Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! I was greeted by brilliant sunshine streaming through my windows as I padded down to my kitchen to prepare my morning tea. The days are getting longer as we march towards spring, and it’s exciting to have my path home from work now illuminated by the last light of the day. What’s in my cup today? You wouldn’t know it from my photos but I’m enjoying a pot of China Pu-Erh tea. This is very light for a Pu-Erh tea, you say? That’s because it’s a Sheng Cha, or “raw” Pu-Erh. There are 2 types of Pu-ehr, raw (Sheng or Qing) and cooked (Shou).

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Pu-Erh teas technically start out green but have a tea category all of their own because of their unique processing methods. Some people use the word “fermentation” when describing the oxidation process that turns tea leaves dark. In this instance, the correct term is “oxidation.” Pu-Erh leaves are truly fermented, in the sense of the word, because various components are introduced during processing that allow the leaves to ferment. This process is a long held secret. Leaves and tips (buds) are harvested and sun dried, much like white tea, and then the magic happens that creates Pu-Erh tea.

I used 180F water and steeped the leaves for 4 minutes.

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The aroma is sweet and earthy with a pronounced dried apricot note in both the wet leaves and the liquor.

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Even the tea liquor is a golden apricot color, giving this selection a stone fruit theme, for sure. The flavor is sweet, tempered by an earthiness and suggestion of tobacco. The stone fruit note is still there, however, not as strong as in the aroma.

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This is a great choice to start your exploration of Pu-Erh teas, if you haven’t tried them yet. Better yet, try this alongside some cooked Pu-Erh so you can enjoy the pronounced difference between them. And they all amazingly come from the same plant!

Tomorrow is a big day for us football fans here in New England. Our beloved Patriots are headed to the Super Bowl once again. Go Pats!!!

“If you ask me how I want to be remembered, it is as a winner. You know what a winner is? A winner is somebody who has given his best effort, who has tried the hardest they possibly can, who has utilized every ounce of energy and strength within them to accomplish something. It doesn’t mean that they accomplished it or failed, it means that they’ve given it their best. That’s a winner.”

~Walter Payton

 

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Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! It has been bitterly cold this past week in New England and we were visited once again by the white stuff. Thank goodness for our hot tea to keep us warm and cozy! This morning’s tea is an interesting shape, don’t you think? Compressed into the shape of a small bowl, its name is Ancient Green Pu-Erh Tuo Cha Organic.

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Traditionally, Pu-erh teas are created from leaves harvested in the ancient tea forests of Yunnan province in China. There are two different kinds of Pu-erh tea, raw (Sheng) and cooked (Shou). This Pu-erh is of the raw green variety. The leaves are sun dried and then compressed into small tuo cha shapes. I broke the tuo cha in half and then crumbled the half a bit for steeping purposes. That’s the way I like to do it.

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As the compressed leaf pieces steep for 3 minutes in 180F water, they loosen up and release to reveal the individual leaves. This is an excellent tea for resteeping.

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The tea liquor is a pale yellow straw color with a delicate herbaceous aroma that has underlying fruity tones. The flavor is light and delicate yet flavorful with notes of melon and sugar cookie, very much like a white tea.

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The wind is howling around the eaves outside. I’m so glad to be tucked into my little nook, snug and warm, sipping my tea gently to enjoy its delicate character. Time seems to stop for awhile in my world…

Have a wonderful and warm tea-filled week!

“A cold wind was blowing from the north, and it made the trees rustle like living things.”  

~George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! About a month ago, I reviewed a Pu-erh tea which had been compressed into a small square. You can see the photos of it here. I also talked about the two different kinds of Pu-erh tea, raw (Sheng) and cooked (Shou). The mini-square Pu-erh is the cooked kind and the tea in my cup this morning, called Ancient Forest Pu-erh Cake, is the raw kind. During its processing, this tea was compressed into “cakes” and each cake was wrapped to look like this:

Pretty cool, huh? Anyway, I find this particular raw type of Pu-erh tea fascinating in that it started out as a green tea, processed back in 1999. 13 years ago! One would think that a tea hanging out for that long would get stale and flavorless. Not so. The tea leaves aren’t heated up in the normal green tea processing way; they are allowed to dry in the sun, like white tea.

So, please correct me if I’m wrong, my understanding of raw Pu-erh is that it is stored in a special way allowing it to darken (oxidize) through its exposure to the natural elements. That’s why Pu-erh afficionados talk about storage and the aging process. The longer it’s “aged”, the darker it gets?

Because it is raw yet aged for 13 years, I steeped the leaves for 5 minutes in water under the boiling point, probably around 200 degrees F. So, hotter than what I normally use for green tea steeping.

This would be an excellent tea for experimenting with different steep times and water temperature. We did that at work and didn’t find a lot of difference between a 3 and 5 minute steep except for a bit smoother tea at 3 minutes.

Traditionally, Pu-erh teas are created from leaves harvested in the ancient tea forests of Yunnan province in China. You can see from the photo above that when the leaves unfurl from their compressed state, they’re pretty large.

The aroma is earthy and sweet with a faint hint of artichokes.

Compared to other Pu-erh teas I’ve tried, the flavor of the amber-colored liquor is quite mild and sweet, very smooth with a lingering earthy note in the finish. As I sip, that distinctive earthy flavor conjures up images of walking through a deep, dark ancient forest.

Much like wine lovers collect wines, some Pu-erh lovers collect these raw type, compressed Pu-erh teas and age them, waiting for just the right moment to break off a piece and steep a cup. If you have any experience with this, I’d love to hear your story.

Next weekend I’ll be out in Michigan visiting with my family so there won’t be any Saturday Morning Tea post. I’ll look forward to returning in 2 weeks to share another cuppa with you.

To all who celebrate, have a wonderful Easter and Passover!