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Egg hunting? Try Chinese tea eggs

Tea Squared - 50 min 5 sec ago

As Easter weekend arises, no doubt many of us have eggs on the brain. The kind of egg dying I prefer to do as an adult, however, involves cracking the shells and boiling them in tea.

Chinese tea eggs are typical mixtures of beauty and nourishment. Here's a good recipe for the tasty snacks, fairly easy to make — though, in my experience, a skill requiring some finesse.

Tart times two

T Ching - 3 hours 47 min ago

Being a long time lover of black tea, I was impressed to encounter an herbal tea that I actually liked when Celestial Seasonings introduced Red Zinger forty years ago. Inspired by memories of enjoying that non-caffeinated drink back in the wild and woolly 70’s, (at the tail end of my undergraduate college years—Gulp!), I like to blend a strong concentration of hibiscus flowers into an infusion of black tea and tart the whole thing up with a slightly sweetened  homemade syrup made from seasonal fresh rhubarb. Nowadays rhubarb unpredictably pops up in markets since it is grown in hothouses. Traditionally, this vegetable – known as a fruit – becomes available in early spring, right about now. (With climate change – global warming – who knows when spring truly is?) 

From a flavor standpoint, it seems that hibiscus and rhubarb, both tart ingredients, dance well together. The resulting perky beverage can be served hot or iced (if you wish to serve it cold or iced, let the mixture cool down and then refrigerate in a container with a tight fitting lid. Use within a couple of days). 

Here’s how to prepare it to yield 2 generous servings: 

2 ounces dried hibiscus flowers (available in Hispanic markets labeled Jamaica– pronounced Ha-my-ka)

12 ounces filtered water brought to the boil

2-3 stalks of fresh rhubarb, about 8 ounces, cut into 1 inch pieces

2 to 3 ounces (approximately 1/3 c.) granulated sugar

8 ounces water

4 to 5 grams black tea of your choice (I tend to use Sri Lankan teas. but Indian blacks, such as Assam and Nilgiri would also work well), brewed in 16 ounces 212 degree F. filtered water, for about 3 minutes (Don’t overextract the tea; taste the infusion frequently during the steeping since each tea may reveal its best character with shorter infusions)

Additional sugar to taste

Soak the hibiscus flowers in the boiling water until they are softened and the resulting liquid has a vivid ruby color. Pass the mixture through a fine meshed sieve, pressing hard on the solids to extract as much of the liquid as possible. Reserve the liquid. Discard the solids. 

In a heavy medium-sized sauce pan, gently cook the rhubarb with sugar and water just until the fruit softens slightly. Press through a sieve and use the resulting liquid for the beverage. Save the solids to serve over vanilla ice cream, if you wish (sweeten them further with granulated sugar or a mild honey, if you’d like) and then top the whole thing off with crushed bits of ginger snaps. 

Combine the hibiscus and rhubarb liquids. To serve the beverage hot, divide the liquid between two heated tea cups and top with the brewed tea. Sweeten further to taste, as desired. 

 Shameless plug: I will be presenting a session at the upcoming World Tea Expo in Long Beach, CA on Saturday, May 31st; I will be pairing teas with cheese and teas with chocolate. Hope the Tching audience will be out in droves! For more information and to register and sign up for my session, go to the World Tea Expo, click on Schedule and Events and then go to Education Conference Sessions. 

MAIN:              Image of rhubarb provided by contributor.

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Hunan Dark Tea from Tea Source

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 03:59

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Dark Tea

Where to Buy:  Tea Source

Tea Description:

This loose Hunan dark tea is very fragrant and steeps up medium-bodied, slightly sweet, and meadowy. Good for multiple infusions. This is a great introduction to Hunan dark teas.

Learn more about this tea here.

To subscribe to Steepster Select, click here.

Taster’s Review:

I am not sure exactly what the difference is between “dark” teas and pu-erh teas, but, Tea Source explains it like this:

The category of China dark tea is shrouded in mystery. They are almost never seen in the West. Dark teas from Hunan Province steep up medium-bodied, very smooth, and usually with a natural sweet note as opposed to the dark earthiness of puer. Technically, dark tea is a tea that has gone through a secondary fermentation process. Like puer, dark teas age well and are probiotic.

Since it would seem that it is similar to, but different from pu-erh, I have created a new category under the “parent” category of pu-erh called “Dark Tea,” and this Hunan Dark Tea from Tea Source is the first tea that is being categorized as a Dark Tea here on the SororiTea Sisters Blog.

However, since it is similar to pu-erh, I gave the leaves a quick rinse before I brewed the tea, just as I would a pu-erh.

I will say that this doesn’t taste as earthy as pu-erh, nor does it have that sometimes “fishy” taste that pu-erh can have.  This tea is what I’d categorize as a medium-bodied tea and the additional fermentation has given this tea an almost “vinegar” like note.  Not so much a sour taste like vinegar, but I can taste a fermented note, tasting perhaps like a grape-y balsamic vinegar that’s been thinned with wine.  But that’s just one dimension in this complex tea.

There is also a sweet, creamy sort of taste to this, and that is something I can’t recall tasting in a pu-erh!  It’s almost like a vanilla frosting note!  Wow!  Notes of sweet honey and molasses, but again … lighter than these.  Almost like a thinned molasses.  Notes of earth, but I like that the earth tones aren’t dominating the cup, instead, I’m experiencing more of the grape-y and sweeter flavors of vanilla cream.

