Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! I had a wonderful trip to NJ and NYC last weekend, visiting my elderly relatives and then taking in the sights of the city.

The 9-11 Memorial was a very sobering place. The day we went there it poured rain and it felt like the sky was weeping for all those souls who lost their lives on that tragic day. It was very sad but I’m really glad I went there. Ok, on to tea…

This morning’s tea is a special treat from the Arya Estate in the Darjeeling district of northeastern India. Called Arya Estate Ruby 2nd Flush, it truly is a “gem” of a tea!

As you can see, the leaves of this tea are much larger than an average Darjeeling. They are plucked from specially grown clonal tea bushes and carefully processed by hand to ensure their leaf remains intact and the flavor is developed. As I’ve mentioned before, the term “clonal” means that this tea came from tea plants grown from the cuttings from other tea plants of superior stock.

I used twice the amount of tea I usually spoon into my glass teapot and steeped the leaves for a little over 3 minutes in boiling point water (212F).

It is said that the Arya Estate was started by a group of Buddhist monks who carefully developed their tea plants from some seeds brought over from China. I love the stories and history about tea, don’t you? It gives more depth to my tea experience.

The beautiful, amber-colored tea liquor glows like a jewel in my glass teapot. As I gently lift the lid, a strong fruity, pineapple aroma delights my senses.

This pineapple quality follows through into the flavor, along with notes of muscatel and other tropical fruit. It is very smooth with the characteristic second flush rich body and a sweetness that lingers in the finish. Yum! This tea would stand up well to milk but I recommend drinking it straight to enjoy the fruity ambrosia.

Today is my grandkids’ birthday party. They are two years apart but their birthdates are 2 days apart so it’s a party for the both of them – a “Princess and Pirate” party. What fun!

Thanks for joining me for a cup of tea and I’ll see you next week!

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year.”

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Advertisements

Saturday Morning Tea

I know that I’ve mentioned this before but if someone asked me the question – what’s your favorite tea? – I would have to be honest and admit it. Darjeelings have a special place in my heart. What is it about them, you might ask, that puts them at the top of my list? Well, there are so many wonderful characteristics but I would have to say that it’s their fragrance that transports me to another place. A quiet, calm place. To me, tea is more than just its flavor. It is an experience and a Darjeeling definitely fulfills that for me.

So, without further ado, this morning’s tea is a Darjeeling from the Arya estate and is called Ruby. A gem of a cuppa, for sure.

As you can see, the leaves are much larger than an average Darjeeling. They are plucked from specially grown clonal tea bushes and carefully processed by hand to ensure their leaf remains intact and the flavor is developed.

I used twice the amount of tea I usually spoon into my glass teapot and steeped the leaves for 3 1/2 minutes in boiling point water.

Just think – this leaf started its life in another part of this world. A land of towering, majestic mountains and a climate that nurtures its careful growth into something unique that produces a delicious brew.

It is said that the Arya estate was started by a group of Buddhist monks who carefully developed their tea plants from some seeds brought over from China. I reviewed another Arya Ruby several years ago on a snowy day in early spring. You can read that review here.

A customer told me this past week that he loves Darjeelings for their beautiful amber color. I agree!

A pronounced fruity, grape aroma wafts up as I pour my first cup.

The fruitiness carries on into the flavor with rich notes of muscatel. This tea is a second flush harvest, picked in the summertime. With each sip, I’m transported to a warm, sunny time where swollen, ripe fruit are just ready to be picked. Mmmmm…

Today I’m attending a holiday concert where a good friend is performing with her harp. I can’t think of anything better to get into the spirit of the season than to close my eyes and settle into the lovely angelic strains of harp music.

What are you doing to get into the spirit of this holiday season?

“Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.” ~Francis P. Church

Saturday Morning Tea

I feel like a kid in a candy store at this time of year with the first flush Darjeelings arriving freshly plucked from different tea gardens. Oh joy!

This morning’s tea is from the Arya estate, an organic tea garden located high in the Himalayan mountains of northeastern India.

I’ve read that it was started by a team of Buddhist monks who carefully developed their tea plants from Chinese seeds. They practiced Aruyvedic medicine and their original house may still be found on the grounds of the estate.

I imagine a beautiful place nestled in the shadow of great towering peaks where, if you listen very closely, a rich history whispers its secrets.

Many first flush Darjeeling leaves are very green even though they are processed as black teas (allowed to oxidize and turn dark).

This first flush of spring growth doesn’t want to give up its greenness, the essence of spring and rebirth.

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in slightly less than boiling point (212 F) water. The green leaf is transformed into a glowing liquid amber.

A fresh, sweet aroma wafts up from my glass teapot as I quietly lift the lid to remove the infuser basket. The only sound at this early hour is the sweet song of the birds outside my window.

The flavor is bright and astringent, waking up my mouth with sweet, fruity notes that linger, linger, linger…

Last weekend’s adventure in my little patch of garden involved an all day affair with a stubborn yew stump that finally had to be ripped out with a heavy chain and large pickup truck. Thank goodness for the generosity of new neighbors! Now that the stump is removed, I have a gathering of shade plants – astilbe, coral bells, bleeding heart, impatiens – that are patiently waiting to be planted in their new home.

