Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! As I gaze outside my window with my morning cuppa in hand, I see a blanket of light gray clouds tenting over a green landscape that’s starting to show its fall colors here and there. I’ve chosen a black tea from Sri Lanka today, called Ceylon Low Country.

Low grown Ceylon tea comes from southern Sri Lanka, where the elevations of tea growing areas are anywhere from sea level to 2,000 feet. With a warm climate and fertile soil, it’s an ideal place for the tea plants to thrive.

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I steeped the leaves for 4 minutes in boiling point (212F) water.

The aroma wafting up from the steeping leaves is bright and toasty with a hint of spiciness.

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The color of the tea liquor is striking, a beautiful coppery red.

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The flavor has that Ceylon brightness with a wonderful spicy richness enveloping it. A sweetness, like dark sugar, grows as the tea cools. The mouth feel is fairly robust with a dryness like a fine red wine. This tea would stand up well to milk and sweetener.

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A great choice for those cooler fall days.

See you in 2 weeks!

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! It’s a hot and steamy August so far, the kind of weather where the air is so thick you can taste it and towering dark clouds build up in the afternoon sky. I love this time of year.

I’ve traveled to the Ruhuna district of southern Sri Lanka with my cuppa this morning. This selection is from the Lumbini Estate.

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The Lumbini Tea Estate was founded in 1984 by Mr. Dayapala Jayawardane. It’s located in the hilly village of Pallegama, close to the Sinharaja forest reserve, a small national park that’s home to many endemic species, including the purple-faced langur monkey.

The leaves are small with a profusion of beautiful golden tips. I steeped them for 4 minutes in boiling point (212F) water.

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The aroma is fragrant and sweet. The liquor has a rich, syrupy quality with notes of dried fruit and hints of cocoa and spice. There’s a crispness that identifies it as a Ceylon black tea, however, I’ve always found this “spider leg” leaf style to be more reminiscent of a black tea from China. I love the mouth feel, thick and sweet.

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I have a lovely afternoon planned with my grandkids. With more thunderstorms on the way, it’ll probably be best enjoyed indoors, maybe a movie and popcorn, which is always fun.

Enjoy your tea!

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

~Vivian Greene

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! My morning tea today is a rich Ceylon black tea with a fun name, Victorian Brew BOP1. Even though the days are still summer warm, the nights are turning cool and crisp, perfect weather to sleep with the windows thrown wide open. The day when the light and dark are equal here in the Northern Hemisphere is only 4 days away.

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This tea is a blend of Ceylon black teas so I couldn’t find any background information on it. I steeped the leaves for 4 minutes in 212F (boiling point) water.

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Look at that beautiful amber color!

The aroma has a dried fruit fragrance with hints of spice, enticing me to take my first sip.

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The flavor is rich and smooth with a light brightness that plays at the edge of my palate. The tea liquor has a hot cocoa thickness and a spicy profile with hints of cherry. There’s a citrus-like brisk quality that lingers in the finish. Is this high-grown or low-grown tea? It exhibits characteristics of both, which leads me to suspect it’s a blend of both.

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As always, thanks for joining me in a cup of tea! Enjoy this last summer weekend!

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! As you can see, my morning tea is not a first flush Darjeeling this week (are some of you saying “oh, thank goodness!” haha), in fact, it’s not a Darjeeling at all. Gracing my cup on this bright, blue sky morning is a rich, dark black tea from New Vithanakande in Sri Lanka (Ceylon).

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This tea leaf is an FBOPF Ex Spl leaf style, designated for its long, wiry, twisted leaf and unique for a Ceylon tea. You know the tea that comes in teabags from the grocery store, the kind that we might have drunk when we were sick as kids? Well, that leaf style is called “fannings”, a very finely-particled leaf that fits into those bags easily and steeps very quickly. Astoundingly, this leaf has that same designation which is what the last “F” stands for. It’s because this skinny leaf can fit through the smallest sieves during the leaf sorting process. Amazing, huh?

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This tea is grown in the Ratnapura district, located in southern Sri Lanka. I’ve read that this district is the home of gem mining as well as a crossroads where hill country and plains come together. This tea is processed at a factory supporting 6,000 small landholders and their families. You can read more about it here. So, this tea is named after the place that processes the tea not the tea garden.

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What a gorgeous color!

I steeped the leaf for 4 minutes in boiling point (212F) water.

The aroma of the dry leaf is that classic smell that everyone thinks of as the “tea smell”. For me, it brings back comforting memories of my Mom making me tea when I was a child.

The flavor is rich and full-bodied, like an Assam, but with that classic brightness tang of a Ceylon. The tang fills my mouth and lingers on even after I take a sip. There is a thickness to the tea liquor that reminds me of dark chocolate.  This tea would definitely stand up well to milk and sweetener.

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As I drink the last few sips from my teacup, I look forward to an afternoon spent in my garden, planting marigold, cosmos, dahlia and daisies. Tomorrow I’m going to go see the new Star Trek movie in IMAX, an event I’ve been excitedly awaiting for months. Have a wonderful week and enjoy your tea!

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” ~Marcel Proust

Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! The tea that I’m drinking this morning is so smooth that I’m already on my second cup in a matter of minutes. Grown at the Nildiya Valley estate in the Matara District of southernmost Sri Lanka, this black tea is the perfect example of an Orange Pekoe, or OP, tea.

