Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, my dear tea friends! My camera is finally up and running with a new memory card so I can now share a new cuppa with you all. I’m a creature of habit and when my routine encounters a snag, I find it very discombobulating. Thank goodness for tea, right?

I was going to brew up a pot of that Assam from a couple of weeks ago but this tea caught my interest. A 2012 second flush offering from the Castleton estate called “Moonlight”. The leaf is incredibly bold and the color variations are gorgeous. If you’re interested, I reviewed last year’s second flush offering from this estate here.

I used 3 times as much tea as I normally do (in other words, 3 teaspoons for my little teapot) and steeped it for 3 minutes in boiling point (212F) water.

As I lifted the infuser from my glass teapot, the aroma of fresh apricots filled my senses. Mmmm….

The whisky-colored liquor is smooth and delicate, not at all your typical second flush Darjeeling. The apricot aroma followed through into the flavor along with some nuances of melon and a gentle floral note that lingers.

I found this tea unique for a second flush offering. I wonder what flavor notes might be revealed if I steep it longer? Hmmm…

As always, thanks for joining me on this weekly tea adventure. Have a wonderful week!

“Art must take reality by surprise.” ~Francoise Sagan

Saturday Morning Tea

I’m back from vacation and feeling rejuvenated despite a busy return to work this week. I’d like to share an interesting experience I had a few days ago. My colleague brewed a pot of a newly arrived Castleton estate second flush Darjeeling and the first word that popped into my head as I took my first sip was

PHENOMENAL!

It had a honeyed peach aroma with rich peach and muscatel flavor notes.

Ambrosia.

Naturally, we all requested it for our morning tea the following day. As I took my first sip that morning, I thought I had poured the wrong tea into my cup. While it was a very good Darjeeling, all of the wonderful flavor notes I had experienced the day before weren’t there. As my tea cooled, however, I detected them but they were very subtle.

So, what happened?

Different steeping times.

The first cup was steeped at 4 minutes and the second at 3 minutes. What a difference a minute makes, huh?

Look at this gorgeous leaf. It’s huge and chock full of tips/intact leaf sets.

Just like your water source can make all the difference in your resulting cup of tea so too can your steeping time. In light of my recent experience (and it’s happened to me before), I highly recommend that you experiment with different steeping times to find what works best for you. A tea you don’t like with your first cup could end up being your favorite tea by just making an adjustment to the steeping time!

This is the tea steeped for 3 minutes in boiling point water – a glowing medum amber hue.

The cup on the right is the tea steeped for 4 minutes. The color goes deeper and the peach/muscatel aroma and flavor are much more pronounced.

As my tea cooled, I was expecting the longer steeped tea to develop that characteristic “bite” but it never did. I might even try this tea steeped for 30 seconds longer. I like to push the steeping time to just before it develops that bitterness, that well known bitterness of being oversteeped.

So, I encourage you, dear tea friends, to experiment with the steeping times for your tea. That being said, however, I think that it’s best not to change the water temperature or the amount of tea leaves used per cup.¬† Those should remain consistent.

For this tea, I used 2 teaspoons of leaf per cup since the leaf is so huge and boiling point water.

Do you have a story similar to mine? If so, please share!

Enjoy your weekend!

Saturday Morning Tea

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The hint of fall that was in the air at the beginning of the week has now left us and we are finally blessed with a perfectly glorious summer weekend, not too hot and humid, not too cool, juuuuust right. Even though it is officially considered the last weekend of summer.

Many are celebrating this weekend by going away or getting together with friends and family. As I shared in my last post, I am doing both. This time tomorrow I’ll be on my way to sunny New Mexico to visit my son and his family and also to attend a knitting retreat.

This morning’s tea is a black tea, a second flush Darjeeling from the Castleton estate, one of the most esteemed and well known tea gardens in the Darjeeling tea growing district in northeast India.

A “Castleton” is always a special treat.

“Second flush” is the summer harvest of the tea plants, after the leaves “flush” back from the “first flush”, or spring, harvest. The leaves of this tea are larger than normal with a rich variegation of color.

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Speaking of rich color, I am enchanted by the harvest pumpkin color of the chrysanthemum flowers I picked up yesterday to adorn our backyard deck. I must be on a color kick because I picked up that exact color in a skein of yarn while shopping with my daughter last night. I am a color slave. But I digress…

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

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The steeped leaf is another gorgeous fall color. As the leaves are allowed to oxidize during their processing, they turn a dark reddish brown from their original deep green color. I wrote about second flush Darjeelings from other tea gardens here and here.

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The tea liquor is not quite as dark as last week’s China black tea but it comes pretty close, sharing that same reddish brown hue. It leans more towards amber, I think.

The aroma is fruity with a hint of tropical ripeness, reminiscent of a sweet pineapple. How perfect to go along with the CD I’m listening to this morning – a collection of Hawaiian music.

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The fruitiness carries through into the taste, with a pronounced sweetness, but what strikes me the most about this tea is its incredible smoothness, without a hint of that bright, astringent “bite” so characteristic of a Darjeeling tea.

So silky smooth, mmm…

I am sorry to say that I will not be able to join you for Saturday Morning tea next Saturday as I will be away from internet access while in the mountains of New Mexico. That said, I look forward to joining you once again to share tea and stories in 2 weeks.

Enjoy your holiday weekend!

It is good to have an end to journey towards;

but it is the journey that matters in the end.

~Ursula K. LeGuin