16 June 2011

Best teas for winter

It got pretty cold and rainy this week in Sydney and a warm cup of tea became a necessity. Usually I drink tea based on what type of flavour I’m craving that day, but pu-erh is my tea of choice when it gets cold. You can get ten pots out of just one teaspoon of leaves (I’m saving for a beach holiday!), so this tea is a perfect companion to your laptop, sofa or wherever else you hide from the cold! In fact all of the cups of tea in the above photo (courtesy of Raymond at My Tea House) came from just one teaspoon of pu-erh leaves, and many, many teapots after!

So what is pu-erh? It’s probably the least well-known of Chinese teas here in the West, yet it can sell for thousands of dollars in China (many Chinese families have put children through school on it!) Similar to a fine wine, this loose leaf tea is allowed to age – and of course the older it gets, the better it tastes. There are two kinds available at good tea shops here: raw pu-erh and cooked pu-erh, both of which come in the form of compressed tea cakes. Raw pu-erh tends to have more preserved fruit notes like plum while cooked pu-erh has a much richer, sometimes mushroom-soup like flavour quality. Regardless of which one you choose, it will warm up your entire body. And it has great winter helath benefits too – aiding with the digestion of all those fatty winter foods.

Click here for simple brewing instructions you can use anywhere, anytime.

03 June 2011

Mint pea soup with peppermint tea

I did a tea tasting last week at my friend Claire’s house and for dinner she made a beautiful mint pea soup. I looked up the recipe online last night and decided to make it myself – but with tea. Instead of using a mint leaf to taste, I decided to substitute organic peppermint leaves. A teaspoonful gave my soup a subtle minty zest, so I’m sure if you increased this, your soup would be even more refreshing. Organic leaves are probably best, especially given you mix these in at the end in the food processor. Obviously, it’s also best to bring the soup mixture to a boil before you toss it all in, so the leaves can expand and emit a strong minty flavour. I served mine in a large pink teacup with a few dry peppermint leaves on top for full effect.

Click here for the recipe, taken from Jamie Oliver’s food forum.