Saturday Morning Tea

Select TGY Oolong Dry Leaf 01-24-15

Good morning, dear tea friends! I woke up to a white world this morning, our first significant snowstorm of the winter. Can you believe that, at the end of January?!! No one’s complaining but it is certainly strange for New England. It has been bone chilling cold though. On to tea…

For my morning tea, I chose a lightly roasted Oolong tea. Grown in Anxi, Fujian province, China, it’s called Select Tie-Guan-Yin Oolong.

Select TGY Oolong Infuser Before 01-24-15

The leaves have been rolled into loose spiral looking chunks. I wanted to show you the before and after photo of the tea in my infuser. The before picture doesn’t look like much tea, does it? After 4 minutes of steeping in 190F water, it expands considerably!

Select TGY Oolong Infuser After 01-24-15

Tie-Guan-Yin Oolong goes through a complex processing, which requires a master hand. As I mentioned, this particular selection has had a finishing light roast, called the “Muzha” style.

There is a legend regarding how this particular Oolong came into being. I’ve shared this story before but love it so much that I’m happy to share it with you 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.

I love that story.

Select TGY Oolong Teapot 01-24-15

The golden tea liquor glows with its own light. It’s aroma is fragrant with floral notes, lilac and orchid. A toasty, chestnut-y note whispers in the aroma and becomes more pronounced in the flavor, joining those lovely floral notes. This tea is sweet with an incredible buttery mouth feel that lingers, giving my mouth a silky feeling.

Select TGY Oolong Tea Bowl 01-24-15

Now that I’ve fortified myself with hot tea, it’s time to go out and do some shoveling. No worries though as my tea will be waiting to warm me up when I come back inside.

Until next time, dear friends, have a wonderful 2 weeks.

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Saturday Morning Tea

Water Fairy Oolong Dry Leaf 11-08-14

Good morning, dear tea friends! The leaves that still cling to their branches are darkening and curling as the late autumn winds dry them. Where October was a riot of warm colors, November brings more of a burnished look to the landscape. My morning cup is an Oolong tea from Fujian province in China. It’s beautifully named Wu-Yi Water Fairy Oolong. Also known as Shui Hsien, which translates to “water sprite”, this type of tea is traditionally grown in the Wu-yi mountain area.

I’ve finally done something I’ve been thinking about for awhile now – I got a tea scale! For an enormous leaf like this, it makes measuring a breeze.

Water Fairy Oolong Tare Scale 11-08-14

After turning on the scale, I set it to cup weight mode, placed my glass teapot infuser on the pad and pressed the Tare button to zero it out.

Water Fairy Oolong Weigh Tea On Scale 11-08-14

I added tea leaves until the digital display read 3 since my glass teapot is 17 oz., one ounce shy of 3 cups. I measure everything according to a 6-ounce cup measure.

Water Fairy Oolong Steep 11-08-14

I steeped the leaves for 5 minutes in 190F water. This tea was oxidized approximately 60% and then heated, by roasting, to stop the oxidation process.

Water Fairy Oolong Wet Leaf 11-08-14

I love the story about how this tea got its name.

About 900 years ago, a Song dynasty emperor was traveling with his entourage to southern China to inspect a tea garden. It was a hot summer’s day and everyone soon became very thirsty. They searched high and low for water but could find none. One of the scouts spotted a bush with bright green leaves and his extreme thirst led him to place one of the brightly colored leaves in his mouth. The leaf was very juicy and he found that it quenched his thirst as he chewed it. Soon, everyone was chewing the leaves of this magical plant. Of course, it was the tea plant that produced Shui Xian tea. So, the emperor named the tea “Water Fairy” for its magical thirst quenching powers.

Water Fairy Oolong Teapot 11-08-14

The aroma is fragrant with chestnuts and sweet pipe tobacco. The flavor is smooth and sweet with a pronounced chestnut note and whispers of fruit. The pipe tobacco nuance shows up again in the lingering finish.

The whisky-colored tea liquor has a gentle smokiness I find quite pleasant for a chilly November morning.

Water Fairy Oolong Tea Bowl 11-08-14

Until next time, dear tea friends, may your tea keep you warm and cozy!

“October extinguished itself in a rush of howling winds and driving rain and November arrived, cold as frozen iron, with hard frosts every morning and icy drafts that bit at exposed hands and faces.”

~J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Saturday Morning Tea

 

PCM Fairy Oolong Dry Leaf 06-14-14

Good morning, dear tea friends! For those of you in my part of the world, I hope you’re enjoying some beautiful, warm late spring weather. It’s been rainy this week in my area, and my garden is in full blooming glory, soaking up all that moisture. Watching flowers bud and come alive in bloom is so rewarding and healing.

Speaking of flowers, my morning tea today is a floral tasting Oolong called “New Style” Fairy Oolong, a special Pre-Chingming production from Hunan province in south-central China. The name Hunan translates to “south of the lake”, the lake referring to Dongting Lake, a floodbasin for the famous Yangtze river. Dongting Lake is famous as the place of origin of Dragon boat racing, a watersport with ancient roots going back 2,000 years. The boats are decorated with Chinese dragon heads and tails for competition events. So much rich history in China!

