Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! The tea that I’m drinking this morning is so smooth that I’m already on my second cup in a matter of minutes. Grown at the Nildiya Valley estate in the Matara District of southernmost Sri Lanka, this black tea is the perfect example of an Orange Pekoe, or OP, tea.

Contrary to what the name implies, it is not a flavor but a term used to designate the leaf grade of the tea, in this case, a whole leaf tea. This leaf grading term is typically used in black teas from India and Sri Lanka.

You can see the rolled whole leaf clearly in the photo above of the wet leaf.

I steeped the leaf for 5 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. This tea is so smooth that I think the steeping time could be pushed another minute or two, especially if you’re adding milk.

The fragrance of sweet raisins drifted up from my glass teapot as I poured my first cup.

The dark-amber tea liquor flows like silk over my tongue. As the tea cooled, a hint of fruit was revealed along with a light toasty note.

Summer is hanging on here in New England with warm, humid weather. I’m enjoying it as much as I can because I always find it challenging to give up those warm, lazy, hazy days. Soon it’s time to sharpen those pencils and get to work!

Speaking of getting to work, I just signed up for this online course with the fabulous Susan Lomuto, creator of Daily Art Muse and art curator extraordinaire. Susan will teach us how to create a website to showcase our artwork. With a full-time job and so little free time, I was hesitant at first but then I listened to that small voice inside and took the plunge. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time – improve and expand my online presence and even start selling my jewelry again. This past year has been quite challenging personally and has led me on a journey of looking at what is really important in my life. I’ve been working hard on letting go of negative experiences of the past and moving forward with my art. I’m looking forward to discovering what the future holds!

As always, thanks for taking the time to visit and share a cup of tea with me. Until next week, dear friends…

“Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.”

~Ella Fitzgerald

Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! Another week has gone by and now it’s September already. While I love the hot, sunny days of summer, I always look forward to the flame of colors that autumn sweeps in. In anticipation of those cooler days ahead, I’m enjoying a cup of a thick, rich China black tea, called Chingwo Congou Super Grade.

This tea is a popular style from Fujian province in southern China. I have read that most Chingwo (Ching Wo) teas are grown from a cultivar called Da Baicha. The mountainous area of northern Fujian provides a perfect climate for this particular cultivar. I’ve also read that while Keemun teas are considered the “Burgundies”, Chingwo teas are named the “Clarets”.

The long, beautifully intact leaves look like accordion pleated silk.

I steeped the leaves for 5 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. The dark copper tea liquor has a warm, fragrant aroma of toast with a hint of cocoa.

The tea is super smooth and mellow with notes of red wine and a suggestion of dark chocolate. I bet you could steep the leaves for much longer than 5 minutes. A great tea to leave steeping while you go do something else.

As always, thanks for popping by and sharing a cuppa with me. I’m going to start sharing my creative work again. I have been making pieces this summer, just haven’t had any time to photograph them! Soon, soon… I leave you with a wonderful quote by Eleanor Roosevelt. Have a great week!

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, “I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” You must do the thing you think you cannot do.  ~Eleanor Roosevelt

Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! I hope that you all had a fabulous week. This morning’s tea comes from Fujian province in China and was harvested in March of this year. Please allow me to introduce you to Pre-Chingming Snow Dragon, a green tea.

For more information about Pre-Chingming teas, I’ve written about them here and here.

The leaves consist of what are called “bud sets”, the fine plucking of the new growth on the tea plant. So, in other words, delicate baby leaves.

You can see what I mean in this photo of the wet leaf.

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 180F water. The aroma was quite vegetal as I poured my first cup. Vegetal like your first bite of new asparagus in the spring.

The tea liquor is a delicate greenish straw color, as light as a white tea. The flavor isn’t delicate though. It’s rich with floral notes and a pronounced sweetness which lingers in my mouth.

I’ve read that the producer of this tea describes the flavor as a “wild green” taste. While I find this tea vegetal but not overly so, I’m not sure what that description means. Does anyone know?

Today is my granddaughter’s dance recital. Very exciting! Have a wonderful week!

“I fear the venture into the unknown. But that is part of the act of creating and the art of performing.” ~Martha Graham, Dancer

Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! In my quest to find an enjoyable, caffeine-free cuppa for my evenings, I’m doing a cupping on some Earl Greys: Rooibos Earl Grey, Decaffeinated Earl Grey and Premium Decaffeinated Earl Grey.

I’m using 3 cupping sets I’ve borrowed from work. These cupping sets are great. Having 3 parts – a steeping cup, a lid and a tasting bowl – they’re specifically made for the purpose of steeping a group of teas to compare and contrast them. Each cup has a 6 ounce capacity and little “teeth” on the rim opposite the handle.

I spooned a teaspoon of tea leaves into each cup and steeped for 5 minutes in boiling point (212F) water.

Once my timer sounded, I gently started pouring the tea from the cup into the bowl making sure I was holding the lid on securely as I poured. The tea will pour out into the bowl through the little “teeth”. I layed the cup into the bowl with the top of the cup tilted down so that the rest of the tea would pour out.

To complete the process, I inverted each cup while holding the lid securely and tapped gently on its bottom. This will release the leaves onto the lid so the steeped leaf for each tea may be viewed next to its tea liquor. It’s a little tricky at first to do this but after you’ve done it a couple of times, it’s easy to get into the rhythm of it.

If more than one person is partaking in the cupping, use a spoon for each bowl so you can place a couple of spoonfuls in your cup, try that tea and so on as you make your way down the line. Since it was just me, I sipped directly out of each teabowl.

It’s a good idea to have a small notebook handy so you can jot down your thoughts about each tea.