What an enjoyable tea experience!  This is remarkably smooth and mild.

My second infusion proved to be sweeter than the first.  It was a little less creamy than the first infusion.  Not quite as “vanilla frosting” as the first, but I still taste the honey notes and the fruit notes are emerging.  I am also noticing a mineral-y sort of taste that imparts a slightly dry note toward the tail.  I’m also noticing an ever so slight grassy tone to this cup.

The mineral notes seem to have replaced the “fermented” note that I tasted in the first cup, because I’m not getting that fermented wine/balsamic flavor that I experienced in the first cup, but, as I said, the fruit notes become more focused in this second cup.

It’s hard to say which cup I preferred – the first or the second!  Both were delightful.  This is a really good tea, I highly recommend it.

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Organic Ginger Calendula Rooibos Tea from Spicely Organics

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 16:00

Tisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Rooibos

Where to Buy:  Spicely Organics

Tisane Description:

Free of caffeine, but full of energizing ingredients! This tea is perfect for fine-tuning and focusing the senses, while also supporting healthy circulation. This tea is tangy, sweet, and a little spicy — the synergistic effect of this blend is perfect any time of day. INGREDIENTS: Organic Rooibos, Organic Ginger, Organic Calendula Petals

Learn more about this tisane here.

Learn more about the Spicely Organics Monthly Tea Membership here.

Taster’s Review: 

I didn’t have big expectations from this Organic Ginger Calendula Rooibos Tea from Spicely Organics, to tell you the truth.  It didn’t seem like all that exciting of a blend.  It’s rooibos, ginger and calendula.

But, I’m finding myself enchanted by the ginger in this blend.  It’s got a really zesty flavor.  It’s spicy but not fiery hot, and I like the way it contrasts with the honey-sweet, woodsy/nutty flavors of the rooibos.  It’s a very comforting taste:  warm and cozy and something I’d like to curl up to on a chilly evening.  It’s also quite soothing to the throat, so I brewed some of this for my youngest daughter who is getting over a cold, and it helped her feel better.

Calendula is essentially marigold petals, and they really add very little to the taste and texture of a tea or tisane.  I’m of the opinion that the main reason that tea companies use calendula in their blends is to add some color, and I think that some companies use too much calendula in their blends, and if I were to offer any real complaint about this tisane, that would be it:  there is a lot of calendula in this blend, maybe too much calendula.

That said, because calendula doesn’t add a lot of flavor or taste to the cup, I really didn’t mind the calendula in this blend.  And I am really enjoying the combination of ginger and rooibos together … a lot more than I thought I would!

A simple blend, but it’s very enjoyable, and one I’d be happy to drink again.

The post Organic Ginger Calendula Rooibos Tea from Spicely Organics appeared first on SororiTea Sisters.

Meet The Tea: Dian Hong

Tea For Me Please - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 16:00
Dian Hong has been one of my favorite types of black tea ever since I first started drinking loose leaf tea. It is produced in the Yunnan province of China. Dian is a short name for this region and Hong means Red. In China, black teas are usually called red teas so that can cause some confusion for tea drinkers. Many of us think of rooibos, an herbal tea from South Africa, as red tea. Relatively speaking it is a fairly new tea for Yunnan. This region is most commonly known for its puerh tea.

The leaves are usually dark and twisted in shape with trademark golden tips. The amount of golden tips vary widely but this doesn't have much of an affect on taste, it just makes them look pretty. I have to admit that I am a sucker for them. The taste is full bodied but sweet with fruity notes that are often compared to raisins or dates. Some Yunnan black teas also have a yammy or sweet potato-like quality. They aren't very bitter so this is a black tea that you can drink all on its own without milk and sugar. One of my favorite things about this tea is the gorgeous deep reddish brown color of the liquor.

Dian Hong is typically brewed using boiling water and steep times are anywhere from 2 to 5 minutes. For starters, follow the instructions provided by your tea vendor and then adjust to taste from there.

Photo credit: Wikipedia
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2014 spring harvest: the race is on

T Ching - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 12:05

Every year around this time, tea lovers frantically contact their tea brokers, favorite online tea retailers, or local tea friends to see how they can get their hands on the freshest tea of the year: the first flush.

In tea-growing regions around the world, the first flush can mean something completely different from one locale to another. For instance, in India and China, first flush means watching the rains during the months and weeks prior to make accurate predictions of when the harvest will come.  In Japan, it can be a cutthroat environment where some growers judge others for tenting their tea rows with vinyl or plastic, in an attempt to incubate the trees so they will flush first.

In Hawaii the first flush is not a time for tea trees to exit dormancy because the temperate climate makes for less variability season to season. Instead, tea growers in Hawaii purposefully allow their trees to rest by not harvesting during the wetter Winter months, allowing for a more flavorful first flush to appear in very early Spring.

As someone that is relatively new to the tea business, I have learned that no matter where you are, the first flush is one of the most important times of the year. This is not a new phenomenon. It was documented that tea traders moving the first flush from China to Great Britain had clipper ships races to prove which trader was the first to bring the new tea to the market. The Great Tea Race of 1866 was documented to be one of the most competitive of these races.