PCM Fairy Oolong Steep 06-14-14As you can see, the leaves of this tea are enormous and filled up the infuser of my little glass teapot. I steeped the tea for 4 minutes in 190 F water. The aroma of lilacs wafted up, its fragrance filling my kitchen. Lovely.

PCM Fairy Oolong Wet Leaf 06-14-14

After steeping, this leaf released its tightly rolled shape to reveal an amazingly intact leaf.

PCM Fairy Oolong Teapot 06-14-14

The pale yellow-green liquor has a soft floral fragrance reminding me of lilacs and orchids. This floral aspect carries over into the taste as the main flavor note. The taste is also rich and buttery smooth with some creamy hints. There’s a whisper of vegetal quality, like fresh greens, in both the aroma and the flavor.

PCM Fairy Oolong Tea Bowl 06-14-14

I’m sipping this fragrant tea out of one of my favorite tea bowls, purchased here. The birds are singing merrily outside my window, and I believe I spy a few peeks of blue as the clouds slowly clear. The promise of a walk on the bike path is in the air.

I’ll be back again next week with a new tea to share with you as my daughter is having her house warming party in two weeks. I hope that you all have a wonderful week filled with many cups of delicious tea!

“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

GABA Oolong Dry Leaf 05-24-14

Good morning, my dear tea friends. It’s been awhile since we’ve shared a cup of tea together. I have been helping a cherished friend make his last journey out of this world. It has been a very hard time. This past week the sky has been weeping cleansing rain from gray clouds with peeks of blue here and there. I have found that grief can be very much like that – torrential rain one minute and then peeks of blue sky the next. I am hopeful that the combination of cleansing raindrops and peeks of sun can bring a rainbow for healing. It takes time though. Tea has been such a solace and comfort. My morning cup today is called GABA Oolong.

GABA Oolong Steep 05-24-14

GABA, or Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid, is a compound that naturally occurs in the human body. It is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter and prevents over-excitement in our nervous system. Neurotransmitters are what neurons send to each other to either excite of inhibit a signal. You must be thinking – what does this have to do with tea? Well, in the 1980s, Japanese scientists were experimenting with different ways to preserve food and discovered that when tea leaves were exposed to nitrogen, it increased the levels of GABA in the tea. GABA tea then became a staple in many Japanese diets because they believe it has a wide range of health benefit because of its calming properties.

GABA Oolong Wet Leaf 05-24-14

To create the tea, tea plants are shaded for about 10 days prior to harvest, which increases the levels of glutamic acid, a precursor to GABA, in the leaf. After harvest, the tea leaves are placed in stainless steel drums and the oxygen is then replaced with nitrogen for about 8 hours. What does GABA do exactly? I have read that it increases the alpha brain waves, which can improve mental focus and promote a greater sense of well being. That said, my question then is how does the GABA get past the blood brain barrier? A good question for the scientists out there.

GABA Oolong Teapot 05-24-14

I steeped the leaves for 4 minutes in 180 degree (F) water. The gentle aroma is quite sweet with fruity nuances.

GABA Oolong Tea Bowl 05-24-14

The light golden tea liquor is also quite sweet and buttery smooth with notes of cantaloupe and tropical fruit. This lovely fruity tea would make an excellent iced tea!

Thanks for understanding about my long absence and I’ll see you in two weeks when I’ll be reviewing a new Pre-Chingming tea. Until then, dear tea friends, enjoy your tea!

Saturday Morning Tea

Japanese Oolong Dry Leaf 02-01-14

Good morning, dear tea friends! The sun is throwing watery light through my windows as I brew up my morning tea today. I’ve chosen an unusual selection, one I’ve never tried before – an organic Japanese Oolong tea. I haven’t been able to find out much about this tea beyond the fact that it’s rare and only produced in limited quantity by a few Japanese organic tea growers. I love trying a new tea so let’s get started!

Japanese Oolong Steep 02-01-14

The leaf is quite large and looks like it’s been pan fried instead of steamed like Japanese green teas, to halt oxidation. Pan frying is common with Oolong teas. I steeped the leaves for 3 1/2 minutes in 190F water. Because the leaves aren’t fully oxidized like a black tea, it’s always a good idea to steep Oolong teas with water below the boiling point. When the water is too hot, the leaves stew and don’t steep properly, giving you a resulting brew that has a bitter note and doesn’t represent the true flavor of the tea at all.

Japanese Oolong Wet Leaf 02-01-14

Wow, look at this large intact leaf. The leaves unfolded their accordion-like pleating as they steeped.

A warm, toasty aroma wafted up from my glass teapot as  I lifted up the infuser. I could also detect a nutty fragrance, like chestnuts.

Japanese Oolong Teapot 02-01-14

The light amber tea liquor is quite smooth with a pronounced chestnut flavor note and toasty nuances. As I sipped my tea, light fruity nuances revealed themselves in the cup.

