Saturday Morning Tea

I’m still anxiously awaiting the arrival of this year’s first flush Darjeeling teas, as I know I’ve mentioned many times before, one of my favorite times of year. Still not here yet though. There’s been some political upheaval in Darjeeling that resulted in a strike of the workers. So, the first flush season has experienced some ups and downs. I’ve heard that tea is being plucked and processed once again but the first flush season is just about over now. I’m hoping to be able to enjoy a cup by the end of April.

All that said, we were very pleasantly surprised by the arrival of some Pre-Chingming teas from China yesterday. So, in my cup this morning, a Pre-Chingming Pi Lo Chun.

Just look at that fresh, gorgeous leaf!

Chingming, or Qingming, is a festival in China, usually celebrated on the 15th day from the Spring Equinox, or April 5th. It is a day for going outside to enjoy the return of greenery and tend to the graves of departed loved ones. So, Pre-Chingming refers to the tea being plucked before this festival time.

I steeped the leaf for 3 minutes in 180 degree F water. The delicately spiraled leaf shapes unfurled to reveal their spring green glory. Pi Lo Chun tea is one of the most famous types of green tea produced in China. I’ve written about it before here. This tea is from Fujian province.

Because of its very early plucking, the tea is quite delicate, the straw-colored liquor resembling the color of a white tea. The aroma and flavor are light, fresh and vegetal but not overly so. With my first sip, I detected a hint of smokiness that vanished as the tea cooled.

I am giving this early 2011 tea a place of honor in my Hawaiian teabowl. So smooth, so refreshing, so sweetly delicate.

This beautiful spring weekend will be spent walking on the bike path and hiking in the woods. I love getting out into nature at this time of year to smell the fresh air and celebrate all the little shoots peeking up out of the soil. So far, clumps of sunny yellow crocus and one lone daffodil are blooming out in my garden.

What’s blooming in your life?

“Smells are surer than sights and sounds

to make heartstrings crack.” ~Rudyard Kipling