Tea traders have not abandoned this desire to be the first to market bearing the new flush of tea. In 2014, you can already see retailers showcasing their selection of first flush Darjeelings from their favorite estates. Social media feeds of retailers are filled with promotions for preorders of impending teas coming from India and China. 

So, what has the first flush become for me? As excited as I would be to be among the first to bring a new tea to the market, my main objective is to tell the story of the Spring Harvest. For this reason, I am currently racing around the tea world with my brother to document this story. So far we have met with three different growers in three regions with 11 regions still to visit. The growers have been appreciative of our interest in their story, because up to this point, their experience with sharing their first flush ended as soon as they sold the tea to buyers.

You are invited to follow our story. If you have questions you would like us to ask growers about their Spring Harvest, or their tea in general, you can submit them on this page. We will be telling the story through video. We will be sure to follow up with you if your questions are answered in our video.

Tealet will be exhibiting at the World Tea Expo along with the International Tea Farms Alliance where we will be sharing these stories and 2014 Spring teas as well as auctioning off the most prized teas that we encounter.

 MAIN:            IMAGE 1:



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Fruit Hoops English Breakfast Black Tea from 52Teas

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 03:59

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  52Teas

Tea Description:

Here’s a great English Breakfast blended with freeze-dried appples, oranges, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and peaches along with matching organic flavors (and some organic lime flavor), a hint of organic marshmallow flavor (for sweetness), and another hint of organic malt flavor to give it a cereal-like component. Ever have a craving for one of those super sweet kids’ cereals? Missing the magic that’s a multi-colored bowl of yumminess and some Saturday morning cartoons? (Do they still have cartoons on Saturdays?) Anyway, here’s a guilt-free option to tickle your tastebuds.

Learn more about this blend here.

Taster’s Review:

I’m not sure why, exactly, but something about this Fruit Hoops English Breakfast Black Tea from 52Teas really interested me.  Granted, I have a fondness for most of 52Teas’ blends, but, something about this particular blend just resonated with me, it spoke to me and said “TRY ME!”  So as soon as I got last month’s package of teas, that’s exactly what I did.  In fact, within moments of opening last month’s package, I was tearing into this package.

The dry leaf aroma is very fruity and evokes thoughts of opening a box of fruity kid’s cereal … that smell that wafts out of the box:  sugary sweet and fruity.  This is the kind of tea that will appeal to the kid in you, and I think that’s what Frank had in mind when he crafted this blend.

But even though this tea does taste fruity and sweet … I like that I’m getting a solid base of black tea.  It’s brisk and invigorating and somewhat astringent.  The base used here is an English Breakfast Blend, and I taste strong notes of malt – a taste that is further accentuated by the addition of malt/cereal flavor to go along with the theme of this tea flavor.

It’s hard to say what other notes I’m tasting with this black tea, because the fruit flavors are present … I can’t really say I’m tasting a fruit note from the tea and say with certainty that this fruit note is coming from the tea and not the flavoring, right?  I think that this is probably a blend of Ceylon and Assam (which seems to be the standard English Breakfast) and I do think it would benefit from a Chinese tea (preferably a Fujian black, but they don’t usually put those in English Breakfast teas – but they SHOULD!)

That said, I do like that I’m getting a strong background of black tea flavor, and with all the other flavors going on, I can’t say that I need more from it.    It’s quite satisfying:  it’s not harsh, it’s not too astringent, and it has a pleasing flavor and body to it.

Fruit flavor wise, I taste lime.  I taste raspberry and orange.  I taste subtler notes of strawberry and blueberry and even softer notes of apple.  The lime and raspberry are the two most prominent flavors.  Because of the way the fruit flavors all come together here, it’s a bit more like a fruit salad or … forgive me for being obvious here:  a bowl of fruity, sweet kid’s cereal than it is like a medley of individual, true-to-the-fruit flavors.  And again, I think that’s what Frank was going for with this cereal … err … tea.

The one thing that I find myself wanting a little bit more of is the marshmallow flavor.

Yeah, I know there isn’t marshmallows in the fruit hoopish cereal, but marshmallows were my favorite part of the kid’s cereal when I was a kid.  Yep, I was one of those kids that picked put all the marshmallows from the box of cereal before my brothers and sister could get to the box.  Ha!

This is a really tasty tea.  I can’t say it’s my favorite from 52Teas but I can say that I’m not disappointed by it.  It’s got a whole lot of flavor going on and I like that.  It makes my taste buds happy, and it’s making me long for the days when I could turn on the TV and watch this.  Ahh … good times indeed.

The post Fruit Hoops English Breakfast Black Tea from 52Teas appeared first on SororiTea Sisters.

The Kitchen

The Mandarin's Tea - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 19:16
MTR guises under a variety of names—The speakeasy, At 21, The Tea Room, Salon, The Mandarin's—and just about everything else bestowed upon this magnetic space form the series of creative guests that rotate through our door. The radical metamorphosis of MTR before my eyes finally inspired me to take some time for extreme reflection, thus causing a mini-hiatus from posting. Firstt and foremosttokihttp://www.blogger.com/profile/17022633186053977362noreply@blogger.com0

Blue Lady Black Tea from Zest Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 16:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Zest Tea

Tea Description:

Our Blue Lady Black blends a sultry South Indian black tea base with an aromatic mix of orange, lemon, passion fruit, and hibiscus. A peppering of vivid blue cornflower petals and bits of orange peel make for a visual spectacle. Blue lady will excite all of your senses. No wonder this is a favorite among hot and chilled tea drinkers.