I found the Rooibos Earl Grey to be very smooth with a lighter bergamot flavor. The vanilla/citrus-y notes of the Rooibos came through in the cup, pleasantly co-existing with the bergamot.

The Decaffeinated Earl Grey had a very sharp taste, most likely indicating that it really couldn’t take as long of a steeping time as the other two. So, next time I’ll try 3-4 minutes for this tea. The bergamot flavor, however, was very light, even oversteeped.

The Premium Decaffeinated Earl Grey was smooth with a stronger bergamot flavor and a sweetness I found very appealing.

My favorite is the Rooibos Earl Grey.

Have you ever done a cupping like this? If so, please share your experience!

Have a great week!

Saturday Morning Tea

A couple of days ago, we did a Yunnan black tea cupping at work, comparing 8 of our current Yunnan selections. I enjoy the cuppings very much because I find it so interesting to taste the teas side by side and discern their similarities and differences, especially within a category. So, with that cupping still fresh in my mind, I chose one of those Yunnan teas as my morning tea today. It’s the only broken leaf one of the group, called Yunnan FBOP (Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe).

From mountainous Yunnan province in southwestern China, this black tea consists of mainly dark leaf with a small amount of yellowish tip sprinkled in. Yunnan teas have traditionally been plucked from very large, old tea trees but I have heard that some of those trees are being cut down or cut in half to make way for monoculture plantings. Hearing that makes me sad but I also know that demand is up for these teas and perhaps that is how they’re accommodating that demand.

I steeped the leaves for only 3 minutes in boiling point (212 F) water. The aroma wafting up from the steeping leaves is sweet and earthy.

The Chinese have traditionally called black tea “red tea” and you can certainly see why as the tea glows a gorgeous russet color in my glass teapot.

The flavor is so incredibly sweet with notes of pepper and earth and a whisper of smoke. The sweet and smoke linger in my mouth reminding me of sweet pipe tobacco. This tea would stand up to milk well but I don’t recommend any sugar because it is plenty sweet already.

I like my wide mouth tea bowl because it allows the tea to cool quickly, revealing the flavor notes. I find it hard to pick out all of the flavor notes when the tea is really hot. How about you?

We had a dusting of snow fall from a gray blanket sky this morning, however, it must be warming up outside because the snow is gone and everything just looks damp now as I gaze out my window. I’ve recently ordered some metalworking supplies, a disk cutter and a dapping set. I’m looking forward to getting back into my studio after an incredibly long period of drought. Way too long…

Happy tea drinking!

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” ~Rabindranath Tagore

Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! This morning I’ve brewed up a pot of another green tea, this one from Korea called Jung-Jak. Interestingly enough, I did review the 2008 version of this tea here.

This spring harvest tea is usually plucked sometime during the month of May. Its name translates to “medium sparrow tongue”, a colorful reference to the appearance and shape of the leaf.

What do you think?

I’ve been looking for a  comparable alternative to our Japanese teas as my company decided to take a cautious stance and not purchase any 2011 teas from Japan.

I steeped the leaf for 3 minutes in 180 F water. I noticed that I used 160 F water back in 2008. I think that I’ll steep another pot using that temp as, right away, I taste a bit of a tang on my tongue. Have you ever had a cup of green tea that you thought was too pungent? More than likely, the water temp was too hot for steeping the leaf.

The warm sunlight in the photo above tints the tea liquor golden but it is the color of light jade. The aroma has a pronounced vegetal quality, like fresh spring asparagus, which carries over into its flavor. This tea makes my mouth feel very fresh.

I don’t consider myself a green tea connoisseur at all, drinking it probably several times a week. That said, if I didn’t know that this tea came from Korea, I would guess that it’s a Japanese sencha. I’d love to hear your feedback if you’ve tried this tea.

Next weekend I’m attending my 35th high school reunion. I’m amazed at that incredible number and am looking forward to seeing my former classmates and hearing about their life journeys since our graduation many moons ago. So, I won’t be reviewing a new tea next Saturday but I’ll be back in 2 weeks to enjoy a cup of tea with you again.

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!

“Words have no wings but they can fly a thousand miles.”

~Korean Proverb

Saturday Morning Tea

As promised, I’ve brewed up a pot of this year’s Pi Lo Chun Bao Wei. In comparing the dry leaf, while I could find some slightly curled bits, it doesn’t seem to be as spiral shaped as last year’s lot. That said, there’s quite a bit of downy tips, the new growth of the tea plant.

The steeping leaf reveals many shades of olive green and brown, very similar to last year. I steeped it for 3 minutes in 180 F water.

Now that the leaf has unfurled during steeping, it looks very similar to last year with the same amount of broken leaf bits.

The tea liquor is a beautiful golden straw color, also very similar to last year. So far, it is quite similar with the exception of less curled bits.

Now comes the test. Is the flavor similar?

Personally, I don’t think so. The pronounced anise/licorice flavor note I found so appealing (and others didn’t) last year is not there at all. I found the aroma sweet with a note of fresh corn which carried over into the flavor.  The vegetal quality is more pronounced. As the tea cooled, a hint of smokiness came out which lingered in my mouth for quite some time. It reminded me of the smokiness of a gunpowder tea.

In conclusion, I think that I preferred last year’s lot even though I find this tea to be very pleasant. Such is the nature of tea – variations always happen from year to year.

Today is a wonderful day – we are celebrating my grandchildren’s birthdays. Ella is 3 and Landon is 1. I am looking forward to giving them each a big hug (and some fun gifts) from Gran! 🙂

“An open home, an open heart, here grows a bountiful harvest.”

~Judy Hand