Saturday Morning Tea

A week of settling in. I sit here in one of my straight backed kitchen chairs, looking out onto a robin’s egg sky and ponder how I fit into this new place. My own place. Sometimes I feel like it is not real and I am living in a dream. And I sip my tea…

This morning I crave a tea to wake my mouth (and the rest of me) and chose the best tea for that job, a second flush Darjeeling from The Namring Upper estate. Located in northeast India amidst the majestic, towering Himalayan peaks, this estate is one of the more well known in Darjeeling district. I reviewed last year’s Namring second flush here.

Second flush Darjeelings are harvested in the summer after the leaves have “flushed” back from the first flush (spring) harvest. Usually, the appearance and taste is darker, richer, fuller.

This tea is all that and more.

After spooning the tea into my small glass teapot, I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in boiling point (212 F) water. I like to use bottled spring water for steeping. I find that gives the most consistent, true taste. The tap water in my town is unreliable for brewing tea.

The aroma is rich and fruity with a taste of ripe muscatel grapes. The finish has notes of wood and nut in a pungent bite that lingers, drawing all of the moisture out of my mouth.

Oooo…this would be marvelous with rich desserts.

While many folks are making resolutions this time of year, there are others who choose a word for the year. A word to guide. A word to contemplate. A word to open awareness. If I had to choose one word for this tea, it would be

rich

Even the color is rich, a dark amber which glows like a precious jewel. Serve this tea with dessert at your next dinner gathering.

Today I am spending the whole day in my new studio, unwrapping the many boxes piled in there and finding a place for each precious art supply.

“There are times to cultivate and create, when you nurture your world and give birth to new ideas and ventures. There are times of flourishing and abundance, when life feels in full bloom, energized and expanding. And there are times of fruition, when things come to an end. They have reached their climax and must be harvested before they begin to fade. And finally of course, there are times that are cold, and cutting and empty, times when the spring of new beginnings seems like a distant dream. Those rhythms in life are natural events. They weave into one another as day follows night, bringing, not messages of hope and fear, but messages of how things are.” ~Chogyam Trungpa

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Saturday Morning Tea

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Spring is the most wonderful time of year in many ways.

One of my favorite happenings in Spring is the arrival of the very first First Flush Darjeeling. The term “first flush” refers to the brand new spring leaf buds, the first growth of the year on the tea bushes, highly prized.

In the 1800s, there was stiff competition to see who could build the fastest clipper ship, the one that could reach port with their treasured cargo first. You can read more about that here.

While the tea chests that the tea is packed in are not that much different from days of old, the method by which the tea arrives is radically different, of course. This tea arrived by plane, shortening its long journey considerably from bush to cup.

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My morning tea just arrived this week from the Namring estate. It is their very first plucking of the season, lot EX-1. As you can see, there is a lot of green-ness to the leaf even though it is processed as a black tea. I’ve spoken to many customers inexperienced with first flushes who thought that they had received a green tea in error.

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I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 212 degree F (boiling point) water. I noticed a lot of movement of the leaf while it was steeping.

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The liquor is a soft glowing amber. The incredibly fresh aroma filled my senses as I poured my first cup.

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The flavor is bright yet smooth with barely ripe fruit nuances and a light sweetness that lingers in my mouth.

Now, to sit back and savor this long anticipated moment…mmmm…

Something opens our wings

Something makes boredom and hurt disappear

Someone fills the cup in front of us

We taste only sacredness”

~Rumi

Saturday Morning Tea

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My morning tea tastes especially delicious and warming today after Dave and I just shoveled 10 inches of snow out of our driveway. The snow started mid-afternoon yesterday and continued on through the dark winter night. Businesses and schools shut down early so everyone could get home safely before the storm’s arrival.

I am sipping and savoring a second flush Darjeeling from the Namring estate. The Darjeeling district is located in the Himalayan foothills of northeastern India.

namringdarjwet122008I steeped the dark leaf for 3 minutes in 212 degree F (boiling) water, resulting in a glowing amber liquid. The thing that I like best about Darjeelings from the Namring estate is that they always have that classic, rich Darjeeling aroma and flavor. Sometimes I am in the mood for an astringent tea that echos in my mouth for awhile after I’ve taken my first sip. This is perfect, with nutty almond, fruity richness. Second flush Darjeelings are harvested in the summertime and are usually fuller with the more mature taste of the summer leaf, as opposed to first flushes, harvested in the springtime.

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It’s hard to imagine the lush greenery that graced our backyard deck a short 2-3 months ago. It is now a white drifting world.

namringdarjteacup1220081As I was pouring my cup of tea, Dave offered me a piece of pumpernickel toast. It went perfectly with the rich flavor of this tea. The bare tree branches of our backyard trees look like they’d like to warm themselves in my steaming cup. This is the time of year when I never feel quite warm enough. My favorite spot is next to the fireplace with my hands perpetually wrapped around a hot mug and a good book opened in my lap.

You can never get a cup of tea large enough

or a book long enough to suit me.

~C.S. Lewis