Saturday Morning Tea

My morning tea is waking me up with its bold taste and refreshing pungency! From the area of Qianjiang located in Hubei Province, China, it has been processed as a gunpowder green tea.

Gunpowder tea leaves are withered, and then steamed before being rolled into small pellet shapes said to resemble black gunpowder grains. Black gunpowder was invented in China during the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234) for weapons based technology to defend the northern border of China against the invading Mongols. Most gunpowder teas nowadays are rolled by machine but some high grade leaf is still rolled by hand.

The beautifully intact leaf unfurls into circular shapes during its 3 minute steeping in 180 degree F water.

As I pour my first cup, a nutty aroma fills my senses. It carries on into the flavor of the pale gold liquor, also revealing a sweet fruit note and whisper of smoke. This is the perfect tea for those looking for more body and less vegetal flavor in their green tea.

I had a wonderful visit with my parents, as always, way too short and then they are gone. We made our annual trek to Nantucket Island for a lovely 3-day getaway. You can read about last year’s trip here. The weather was sunny and cool, perfect for strolling along the cobblestone streets and embarking on another deep sea fishing journey. This time I stayed on land and cheered the returning fishermen on their bluefish catch. I drank in the sights and sounds of the island and the profusion of gorgeous flowers everywhere.

I leave you with one of my favorite island sights.

“Being with real people who warm us, who endorse and exhault our creativity, is essential to the flow of the creative life.”

~Clarissa Pinkola Estes

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Saturday Morning Tea

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Looking out on a brilliant blue sky, I carefully measure my tea leaves into my glass teapot. This morning’s tea is one that I haven’t reviewed before, China Gunpowder green tea. I have never been fond of gunpowder tea because I find that it has a tobacco-ey smoke flavor note. As a reformed smoker, I shy away from anything that reminds me of those days, especially smells and tastes.

I find this tea, called Tippy Gunpowder Imperial, to be an exception in that there is none of that smoky quality to it. The leaves have been withered, heated and then rolled and shaped into the distinctive gunpowder “pellets”. These tea leaves have a looser shape, however, reminding me of the Yunnan Spiral Buds I reviewed 3 weeks ago.

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Steeping the leaves for 3 minutes in 180 degree F water reveals the fine plucking and tips. Wow, that is the intact end of the stem. Beautiful! You can see the tip, the new growth, in the middle between the 2 larger leaves.

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I found this great tea processing flow chart on Wikipedia. I’m a visual learner so it helps for me to visually see the steps taken to create the different kinds of tea.

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The processing of green tea leaves into gunpowder style tea dates back to the Chinese Tang Dynasty (618–907). It was originally done to expose the leaf to less physical damage and to retain more flavor and aroma. The name comes from the resemblance of the rolled leaf to gunpowder pellets.

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As I sip my tea from one of my favorite pottery bowls, I am greeted by a fresh, clean aroma which reminds me of the fresh air smell after a spring shower has passed. The flavor is also fresh and vegetal but not overly so, with a distinct astringent finish that lingers in my mouth for awhile. This tea has a robustness about it that I find very appealing.

It’s time to go make another pot of tea and go play in my studio! Enjoy the unfolding beauty of your world this weekend.

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.

Don’t go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.

Don’t go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the doorsill

where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.

Don’t go back to sleep.

~Rumi