Saturday Morning Tea

Hong Tao Keemun Dry Leaf 10-25-14

Good morning, dear tea friends! After a week of dark, gloomy days, the clouds have all been swept away by the autumn winds and the sun is shining brightly in my corner of the world. As the leaves fall and pile up in bright patches on the ground, that leafy, woodsy smell permeates the air. I’ve chosen a China black tea for my morning tea today, one that reflects that rich autumn fragrance.

I’m pleased to introduce you to Hong Tao Keemun, a 2014 lot newly arrived from China.

Hong Tao Keemun Steep 10-25-14

The leaf is dark and twisted. Ooo, that sounds like the beginning of a scary story, doesn’t it? Perfect for the approaching All Hallows Eve.

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

Hong Tao Keemun Wet Leaf 10-25-14

Keemun tea is named after a county, Qimen, in Anhui province. There are several stories about its origins but the most common is one of a governmental official in the late 1800s who learned about black tea production in Fujian province and then decided to return to his native county, Qimen, to produce black tea there. He met with success and his new black tea was imported to England where it was enjoyed as a breakfast tea.

With its stout, warming flavor profile, this tea would be a perfect start to your day.

Hong Tao Keemun Teapot 10-25-14

My teapot sits next to my kitchen window, which overlooks a red maple tree. At this time of year, the leaves have turned a rich shade of deep burgundy with glowing amber undersides. The color of this tea matches that beautiful leaf.

As I pour my first cup, I can smell its fragrance of autumn leaf with whispers of Burgundy and smoke.

Hong Tao Keemun Tea Bowl 10-25-14

The flavor is deep and complex, with notes of Burgundy wine, a cocoa nuance, and a sweet, smooth quality that lingers long into the finish. For tea lovers that enjoy their tea British style, this tea would stand up quite well to milk.

I’ve recently acquired a compost tumbler and have set it up in my backyard. I’m so excited to start composting my tea leaves and turn them into rich fertilizer for my garden beds. Speaking of which, I’m headed out there today to continue the preparations for their winter sleep. Yes, to quote one of my favorite book series – winter is coming!

Until next time, enjoy your tea!

“Moreover to light a fire is the instinctive and resistant act of man when, at the winter ingress, the curfew is sounded throughout Nature. It indicates a spontaneous, Promethean rebelliousness against the fiat that this recurrent season shall bring foul times, cold darkness, misery and death. Black chaos comes, and the fettered gods of the earth say, Let there be light.”

`Thomas Hardy, Return of the Native 

 

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Saturday Morning Tea

Keemun Xiang Luo Dry Leaf 09-07-13

Good morning, dear tea friends! Change is in the air. The winds have shifted, welcoming in September with dry, cool air. As I sit and sip my tea, I watch the summer curtains dance and flutter around my windows.

I’ve chosen a dark, rich tea this morning, a China black tea called Keemun Xiang Luo, which translates to “fragrant snail”. The leaves are rolled and curled during processing, similar to the green tea called Pi Lo Chun, to resemble spiral snail shapes.

Keemun Xiang Luo Steep 09-07-13

I steeped the dark, glossy leaf for 5 minutes in boiling point (212F) water.

Keemun tea is named after a county, Qimen, in Anhui province. There are several stories about its origins but the most common is one of a governmental official in the late 1800s who learned about black tea production in Fujian province and then decided to return to his native county, Qimen, to produce black tea there. He met with success and his new black tea was imported to England where it was enjoyed as a breakfast tea.

Keemun Xiang Luo Wet Leaf 09-07-13

As you can see, some of the leaf opened their accordion pleats during steeping and some stayed rolled. I detected a maltiness in the aroma as the leaves steeped, which dissipated after the tea cooled to reveal a hint of red wine and a toasty note.

Keemun Xiang Luo Teapot 09-07-13

The tea liquor gleams like dark honey in my glass teapot. The flavor is thick and rich with notes of dark cocoa, which linger in my mouth.

Keemun Xiang Luo Teabowl 09-07-13

This would be a great tea to take along to an outside fall activity, like a long walk through the woods or a football game. It’s very warming.

I’d like to wish my very dear Mom a happy birthday today. Happy Birthday, Mom!

Have a wonderful week and enjoy your tea!

“And the beauty of a woman, with passing years only grows!”

~Audrey Hepburn

Saturday Morning Tea

Hello again, dear tea friends. I apologize for not being here last week. Someone very dear to me had surgery so I was out of town. I’m happy to say that all is well and my dear one is on the road to recovery.

Let’s have a cup of tea together, shall we?

This morning’s tea is called Special Purchase Hao-Ya “A” Keemun, a black tea from China. The term “Hao-Ya A” refers to the grade of tea, this tea being a top grade. I’ve written about Hao-Ya “B” Keemun tea before here. To me, all Keemuns have such a dark glossy leaf, this one also having a sprinkling of golden tip.

Keemun tea is named after a county, Qimen, in Anhui province. There are several stories about its origins but the most common is one of a governmental official in the late 1800s who learned black tea production in Fujian province and then decided to return to his native county, Qimen, to produce black tea there. He met with success and his new black tea was imported to England where it was enjoyed as a breakfast tea.

If you enjoy the darkest of chocolates, you will love this tea. The aroma of rich chocolate of the deepest kind wafted up as I lifted the infuser out of my glass teapot. There was an underlying hint of red wine which validated its description as the “burgundy” of China black teas.

I steeped the tea for 5 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. The dark chocolate aroma carries on into the flavor with notes of 90% chocolate bar, hints of red wine and a whisper of perfumed flowers. Silky smooth, thick and rich, this tea would stand up well to any additions, like milk and sweetener. I suggest trying it plain first to experience its wonderful flavor on your tongue.

Yes, this is an expensive tea but what a special treat this would be for a Sunday morning or to share when a fellow tea lover comes for a visit.

It’s a brilliant, sunshine-y day here in MA. Time to go throw on my overalls and head out to the garden. My sweet daughter gave me a beautiful hydrangea for Mother’s Day with blooms of the palest lavender-pink. I’m off to find a special place for it in my garden.

As always, thanks for stopping by and sharing a cuppa with me. Have a wonderful week and enjoy your tea!

“I don’t want life to imitate art. I want life to be art.” 

~Carrie Fisher, Actress

Saturday Morning Tea

keemunmaofengimpdry032109

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.

keemunmaofengimpwet2032109

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

Saturday Morning Tea

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After the heavy rains of yesterday, today dawned clear and bright through high wispy clouds. The sunshine is illuminating a delicate mist that has settled in the hollows and a myriad of rainbowed water droplets clinging to the branches and power lines.

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As I sit at my window, I am sipping a cup of China Keemun tea called Xiang Luo. From Anhui province where the most prized Keemuns are produced, it is a treat to the senses from its toasty aroma to its rich honeyed amber color and buttery smooth liquor.

xiangluokeemunwetleaf.jpgxiangluokeemunliquor.jpg

Keemun tea is named after a county, Qimen, in Anhui province. There are several stories about its origins but the most common is one of a governmental official in the late 1800s who learned black tea production in Fujian province and then decided to return to his native county, Qimen, to produce black tea there. He met with success and his new black tea was imported to England where it was enjoyed as a breakfast tea.

The words I would use to describe Keemun tea are rich, wine, smoke and chocolate. While it is nowhere near as smoky as a Lapsang Souchong, there are hints in its flavor that might appeal to Lapsang lovers. Keemun may be enjoyed plain but it is certainly strong enough for milk or cream when the long, wiry leaves are steeped for 5+ minutes.

What are your experiences with Keemun tea?