Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! As we approach the 4th of July this week, I’m reading a great book about the birth of American independence, called Revolutionary Summer, purchased at the gift shop of our local national park, site of where it all began, the old North Bridge and “the shot heard round the world.” I’ve always been fascinated by American Revolutionary history, and how a group of passionate patriots rose up and joined together to create a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the pursuit of happiness. On to our tea…

My morning cup is a black tea from China, called Yunnan Black Needle Imperial.

As you can see, the large leaves and golden buds have been twisted into long, distinctive needle shapes. Plucked from the large-leafed tea trees that grow in Yunnan province, this lovely tea is a work of art.

I steeped the leaves for 5 minutes in boiling point (212F) water.

This tea is so smooth that you could try steeping the leaves for longer, if you like, or experiment with multiple steepings.

The liquor glows like newly polished copper.

Its aroma is warm and toasty with rich earthy hints.

The cup is smooth and sweet with notes of honey and toast and hints of spice that play along the edges of the flavor, whispering into the finish. This tea has a light and refined character, perfect for any time of day.

In 2 weeks, I’ll be away visiting family so my next tea post will be in 3 weeks. Until then, happy sipping!

“Is it not a saying of Moses, ‘Who am I, that I should go in and out before this great People?’ When I consider the great events which are passed, and those greater which are rapidly advancing, and that I may have been instrumental in touching some Springs, and turning some small Wheels, which have had and will have such Effects, I feel an Awe upon my Mind, which is not easily described.”

~John Adams to Abigail Adams, May 17, 1776

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Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! On this last day of April when the trees are budding, the sun is shining brilliantly and there’s not a cloud in the blue sky, I’m veering off the first flush Darjeeling path I’ve been on.

Meet Black Dragon Pearls, a China black tea from Yunnan province.

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The large, golden-tipped leaves have been carefully rolled into individual pearls. What a time consuming, tedious task that must be. A beautiful tea art form. These pearls are quite big, larger than the Dragon Phoenix Pearl Jasmine tea or Tai Mu Long Zhu green tea.

I steeped the pearls for 4 1/2 minutes in boiling point (212F) water.

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The tea liquor is a gorgeous coppery-amber color and is fragrant with notes of sweet milky chocolate.

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The cup is smooth and sweet with a lighter feel in the mouth than I thought it would have, given its color and aroma. The prominent note is cocoa with some sweet vanilla hints that linger into the finish. Yum.

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I love my new tea bowl with its brown/blue-green glaze and crackle pattern. It’s great for tea and also could be used for rice as well. I found it at the Japanese pavilion at Epcot during my Disney visit earlier this month.

This is a perfect day to go out and work in the garden. I’m excited to discover what’s growing at my new place. Have a lovely weekend and enjoy your tea!

“It is the twilight zone between past and future that is the precarious world of transformation within the chrysalis. Part of us is looking back, yearning for the magic we have lost; part is glad to say good-bye to our chaotic past; part looks ahead with whatever courage we can muster; part is excited by the changing potential; part sits stone-still not daring to look either way.”

~Marion Woodman

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! It’s a bright, cold November day today as we near Thanksgiving, a time to gather with family and friends to give thanks for all of the abundance in our lives. I think it’s especially important to focus on all that’s good in our lives what with the frightening events happening in the world. I’m thankful for a hot cup of tea on a cold morning and for all of you to share it with.

In my cup this morning is a China black tea from Yunnan province, called Yunnan Rare Grade. Composed of downy, golden tips, this tea is rich and inviting.

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I stepped out of the box a little bit and steeped the leaves for 6 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. I love how you can see the fine golden hairs even under water.

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The twisted tips release slightly after steeping, giving off a warm aroma with just a hint of cocoa. The tea itself has a toasty aroma.

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The beautiful dark-amber liquor is sooooo smooth with notes of biscuit/toast and hints of cocoa, which reveal themselves more as the tea cools. I feel this tea is inviting me to experiment with how long I can push its steep time.

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I’m comfortably settling in to my new home, one unpacked box at a time, and am looking forward to creating a special area in my dining room to display my tea bowl collection.

Until our next cup of tea, I leave you with one of my favorite poems. Have a lovely Thanksgiving!

Morning Poem

Every morning the world is created. Under the orange

sticks of the sun the heaped ashes of the night turn into leaves again.

and fasten themselves to the high branches—and the ponds appear like black cloth on which are painted islands

of summer lilies. If it is your nature to be happy you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination alighting everywhere. And if your spirit carries within it

the thorn that is heavier than lead—if it’s all you can do to keep on trudging—

there is still somewhere deep within you a beast shouting that the earth is exactly what it wanted—

each pond with its blazing lilies is a prayer heard and answered lavishly, every morning,

whether or not you have ever dared to be happy, whether or not you have ever dared to pray.

~Mary Oliver

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends, and Happy New Year to you all!

A year just started, all shiny and new, filled with possibility and, of course, many cups of tea.

