Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! Our heat wave has finally broken, we’re back to more seasonable weather, and I’m back to drinking hot tea. The perfect choice for this summertime morning is a classic second flush Darjeeling, this selection from the Singbulli Estate.

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Located in the picturesque Mirik area of Darjeeling in northeastern India, the organically certified Singbulli Estate was established in 1924 by British planters. Its 9 rolling hills are spread out over 14 miles, at an altitude that ranges from 1,200 feet to 4,100 feet. Mirik comes from the word Mir-Yok, which translates to “place burnt by fire.”

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

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The dry leaves are a rich brown color and, after steeping, give off a rich, fruity fragrance.

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I always love to discover a tea with a flavor unique to what’s expected. Equally, I love to come across a tea that’s the quintessence of its tradition. This tea is the quintessence of a second flush Darjeeling.

Rich and fruity, like ripe grapes and juicy peaches.

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Toasty, a warm comforting smell and flavor.

Smooth, the liquor caresses your tongue with a silky feeling.

Lively, your taste buds are awakened.

Lingering, the flavor stays in your mouth for awhile.

This tea is all that and more. Yum.

Where a first flush Darjeeling showcases the first plucking and the freshness of spring and all its flavors, a second flush Darjeeling showcases the summer time potential, the rich, round, ripe flavors produced by the finest leaves. One is not better than the other. Each is wonderful for what it is, in its own right.

Until we meet again, enjoy your next cup!

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”

~Henry James

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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

Saturday Morning Tea

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As the wind and rain whip against my windows this morning, I am thankful and happy to be cozy and warm inside sipping a cup of a new second flush Darjeeling from the Makaibari estate. I watch the tree outside my window which has lost all of its leaves now. It reaches its skeletal branches towards the sky in what appears to be a gesture of praise and gratitude for the water soaking the earth around it.

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This tea comes from the biodynamic Fair Trade Makaibari estate in the Darjeeling tea growing district in northeastern India. It has long leaves with the look of an Oolong tea, not a typical Darjeeling leaf which appears smaller. The dry leaf has a fair amount of tip giving it a variegated look. I place my nose inside my cup and I am transported to a fragrant orchard as I inhale the lush ripe aroma of a peach. The liquor is a beautiful honey color with the taste of ripe fruits and muscatel. I usually find a muscatel flavor note to be pungent but the taste is buttery smooth. What a treat for a gloomy November day!