Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! We’ve been experiencing a heatwave all this week in New England, with temps in the mid 90s. Even with the AC on full blast, I’m feeling very drained and foggy. The good news is that a cool front is sweeping in tonight with a line of thunderstorms that will bring relief from the oppressive heat. As I was out walking the other day, I was thinking how blessed I am to live in a place with changing weather. Ok, on to tea…

My morning cuppa is a lightly oxidized Oolong from Thailand called Ruan Zhi Thai Oolong.

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Tea cultivation and production in the high mountains of Thailand was started and established in the 1980s by Chinese immigrants. What began as small economic activity has grown to a strong community of independent tea gardens.

This tea is plucked from Taiwanese bushes that were brought over for Oolong tea production and the whole leaves are carefully rolled in the tradition of Taiwanese tea crafting.

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The tea came in a beautiful stylized packet with colorful images of flowers and birds. Does anyone know what kind of bird that is?

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As you can see from the photo of the dry leaf, the leaf is tightly rolled into large spiral-shaped pellets. After a 3 minute steeping in 190F water, the pellets unfurled to reveal finely plucked, well intact enormous leaf sets.

I’m not sure about the percentage of oxidation for this tea but I would guess around the same level as a Jade or Spring Dragon Formosa (Taiwan) Oolong, in the teens, as it is created in that style.

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The pale jade tea liquor has a light floral fragrance with a very rich, buttery flavor. Notes of orchid gently dance across my tongue and linger into the finish. This tea is light yet richly flavored all at the same time. It would taste excellent iced, especially on a hot, steamy day like today.

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I’ve decided to sip my tea hot so I can show off my new teabowl. A lovely shade of seagreen with washes of reddish brown on the rim, it’s covered in light speckles that glitter in the sunlight falling on the inside of the bowl.

To beat the heat today, I’m going to catch a movie this afternoon in an air-conditioned theater. How about you? Tomorrow will be a much nicer day to spend outside, a perfect day to have a picnic with my grandkids.

As always, thanks for visiting and have a wonderful week!

“You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.” 

~Alan Alda

Saturday Morning Tea on Sunday

Well, I scurried around all day yesterday and gathered as many acorns as I could amidst traffic jams filled with many other squirrels doing the exact same thing. And now I sit quietly, cup of tea in hand, watching the snowflakes fall. What a difference a day makes…

On this cold, snowy morning, I’m sipping an Oolong tea from the other side of the world, Thailand.  Called “Gue-Fei” which I have read, interestingly enough, translates to “concubine tea”. It has an interesting story from Taiwan.

In 2000, there was a devastating earthquake on the island of Taiwan and the tea farmers in Luku township concentrated all of their efforts on rebuilding their homes. The tea bushes were neglected and an insect known as a “tea leafhopper” set in and munched on the leaves. When they finally were able to harvest the leaves and process them, they discovered that the leafhopper had activated the plant’s natural defense system which changed the flavor of the leaf, unexpectedly and delightfully yielding a liquor with a distinctive floral, honey-like quality.

Wow, what a silver lining there.

You can read about the history of how tea came to be grown in Thailand here. Not only is Thailand’s terrain and weather very similar to Taiwan, their tea bushes originate from there.

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 190 degree F water. The aroma is lightly floral with sweet notes of honey.

The honeyed color of the tea liquor holds promise of what is to come – rich, sweet, nectar flavor with notes of flower blooms and a light caramel finish.

The white world outside lights up my teabowl as I watch the snowflakes fall and dream…

There is nothing in the world more beautiful than the forest
clothed to its very hollows in snow.
It is the still ecstasy of nature, wherein every spray,
every blade of grass, every spire of reed,
every intricacy of twig, is clad with radiance.

~William Sharp

Happy solstice, dear tea friends!

Saturday Morning Tea

“So I must rise at early dawn, as busy as can be, to get my daily labor done, and pluck the leafy tea.”

Le Yih, Ballad of the Tea Pickers, Early Ch’ing Dynasty, 1644

This morning I am welcoming the month of November with a cup of Ruan Zhi Thai Oolong. Tea cultivation and production in the high mountains of Thailand was started and established in the 1980s by Chinese immigrants. What began as small economic activity has grown to a strong community of independent tea gardens.You can read more about the story of the arrival of tea in Thailand in this article.

The tea is plucked from Taiwanese bushes that were brought over for Oolong tea production and the whole leaves are carefully rolled in the tradition of Taiwan tea crafting. Steeping for 3 minutes in 190 degree water, the leaf gently unfurls to reveal itself beautifully intact. As I lifted the lid of my teapot, I inhaled the delicate scent of lilacs and orchids. The tea liquor is golden yellow with exotic flavor notes of spicy flowers. It reminds me of a Formosa Jade Oolong. You can read my review of that tea here.

I was poking around in my cupboard this morning and found this simply designed teabowl that I completely forgot I had. I purchased it last year at the Kaji Aso studio in Boston when I attended the Japanese Tea ceremony. The clay is dark brown with white speckles and the glaze looks like it has been applied with a sponge in washes of white, yellow and brown. At the bottom of my bowl lies a shape that one moment looks like a fish and the next moment a leaf. I find myself drawn more and more to bowls and pots of simple Asian design with Wabi Sabi elements of perfection in imperfection.

For the first time in weeks, I have a weekend that is stretched before me with no plans at all. Possibilities…

Have you still got your space?

your soul, your own and necessary place

where your own voices may speak to you,

you alone, where you may dream.

Oh, hold onto it, don’t let it go.

-Doris Lessing