Saturday Morning Tea

Towkok FF Assam Dry Leaf 04-12-14

Good morning, dear tea friends! It’s first flush season, one of my favorite times of the year. After a long, cold winter, I always look forward to the fresh new teas of the spring. In my cup this morning is a first flush tea, however, as you can tell from the photo, it’s darker with none of the usual green bits of leaf. What’s up?

I’m happy to introduce you to a first flush Assam tea, this one from the Towkok Estate.

Towkok FF Assam Steep 04-12-14

The Towkok Estate is located in the Assam district of northeastern India. Surrounded by a nature preserve teeming with wildlife, the western side of the estate borders the Towkak river. The story goes that the tea garden was named after the dancing tortoises found in the river as the name Towkok means “dancing tortoise” in the native Tai language. Thinking of this story as I sip my tea makes me feel happy.

I steeped the leaves for 5 minutes in boiling point (212F) water.

Towkok FF Assam Wet Leaf 04-12-14

The “Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe 1” leaf designation is of a whole leaf but, as you can see from the photo of the wet leaf, it means big pieces of leaf, not necessarily whole, intact ones. The leaf designations result from a sieving and dividing the leaf process after the tea has been withered, rolled, oxidized and dried.

Towkok FF Assam Teapot 04-12-14

The amber red tea liquor has a malty aroma with a refreshing minty quality. The flavor is smooth and malty with crisp, bright notes of mint. The flavor lingers ever so gently, enticing me to take another sip.

Towkok FF Assam Tea Bowl 04-12-14

In the past, I’ve had first flush Assams that are so light-bodied they remind me of a Darjeeling tea. Not so with this tea. It’s rich and malty and easily identified as an Assam tea. That said, the refreshing minty quality sets it apart from the usual flavor notes of second flush Assam offerings.

What have you all been up to lately? I’ve been taking a watercolor class and enjoying playing with the flowing colors. I’ve been teaching myself geometric beadwork and have completed a number of cuffs, which I’m looking forward to sharing with you as soon as I take some pictures. I’m looking forward to visiting my family in Michigan in the coming week. So, lots of abundance in my life to be grateful for!

I’m also looking forward to being back in two weeks when I’ll share a brand new first flush Darjeeling!  Oh happy Spring!

 “…I hear the sounds of melting snow outside my window every night and with the first faint scent of spring, I remember life exists…”

~John Geddes, A Familiar Rain

 

Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! In continuing Assam month here at Art and Tea, I have an unusual Assam filling my cup today, a first flush selection from the Amgoorie estate.

Most Assams are harvested during the summer months, or the second flush season. They are well known and loved for their characteristic full-bodied, hearty, malty flavor profile. This first flush was harvested in the springtime, the first growth of the tea leaves. While the characteristic Assam flavor notes are still there, it usually has a much lighter body.

Even though it’s a whole leaf tea, I steeped the leaves in boiling point (212F) water for only 3 minutes because it’s a first flush and since I wasn’t planning on adding milk. It can be steeped for a longer time if adding milk and/or sweetener, or if you like a brighter quality to your plain tea.

I found this photo of the Amgoorie estate factory. Being a confessed clean freak myself, I’m greatly comforted to know how clean their operation is there. Yes, tea leaves are usually sorted and piled on floors.

The wet leaf has a hint of cocoa aroma that is revealed in its flavor as well. The tea liquor is quite smooth with a fuller body than what I was expecting.

The color in my glass teapot reflects the myriad of oranges and reds flaming across our New England fields and forests.

The flavor is lightly malty with a kick of brightness in the finish.

The last 2 weeks have taken me on a journey I’ve never experienced before. Someone very close to me had major surgery and was in a Boston hospital for 10 days, 5 of those in the ICU. I was brought to a place of seeing and then knowing how your life can change forever in an instant revelation of news we all dread to hear. I felt my heart crack wide open as I traveled each step of the recommended path with my beloved friend and observed the compassionate caring of everyone there to help him through the long process. He is finally home and the healing has begun. Nothing is certain in this life, things change constantly and the best we can do is to live and treasure the moments each one at a time. Until next week, dear tea friends…

“It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.” ~Joseph Campbell