Learn more about this tea here.

Learn more about Zest High-Octane Tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I thought that this Blue Lady Black Tea from Zest Tea was the ideal tea to review on tax day.  We got to get those taxes done and in the mail, right?  Actually, I finished my taxes in the first week of February, but, I know that there are those who don’t get them done and April 15th always seems to be crunch day, right?  So, this one’s for you!

Zest Teas are “High-Octane” teas, that is to say that there is more caffeine in this cup of tea than in the average cup of flavored black tea.  The goal, according to the makers of Zest Tea, was to create a high quality cup of tea that had the caffeine of a cup of coffee.

My one concern was this:  I can’t drink coffee.  Coffee makes me sick.  I used to drink coffee every morning until I realized that the reason I was feeling sick around 11 am was that the coffee I was drinking every morning was making me feel that way.  Was this “High-Octane” Zest Tea going to have the same effect on me?  I kept my fingers crossed that it wouldn’t.

This tea is VERY aromatic.  When I opened the pouch, I was greeted with a very fruity “punch” of fragrance:  I could smell citrus notes of orange and lemon and I could smell the passion fruit.  And despite the images that the “High-Octane” evoked in my head, it doesn’t smell of gasoline.  Not one bit.  It smells like a fruit flavored black tea.  I like that smell.

It tastes great!  The fruit notes of citrus and passion fruit are strong, but I also taste the Nilgiri black tea base.  It has a pleasing flavor:  rich and smooth, no bitterness, and it has lovely notes of malt.

I like the way the notes of malt play with the notes of lemon and orange.  I also appreciate the balance that has been achieved in this blend:  I taste the strong fruit notes but there is a full-flavored black tea base to fill in the background.  There is also an agreeable balance of tart and sweet here.  It is neither too sweet nor too tart.  

The hibiscus in this blend adds a little bit of body to the cup and a hint of tart flavor that complements the citrus notes.  Not a lot of hibiscus flavor, just enough tart and tangy taste to contrast with the sweeter notes of the fruit.

There are no weird/funky flavors associated with the extra dose of caffeine in the tea.  Not that I thought there would be, but for those of you who might have thought:  ”What will that “High-Octane” thing do to the flavor?”  I’m here to tell you that I don’t notice anything off with the flavor at all.  This tastes like tea.  It doesn’t taste different or off or funky in any way.  It just tastes like a tasty tea with lovely notes of citrus and passion fruit.

So far, I really like what I’ve tasted from this tea.  I’ll come back in a couple of hours to let you know if I felt any ill after-effects from the caffeine.

OK … so a few hours have lapsed since I finished the cup of tea, and here’s what I noticed:

  • More energy:  Yep.  I could feel the extra burst of caffeine.  But it didn’t feel like the jolt you’d get from a cup of coffee.  It was stronger than the usual energy flow that I’d get from the usual cup of tea, though.  A bit more like the unbridled jolt from coffee, but, I didn’t feel jittery or … well, I didn’t feel like I had just consumed a cup of coffee.  But there is definitely an elevated level of invigorated energy from this tea.
  • No ill effects:  I didn’t feel that icky feeling that I would feel after I drank a cup of coffee in the morning.  Big bonus points for that.
  • No “crash”:  After drinking coffee and experiencing that jolt, a few hours later, I usually feel the crash.  I feel a lack of energy, like I need another cup of coffee to get me going again.  Now, the lack of crash could be from the fact that I drink tea throughout the day, but, my tea drinking today has been limited to this one cup of tea from Zest Tea and then a couple of glasses of cold-brewed black iced tea.  I don’t know the level of caffeine from the iced tea, but, I will say that I don’t usually feel “energized” after I drink iced tea.  I feel refreshed and I feel my thirst has been quenched, but I don’t feel the burst of caffeinated energy from iced tea.

OK, so there you have it.  I like this stuff … it’s a great way to get your act together in the morning on those days that you really need to get it together.  And it tastes great too.  This tea has it going on.

The post Blue Lady Black Tea from Zest Tea appeared first on SororiTea Sisters.

Yezi Tea Yi Fu Chun

Tea For Me Please - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 16:00

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: small, dark with lots of golden tips
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 200 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: deep reddish brown

I've been on a big Chinese red tea kick lately so I was excited to dig into this one. The dry leaves were tiny in size but quite beautiful to look at. Golden tips don't seem to add much flavor-wise but they certainly look nice before brewing. The taste was wonderfully complex with fruity notes and a deep yet subtle earthiness. I wouldn't call it malty but there was an interesting grain-like quality that I found very comforting. It was full bodied but there was no bitterness at all. Please don't add milk or sugar to this one! They are really not needed and you would loose a lot of those great nuances. I've tried several selections from +Yezi Tea now and their black teas have definitely been standouts. It's a close tie between this one and their Qing Pin. I really can't choose a favorite between the two.

Yi Fu Chun sample provided by Yezi Tea.
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Whatcha gonna do with all that matcha?

