Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! Silver threads of rain fall from a leaden sky on this first Saturday in May. It’s been chilly so far this month and, while the flowers are getting plenty of water, they long for the warm sunshine, as we all do. I’ve chosen a green tea to grace my tea bowl this morning, an Organic Lung Ching from Zhejiang province, located in eastern China.

Lung Jing (Lung Ching, Long Jing) tea has a distinctive flat shape due to its unique processing. This flat shape is intentionally caused by the motion of the charcoal pan when the leaf is pan-roasted to stop oxidation. Its name means “Dragon’s Well,” referring to the place where it has been traditionally grown. Legend has it that a Taoist priest in the 3rd century advised the local villagers to pray to the dragon of a local well to bring rain and end their drought. It worked and the well was named after that dragon. The Dragon’s Well monastery still stands in that spot to this day.

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 180F water. I prefer spring water because of its mineral content. I find that it imparts a liveliness to my steeped tea, which I enjoy. Different water sources can produce different qualities and flavors in the same tea. I encourage you to experiment by steeping the same tea with different water and see which you prefer.

Even on this dark and dreary day, the liquor glows in my glass teapot.

The aroma is sweetly vegetal, with hints of buttered corn.

I love the flavor of Lung Ching tea. This selection is classic, sweet and nutty, smooth and silky on the tongue, with toasty hints and a whisper of fresh corn.

I’m looking forward to a family weekend, spending time with all of my grandchildren and celebrating my youngest son’s birthday.

Until next time, I hope you enjoy many delicious cups of tea!

“I sustain myself with the love of family.” ~Maya Angelou

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Saturday Morning Tea

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The air felt very still and heavy with moisture this morning as I walked out onto the back deck and greeted the morning. The birds darted through the trees, twittering and chirping, happy to be back home. I was so glad to see a tiny hummingbird preening itself on the weigela bush, its iridescent back flashing green in the morning light. Two male orioles chased each other through the trees in streaks of brilliant orange. It’s mating season and I’m sure this flying dance was all about territory and one certain lady bird. As I headed back inside to put the kettle on, the sky opened up and let forth a deluge. Perfect timing for a hot cuppa.

In honor of the magnificent green unfolding of spring, I am sipping a beautiful green tea called New Season Top Lung Ching. The flat broad leaf has a silky texture and a slight nutty aroma. I’ve written about and reviewed Lung Ching teas before here and here. The flat shape of the leaf is caused by the motion of the pan when the leaf is heated to stop oxidation.

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I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 170 degree F water.

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Some of the leaves open slightly but most retain their “pea-pod” shape. The pale yellow color of the tea liquor is so light that it reminds me of a white tea. Everything about this tea is gentle, from the whisper of vegetal in the aroma to the smooth buttery corn flavor note. Very soft, very ethereal.

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I’ve been reading A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg. Molly is best known as the author of the marvelous blog Orangette. With each chapter, Molly shares a life story and then a recipe. I love her chatty writing style and I feel like she’s sitting next to me sharing a cup of tea and a piece of cake from one of her mouthwatering recipes. Anyone who knows me well knows about my cooking phobia. So, as this year in my life seems to be all about standing up to my fears, I am taking the plunge and experimenting with baking. My work colleagues are quite pleased as they get to taste and enjoy the results of my efforts.  Since my experience with H.H. the Dalai Lama last weekend, I am thinking more and more about what life is all about and what gives me joy. I am discovering that I really like to create something with food.

A couple of evenings ago, I made the recipe found on page 20 for Blueberry-Raspberry Pound cake. I substituted blackberries I found on sale and added some orange and lemon zest. It came out quite wonderful and this morning I am savoring the last piece with my cup of tea. The blackberries lend a moist, jammy quality which I think balances wonderfully with the dense pound cake.

Hmmm, now what recipe shall I try next?

When I walk into my kitchen today, I am not alone.  Whether we know it or not, none of us is.  We bring fathers and mothers and kitchen tables, and every meal we have ever eaten.  Food is never just food.  It’s also a way of getting at something else: who we are, who we have been, and who we want to be.”

~Molly Wizenberg, A Homemade Life