Saturday Morning Tea

The first day of fall is only days away and here in New England, temps have dropped almost 20 degrees literally overnight. Even though fall is one of my most favorite seasons, spring is, too, and I’ve chosen a tea this morning that reminds me of those promising days when the soil is just warming up and the tea bushes have started their growth cycle. Yes, one of my most favorite teas – a first flush Darjeeling! This one is from the Makaibari estate, an organic, biodynamic, Fair Trade tea garden in northeast India.

I’ve written about it before here.

As the tea steeps (3 minutes in 212 F water) in my glass teapot, you can see the green bits of leaf that are a good indicator of its first flush designation. Some folks actually believe they’ve received a green tea when they look at the first flush leaf. Yes, it is processed as a black tea but it seems that this first leaf growth, or flush, retains its greenish color, unlike a second flush tea.

As I lift the lid of my teapot, a faint aroma of nuts arises from the light amber tea liquor.

My teapot wears a necklace of pearl bubbles that adorns its glowing, inviting color. As I pour my first cup, I also detect a whisper of ripe fruit.

What strikes me first and foremost about the flavor is its amazing smoothness. Usually, not always, first flushes exhibit a healthy level of astringency. While it is there in this tea, I might say that it is bright rather than astringent. There is also a honey-like sweetness and a bit of fruitiness that lingers in my mouth.

As I wave goodbye to the very last days of summer, I now look forward to cozy sweaters and dark, rich cups of tea. How about you?

Until next week, dear tea friends…

Let us, then, be up and doing

With a heart for any fate;

Still achieving, still pursuing,

Learn to labor and to wait.

                               ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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Saturday Morning Tea

Yesterday my company moved from our facility in Hopkinton, MA, where we’ve been for the last 9 years, to a new facility in the nearby town of Holliston. So, needless to say, it was a day of fixing up, hooking up, learning a new phone system and settling in to our new space. Not to mention moving all of that tea. Literally, tons of it. The good news is that we’ve been moving things over to the new space, bit by bit, over the past several months but it was still a big undertaking yesterday nonetheless. Whew!

When I first joined my company in 1995, it was a very  small operation and our packing and shipping areas were in close proximity to each other. The phones were nearby so we could stop to answer a call as we packed and boxed the tea orders. Now, each department has its own huge space and we need to take a bit of a walk to visit each other. We have evolved to have a separate Customer Service department as well as a Purchasing department in a large office area. All that said, the spirit of our company has remained the same no matter how much we grow, with the primary goal of providing our customers with the best tea and service we can. And you will always get a live person whenever you call us during our hours!

This morning’s tea is a first flush Darjeeling from the Makaibari estate. A biodynamic estate located in the Darjeeling district of northeast India, it produces some of the finest Darjeelings I’ve tasted. In all of my years of drinking and enjoying Darjeeling teas, I haven’t met a Makaibari that I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed.

The leaf is resplendent with a profusion of tips which I find smooths out the crisp pungent flavor of a first flush tea. I steeped the leaves at my usual 3 minutes in boiling point water.

Look at that gorgeous color. Yum.

The fragrant aroma has a faint note of juicy citrus and the crisp flavor fills my mouth with notes of a muscatel grape.

I just had to enjoy this tea in a white teabowl so I could keep gazing upon that amazing color.

The muggy humidity has left us here in New England and we are blessed with a clearer, cooler day today. I’m going to find some time to spend in my studio, getting back to my experimentations with acrylic paint and polymer clay.

What’s in your teacup this weekend?

“Being an artist means: not numbering and counting, but ripening like a tree, which doesn’t force its sap, and stands confidently in the storms of spring, not afraid that afterward summer may not come. It does come. But it comes only to those who are patient, who are there as if eternity lay before them, so unconcernedly silent and vast.”

~Rainer Maria Rilke

Saturday Morning Tea

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One of my most favorite rites of Spring every year is trying the new first flush Darjeelings as they arrive. Their aromatic fragrance, their brisk character, their fresh flavor…mmmm. But wait, isn’t it autumn now? Well yes, it is, but one of the most interesting first flush teas from the Makaibari estate has just come to my attention and I’d love to share it with you this morning.

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Called Makaibari estate Long Leaf first flush, it is the 11th lot harvested from their first flush season. The leaves are a gorgeous variegation of color and size. I steeped them in my glass teapot for 3 minutes in 212 degree F (boiling) water.

The Makaibari tea estate is a biodynamic, Fair Trade estate located in the West Bengal state in eastern India. The goal of their agricultural practices, as stated on their website:

“The goal of biodynamic practices coupled with permaculture, to usher harmony between soil, microorganisms, plants, animals and man, is a shining model at Makaibari for all of mankind to emulate….. Makaibari follows a form of integrated forest management called permaculture where the tea bush is part of a multi-tier system of trees and plants typical of a sub-tropical rainforest, as opposed to a monoculture–a farm that grows only one crop. Makaibari retains 70% of its entire area under forest cover.”

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The aroma wafting up from the wet leaf reminds me of a woodland walk.

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The light amber color of the tea liquor reflects the golden autumn palette of our backyard trees. Everything seems to be glowing at this time of year here in New England.

With my first sip, I detect a light citrus quality followed by a nutty note which I find to be very characteristic of Makaibari teas. The tea is smooth and light.

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My teacup is one that I purchased at Rottenstone Pottery in Arroyo Seco, NM. The potter’s finger marks are still visible from when they dipped the cup into the glaze. I gently place my fingers on those marks and feel connected to the artist of this wonderful creation cradling my beloved tea.

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This weekend will be spent over at my new place, priming and painting. I just found out this past week that we will be totally gutting the bathroom – walls, ceiling, floor – and starting from scratch. Yesterday afternoon was spent looking through hundreds of ceramic tile choices until my eyes glazed (pun intended, lol) over and I could do no more. Not only are there hundreds of choices but then a multitude of ways to put those choices together in a design. What an amazing learning experience this is blossoming into, in many ways.

…It’s another

beginning, my friend, this waking in a

morning with no haze, and help coming

without your asking!  A glass submerged

is turning inside the wine.  With grief

waved away, sweet gratefulness arrives.

~Rumi (excerpt from So We Can Have What We Want)