In my cup this morning is a black tea from Yunnan province in south China. I’m happy to introduce you to Yunnan FOP Select.

As I’ve shared with you before, there are ancient tea trees growing in Yunnan province, one of the places in the world where tea is indigenous. These trees produce enormous leaves with a distinct flavor when processed.

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Because the leaf is larger on this whole leaf selection, I steeped for 5 minutes in boiling point (212F) water.

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I’m enjoying some closeups today. I think that tea leaves tell a story, not the “read your tea leaves” type of story, but a story of where they come from and how they were processed. Look at this leaf. It tells a story of how it was rolled and twisted during processing.

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The tea story continues in its aroma and flavor. The deep russet-brown tea liquor has a rich, earthy aroma with a hint of spice and smoke.

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The first sip fills my mouth with a thickness reminiscent of very dark chocolate. The flavor is velvety smooth with notes of earth, spice, chocolate and a whisper of lingering smoke. Each sip warms me on this frigid day when temps will barely reach 20 degrees.

Two of my very dear friends are coming to visit me today. I’m looking forward to an afternoon filled with conversation, laughter and tea!

See you in two weeks!

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh?” he whispered.
“Yes, Piglet?”
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”

A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Saturday Morning Tea

A good morning to you, dear tea friends! I’m still experiencing computer issues, unfortunately, but there is some good news to report. My tech savvy friend is coming over today to see if my computer can be brought back to life. If not, I’ll have to make some decisions and move forward. As my tea post library is rich and full, I leave you with a Yunnan tea review from a couple of years ago. Enjoy!

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

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Good morning, dear tea friends! I chose another Pre-Chingming tea for my morning tea – a Yunnan black tea called Dian Hong Yunnan Gold. I have read that “Dian” is the old name used for the Yunnan province and the word “hong” translates to “red” or “red tea”. Black teas from China are often referred to as red teas because of their intense “brassy red” color.

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You can see that color starting to come out in the steeping. I steeped the leaves for 5 minutes in 212F (boiling point) water. This is a great tea for multiple steepings if you’d like to try that.

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The fine plucking is evident in the intact leaf sets. I opened this bud up to reveal the little baby leaves inside.

The downy hairs are visible, even on the wet leaf. When the tea is dried and packaged, the hairs will dry and turn into dust. So, if you open your tea packet and see a bunch of dust, that is a good thing as it indicates a fine plucking.

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There’s that beautiful “brassy red”, which I prefer to call deep amber.

The aroma is sweet and spicy with a whisper of floral perfume and a hint of cocoa.

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I find this tea to be on the lighter side for a Yunnan tea and very smooth in the cup. With flavor notes of spice and cocoa, this tea gets sweeter as it cools. I find that the abundance of golden tip lends a delicacy to the mouth feel, like the liquor is lightly dancing across my palate.

We are celebrating a wonderful family event this weekend – my daughter and her boyfriend have just purchased their very first house. Very exciting! I’m looking forward to helping them clean and paint and turn their new house into a wonderful home.

As always, thanks for stopping by and sharing a cuppa with me. I am just finishing a beaded project that has taken me almost 2 months to complete! Stay tuned for pictures soon…

“Home is the nicest word there is.”  ~Laura Ingalls Wilder

Saturday Morning Tea

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Happy New Year, dear tea friends! I hope that everyone had a great time over the holidays and now here we are in a brand new year with many wonderful tea moments to look forward to. Shall we get started?

I have some exciting news to share with you! One of my dreams came true when I received the most amazing gift on Christmas – a micro lens for my Nikon camera. I’ve enjoyed photography for many years, starting out by taking loads of pictures of my kids as they were growing up. Over the years, I found myself drawn more and more to the closeup shots, especially when I started taking tea pictures almost 6 years ago. This morning I share with you my first shots with my brand new lens – a China black called Yunnan Black Snail.

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From Yunnan province in China, this tea is produced from a large leaf varietal. The leaves are rolled into spiral shapes, reminiscent of snails. After a 5 minute steeping in boiling point (212F) water, take a look at this gorgeous unfurled leaf.

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You can see how it was twisted as it was rolled and curled.

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The deep dark amber-colored tea liquor has a spicy aroma with hints of cocoa. The flavor is smooth and rich with a sweet caramel-y nuance along with notes of spice and cocoa. For its beautiful leaf and depth of flavor, this tea is an amazing value. I’m already on my second cup!

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Speaking of cups, I received this beautiful, handmade teamug as a gift. The blue glaze drips down a brown background in a lovely pattern, which I’m so enjoying looking at as I sip my tea and contemplate the new year.

I’ve already set some goals for myself this year, one of them being to move on beyond the portfolio website I created in my online class and create a new website where I can sell my jewelry. Another goal is to share my art much more often here on my blog. What goals have you set for 2013?

As always, thanks for stopping by and joining me in a cup of tea!

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”  ~Henry David Thoreau