaughter will enter this world, hopefully, within the next few days. I so can’t wait to meet her. I’m looking forward to sharing the special news with you the next time we meet. Until then, happy sipping!

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

~Mark Twain

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! Even though we’ve had a mild January overall here in New England, my dreams are calling to spring. With its rich floral character, this morning’s tea has answered my call. I’m happy to introduce you to a China Oolong tea, aptly named Floral Tie-Guan-Yin.

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The leaves are rolled into tight little bundles but look at the magic that happens during steeping, 3 minutes in 185F water.

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The bundles unfurl into enormous green leaves. This tea is a lightly oxidized Oolong so it’s more on the “greener” side.

I’m happy to share my favorite Tie-Guan-Yin story again!

Many years ago in Fujian Province in China, a poor tea farmer named Mr. Wei would walk by a temple everyday on his way to the tea fields. As each day passed, he noticed that no one cared for the temple so it was becoming quite run down. Inside he found a statue of Guan Yin, the bodhisattva of compassion. He did not have the means to fix up the temple but he felt that something needed to be done. One day he brought his broom and some incense. He lit the incense as an offering to the Goddess and swept the temple clean. That night Guan Yin came to him in a dream and told him of a cave where he would find a beautiful treasure for himself and to share with others. The treasure turned out to be a tea shoot which Mr. Wei planted and nurtured into a large tea bush, producing the finest tea in the region. He shared cuttings with all his neighbors and started calling the tea produced from this bush Tie-Guan-Yin. Mr. Wei and all his neighbors prospered and were able to restore the temple to its beauty and many came to gather there. Now Mr. Wei felt joy everyday as he passed the temple on the way to his tea fields.

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Look at that lovely golden color in my glass teapot. The aroma is filled with the fragrance of spring flowers and a touch of butter.

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With my first sip, the liquor fills my mouth with a silky buttery feeling. The floral notes predominate and are lifted up by the buttery notes. I feel the breath of fresh spring air already…mmmmm…

Tomorrow is a big day for New England football fans. Go Pats!!!

“It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get back up.”

~Vince Lombardi

 

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! Even though the calendar still says spring, we’re experiencing hot and hazy summer-like weather here in the northeast. Perfect weather for the holiday weekend.

In my cup this morning is another Pre-Chingming tea, called Fairy Oolong. This tea was grown in Hunan province, China.

Hunan province is located in south central China. Its name means “south of the lake,” referring to Lake Dongting, a flood basin for the famous Yangtze River and one of the largest freshwater lakes in China. This beautifully scenic province has been a major center of agriculture for thousands of years, growing rice, tea and oranges. The earliest rice paddies were discovered on the western edge of the lake.

It sounds like a place with a lot of natural beauty and interesting history.

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I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 190F water. They’re quite large and very green.

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The leaves steeped an infusion the color of pale gold.  A fragrant lilac aroma drifted up from my glass teapot.

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As I took my first sip, I found the tea liquor to be light yet it filled my mouth with flavor. Softer notes of lilac are in the cup with a fresh vegetal character and a pronounced sweetness. What a lovely tea this is.

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I have a marvelous 3-day weekend ahead of me, filled with family, garden time, knitting and lots of tea and ice cream. I hope you all have a great weekend!

Morning in a New Land

In trees still dripping night some nameless birds

Woke, shook out their arrowy wings, and sang,

Slowly, like finches sifting through a dream.

The pink sun fell, like glass, into the fields.

Two chestnuts, and a dapple gray,

Their shoulders wet with light, their dark hair streaming.

Climbed the hill. The last mist fell away,

And under the trees, beyond time’s brittle drift,

I stood like Adam in his lonely garden.

On that first morning, shaken out of sleep,

Rubbing his eyes, listening, parting the leaves,

Like tissue on some vast, incredible gift.

~Mary Oliver

 

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! The light gray clouds are heavy with the promise of snow as I pour my first steaming cup of tea, a China Oolong called Feng Huang Dan Cong Supreme.

