Saturday Morning Tea

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A shell cradling some tea leaves. Both once living, now both transformed. One is part of my nature collection and one will be further transformed into a delicious hot beverage to drink. Both give me great pleasure.

Change. It is woven into the fabric of our lives and is a constant by which we can guide our lives. Some do not like change. Or, I should say, too much change all at once. I’m raising my hand on that one. However, it is the change in our lives that brings us to new and wonderful places.

Because the last year of my life has been filled with so much tremendous change, I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. I’m sure that there a lot of folks experiencing the same in their lives. I find that when I embrace the change that it flows so much easier. Embracing it means that we have to move beyond our fears and that is sometimes a hard thing to do.

So, this morning I sip my tea and think about these things.

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My work colleague (thanks Dan!) gifted me with a sample of a brand new Keemun called Mao Feng Imperial. I’ve reviewed Keemun tea before and you can read more about it here. The leaf style is called Mao Feng which means “Fur Peak” or “Hairy Mountain”, referring to the downy white hairs on the leaf when it is plucked and also to the location where it is grown and harvested. During its processing, the full leaf is rolled into long, thin strands, characteristic of this style of tea.

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I steeped the leaves for 5 minutes in 212 degree F water. The tea liquor is a beautiful deep russet color with a sweet, dark aroma. The steeping leaves reveal a reflection of the deep blue spring sky today.

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You can see how the leaf uncurls slightly after steeping.

The flavor is silky smooth with a lot of complexity, meaning many layers of flavor. I taste wine, fruit, smoke, chocolate, earth. Keemun is called the “burgundy” of teas. Sometimes when a customer is looking for a new black tea to try, I ask them if they enjoy a full-bodied red wine. If so, I think that they would love a Keemun.

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I am going to spend this first full spring weekend out in nature and enjoying the company of some dear friends, embracing the change of the season.

Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.

~H.H. the Dalia Lama

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Saturday Morning Tea

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In continuing with my fervent wishes for spring to arrive, I am sipping a very fragrant Floral Tie-Guan-Yin Oolong this morning. Inhaling the aroma of this tea brings memories of that first moment in late spring when you are standing by an open window and the breeze brings in the heady scent of lilac to fill your senses.

Aromatherapy in a cup to dispel the iciness of a long, harsh winter that is still hanging on into February.

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The leaves are intensely green, especially after steeping, and rolled into curled shapes during processing. This tea is lightly oxidized making it more like a green tea, with vegetal notes in the flavor. The lilac fragrance bursts its sweetness in my mouth with each sip.

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This tea is named after Guan Yin (also spelled Quan Yin or Kwan Yin), the Chinese Goddess of Mercy. Well loved by her people, there are many stories about her kindness and compassion. It is said that she was a Buddhist many years ago and, after living a life filled with great love and giving, she had earned her place in Nirvana, or heaven. As she was passing through the gates, she heard a cry of anguish come from the Earth. She decided to turn back to the earth and find her immortality in the hearts of the suffering. Her Chinese name roughly translates to “The One Who Hear the Cries of the World”.

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I steeped the leaves in water under the boiling point (about 190 degrees F) for 3 minutes. The leaves gently released and opened during their time in the hot water. It’s like a tea leaf’s little hot tub. Aaahhhh…..

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The liquor is a very pale straw color, the same color as my new teabowl. I purchased a set of 4 teabowls from In Pursuit of Tea. Handmade in Japan, each tea bowl hold approximately 4 ounces. Very sweet.

A kind word is like a spring day.

~Russian Proverb