“Solitude – walking alone, doing things alone – is the most blessed thing in the world, the mind relaxes and thoughts begin to flow and I think I am beginning to find myself a bit.” ~Helen Hayes

Saturday Morning Tea

aryaffdry041809

This morning I am indulging in a cup of another brand new first flush Darjeeling. This one is from the Arya estate. I wrote a little bit about the origins of this tea garden here.

aryaffteapot041809

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 212 degree F (boiling) water. The leaves revealed their spring nature and the liquor bloomed into a delicate amber color.

aryaffwetleaves041809

The aroma is so fresh that it reminds me of mint.

aryaffwetleaf041809

The taste is clear and bright with that almost ripe fruity quality. Sometimes I catch hints of banana.

aryaffteacup041809

I am enjoying my cuppa with some Irish Soda Bread cookies. I made them for our International Food Day at work yesterday. I found the recipe here. I substituted raisins for currants and made my buttermilk by mixing 1/2 T. of fresh lemon juice into 1/2 cup of milk. The caraway seeds give them such an interesting flavor.

Today is Art Day with 2 dear friends, a whole day devoted to creating art and chatting, chatting, chatting. Oh yes, a wonderful pasta and salad lunch is planned and I’m bringing strawberries and cream for dessert.

Time to pack up my art supplies!

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched.  Thet must be felt with the heart.

~Helen Keller

Saturday Morning Tea

aryaex1dry012409

As I gaze outside my window, I see that it is still mid-winter and we are encased in snow and ice here on Ramble Road. However, inside my cozy house, in my cup of morning tea, it’s a different story. I am sipping the first picking from the Arya estate in Darjeeling. Lot 1 of 2009. But it’s only January, you say. Is this a first flush tea?

aryaex1wet012409

Actually, it is labeled as a “winter tea”. Oh dear, and here I thought I was cheating winter a little bit with springtime in my cup. Still, it is the first 2009 Darjeeling I’m enjoying and that is cause for celebration.

The preparation for this tea began last July when select bushes were carefully pruned. This pruning process encourages the bushes to “flush” right after the monsoon season which ends in September. This is actually considered the fifth season in India besides the regular four seasons that we know of – spring, summer, autumn and winter. It is a season of intense torrential rains that can cause landslides that block the Darjeeling district off from the rest of India.

aryaex1wetno2012409

The leaf has a lot of green bits and some stem mixed in with the darker leaf. This tea has been processed as a black tea where the leaf is allowed to oxidize and turn dark.

I steeped the leaves in water just under boiling temperature for 3 minutes.

aryaex1teacup012409

A soft floral whisper drifts up from the amber liquor as I take my first sip. I taste a fresh fruitiness with a hint of green, almost like a ripe fruit that holds echoes of its unfolding flavor before it ripened.

I am enjoying my cuppa with my latest favorite treat, an oatmeal raisin flax cookie from Kashi. These wonderful cookies contain all sorts of goodness and one cookie is very filling.

My shoulder continues to heal, slowly but surely, and the pain fog is starting to recede, allowing my ability to concentrate to return bit by bit.

This past week I found a sketchbook that I had purchased last summer and, in the evenings after my acupuncture treatment, I started painting the pages with Twinkling H2Os, shimmery watercolor paints. Very simple. I place swirls and washes of color on each page randomly, allowing myself to just play with the paint. In my online browsing, I discovered Teesha Moore’s website and blog. Her unique and creative art journal pages have inspired me to create my own. You can read Teesha’s tips and recommendations on how to layer the pages here. I love to have guidelines when first attempting a new art technique. Guidelines allow the spirit of experimentation and play to come out and dance. Speaking of play, I want to purchase some crayons. Teesha recommends Caran D’Ache Neocolor II crayons. I found a bunch of different sets at Dick Blick’s and they look positively scrumptious.

Dipping into my creative life once again feels like a long, cool drink of water after a journey through the desert.

Creativity – like human life itself – begins in darkness.

~Julia Cameron

Saturday Morning Tea

marchsnow.jpg

The first month of spring has entered on a wintry note as we are experiencing a blast of snow here in New England. This morning I am sipping a cup of Darjeeling black tea from the Arya estate called Arya Ruby.

aryarubydryleaf.jpg

Located in the lower range of the Himalayan mountains in northeast India, the Darjeeling district is home to many tea estates or “gardens” and is famous for the beautiful tea it produces. Called the “champagne of tea”, Darjeeling tea is prized for its delicate aroma and “muscatel” flavor notes. The Calcutta Tea Association defines the “muscatel” flavor as being “reminiscent of vineyards”, meaning a flavor like grapes and wine.

aryarubywetleaf.jpgaryarubywetleaf2.jpg

I was in awe as I gently smoothed the large, intact leaves out on my dish. I have read that this tea is produced from superior clonal bushes, meaning that they start a new tea plant from the cuttings of tea bushes that have produced remarkable teas. I believe that most of the tea bushes grown in Darjeeling originated from China bushes, called China “jat”.

aryarubyliquor.jpg

The aroma of the dry leaf is very nutty. Since the leaf is so big, I used 2 teaspoons per cup (6 oz.) and steeped for 3 minutes in boiling water. The flavor is very characteristic Darjeeling with the fruit, muscat flavor note. I just finished my first cup so it’s time to go make another cup. It’s still snowing…

marchsnow2.jpg