T Ching - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 12:01

Kiss Me Organics sent me an offer I couldn’t refuse: four ounces of culinary grade matcha.  I love green tea ice cream, and I cannot go into the Asian Market without coming out with a green tea sponge roll cake and green tea mochi.  As an unapologetic kitchen chemist, I couldn’t wait to get a quarter pound of primo matcha in my pantry.

Within 48 hours of ordering, the matcha was on my doorstep.  The hoarder’s psychological game began: once I open it, it will never be unopened again.  I spent several days admiring the unopened package while I searched online for green tea sponge cake recipes.  Intimidated is putting it mildly.  The recipe not only called for “red bean jam,” but also for a special jelly roll sheet pan.  Red bean jam is readily available at Asian markets some sixty-five miles west of me, but not right here right now, and I cannot imagine an acceptable substitute.  

As for the jelly roll sheet, painful memories of single-use utensil purchases fill a shelf in my pantry, and a guilty little corner of my mind.  As a retired teacher on a fixed income, I no longer indulge myself in the culinary equivalent of a one-night stand. 

Matcha sponge roll cake scratched.

Whatcha gonna do with all the matcha?  The label on Kiss Me Organics lists “lattes/smoothies/baking” as primary uses.  For me, it was forget the lattes, postpone the smoothies, and wait for an invitation.  (Decades of practice as a household of two has taught that making desserts from scratch is reserved for dinner parties.  Two of us simply cannot consume an entire pie, cake, batch of cookies, or flan.)  As luck would have it, we were invited to a friend’s for dinner last Friday night, and the host requested that I bring dessert.  Back to the internet for a dessert recipe using matcha, and the usual utensils.

Green tea cupcakes with green tea buttercream icing popped up after the second try.  With all the ingredients on hand, it wasn’t long before the beautiful envelope of matcha was opened – tablespoons of matcha powder were leveled and sifted with cake flour and organic cane sugar.  Egg whites, vegetable oil and water were blended with the dry ingredients to make a light green batter.  Twenty minutes of baking, an hour of cooling and the frosting – basically unsalted butter creamed with powdered sugar and matcha – fluted onto the cupcakes using a leaf tip. 

Knock-out hit!  The cupcakes were gone before the table was cleared.  Flavored with almond extract, the taste of the green tea was complimented, but not overshadowed, allowing the cake to stand on its own as Kiss Me Matcha Gotcha!

Next day, I added a half teaspoon of matcha powder to my morning smoothie.  Again, the subtle and pleasant taste of matcha blended with the banana, coconut milk, yoghurt and fresh strawberries, resulting in a delicious morning kick start. Three mornings later, Kiss Me Matcha is heading toward a habit!

 Images courtesy of KIss Me Organics.

The post Whatcha gonna do with all that matcha? appeared first on T Ching.

Tuesday tea TV: Irani teahouses

Tea Squared - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 10:00

Interesting short documentary here: a look into some tea cafes in Iran. They're called coffee houses, but they don't serve coffee. Dig all the stunning urns and samovars!

"In Iran, taking a break without a hot cup of black tea would be meaningless." See, not so different.

The Bulang and the Tea Spirit

The Tea Horse Road - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 07:00

Each year in mid-April, the Bulang people (Chinese: 布朗族 pinyin: Bulangzu) in the Yunnan province, perform the ancient worship of the tea spirit.The prince and tribal leader makes this annual trip to the sacred tea mountain.It is located approximately near Mangjing village in the Lancang county in the Yunnan province.This 1000 year old ritual is an animist practice, although most of the Bulang are pluralistic - animist-Hinayana Buddhist.Water is drawn from a sacred mountain spring and transported in large bamboo tubes.The worship of the spirit of tea and their ancestral prince and princess is usually performed by the village elders and the village leader who is also a prince to the tribe.The villagers use tea leaves that have been soaked in water to wash the ancestral idols and totems.This is followed with merriment, feasting, dancing and singing.

The Bulang are a tribe of tea growers. They were influential in the domestication of tea for personal consumption and economic viability.According to history, almost 2000 years ago it was in Mangjing that the cultivation, harvesting and processing of tea began.The tea culture and practice evolved from chewing the leaves among the Bulang for medicinal purposes, to the savory hot beverage enjoyed by the world.The millennium old practice of preparing tea among the Bulang is still very much practiced.Kaocha.The roasting tea leaves with charcoal in a special container and then it is steeped in water boiling in an iron pot.This is usually tea served to honored guests.

The tea mountain of the Bulang tribe belong to the entire tribe.The ancient tea trees range from 500 to 1000 years old.The tea mountain has endured for generations and is a sustainable income for the entire tribe.The tea mountain is in a sub-tropical climate.The altitude ranges from 1500-2300 meters.They get plentiful rain, has fertile soil, is warm and rich in natural resources like copper, iron, sulphur and rock crystal..
 The Bulang people are an agricultural community.Their main cash crops include the famous Puer tea, cotton and sugarcane.They also raise their own lifestock. The mountain is covered with virgin forests that yields abundant medicinal herbs like lemongrass and  pseudogingsing that are wild crafted by the tribe.
One of the more unique tea tradition among the Bulang is 'Bamboo Tea.' This unique method entails boiling water in a bamboo tube.When the water in the bamboo tube is boiling at its peak, tea leaves are added.The tea is infused in the bamboo and served .

