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

Saturday Morning Tea

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It has definitely been a rainy spring here in New England. As I look at the 10-day weather forecast, there are more clouds than suns and some of those clouds have lightning bolts coming out of them. Being an admitted doppler radar geek, I do love a good thunderstorm. But I digress from my cup of tea…

This morning’s tea is a black Ceylon tea from the Adawatte estate. Located about 1/2 – 3/4 mile above sea level on the eastern slopes of the mountains in the Uva district of Sri Lanka, this estate is a tea, rubber and forestry estate.

UVA LOCATOR

You can read about how tea cultivation came to the island of Sri lanka in one of my previous posts here. Originally, coffee was grown there.

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The tea grown in the higher elevations of Sri Lanka tends to have a brighter, brisk quality to it. This tea is very characteristic of a high grown Uva.

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I steeped the dark, chunky leaves for 4 minutes in 212 degree F water. The dark amber liquor has a minty, citrus aroma that carries on into its flavor notes. This tea would make a very refreshing iced tea with slices of juicy lemon and crisp sprigs of mint for garnish. Mmmm…now if the weather would just cooperate with some hot, sunny, iced tea drinking days…

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Today I am attending a Garden Tea Party at the home of a dear friend. She has asked each guest to bring a plant to swap and also something chocolate to share. I was going to stop at my favorite local candy shop to pick up some dark chocolate creams. I especially love the ones filled with orange and raspberry cream. But then I came across this recipe in my blog wanderings. Made with melted milk chocolate, cocoa powder and milk chocolate chunks, it is sheer decadence in cookie form. In a recent issue of Vegetarian Times, I was so happy to see that cocoa was listed number one on the anti-oxidant list.

Tea and chocolate – what more can anyone ask for?

Giving chocolate to others is an intimate form of communication, a sharing of deep, dark secrets. ~Milton Zelman, “Chocolate News”

Saturday Morning Tea

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It’s a grey day here in New England, perfect for staying inside and curling up with a good book, cup of tea by my side. It’s supposed to rain all day, wonderful nourishment for all the newly growing plants and flowers.

I’m stepping out of the box today from my normal tea choices. I’m sipping a black tea from the Bogawantalawa estate in Sri Lanka. Boy, those Ceylon names sure can be a challenge to spell let alone to say. My colleagues and I have a lot of fun at work  practicing pronunciation before we have to talk about them with a customer.

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This is a broken leaf tea. While the tea is being processed, some of the leaf breaks up into smaller bits. The leaf is then run through various size sieves to separate it into piles of the same size leaf bits. This is because a broken leaf tea has a shorter steeping time than a whole leaf tea. If the broken and whole leaf parts were mixed together, you would end up with either under-steeped or over-steeped leaf in your tea.

The Bogawantalawa tea estate is in the Dimbula region of Sri Lanka, located to the west of the central mountains at an elevation of about 4,000 feet. The island of Sri Lanka (old name Ceylon), located off the tip of India, has a highland ridge running right down the center of the island. This ridge blocks the monsoon winds that come in from the northeast in December to March and the southwest from June to August, creating a perfect climate for growing tea. Warm days, cool mornings and infrequent rain are perfect for producing the most flavorful leaf.

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As there is more surface area on the broken leaf that is exposed to the water, it brews up quickly in 2 1/2-3 minutes. The tea liquor is a dark amber with a fragrance that I can best describe as a “tea fragrance”, full bodied, lemony and brisk. It is the aroma that most people would identify with a cup of tea.

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The flavor is smooth yet brisk with citrus notes. While I am very much enjoying this tea hot, it would make an excellent iced tea with its lemony nuances. To enhance my citrus experience, I have spread some orange marmalade on honey crackers. This tea would also stand up well to milk but I recommend trying it without milk at first so you can taste its wonderful flavor notes.

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Continuing my work in my art journal, I filled 3 pages with journaling using the prompt “Today I feel…”. I then gessoed over the pages with a dry brush. The next assignment was to write my name all over the first page. I brought out my watercolor pencils and had so much fun doodling and coloring.

I created a little spring tulip garden.

“How does the Meadow flower its bloom unfold?

Because the lovely little flower is free down to its root,

and in that freedom bold”

~William Wordsworth

Saturday Morning Tea

It’s been hot and humid this past week. Yesterday I forgot to turn the AC on in the morning so by last night, it was sweltering in the house. Looking for ways to cool off, I decided to make up a pitcher of iced tea in this beautiful Italian glass pitcher I found at Target. So, before going to bed last night, I filled the pitcher halfway with cold filtered water and added 12 grams or 6 teaspoons of a whole leaf black Ceylon tea from the Koslanda estate. I let the tea leaves steep overnight. This is the “cold brew” method of making iced tea. You can read more about it here. Some instructions call for one tablespoon for every 6 ounces but I used one teaspoon instead to make a lighter brew.

In this photo, I haven’t strained the leaves yet but I will do this with the aid of a large Pyrex measuring cup. This is such an easy method of making iced tea and the resulting brew is not bitter at all, despite the fact that the leaves are steeping for 10-12 hours or longer. What a gorgeous color!

As it was still early and cool out on the backyard deck, I decided to have an impromptu tea party. The tea is so refreshing with an interesting spicy note. I sliced up a ripe peach and enjoyed that with my tea. Yum!