Feng Huang translates to “phoenix,” referring to the mountain in Guangdong province  where this tea is grown. Dan Cong means “single tree,” referring to the tea trees this tea comes from.

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These venerable old trees grow amongst the rocks of the mountain. This harsh environment causes the leaves to grow very slowly, and a rich store of minerals develops from this slow rate of growth. The trees grow randomly on the mountain and the area is never weeded. The leaves from native plants fall and decompose, thus enriching the soil and the tea trees with nutrients.

I steeped the large leaves for 3 minutes in 190F water.

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The golden liquor has a rich, fruity aroma, foretelling of the burst of flavor to come.

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With my first sip, pronounced notes of ripe stone fruit, with woody hints, greet me and linger long into the finish, leaving a light silky feeling on my tongue.

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It’s amazing to me that such a fruity flavor could be naturally occurring. The perfect conditions come together to create this truly wonderful tea.

See you in two weeks and enjoy your tea!

“A sailor lost at sea can be guided home by a single candle. A person lost in a wood can be led to safety by a flickering flame. It is not an issue of quality or intensity or purity. It is simply an issue of the presence of light.”

~Kent Nerburn

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! On this cool, overcast morning, I’m enjoying another Pre-Chingming tea in my cup, an Oolong called Fenghuang Dan Cong. This tea has been plucked from centuries old “single trunk” tea trees in China’s Guangdong province, rather than from cultivated tea bushes. Also know as Phoenix Oolong, this is a venerable tea indeed.

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I steeped the large, twisted leaves for 4 minutes in 190F water.

A sweet, fruity aroma wafted up from my glass teapot as I removed the infuser. The wet leaf smells like peaches and lemon. Mmmmm…

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The long leaves stayed twisted even after steeping. They lightened up to an olive green from the dark brown color of the dry leaf.

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The light golden tea liquor has a fruity flavor, like fresh juicy apricots and peaches. There’s a slight vegetal note with a silky smoothness that lasts into the finish.

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On the oxidation scale, I think this Oolong falls between the more oxidized chestnut/woody Oolongs and the less oxidized fragrant, floral Oolongs. It would be a great choice for multiple steepings, if you like to do that.

I’m off to my granddaughter’s softball game this morning. Watching the little ones play and have so much fun gives me great joy.

See you in 2 weeks. Enjoy your tea!

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! It’s a blustery, blue sky spring day, and I’m having a new tea experience. In my cup this morning is a tea I’ve never tried before – an Oolong tea from Assam. I’m delighted to introduce you to Belgachi Special Assam Oolong.

The Assam tea growing region is located in northeastern India. It’s well known for producing rich, full-bodied black teas. This special tea is a rare production where the leaves have been processed in an Oolong style. They aren’t oxidized as long as a black tea, resulting in a lighter cup.

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I brewed the long, twisted leaves for 5 minutes in 190F water. As they steeped, I could see them relaxing their twisted shapes into loose pleats.

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The leaves have been entirely hand-processed using old time methods and have been dried over a charcoal fire.

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The tea liquor is the color of a chunk of amber, fossilized tree resin revered for its beauty since ancient times.

The aroma is fragrant with a hint of sweet honey and a faint whisper of smoke.

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The flavor is lighter and smoother than a black Assam tea, with notes of caramel and a suggestion of pipe tobacco. Its honey syrup-y sweetness reminds me of an Eastern Beauty Oolong.

After a week of cold rain and even some snowflakes, warmer weather is forecasted for this weekend, with temps supposed to climb into the 60s. Hoo-ray! I’ll head out into my garden this afternoon and see what’s coming up, what’s survived the harsh winter we had. I’m getting excited to take a peek into my compost drum, too, and, hopefully, see some great compost there that I can work into my garden beds. It’s such a satisfying feeling to be able to recycle my used tea leaves into nourishment for my garden.

I’m traveling to Michigan this week to visit with my family. Enjoy your tea and I’ll see you in two weeks!