Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! I hope that everyone had a wonderful week. This morning I am finally able to return to that Mangalam estate Assam and share a cup of it with you.

This is a clonal tea which means that it came from a tea bush created from cuttings of a superior tea bush. Have you ever clipped a cutting from a friend’s houseplant, placed it in water until roots started growing and then planted it in soil in its own pot? I would imagine the process is very similar to that.

You can read more about the Mangalam estate as well as how the tea bush is indigenous to this part of northeast India in my post here.

This broken leaf tea has a lot of yellow tip, making it a higher grade offering and also giving it more complexity of flavor. I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in boiling point (212F) water.

The fragrant aroma is rich and malty, enticing me to take my first sip. The flavor is thick and stout with a lovely smoothness that allows the sweet, dried fruit notes to come forward. The fruity nuance lingers in my mouth.

The dark-amber tea liquor would stand up very well to a longer infusion and the addition of milk and sweetener, if you like that.

I tend to shy away from the sometimes pronounced astringency of an Assam tea. I find this cup to be well-balanced with just a hint of astringency. It’s the perfect cup of Assam for me!

We are deeply entrenched in the long, hot and hazy days of summer still, however, I have noticed that it’s not as light out in the mornings anymore. The days grow shorter but there’s still no hint of the cooler weather to come. My garden is bursting with blooms – hydrangea, coneflower, roses, hibiscus, petunias and snapdragons. Even the chrysanthemums are starting to show a peek of their rusty bronzes and burgundies. I just love this colorful time of year!

As always, thanks for joining me and sharing a cup of tea. Have a great week!

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” 

~Henry James

Saturday Morning Tea

Welcome to Assam month here at Art and Tea!

I’m starting off the month with an Assam from one of my most favorite estates, the Mangalam estate. As I look back on my tea posts, I’m surprised to see that I’ve only reviewed a Mangalam once, way back in 2008. You can read that review here.

Assam, located in northeast India, has one of the richest biodiverse climates in the world with tropical rainforest, bamboo and deciduous forests, grasslands and wetlands. The tea plant, Camellia sinensis, was found growing wild there in the 1830s, one of the few areas in the world where tea is a native plant.

I’ve read that this estate was named after one of the estate owner’s sons (who later became one of its managers) and that the word Mangalam means “auspicious” in the Sanskrit language. The estate was founded in 1973.

When I opened the tea packet, a hint of cocoa wafted up from the dry leaf. There is a profusion of beautiful golden tips (new growth) peppered amongst the deep brown whole leaf.

I steeped the leaves for 4 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. I discovered that for enjoying this tea plain, this is the perfect steeping time.

The tea liquor’s aroma is rich with a hint of malt and red wine. The flavor is silky smooth with a thick mouthfeel and a sweetness that lingers on my palate. It has a richness that would stand up well to any additions but if you are going to do that, I recommend steeping the leaves for longer than 4 minutes. As always, experiment and see what works best for you.

Even on this grey, drizzly day, the tea glows like rich antiqued copper in my glass teapot.

This tea is a great choice for anyone who doesn’t like the characteristic astringency of Assam. Speaking of astringency, one thing to watch out for is no matter how you steep the loose tea leaves, make sure that all of the leaf, including the smallest bits which might escape from your infuser, are removed from the tea. Those small bits not removed will continue to steep in your tea and lend more astringency to the flavor.

My parents are visiting me next weekend so there won’t be a new tea review next Saturday. However, I will search my archives and post another “oldie but goody.” Until next time, dear tea friends, I wish you many delicious cuppas…

October by Robert Frost

O hushed October morning mild,

Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;

Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,

Should waste them all.

The crows above the forest call;

Tomorrow they may form and go.

O hushed October morning mild,

Begin the hours of this day slow.

Make the day seem to us less brief.

Hearts not averse to being beguiled,

Beguile us in the way you know.

Release one leaf at break of day;

At noon release another leaf;

One from our trees, one far away.

Retard the sun with gentle mist;

Enchant the land with amethyst.

Slow, slow!

For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,

Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,

Whose clustered fruit must else be lost–

For the grapes’ sake along the wall.