This is a great choice for someone who would like to expand out from their Japanese green tea drinking to explore another type of tea from that country. I heartily recommend trying something new!

Japanese Oolong Teabowl 02-01-14

Well, so far things are working out well with my laptop and the Adobe Elements software. I’m still working on the trial and, after using Photoshop for years, this feels very familiar to me. Familiar is good when I’m trying to fit everything in to my weekend!

Have any of you recently tried a tea for the first time? I’d love to hear your story. Until next time, enjoy your tea!

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

~Walt Disney

Saturday Morning Tea

Eastern Beauty Oolong Dry Leaf 11-30-13

Good morning, dear tea friends! Last week I enjoyed a lightly oxidized Chinese Oolong, called Huang Jin Gui, for my morning tea. This week I’ve chosen another Chinese Oolong, however, this tea’s leaves have been oxidized for a longer period of time. Its name is Eastern Beauty. I love to compare and contrast teas. Let’s get started!

Eastern Beauty Oolong Steep 11-30-13

First, the leaves look very different from one another. Whereas the Huang Jin Gui is greener (less oxidized) and rolled into “bundles”, the Eastern Beauty‘s leaf is darker (more oxidized) and looks more like leaf to me.

What does it mean for a tea leaf to be oxidized anyway? Well, after the leaves are plucked and allowed to wither to remove moisture, they are bruised by rolling, tossing or shaking. This starts the oxidation process, which enzymatically breaks down the leaf’s chlorophyll, causing the leaf to darken. One of my colleagues likens it to a cut apple turning brown. When exposed to oxygen, the cut apple turns brown. Tea leaf does, too.

Last week’s Huang Jin Gui Oolong tea is oxidized under 20%, which is a short time. I honestly don’t know how long this Eastern Beauty Oolong has been oxidized but I would guess longer, about 40-50% or more. I have read that Formosa Eastern Beauty Oolong is oxidized for 70% but this tea doesn’t taste that dark. It’s definitely darker than the lightly oxidized Oolong though.

Eastern Beauty Oolong Wet Leaf 1 11-30-13

I took 2 shots to show you how enormous and intact this leaf is. Not only does it have the “bud” (the little baby leaves), there are 2 larger leaves, all attached to the same stem. Wow!

Eastern Beauty Oolong Wet Leaf 2 11-30-13

Isn’t that an amazing leaf?!!

I spooned 2 teaspoons of leaf into my small glass teapot and steeped for 4 minutes in 190F water. The fragrant aroma smelled of rich, dark honey.

Eastern Beauty Oolong Teapot 11-30-13

The tea liquor is a glowing orange-y gold. The flavor has a pronounced honey note with hints of nuts, like walnuts, and a whisper of fruit. It’s rich and smooth and has a mouth feel like nectar. I didn’t find any floral notes at all in this tea as was so pronounced in the lighter Oolong last week. So, flavor – honey and nuts vs floral. These teas, while both China Oolongs, are very different in both appearance and in flavor.

Eastern Beauty Oolong Tea Bowl 11-30-13

That was a fun comparison! Which tea do I like better, you might be asking? Actually, I like them both equally as well because of their differences. 🙂

Next Saturday I’m going down the Cape to visit my friend in Hyannis and we’re doing the “Hyannis Stroll” for the holidays. See you in two weeks!

Saturday Morning Tea

Huang Jin Gui Oolong Dry Leaf 11-23-13

Good morning, dear tea friends! Life has taken a busy turn lately, and it’s been challenging to find the time for my tea posts. I apologize for my absence last week! Ok, on to tea….

This morning’s cuppa is a Chinese Oolong from Anxi County in Fujian province. It’s called Huang Jin Gui Oolong. Huang Jin Gui translates to “Golden Osmanthus”, which refers to this tea’s intense floral aroma and flavor, as well as its rich gold color in the cup.

Huang Jin Gui Oolong Steeping 11-23-13

The leaves have been oxidized lightly (under 20%), like a Jade Oolong, and loosely rolled into roundish, crumply shapes.

I steeped for 4 and a half minutes, and the leaves unfurled and swelled open in the 190F water.

Huang Jin Gui Oolong Wet Leaf 11-23-13

Here is one of the accordion shaped leaves after steeping. Most of the leaves were huge and still intact.

Huang Jin Gui Oolong Teapot 11-23-

The golden yellow tea liquor is quite fragrant, filling my kitchen with the scent of flowers. Mmmm….

Huang Jin Gui Oolong Tea Bowl 11-23-13

The smooth flavor is rich and buttery feeling on my tongue, with pronounced floral notes that linger well into the finish.

The last of the dried leaves are rattling like bones off the trees, and the wind blows colder as winter approaches near. This tea is perfect for lifting my spirits with the sweet scents of spring flowers.

Have a lovely week and a happy Thanksgiving!

“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual…O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches. No run on my bank can drain it, for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.”

~Henry David Thoreau