Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! It’s great to be back here with you, enjoying a cup of tea again. Today’s tea is of the spider leaf variety, a Ceylon black tea from the Tea Bank estate, located in the Ruhuna district, on the southern end of the island of Sri Lanka. Spider leaf, or spider leg teas, are so named because of their long twisted shape.

Tea growing in Sri Lanka was started in the late 1800s by a Scottish gentleman by the name of James Taylor. Up until that time, coffee was the number one crop until a rust fungus killed the majority of coffee plants. Starting with a basic tea cultivation knowledge learned in Northern India and 19 acres of land, he soon turned a small business into a very successful one, selling his tea for the first time at the London auction by 1873.

I steeped the tea for 4 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. Usually, I find this Ceylon black leaf style to exhibit characteristics more reminiscent of a China black tea, however, this particular tea definitely smells and tastes like a Ceylon.

Its deep amber liquor has a light cedar-y aroma which is present in the taste. The flavor is very smooth and rich with just a whisper of caramel and raisin. I drank it plain, however, it would stand up very well to milk and sweetener with a longer steep time.

We’re experiencing another wave of heat this weekend, with temps approaching 90. I personally don’t mind the heat. It’s the humidity that I find hardest to tolerate. So, I’ve got all of the fans going – ceiling, window and one directly on me to stay cool while I venture into my studio for an afternoon of play.

Have a great week!

“Synchronicity holds the promise that if we will change within, the patterns in our outer life will change also.” 

~Jean Shinoda Bolen, Author and Wise Woman

Saturday Morning Tea

This morning we travel from Japan, where we’ve been tea-wise for the last month, to Sri Lanka. In contrast to the vegetal greens I’ve been enjoying, this morning I chose a dark, rich black tea with beautiful silver tips from New Vithanakande.

Its FBOPF leaf style, designated for this long, wiry, twisted leaf, is unique for a Ceylon tea. You know the tea that comes in teabags from the grocery store, the kind that we might have drunk when we were sick as kids? Well, that leaf style is called “fannings”, a very finely-particled leaf that fits into those bags easily and steeps very quickly. Astoundingly, this leaf has that same designation which is what the last “F” stands for. It’s because this skinny leaf can fit through the smallest sieves during the leaf sorting process. Amazing, huh?

The good news is that, unlike last week, this leaf fits nicely into my glass infuser and doesn’t fall through the narrow slits at all. The leaf swells during steeping but doesn’t unfurl from its tightly rolled shape.

Glorious color!

The wet leaf looks like a bunch of twigs but it’s actually twisted tea leaves. The aroma is bright with a sweet molasses note.

This tea is grown in the Ratnapura district, located in southern Sri Lanka. I’ve read that this district is the home of gem mining as well as a crossroads where hill country and plains come together. This tea is processed at a factory supporting 6,000 small landholders and their families. You can read more about it here. In this respect, the tea is similar to a Japanese tea in that it is named after the place that processes the tea not the tea garden.

The rich, dark amber liquor has the brightness of a Ceylon tea along with notes of caramel and molasses, a rich, sweet taste. I put a drop of milk in my second cup to smooth out the brightness.

One of my favorite color combinations – a blend of orange and dusky purple, like dark clouds against an autumn sunset.

A light gray blanket of clouds hangs from the sky, lighting the last of the dark copper leaves clinging to the tree branches. Despite the gloominess of the day, my thoughts are on next spring as I hope to plant some daffodil and tulip bulbs into the earth today.

My hours at work have lengthened as the light of the days grows shorter. This has resulted in much less time in my studio which I’m sure you’ve noticed as I haven’t posted any artwork in awhile. Sometimes when I stop and think about it, a wave of sadness washes over me and I yearn for a stretch of time where I had nothing to do except to play in my studio. But it is what it is and I take comfort in creating some holiday gifts from my pointy sticks in the evenings, hot cup of tea by my side.

Today is my granddaughter Ella’s second birthday and I am looking forward to traveling out to New Mexico very soon to see her and also my new grandson, Landon, who is due to arrive in this world this week. I take so much joy in these blessed family events!

Have a wonderful weekend, dear tea friends.

“But if you have nothing at all to create, then perhaps you create yourself.” ~Carl Jung

Saturday Morning Tea

Today is the first day of my 9-day vacation and I am savoring the first moments of this day with a cup of dark, rich Ceylon tea from the Ceciliyan estate.

I have read that the Ceciliyan estate is located right on the edge of a tropical rain forest in the southwest Ruhuna district of Sri Lanka. This unique micro climate produces tea leaf yielding a thick caramel-y cup of tea. Its “spider leg” leaf style, designated as FBOPF Ex. Spl., results in a tea that has notes reminding me of a China black tea. I’ve written about another “spider leg” tea here.

Steeping the leaves for 4 minutes in boiling point water produces a deep amber colored liquor. Its syrupy sweet aroma greets me as I lift out the infuser basket.

Interesting. The wet leaf has an aroma of artichoke and fig.

With my first sip, I taste bitter chocolate with hints of a dark, tart berry. Its lively astringency fills my mouth and lingers there.

Either a shorter steeping time, say 3 minutes, or a dash of milk would smooth out the astringency, if you prefer.

As I drink my second cup, I listen to the music from the Pride and Prejudice movie soundtrack and I am whisked away to another time. A time when ladies wore long dresses and sipped tea from tiny, fragile teacups. I love Jane Austen’s stories.

Happy 234th Birthday to this great nation of ours. Enjoy your holiday weekend!

“We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.” ~last paragraph, Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson