Saturday Morning Tea

Water Fairy Oolong Dry Leaf 11-08-14

Good morning, dear tea friends! The leaves that still cling to their branches are darkening and curling as the late autumn winds dry them. Where October was a riot of warm colors, November brings more of a burnished look to the landscape. My morning cup is an Oolong tea from Fujian province in China. It’s beautifully named Wu-Yi Water Fairy Oolong. Also known as Shui Hsien, which translates to “water sprite”, this type of tea is traditionally grown in the Wu-yi mountain area.

I’ve finally done something I’ve been thinking about for awhile now – I got a tea scale! For an enormous leaf like this, it makes measuring a breeze.

Water Fairy Oolong Tare Scale 11-08-14

After turning on the scale, I set it to cup weight mode, placed my glass teapot infuser on the pad and pressed the Tare button to zero it out.

Water Fairy Oolong Weigh Tea On Scale 11-08-14

I added tea leaves until the digital display read 3 since my glass teapot is 17 oz., one ounce shy of 3 cups. I measure everything according to a 6-ounce cup measure.

Water Fairy Oolong Steep 11-08-14

I steeped the leaves for 5 minutes in 190F water. This tea was oxidized approximately 60% and then heated, by roasting, to stop the oxidation process.

Water Fairy Oolong Wet Leaf 11-08-14

I love the story about how this tea got its name.

About 900 years ago, a Song dynasty emperor was traveling with his entourage to southern China to inspect a tea garden. It was a hot summer’s day and everyone soon became very thirsty. They searched high and low for water but could find none. One of the scouts spotted a bush with bright green leaves and his extreme thirst led him to place one of the brightly colored leaves in his mouth. The leaf was very juicy and he found that it quenched his thirst as he chewed it. Soon, everyone was chewing the leaves of this magical plant. Of course, it was the tea plant that produced Shui Xian tea. So, the emperor named the tea “Water Fairy” for its magical thirst quenching powers.

Water Fairy Oolong Teapot 11-08-14

The aroma is fragrant with chestnuts and sweet pipe tobacco. The flavor is smooth and sweet with a pronounced chestnut note and whispers of fruit. The pipe tobacco nuance shows up again in the lingering finish.

The whisky-colored tea liquor has a gentle smokiness I find quite pleasant for a chilly November morning.

Water Fairy Oolong Tea Bowl 11-08-14

Until next time, dear tea friends, may your tea keep you warm and cozy!

“October extinguished itself in a rush of howling winds and driving rain and November arrived, cold as frozen iron, with hard frosts every morning and icy drafts that bit at exposed hands and faces.”

~J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Saturday Morning Tea

I must admit that I chose this morning’s tea just for the name alone – Water Fairy Oolong, also known as Shui Xian. Grown in the Fujian province of China, the huge, dark chocolate brown leaves are hand-rolled to resemble a frog’s leg.

Of course, there’s a story about how this tea got its ethereal name. I love tea stories so gather round, my friends, teacups in hand…

About 900 years ago, a Song dynasty emperor was traveling with his entourage to southern China to inspect a tea garden. It was a hot summer’s day and everyone soon became very thirsty. They searched high and low for water but could find none. One of the scouts spotted a bush with bright green leaves and his extreme thirst led him to place one of the brightly colored leaves in his mouth. The leaf was very juicy and he found that it quenched his thirst as he chewed it. Soon, everyone was chewing the leaves of this magical plant. Of course, it was the tea plant that produced Shui Xian tea. So, the emperor named the tea “Water Fairy” for its magical thirst quenching powers.

The leaves do look thirst quenching, don’t they?

I steeped them for 4 minutes in 190 degree F water. Even though the leaves look very dark, they are still not oxidized as much as a black tea is so it’s best to use a water temp below boiling point.

This tea is well known for its “narcissus” fragrance. The light amber liquor is silky smooth on my tongue with a lingering honey sweetness felt in the back of my mouth for a long time after sipping. Notes of chestnut and delicate peach round out the flavor.

Today is a day to relax at home and work on some art projects – making a polymer button for my finished Winter Woods vest and starting my winter palette free-form bracelet.

What tea are you enjoying today?

Whatever special nests we make – leaves and moss like the marmots and birds, or tents or piled stones – we all dwell in a house of one room – the world with the firmament for its roof – and are sailing the celestial spaces without leaving any track. ~John Muir