Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! A frigid wind is blowing in from the north and it’s beginning to feel more December-like around here. A great time for drinking lots of tea.

I came across a lovely tea this week, a perfect selection to slow down with and, hopefully, ease the stress that sometimes comes with the holiday season. Plus, I love its name – Jasmine White Monkey. From Fujian province in China, this silver tip green tea has been scented with jasmine flowers.

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The tea leaves are plucked in the springtime, processed as green tea and then stored until the jasmine plants get ready to bloom in the summer. The flower buds are plucked in the early morning and kept cool all day. As early evening approaches, the flower buds are mixed with the tea leaves. As the night blooming jasmine flowers open, the tea leaves absorb their scent. This process is repeated every day over the course of a week. Quite a bit of dedicated work goes into creating this unique tea.

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Most of the time, the dried flowers are separated from the leaves after scenting. Sometimes, the dried blossoms are left mixed in with the tea leaves. Since they’re dried out, their scent is gone so perhaps it’s for decoration? I find that the dried flowers may lend a sourness to the tea liquor so I prefer just the scented leaves for steeping my tea.

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes using 180F spring water. As the leaves steeped, my kitchen smelled like a spring garden. mmmm….

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The leaves infused a golden wheat colored liquor. This tea is much more robust than some of the delicate jasmine selections. You can really taste the green tea so the jasmine scenting isn’t the predominant flavor. These two flavors, vegetal and floral, balance nicely. I also found a balance of sweetness with astringency that lingers into the finish.

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This afternoon, I’m getting together with some dear art friends who I haven’t seen in years. Just like taking a break and sitting down with a cup of tea, it’s important to jump off the carousel of busy day-to-day life and connect with good friends. It rejuvenates my spirit.

Enjoy the season and many delicious cups of tea!

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Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! Another week has gone by, we’re into November now and Thanksgiving is less than 2 weeks away. Do you feel like time seems to speed up as we approach the end of the year? I’ve been feeling that way lately. Ok, on to our tea…

Well, I think I was longing for the warm, fragrant days in my garden when I reached for this tea selection from China, called Jasmine Silver Tips. To create this lovely tea, tea masters took a Silvertip green tea from Fujian province, and scented it with jasmine blossoms.

The tea leaves are plucked in the springtime, processed as green tea and then stored until the jasmine plants get ready to bloom in the summer. The flower buds are plucked in the early morning and kept cool all day. As early evening approaches, the flower buds are mixed with the tea leaves. As the night blooming jasmine flowers open, the tea leaves absorb their scent. This process is repeated every day over the course of a week. Quite a bit of dedicated work goes into creating this unique tea!

This tea is called “Silver Tips” because the tea itself has the silvery-white new growth, or tip, from the tea plant mixed in with the green leaf. After steeping, I found mostly large, broken leaf pieces but I did manage to find one of the tips, which you can see in the photo above.

I steeped the leaf for 3 minutes in 180 degree water (F).

The tea liquor is a beautiful pale amber color with a tinge of pink. As I lifted the infuser out of my glass teapot, the floral scent was quite pronounced and I felt as if I had placed my nose into a large, fragrant bouquet of flowers.

The flavor is silky smooth and very sweet with just enough jasmine flavor to enjoy without it being cloying. I can also taste the green tea in the clean, fresh vegetal undertone.

We had snow in our area from the storm mid-week, which then changed into a cold rain, so nothing is left of our first snowfall of the season. This weekend is supposed to be filled with warmer temps and glorious sunshine. I’m headed out for another hike in the woods with a dear friend. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing a cuppa with me!

“And the day came when the risk [it took] to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” 

~Anais Nin

Saturday Morning Tea

This is a perfect tea for a gray, drizzly day like today. Or, for that matter, an icy winter day. In my cup this morning is a garden bouquet – a white tea that has been delicately scented with jasmine blossoms. It is called Jasmine Silver Needles.

I have read that it is customary to serve jasmine tea to guests to welcome them to your home. What a lovely way to welcome someone.

The tea buds are plucked in early spring and processed as white tea. The buds remind me of little pea pods. Once the jasmine plants get ready to bloom, the flower buds are plucked in the early morning and kept cool all day. As early evening approaches, the flower buds are mixed with the tea buds. As the night blooming jasmine flowers open, the tea buds absorb their scent. This process is repeated every day over the course of a week. So, a lot of work goes into creating this beautiful, unique tea.