One of the other aspects of tea among the Bulang is that they eat it as part of their staple.It is called SuanCha.Suancha is served with meals, at weddings and celebrations.The usual mixture is with salt, chili and garlic accompanied with rice.Suancha takes anywhere between 6 months to 2 years to complete its underground fermentation process.The raw tea leaves are cooked for 10 minutes in water. Then drained and packed into a bamboo tube.The bamboo is then sealed with red clay and buried in the ground.After the burial, the ground is watered and kept damp to aide in the fermentation process.

Rooibos Chocolate Vanilla from Tea for Life

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 16:00

Tisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Rooibos

Learn more about Tea of Life and Amazon Teas here.

Tisane Description:

South African Red Bush or Rooibos Tea is a pure and natural herbal blend.  Freshly harvested and finely chopped rooibos goes through a process of oxidation with the aid of the oxygen from the atmosphere and subsequently dried int he sun to produce a deep mahogany red cup of which is one of the most popular and healthy herbal drinks today.

“Tea of Life” is proud to introduce five New Naturally Caffeine Free Rooibos Teas combined with Dark Chocolate with delicious natural fruit and mint flavors for your enjoyment – all day and into the evening.

Taster’s Review:

These dark chocolate rooibos blends from Tea of Life are really good.  The chocolate is rich and dark and there’s a good amount of chocolate flavor to the blend.  I’m really enjoying this Rooibos Chocolate Vanilla blend – LOTS of chocolate flavor with a sweet, creamy vanilla undertone.

I taste hints of honeyed, nutty sweetness from the rooibos, but, I like that the flavor of the rooibos isn’t as pronounced as the dark chocolate notes and the notes of vanilla.  Normally, I want the flavor of the “tea” to be the star of the cup, but, since this is rooibos and I’m not particularly a big rooibos fan, I like that I am only getting a little bit of the flavor of the rooibos.

Plus, we’re talking chocolate here, and when it comes to chocolate, more chocolate is always better.  I really can’t think of any instance when that isn’t true.  And this has a strong chocolate presence.  The sweet notes of vanilla give this cup an almost “milk chocolate-y” sort of taste, and I like the way the two – chocolate and vanilla – meld together in this cup.

A really tasty cup.

The post Rooibos Chocolate Vanilla from Tea for Life appeared first on SororiTea Sisters.

Conceptteas Silver Needle

Tea For Me Please - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 16:00
Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: large, covered in downy hair
Ingredients: white tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 195 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: gold

Being a tea blogger is a lot of work but it does have its perks. One of them is having the opportunity to taste some truly amazing teas. Over the years I've reviewed hundreds of teas and Not all of them were memorable but a select few stand out from the crowd. This was one of those teas. I struggled to find the words to describe it but it was quite possibly one of the best examples of silver needle that I have ever tasted. The taste was incredibly fruity with floral notes and a lingering sweetness. The mouth-feel had an almost velvety quality to it that was really enjoyable. This tea performed well using both rapid infusions and my standard 30 seconds. Only drink this tea when you really have the time to focus on it. The infusions go on forever and it would a shame to waste all of that amazing tea! I lost count after ten but that gives you a fairly good idea of the staying power this one has.

Silver Needle sample provided by Conceptteas.
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Only in Canada, you say? Pity.

T Ching - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 12:02

Growing up in Canada, Red Rose Tea was definitely the tea of choice from the time I was a child. A series of television commercials from the 1970′s made the above phrase a household saying. The advertisements usually featured staunch British folks having Red Rose Tea. After they sipped and learned it was available only in Canada, they would say, “Only in Canada, you say? Pity!”

What also made Red Rose Tea exciting and memorable while I was growing up were all the small, collectible, figurines that were featured prizes in each package. We could hardly wait to tear open the box of tea bags to retrieve the miniature ceramic figurine tucked inside; nestled in the tea bags. There was seldom a household visited that did not have window sills, shelves, and china cabinets lined with these tiny figurines. A brief history of the ceramic company is featured below. It was sheer marketing genius because every age group looked forward to the next box of Red Rose Tea!

Who, and what, was the Red Rose Tea Company? I never thought to ask that question until a recent trip home to Canada.

Red Rose Tea History

“The story of Red Rose Tea began way back in 1890 in Canada. Theodore Harding Estabrooks was born in Wicklow, Carleton County, New Brunswick, in 1861. He attended Kerrís Business College in Saint John, New Brunswick, and went into business himself in 1894 on Dock Street in downtown Saint John. He was a local business leader who came up with a great idea: produce and pack a quality blended tea which was consistent from cup to cup. Before, tea was sold loose from tea chests by local merchants and quality varied a great deal. Mr. Estabrooks’ innovation meant that tea lovers could count on the quality of tea in every Red Rose package — a tradition that continues to this day.

Red Rose was primarily sold in the Atlantic Provinces of Canada, but soon distribution expanded into other parts of Canada and into the United States, beginning in the 1920′s. Initially, distribution was limited to cities near the Canadian border such as Portland, Buffalo, and Detroit. In 1929, Red Rose introduced tea bags for the first time. 

