Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Pu-erh Tea, an Adventure in Learning

In the box is a brick of Palace Ripened Pu-erh 2007 from Tevivre.com

When I first started exploring the world of tea a friend recommended
Pu-erh (Puer or Puerh) to me.  She suggested I buy little bird's nest or touchas
at a local Chinese herbal shop.  I was told it would help to lower my cholesterol.
Well I did start drinking it, but it felt like I was drinking dirt.
Gradually, because I told myself it was good for me, I acquired sort of a taste for dirt (it).

Then several years later I was invited to a tea tasting for Pu-erh
and my eyes were opened to the nuances and differences in a good Pu-erh
and I purchased my first bing (a solid, compressed round chunk of tea).
Yes, one Pu-erh does not mean they all taste the same.

Now I hear alot of talk about Pu-erh from tea friends, but for 
some reason I haven't captured much of what there is to learn about this tea,
except to know what tastes good and what doesn't.
The tea in this photo is a bing of 2004 boiled Pu-erh from McIntosh Tea.

What I know is:
A true Pu-erh comes from Yunnan Province of China
Pu-erh is often aged
There are Raw and Ripened Pur-erh's,
now this is where it gets muddy to me.
So this post is for me as much as for you, to help get it right.

"Pǔ'ěr tea processing, although straightforward, is complicated by the fact that the tea itself falls into two distinct categories: the "raw" Sheng Cha and the "ripe" Shu Chá. All types of pu-erh tea are created from máochá (), a mostly unoxidized green tea processed from a "large leaf" variety of Camellia sinensis (C. sinensis assamica) found in the mountains of southern Yunnan.
Maocha can be sold directly to market as loose leaf tea, compressed to produce "raw" Shēng Chá, naturally aged and matured for several years before being compressed to also produce "raw" Shēng Chá or undergo Wo Dui ripening for several months prior to being compressed to produce "ripe" Shu Chá. While unaged and unprocessed, Máochá pǔ'ěr is similar to green tea. Two subtle differences worth noting are that pǔ'ěr is not produced from the small-leaf Chinese varietal but the broad-leaf varietal mostly found in the southern Chinese provinces and India. The second is that pǔ'ěr leaves are picked as one bud and 3-4 leaves whilst green tea is picked as one bud and 1-2 leaves. This means that older leaves contribute to the qualities of pǔ'ěr tea.
Ripened or aged raw pǔ'ěr has occasionally been mistakenly categorized as a subcategory of black tea due to the dark red color of its leaves and liquor. However, pǔ'ěr in both its ripened and aged forms has undergone secondary oxidization and fermentation caused both by organisms growing in the tea and free-radical oxidation, thus making it a unique type of tea. This divergence in production style not only makes the flavor and texture of pu-erh tea different but also results in a rather different chemical makeup of the resulting brewed liquor."
Most often I steep my Pu-erh tea in a gaiwan such as this.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post.
I find the concept of Pu-erh to be intriguing in it's process
and aging dimensions.   Often I tell friends that love coffee
that this tea would be a rich, full bodied transition into tea.
I hope sometime you give it a try.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Notes from the Garden

Portland is known as the City of Roses.
Each Spring it delights my heart to see them begin to open
and fragrance the air.
Their beauty astounds me.
The colors sing to my soul.

These roses are from my garden this year.
I encourage you to go out and find a rose to sniff and enjoy.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Storing Tea

 How do you store your tea supply?
For a long time mine was on a shelf in the cupboard,
but as it overflowed things would fall to the floor when
the door was opened.
Finally I realized I needed a solution.
This basket works quite well and each time I need
tea I love digging there to find just the right tea for the day.
Loose teabags are in the small basket up above
and larger quantities are in the large basket.
This morning I picked a black tea from that small tin on top.
It came from Betty's, the tearoom in York, England.
Tomorrow I might pick a Darjeeling from Thunderbolt Tea
or a tea from Steven Smith, but then I can see Teavivre represented there too.
The gold bag at the back is one I haven't opened.
It is about 30 years and aging in my basket while it waits for just
the right time to open it. 
Oh what fun to have a tea supply of just the right tea for a certain day.

How do you store your tea?
Do you pick your tea for the day according to your mood or the weather?

PS - on a side note, all the binders and folders on the bottom shelf are
recipes torn from magazines and newspapers or shared by friends
over the years.  Yes, there are many tea related recipes right there in
those binders.

Happy weekend, dear friends!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Bella Fairies

Bella fairies reside here.
Do you see the signs everywhere?
Or are they off dancing in the woods with a coronet 
of flowers in their hair?
Are they hiding here?
Or under that hat?
When they return, the mirrors will reflect their flushed cheeks
and the gold dust in their hair.
Oh, Bella Flora, you do it to me every time I visit.
You delight my heart and make me want to don my fairy wings
and dance and sing through the garden of delights.

Do you find places that do that for you?
Do they make you want to don your fairy wings
and dance and sing?

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


The Summer season is full of Abundance.
At times it overflows.
Plums have been raining down on me the past two weeks.
Thankfully friends have enjoyed the bounty too.
Tomatoes are ripening on the vine.
Gravenstein apples are my favorite and at the farm stand only 80 cents a pound.
How could I resist apples in the freezer for pies in the winter?
And of course a few peaches came home from the farm stand too.
Pears, a gift from a friends tree.
The grapes on my back fence have been ignored, but the squirrels are enjoying.
Finally I was able to enjoy this morning.
The figs will soon be ripe and ready to enjoy.
The tea bushes are blossoming and showing the joy of the season.
Abundance of the garden is a JOY of the season.

"I try to be grateful for the abundance of the blessings that I have,
for the journey that I'm on and to relish each day as a gift."
~James Mc Greevey

"To live a pure unselfish life,
one must count nothing as one's own
in the midst of abundance."

Enjoy the abundance of the season!!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Truly a Luxury

 Joey thinks so too!

Only vintage pillow cases are used on my bed.
Why have them and not use them?

About 7 or 8 years ago while traveling in France I bought two linen vintage sheets
at a street market and I fell in love with linen sheets.
Fast forward (it seems) and the sheets were beginning to show a lot of wear.
We used them always and did I say loved them.
Oh the crispness of climbing into bed each night,
tucked in with a good book to read and sweet dreams to make.
Or tea in the early morning light was also a delight.
What was I going to do when they wore out?
My friend, Mary, at the blog A Breathe of Fresh Air had mentioned buying
sheets from Rough Linen, but I felt like it was beyond my budget.
Then with my dear sheets wearing out I knew I couldn't go back to cotton or a blend.
Do I take the leap?  Am I worth gorgeous sheets?
Well yes!!!   So I did it just recently.  I bought a bottom and a top sheet.
This week they are on my bed and I am delighting in the luxury.
My bed it a regular size, but I bought a Queen size for the bottom because
you use them as a tuck in, not a fitted.  Then because the size is so generous
the Twin size worked for the top sheet.
Oh the LUXURY, I am worth every single penny of it.
I am in love with my linen sheets.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Notes from the Garden

Gardens of all kinds just touch my heart with peace.
They are a time to reflect and dream.
A time shared alone or with someone special.

In this garden there was structure, but opportunity to flower
and go a bit wild too.
Do you find places of rest to dream and go a bit wild too?