I steeped the tea for 3 minutes in 180 degree F water. Another name for this tea could be Jasmine Silver Swords. What do you think?

A candy sweet, floral aroma greeted me the moment I lifted the lid of my glass teapot. The pale, straw-colored liquor is quite sweet and softly floral, allowing the mellow whisper of white tea to come forward as well.

As I sat quietly and sipped my tea, I thought about how many times we can get lost in our thoughts and, at those times, we aren’t really fully inhabiting our bodies. You know that spacey, kind of out of it feeling you can get? Yup, you’re not fully in your body. You’re off somewhere else, in the inner space of thought energy.

There are many ways, exercise being one of them, that can bring us back into our bodies and away from the hamster wheel of thoughts running through our minds. Sipping and appreciating a delicious cup of tea is another way. What do you do to bring yourself back into your body? I meditate and do yoga and have even been learning T’ai Chi again. And, of course, I drink tea!

Have a great week, dear tea friends!

“And the day came when the risk [it took] to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” 

~Anais Nin

Saturday Morning Tea

The sun is shining in a clear blue sky today, sparkling all of the mounds of snow, now 7 inches higher since yesterday’s storm. Here in New England, we’re already above the snowfall norms for the season and more is coming our way next week. We seem to be stuck in a pattern of white.

Good times to be snug inside with a hot cuppa.

Today’s tea is called Jasmine Fannings Organic. Now I am not a fan of scented teas to begin with and even more not a fan of the fannings style of leaf, very finely cut particles of tea leaf so you might be wondering why I chose this tea. The fine bits fall right through my glass infuser basket and even through my strainer when I try to strain it further. With this type of leaf, I think it’s best to use a tea filter paper or really fine mesh infuser, if you have one. Ok, I like a challenge.

After steeping the leaf for 1 and a half minutes in 180 F water, boy, was I pleasantly surprised. Smooth, sweet and lightly jasmine-y, it reminds me of the tea served in Chinese restaurants. It fills my mouth with an almost creamy feeling. There’s no bitterness at all.

Another point to remember with this style of leaf is that it steeps very quickly in a minute or so. So, if you’re the type of tea drinker who likes to pour your water and go fold some laundry for awhile, this tea might not be for you.

As I’ve talked about in previous posts, most jasmine tea leaf is processed first as a green tea and then later that green tea leaf is scented with jasmine blossoms. Tea leaves will absorb the scent of anything placed in close proximity to them so they are perfect for scenting with flowers. Jasmine tea is the most famous scented tea in China, originating from the time of the Song Dynasty 800 years ago.

As I sip my tea, I think about how long its history stretches back. Wow.

I think that the reason I’m not a big fan of jasmine tea, or any flavored teas as well, is that they can be so cloying and overwhelming in their flavor and hide all of the tea flavor. Not so with this tea. The taste of the tea comes through and is caressed gently by the light notes of jasmine.

This tea is teaching me an important lesson. Even if you’ve had an unpleasant experience with something or someone, give them another chance. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Stay warm, dear tea friends!

“One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats.”

~Iris Murdoch

Saturday Morning Tea

This is a weekend to celebrate love and the beginning of a new year. The Year of the Tiger. When I think of tigers, I think of power, strength and wildness. Also, beauty and ferocity, a melding of light and dark. Tiger has much to teach us about these attributes.

This morning’s tea, a Chinese Jasmine, is a melding of 2 different types of plants, the camellia sinensis (tea) and a fragrant flower that opens only at night.

Jasmine flowers are plucked in the dew of the morning and gathered together for scenting green tea. As tea leaves are highly susceptible to absorbing scents, the marriage of these components in carefully controlled conditions produces a wonderfully fragrant tea.

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 180 degree F water. The soft floral aroma greeted me as I lifted the lid of my glass teapot.

Glowing like a warm sunset, the tea liquor imparts a delicate, sweet flavor with an overlay of floral notes on the green tea’s vegetal character. A bright finish lingers on my tongue.

As I sip my tea, I catch images of sitting in a summer garden, drinking tea from fragile cups shaped like tiny eggs, the fragrance of blooming flowers all around.

As you can probably tell, I am so ready for spring’s arrival and its gentle fuzz of color as inner growth manifests once again in the outer world.