Contrary to what the name implies, it is not a flavor but a term used to designate the leaf grade of the tea, in this case, a whole leaf tea. This leaf grading term is typically used in black teas from India and Sri Lanka.

You can see the rolled whole leaf clearly in the photo above of the wet leaf.

I steeped the leaf for 5 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. This tea is so smooth that I think the steeping time could be pushed another minute or two, especially if you’re adding milk.

The fragrance of sweet raisins drifted up from my glass teapot as I poured my first cup.

The dark-amber tea liquor flows like silk over my tongue. As the tea cooled, a hint of fruit was revealed along with a light toasty note.

Summer is hanging on here in New England with warm, humid weather. I’m enjoying it as much as I can because I always find it challenging to give up those warm, lazy, hazy days. Soon it’s time to sharpen those pencils and get to work!

Speaking of getting to work, I just signed up for this online course with the fabulous Susan Lomuto, creator of Daily Art Muse and art curator extraordinaire. Susan will teach us how to create a website to showcase our artwork. With a full-time job and so little free time, I was hesitant at first but then I listened to that small voice inside and took the plunge. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time – improve and expand my online presence and even start selling my jewelry again. This past year has been quite challenging personally and has led me on a journey of looking at what is really important in my life. I’ve been working hard on letting go of negative experiences of the past and moving forward with my art. I’m looking forward to discovering what the future holds!

As always, thanks for taking the time to visit and share a cup of tea with me. Until next week, dear friends…

“Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.”

~Ella Fitzgerald

Saturday Morning Tea

My thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Japan and all those affected by the earthquake and tsunamis. May they find shelter and comfort during this tragic, frightening time.

A couple of weeks ago, I reviewed a Shawlands estate Ceylon OP1 here. One of my readers requested that I review another lot from that very same estate, this time the Shawlands BOP1, BOP meaning Broken Orange Pekoe, more simply a broken leaf tea.

The long threads of leaf really don’t look broken to me, their appearance being very similar to the OP1 leaf.

I steeped the leaves for 4 1/2 minutes in boiling point (212 F) water, the same as the OP1.

After steeping, the broken pieces are revealed along with pieces of stem, the long threads I saw in the dry leaf.

You might be thinking to yourself, now why aren’t these teas the same since they come from the same tea estate? The subject of single estate tea lots is an interesting one, a subject I usually address at least several times a week at my job. Customers will wonder why we “discontinued” a tea. In other words, we sold a particular tea and now they want to purchase it again but we’re unfortunately sold out of it.  Can’t we just get more? Well, we might be able to purchase another lot from that estate depending upon what is produced the following year but it won’t be the exact one that sold out because that lot was from a previous harvest.

Ah, what gorgeous color – a glowing copper that invites me to take my first sip.

Tea is plucked and then processed as individual lots. Each lot will be different from the others even though it might have come from the same tea estate, the same land, in the same country. This is because there are so many factors that contribute to the ultimate flavor of the tea, including the exact moment of the leaf’s plucking, or harvest, and its processing.

All that being said, the flavor of this tea IS very similar to the tea from 2 weeks ago, however, the mintiness is much less pronounced. The tea liquor itself also feels thicker in my mouth with a smoother character. I enjoyed its medium body very much without milk or sweetener.

A beautiful, deep blue sky, just on the cusp of spring, is reflected in my cup. Joy…

I encourage you to try cupping 2 teas from the same estate, side by side. Notice the difference in the dry and wet leaf, the color of the tea liquor, the aroma and the flavor notes. It’s fun to do and also helps to refine your tea drinking palate. Enjoy!

“The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.” ~Emily Dickinson

Saturday Morning Tea

The rain clouds have finally parted here in New England but not without some severe flooding in certain areas. My thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by the storm. I hope that the warm temps and bright sunshine help clear all of this water away and folks can return to their homes and businesses.

This morning’s tea is a Ceylon black tea from the Deniyaya estate, located in the Ruhuna district in southern Sri Lanka. I’ve written about another tea grown in this district here.

The plucking is predominantly composed of very fine tip, giving the dry leaf a “salt and pepper” look.  The fine, needle-like structure of the leaf reminds me of South African Rooibos.

Because of its fine structure, I steeped the leaf for 3 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. It didn’t take up much room in my teapot’s infuser at all.

As I poured my first cup, I notice a pronounced, rich molasses aroma wafting up from the dark amber liquor.

I’m enjoying my tea in a new teabowl purchased from Salty Dog Pottery at a recent art show I attended. As I browsed around the show, I was immediately drawn to the soft colors and symbolism on this piece. The shiny glazing is created with salt!

I love the layered complexity of this tea. I taste cocoa, whispers of vanilla, hints of fruitiness and a smoothness that carries into the finish.

Today I am spending the afternoon with my precious 17-month old granddaughter who is here visiting from New Mexico. The day has graced us with warmth and sunshine so we are going to enjoy a trip to the playground and a long walk on the bike trail at a nearby pond. Oh yes, and a trip to the toy store for a Dora the Explorer doll! Ella loves Dora and calls her “Do-ba”, “Do-ba”.

What are you enjoying today?

You are the bows from which your children, as living arrows, are sent forth. ~Kahlil Gibran