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

Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! This is the time of year when new lots of China teas arrive, one of them being a favorite of mine called Pi Lo Chun Bao Wei, a green tea. Please enjoy my review of this tea from last November and then next week I’ll review the new lot to see how the two compare. Enjoy your week!

I’ve returned from my trip to New Mexico and am glad to be here, sharing a cup of tea with you once again. As promised, today I am brewing up a pot of Chinese green tea called Pi Lo Chun Bao Wei.

Pi Lo Chun, or Green Snail Spring, is a well-known China green tea from Jiangsu province. Its distinct spiral leaf shape is created during the firing step of its processing. After the fresh leaf is plucked, usually in the morning, it is brought to the factory in either baskets or cloth pouches to protect the leaf and allow for air circulation. Once at the factory, the leaf is spread out on floor mats to air-dry and reduce the moisture content of the leaf.

As Pi Lo Chun leaf must be manipulated during the next step, the firing step, it is placed in short, round metal drums which are placed over a heat source. A gentle twist and roll motion of the hand as heat is applied coaxes the leaf into its characteristic shape, resembling a tiny fiddlehead fern shape. In fixing the leaf into a specific shape, its chi, or energy, remains fixed in the leaf until the moment of steeping when it is released into the cup of tea.

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 180 degree F water. The pale golden liquor gives off a distinctly sweet aroma.

As I take my first sip, a pronounced licorice/anise flavor note surprises me in its intensity. It mellows out as my tea cools revealing a light floral note of honeysuckle. As I usually find a Pi Lo Chun to have fruity notes, this is quite unique. And yummy. Interestingly enough, there are no vegetal notes in this green tea.

As the days shorten and the nights wrap us in a longer, darker cloak, I find myself turning inward in solitude and reflecting upon the year that is flowing towards its end. I find my center and a measure of comfort in the following enduring prayer.

All shall be well,

And all shall be well,

And all manner of things shall be well.

~Dame Julian of Norwich, a 13th century English mystic

Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! For this last Saturday in October, I’ve chosen an Assam which has been described as “a stout cup”. I wanted to review an Assam that knocks your socks off in strength and body.

Meet Langharjan estate TGFBOP Tippy.

Langharjan estate is located near the town of Naharkatiya in extreme northeastern India.

As you can see from the dry leaf above and its leaf designation, TGFBOP or “Tippy Golden Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe”, this is a tea with a lot of leaf tip. I find that the tippier Assams are a lot smoother. And this one is so incredibly smooth.

I steeped the leaves for 4 minutes in boiling point (212F) water.

The aroma is lightly malty and rich with a hint of toastiness.

Despite the greyness of the day outside, my teapot glows as if a fire is burning inside of it.

This tea delivers in every way. Rich, malty, smooth as silk, my type of Assam. You could probably coax some astringency out of it by pushing the steep time to 5+ minutes. At that point though you might want to add some milk or cream.

Unbelievably, especially after the winter we had last year, a snowstorm is predicted for our area tonight and into tomorrow. I am not ready for this type of weather again so soon! I will need many cups of tea for comfort as the white stuff descends upon us so unseasonably early.

Stay warm, dear friends, with your hands curled around your favorite cup of tea!

“I like living.  I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.” ~Agatha Christie

Saturday Morning Tea

Welcome to Assam month here at Art and Tea!

I’m starting off the month with an Assam from one of my most favorite estates, the Mangalam estate. As I look back on my tea posts, I’m surprised to see that I’ve only reviewed a Mangalam once, way back in 2008. You can read that review here.

Assam, located in northeast India, has one of the richest biodiverse climates in the world with tropical rainforest, bamboo and deciduous forests, grasslands and wetlands. The tea plant, Camellia sinensis, was found growing wild there in the 1830s, one of the few areas in the world where tea is a native plant.

I’ve read that this estate was named after one of the estate owner’s sons (who later became one of its managers) and that the word Mangalam means “auspicious” in the Sanskrit language. The estate was founded in 1973.

When I opened the tea packet, a hint of cocoa wafted up from the dry leaf. There is a profusion of beautiful golden tips (new growth) peppered amongst the deep brown whole leaf.

I steeped the leaves for 4 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. I discovered that for enjoying this tea plain, this is the perfect steeping time.

The tea liquor’s aroma is rich with a hint of malt and red wine. The flavor is silky smooth with a thick mouthfeel and a sweetness that lingers on my palate. It has a richness that would stand up well to any additions but if you are going to do that, I recommend steeping the leaves for longer than 4 minutes. As always, experiment and see what works best for you.

Even on this grey, drizzly day, the tea glows like rich antiqued copper in my glass teapot.

This tea is a great choice for anyone who doesn’t like the characteristic astringency of Assam. Speaking of astringency, one thing to watch out for is no matter how you steep the loose tea leaves, make sure that all of the leaf, including the smallest bits which might escape from your infuser, are removed from the tea. Those small bits not removed will continue to steep in your tea and lend more astringency to the flavor.

My parents are visiting me next weekend so there won’t be a new tea review next Saturday. However, I will search my archives and post another “oldie but goody.” Until next time, dear tea friends, I wish you many delicious cuppas…

October by Robert Frost

O hushed October morning mild,

Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;

Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,

Should waste them all.

The crows above the forest call;

Tomorrow they may form and go.

O hushed October morning mild,

Begin the hours of this day slow.

Make the day seem to us less brief.

Hearts not averse to being beguiled,

Beguile us in the way you know.

Release one leaf at break of day;

At noon release another leaf;

One from our trees, one far away.

Retard the sun with gentle mist;

Enchant the land with amethyst.

Slow, slow!

For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,

Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,

Whose clustered fruit must else be lost–

For the grapes’ sake along the wall.