I have been thinking a lot lately about opening my heart and what that means to me. It conjures words like breathe, awareness, connection, listening, forgiveness, acceptance.

How do you open your heart?

Go to your bosom; Knock there, and ask your heart what it doth know.

~William Shakespeare

Saturday Morning Tea

Hello dear tea friends. I hope you had a marvelous week. I had a glorious sleep in this morning. That is definitely at the top of my list of ways to get your balance back during a busy, frenetic holiday season. A lovely way to start the day, if a bit of a late start…

This morning’s tea is a wonderful aromatherapy experience. Conjuring up images of gardens and armfuls of just picked fragrant blooms, it is a green (pouchong) jasmine tea called Jasmine Mao Feng. The long tea leaves are twisted into wiry threads as they are processed as a green tea. Mao Feng means “Fur Peak” or “Hairy Mountain”, a reference to where the tea is grown and harvested. You can read more about another Mao Feng tea here.

The leaves look like a black tea when dry and then lighten up to a gorgeous olive green after steeping. I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 180 degree F water.

The tea liquor is the color of a golden sunset.

Once the jasmine flowers bloom, the flowers are plucked, in the case of this tea, all organic blooms. They are laid out with the dry tea leaves so the leaves will absorb the scent of the flowers. Mmmmm…

When I first opened the packet of tea, it smelled candy sweet with a strong aroma of jasmine. However, after steeping, the aroma changed in favor of the green tea’s fresh, vegetal fragrance with just a whisper of floral scent.

The flavor is sweet and lightly jasmine with an interesting pungency that causes the floral taste to linger in my mouth.  A very pleasant sensation.

As I have been packing up more of my things this past week, I came across my gratitude journal. Picking up my pen every night before bed, I have returned to this practice of writing down 5 things that I am grateful for. I can’t begin to describe how this one simple act can so change your perspective and thus your day to day life. I’ve written about my gratitude journal before in this post.

See what happens when you change your focus. The above 2 photos are identical save for one thing. I changed the focus on my camera.

It changes everything.

Have a wonderful week and happy tea drinking!

“Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul.”

~Henry Ward Beecher

Saturday Morning Tea

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Yesterday on my birthday, a colleague brought in a blooming periwinkle colored hyacinth as a gift for me. As it was the coldest day on record in years and springtime seems so very far away, it brought hope and a beautiful fragrance to my day.  Thank you Rebecca! With the memory of that heavenly fragrance still permeating my being, I have chosen a white jasmine tea for my morning cuppa. It is called Jasmine Downy White Pekoe.

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A white tea is scented with jasmine blossoms to create the ethereal beauty of this tea. Early in the springtime, tea buds are gently plucked from the tea bushes. These buds are so new that they are still covered with the white down of the just emerged growth. They are newly born. The tea buds are dried and then heated to halt the oxidation process that would turn them dark.

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I steeped the delicate leaf in 180 degree F water for 3 minutes.

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It is important to remember that this tea is not flavored, it is scented. Since the tea leaf is so sensitive to picking up the scents and aromas to anything that is placed by it, it is perfect for scenting with flower blossoms. Once the jasmine is blooming in the summertime, the leaves are laid out and the jasmine blossoms are laid over them. This process is repeated until the tea master is satisfied with the level of scenting. There are no dried blossoms mixed with this tea. Its fragrant jasmine aroma and flavor come directly from the scented leaf. The delicate herbaceous quality of the white tea blends perfectly with the jasmine. Truly an aromatherapy experience!

jasminedownywhiteliquor0117I treated myself to a big bouquet of orange carnations this week. In my healing process, I am trying to bring as much warmth into my life as possible to thaw out this frozen shoulder of mine. The beautiful salmon orange color of the flowers brings color and sunshine to my spirit.

As I focus on healing, I have been, unfortunately, away from my studio and my artwork. I yearn to feel my materials in my hands, weaving them together to express what is present in my soul. I am hoping to return to my studio soon and my Studio Wednesday posts as the pain heals and I regain more mobility. A big thank you to all of my readers for their patience as I continue to step back from my creative side just now.

Of winter’s lifeless world each tree

Now seems a perfect part;

Yet each one holds summer’s secret

Deep down within its heart.

~Charles G. Stater