Sunday, April 25, 2010
Friday, June 26, 2009
I am from The South. It gets deeper than where I live; but to most around the
I love tea. I've never been much of a coffee drinker, the caffeine puts me over the edge. And then there's wine, something my body has begun telling me it just doesn't care for it like it used to. Thank goodness for my love of tea... another connoisseur's dream and an endless array of exploring, tasting, savoring, sharing, and pairing.
Growing up, there were 2 choices of tea: sweet or unsweet. That's it. Good ole Lipton orange pekoe tea. Plain & simple or unbelievably sugary sweet. And then perhaps there was lemon and some of those little pink or blue packets, just in case the sweet isn't sweet enough or the "un" needs your own particular type & quantity of sweetening.
There was a special tea that marked the hottest time of summer: Mom's homemade mint tea. Now that was heaven in a glass. Fresh mint, fruit juices, maybe some sweetener; although my mom was pretty health conscious & converted to honey.
So it's been interesting for me to venture into the world of tea. I think it first started with green tea... you know, all those health benefits & antioxidants. And I actually liked it. And then a health food store moved into the area. More teas!
A few years ago, I lived in
What comes around goes around. I find myself living back in the sultry south this summer.... temperatures today are reaching almost 100 degrees. And that doesn't account for the humidity. So my jasmine green, delicately brewed has been cooled with an ice cube or two. And I must confess that I find few things more refreshing in this summer heat than a good 'ole glass of Lipton iced tea with lemon.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
The traditional manner to enjoy the Matcha drink is by whisking this emerald green beverage into a froth. When searching for a suitable utensil to froth the Matcha, price, material, origin, number of prongs, and fabricator may all be of consideration. There are the traditionanl bamboo whisk vs. modern electric milk whip.
Some modern tea enthusiast do not mind going with a modern electric milk whip because it saves time. I've yet to try one.
We stayed the course of a traditional bamboo whisk. While searching for a decent whisk in Japan Town, we found ones as depicted in the picture for as low as $10 each to as high as $40 at another store. The prices online varies from $15 to $18 for this particular made in China bamboo whisk. I bought one from a wholesaler to test and it works fine.
For those that would adhere to the tradition of buying one from a master whisk artisan from Japan, the price for a non-ceremonial whisk may be as low as $26 to a ceremonial whisk as high as $100 each. Then with such an expensive investment, you may want to buy a whisk holder to help store and keep the whisk in true form.
Proper Cleaning Tips or Else
A friend has shared her experience with her whisk getting moldy after one use. We asked a couple of whisk sales person for tip in cleaning the whisk to avoid this. The suggestions were to follow the following steps:
a) Wash in hot water.
b) Shake the whisk free of most water.
c) Allow the whisk to air dry and do not store until it is dry.
We continue to enjoy our Matcha for the past week. Looking forward to trying new recipe of this healthy elixir.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Though few people will remember it these days, Red Rose Tea used to be the face of tea in America, sometime when flapper hats were in style. Parents would enjoy the tea, and children would collect the little ceramic animal figures that accompanied each box. I’d know, since I used to do that too.
On any grocery store shelf there are of course endless boxes of Tetley teabags that would be more than sufficient for those who still honor the classic British “tea and crumpets” hour. Like any other gourmet luxury though, folks have branched out from stock flavors, and small tea shops are the new home for opportunities to treat the senses.
Tea has of course been brewed for some thousands of years now, a notion we are all mildly familiar with via some measure of pop culture. Perhaps this is just a page from a history lesson though, and the culture behind tea is steeped, so to speak, with long-sought experience in what makes a good cup. I like this thought, because I like the tea that yields from these earthly regions and old growers.
I’m typing this with a mug of tea called “Yunnan Gold” in my hand, and it is good. It tastes of a fine black tea, typically characterized with a strong taste of sun-dried mountain leaves, but with a slight hint of sweet chocolate after each sip. I can almost feel a good slice of toast and jam in my hand while I drink it. Or almost hear the silence of a light winter snow outside while I crouch in a warm room, a good book in one hand, and cup of tea in the other. A quaint set of associations perhaps, but its what springs to mind nonetheless.
If it were to interest you, I could tell you the details of how this tea was grown and picked. From what part of the Yunnan province of China it arrived, and how the fine hairs on the tips give the leaves an orange-like golden appearance. Like any sommelier, I could hold up a glass and demonstrate how the color stems from the way black tea leaves are meant to be wilted and fermented. Or perhaps even the shy-of-boiling temperature of the water it was made with for two minutes just now. I’m sure that all of those aspects, none excluded, have contributed to this taste.
But that’s not why I’m drinking it. I suppose that if you have read this far, then you are now assured that I like this tea. I like it because of how the flavor rolls about the tongue. I savor it because of all the other flavors that would go so well with it. A cobbler, a pastry from the bakery down the street, or maybe even a roast duck, if glazed with a deep cherry-wine sauce. Don’t take my word for it though, brew a cup of it, and see if it suits your tastes as well.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
The two Matcha included Maeda-en Matcha 1.0 oz ($10.50) and HB Hosoda Bros. Inc. 1.4 oz ($8.50). There were three tests.
Test one: we prepared each Matcha with 180 degree F warm drinking water and whip the Matcha drink into a froth state for consumption. Hosoda Bros. Matcha was terribly bitter. Maeda-en Matcha was bitter, but less bitter as compared with Hosoda Bros. brand.
Test two: we prepared Maeda-en Matcha by blending with ice, "Silk" brand soy milk, Matcha, and sugar. Such smoothie blend was good.
Test three: Maeda-en Matcha was blended with all items noted in "Test two" and added (1) banana. This was enough to make three cups.
Test three was definitely our family favorite. It has just the perfect level of natural sweetness. We anticipate a lifestyle that includes Matcha as these drinks include 10-15 times the nutritions found in regular steeping of green teas. For more information on Matcha, check out Tea Summit Matcha Link.