05 April 2015

Tea travels made easy

One of my best tea purchases ever!

I recently discovered this great tea set designed for anyone who can't live without their loose leaf while on-the-go! Purchased from a small tea shop in Chinatown, Singapore, the set contains a small gaiwan, pitcher and five cups that all nicely fit into a soft, green, zip-up case. It easily fit into my carry-on and made it possible for me to enjoy plenty of loose leaf tea while in London. I've seen similar sets being sold here in the UK on Etsy and ebay but in terms of cost, it's of course much cheaper if you can buy something like this in Asia - I only paid $13 Singaporean dollars for mine!

18 January 2015

Chocolate tea

The lovely folks at Big Tree Farms in Bali show how this cacao fruit transforms into...

...cacao nibs by taking out the beans from the inside and processing them.

When I started this blog, I had a dream to create an entire line of cacao-based ‘chocolate teas.’ And while that dream never came true, I thought I’d share some tips for creating your own chocolate teas at home.

Cacao nibs are a great ingredient for making indulgent, dessert-flavored tea blends. I first started including cacao nibs in my chai mixes years ago and quickly invented a rooibos and cacao-based ‘cherry chai’ mix that I craved every evening. Cacao nibs also pair well with tisanes like peppermint, spearmint or hibiscus - just be sure to use about twice the amount of cacao nibs to your tisane per serve (ie 1 tsp peppermint to 2 tsp cacao nibs).

Highly recommended after a big meal or whenever you’re craving some guilt-free ‘chocolate’.

04 January 2015

Tea made from antlers

No, not from an animal, but I did think that initially!
As part of an international ‘tea swap’, the lovely Nicole at Tea for Me Please sent me a sample of Finlays Malawi Specialty Tea made with White Satemwa Antlers. And where do these ‘antlers’ come from? Instead of using the camellia sinesis leaves, this tea is made from the stems of the plucked shoots.

This tea was a bit tricky to measure with a spoon, so I simply grabbed a small handful of ‘antlers’ and steeped for 2-3 minutes at 85C (or until it reached a nice golden colour).

The flavour of this tea is like nothing I’ve had before, with strong floral notes that explode on the palette without leaving any bitter aftertaste. A second steeping created a lighter and more refreshing taste, but just as enjoyable to drink as the first! Who knew ‘antlers’ could taste so good! 

19 October 2014

Tea made from tree twigs

Surprisingly these stems...

...make a very satisfying cup of tea!

Japanese Kukicha, or ‘twig’, tea is literally made from the stems and twigs of the Camellia Sinensis bush. This is of course the exact same plant whose leaves are responsible for the thousands of tea varieties in countries around the globe.

Much lower in caffeine than ‘leaf’ tea – and unfortunately also lacking in the flavor department - there is something strangely soothing about Kukicha that entices you to come back for more. Good thing you get a few steepings out of a couple of tablespoons full!

Although you’re supposed to treat this like a green tea, steeping it around 80C, I’d recommend a much higher steeping at 95C until it gets a nice, dark colour – it will have a much stronger, nuttier flavour.

21 April 2014

A teacup grows in Brooklyn

I had this terrarium custom made for me by Twig Terrariums a couple of years ago. If you look closely, you'll even see a woman enjoying a cup of tea on the bench...

12 October 2013

Korean green (and gold)

My morning ritual
I've tasted plenty of tea but I can't remember ever trying Korean green before. So I was pretty excited to get up this morning and give it a go. Upon opening my sample from Tea Horse, the leaves have a very strong scent - not the usual fresh, grassy smell I'm used inhaling when opening my Japanese greens. But after two minutes at 80C, those leaves have created a beautiful, golden brew that has an amazingly velvety taste. I actually think I prefer this blend to many of the Japanese Senchas I've tried, which can sometimes be a bit too grassy and strong for my first cup of the day. This one is easy to drink (even on an empty stomach) and hits the spot.