The business continued to expand and in 1932, a new chapter in the history of Red Rose began. Mr. Estabrooks sold Red Rose to Brooke Bond & Company of England. Arthur Brooke had founded Brooke Bond and Company in 1869, starting with a single tea shop. There was no Mr. Bond, but Arthur Brooke thought it sounded better. What would become one of the world’s leading tea companies was born!

During the 1890′s, Arthur Brooke expanded beyond tea shops and into the wholesale tea market, using vans to deliver his tea all over England. The Brooke Bond name became synonymous with tea throughout the United Kingdom. Brooke’s company introduced a second brand — PG Tips in 1930. Brooke Bond also became a major brand in the large tea market of India. With the sale to Brooke Bond, Red Rose became part of a global tea company and flourished under the guidance of the parent company. Arthur Brooke’s son, Gerald, became chairman in 1910. 

Following the Second World War, Brooke Bond established their Canadian branch in Montreal, Quebec, continuing to grow the Red Rose Tea brand. By the 1970′s, Red Rose was sold in most of the United States and Canada.

In 1985, Unilever NV acquired Brooke Bond Foods, Inc. Shortly thereafter, Unilever sold the rights to the Red Rose brand in the United States to Redco Foods, Inc. retaining the rights in Canada and other parts of the world. Production of Red Rose Tea for the United States market moved to Little Falls, N.Y., in 1988.

Today, Red Rose is blended with the same care that Theodore Harding Estabrooks established more than a century ago. Red Rose contains high-grown black teas from Sri Lanka (Ceylon), Kenya, India and Indonesia. The result is a blend that produces a full-flavored cup of tea for the tea lover. We think Mr. Estabrooks would be proud.” * 

Figurine History

“Red Rose began to give away Wade miniatures 42 years ago, in 1967. At first, the promotion was very restricted in terms of geographical area. Figurines were given away in Quebec, Canada, as part of a short-term promotion. The results were so successful that the promotion was gradually extended until it covered all of Canada. In 1983, the promotion was finally launched “full scale” in the United States. To date, it is estimated that more than 300 million Wade figurines have been given away in packages of tea in America.

Although figurines had been offered to American collectors via mail and had been test marketed in two regions in the 1970′s (Pittsburgh and Pacific North West), it was not until 1983 that they became widely available in the United States. While the molds were the same as those used for Canadian series, coloring and glazes were different.

At the end of each series, a closeout option is given to consumers to purchase a complete set of figurines from the current series while inventory supplies last. After a series has closed out, availability will be limited to trading among other collectors. Look for closeout options in specially marked boxes of Red Rose Tea at the end of each series promotion. We at Red Rose adhere to a very strict “no sale” policy during in-pack promotions. Our figurines are for promotional purposes only.” *

Wade Ceramics

Whisper “Wade Whimsies” into many people’s ears and it will mean only one thing: small animal figurines from the George Wade Pottery of Burslem, England. Wade began in 1810 in Burslem, England, with a small workshop and a single pottery oven making mostly bottles and pottery items. He soon turned his attention to the more profitable ceramics’ needs of textile mills, which supported the company into the late 1920′s. As well as industrial ceramics, Wade produced a line of beautiful figurines, many Art Deco. These were so popular that animal figures were added. The line ran into a snag when it was found that the Cellulose finish turned yellow and peeled off with age. In the late 1930′s some models were reissued with a high-gloss underglaze finish.

The outbreak of the second World War in 1939 led to the cessation of all non-essential ceramic items.  Domestic ceramic production was limited to plain, undecorated dinnerware and teapots.

Intended for children, the figurines also appeal to adults who have not lost their sense of imagination. Rumor has it that these figurines were often used in English pubs for striking matches to light pipes. Also for use in kitchens, these “strikers” were used to light the match to heat the stove. That is why the base of each is graded — for striking a match.

The Wade figurines have become collectors’ items and are very much in demand. Today, Wade figurines are still offered as a premium with the purchase of select boxes of Red Rose Tea.

Many Whimsies, often those apparently in the same range, are different from each other. This is due to the length of time they were made and the volume of output. Molds became worn and were retooled for fresh use. Nearly all Red Rose Figurines, with the exception of the very first, have one significant feature: fine molded parallel ridges on the underside of the base. It now seems to have become a “trademark” for all Wade “Whimsies” to follow, making them remarkable Red Rose collectibles.

Only in Canada? Not anymore!! But you still see the grocery store shelves very well stocked with Red Rose Tea, and most places that give you a pot of water for tea, seem to always offer Red Rose Tea as part of their tea selections. 

*Research for this post came from Red Rose Tea.

Images courtesy of the contributor, snapped just a few weeks ago during a visit to Canada.

The post Only in Canada, you say? Pity. appeared first on T Ching.

Virtual Tea Tasting – Dragonwell

Joy's Teaspoon - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 04:54

by Naomi Rosen

The second time around and we are getting the chance to be a part of history! Teaity is breaking ground again, on Wednesday April 30th, with the first ever-online guided tea tasting! If you’ve never experienced a tea tasting, it is similar to a wine tasting. This virtual event will help participants discover the unique nuances of Dragonwell (Lung Ching or Longjing) — a Chinese Green tea.

Participants will steep the selected tea immediately preceding the tasting with instructions shared by Teaity and the co-hosts, Stash Tea and Joy’s Teaspoon.

Together, with the guidance of our hosts, we will:

  • Evaluate the leaf quality (dry and steeped) by visual inspection and smell.
  • Assess the liquor for color and clarity of the steeped tea.
  • Sample the liquors’ mouthfeel, astringency, taste, and finish.

You can brew your perfect cup of Dragonwell, from Stash Tea, with the help of Teaity!

Be ready for the Virtual Tea Tasting by ordering Dragonwell from our Co-Host and Sponsor, Stash Tea!

To be entered to win one of our 4 prize packs, RSVP and follow @teaity@stashtea and @joysteaspoon.

#TEAityChat: A Virtual Tea Tasting 
Hashtag: #TEAityChat
Date: April 30, 2014
Time: 8 PM – 9 PM ET
Prizes: 4 Prize Packs
Co-Hosts: @teaity, @stashtea, @joysteaspoon
RSVP Link: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/teaitychat-a-virtual-tea-tasting-tickets-11204293343

We look forward to tweeting with all of you that night! Prepare yourselves for green tea frivolity!

Lilac Blend Black Tea from Strand Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 03:59

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Strand Tea

Tea Description:

Premium Black Teas from highland China blended with lilac flowers. This tea looks, smells, and tastes great.

Learn more about this blend here.

Taster’s Review:

I must agree with that last line in the description above:  this Lilac Blend Black Tea from Strand Tea DOES look, smell, and taste great!  I love the beautiful purple blossoms, the tea is lightly fragrant with the flower, and the flavor is a rich, full-flavored black tea with a delicate floral tone.

I really like the texture of this tea.  It has a delightfully round taste, and the texture is almost creamy when it glides over the palate.  The flavor is lightly floral and sweet with notes of caramel and honey.

I can’t say that the flower that I taste is distinctly “lilac” because I can’t say for certain that I’ve actually tried a tea with lilac flower in it before.  But I will say that the delicate flower notes are very pleasant.  The flowery notes don’t taste sharp, they are soft and sweet tasting.  It doesn’t taste off-putting or perfume-ish.  It’s just really … nice!

I have been a fan of Strand Tea for a while.  I love that they’re a local company, and I love that they embrace that with their Portland Blend.  I also like that they include cookies with every order.  I love it when a company adds special little touches like that … it makes me feel special as a customer, and it makes me want to order from that company again, and the next time I order from them, I’m going to be getting more of this Lilac Blend because it’s really good!

The post Lilac Blend Black Tea from Strand Tea appeared first on SororiTea Sisters.

Slow Motion Tea Time With Alan Rickman

Tea Guy Speaks - Sun, 04/13/2014 - 16:00
Here's a clip of actor Alan Rickman taking his time over a cup of tea and then doing some actorish type grimaces and gestures and whatnot. If he seems to be moving slowly do not adjust your dials. It's part of the Portraits in Dramatic Time series, by David Michalek. More at his Web site.

Adagio Teas - Best Tea Online

Whisper of the Woods Green Tea Blend from Whispering Pines Tea Company

SororiTEA Sisters - Sun, 04/13/2014 - 16:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green Tea

Where to Buy:  Whispering Pines Tea Company

Tea Description:

The most beautifully soothing mint green tea. Imagine a crisp beautiful sunrise in a densely wooded pine-oak forest with sheets of trilliums and wild currant berries. You wake up, step out of your tent and breathe the last sliver of fog before the shattered sunlight wisps it away. Whisper of the Woods is an ideal green tea reminiscent of that crisp and floral serenity with just the perfect amount of heart-warming energy to induce prana and exploration. Enjoy.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Nice!  I don’t know why, but something about this Whisper of the Woods Green Tea Blend from Whispering Pines Tea Company made me think that there’d be smoke notes to it.

I don’t know if it’s just the name of it:  Whisper of the Woods.  It makes me think of a walk through the woods and the smell of the air that would surround me as I’m walking, and in that image that is playing in my head, the smell of the air would include a touch of smoke from a far off log cabin with a fire blazing in the fireplace.  Or perhaps it’s just the name of the company:  Whispering Pines Tea Company.  Something about this company makes me think of that aforementioned blazing, crackling fire in the fireplace.

But this isn’t a smoky tea.  And I don’t know that I’d want it to be smoky.  I like the notes of mint – a combination of peppermint and spearmint – and I like the hint of jasmine.  I like the way these flavors play together with the sweet, lightly grassy notes of the green tea.

And what I like best is that this isn’t overwhelmingly minty.  Sure, the mint flavor is there and it’s strong and there’s no mistaking it.  But, it isn’t a “toothpaste-y” mint.  I don’t feel like I just took a sip of mouthwash.  This was masterfully blended, and the result is a mint tea that isn’t too minty.

The jasmine essence builds as I sip.  I barely noticed it in the first couple of sips, but, now that I’m nearly finished with the cup, the jasmine comes through really well.  It’s not perfume-y, but it brings a beautiful floral note to the cup.  I like the way the jasmine and mint notes come together.

It really is a bit like a whisper in the woods.  Imagine a gentle breeze filtering through the woods, picking up notes of wildflowers and mint growing in the wild along with hints of grass.  A beautiful scent.  A delicious flavor.  That’s what this tea delivers.

The post Whisper of the Woods Green Tea Blend from Whispering Pines Tea Company appeared first on SororiTea Sisters.

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