24 November 2011

My guilty tea pleasure

Coffee or tea? For some, it's a tough decision but not anymore! Many tea industry retailers are enticing coffee lovers with what many are labeling as ‘coffee bean tea’.

Sun’s Organic Garden is just one of the many tea retailers in the US now offering these ‘coffee bean’ tea blends. Their Ying Yang Coffee Bean tea is a mix of coffee beans, black tea leaves and chocolate pieces. In other words, ALL OF MY ADDICTIONS IN JUST ONE CUP!

Brewed just like a tea (I brewed about 1 tsp in 1 cup boiling water for 3-5 minutes), this cuppa tastes just like it sounds – chocolate, coffee and black tea flavors all swirl pleasantly around in my mouth. In fact, I actually prefer this one without milk – maybe its because I don’t have a proper espresso machine where I can heat the milk, but I think mostly its because on its own, you can actually taste all three of these amazing ingredients. Super decadent, extremely satisfying and now instead of choosing one over the other, I can simply have both.

17 November 2011

Tea lattes?

For all those tea lovers craving something warm and creamy once in awhile, there’s a growing trend towards combining tea and milk. And I don’t mean just the traditional method of pouring some into your cup of Earl Grey…

During my travels in the US, I’ve sampled a number of tea lattes, or tea with steamed milk. Argo (this place is what Starbucks is to coffee here) combines their Armenian mint tea as a base with steamed, frothy milk on request. There’s also a cute little cafĂ© by me in Brooklyn that does what it calls a London Fog. It’s the same Earl Grey you’re used to drinking but with served in a tall glass with plenty of steamed and super frothy milk.

Of course, the idea of milk and tea is nothing new. In many parts of Asia, they have a tradition of combining condensed milk with black tea, which not only gives it a creamier flavour, but adds a nice sweetness as well. The most popular example of this would of course be Malaysia’s famous Teh Tarik, or pulled tea (pictured above). The act of pouring the tea from one cup to another - at amazing distances!- gives this tea a nice, frothy top very similar to a cup of cappuccino. As much fun to watch as it is to drink!

10 November 2011

Tea good enough to eat?

I recently visited one my ‘hidden’ tea favorites in New York, Sun’s Organic Garden. Located towards the end of a bustling street in Chinatown, most wouldn’t pick it, but the owner Lorna not only has an amazing selection of organic teas, her knowledge about the healing properties of tea is remarkable!

Lorna creates all of her unusual tea blends herself, using either tea leaves or herbs. One of her newest blends, called Five Elements tea, is created with a mix of sultana, gogi, sencha and other secret Chinese berries that have amazing health benefits for just about every part of the body, including the ability to improve eyesight after one month of use – as personally attested to by Lorna who no longer needs her glasses to drive at night!

But the trick is…you need to eat the tea after you’ve steeped it (about 1 tbsp for five minutes in 1 cup boiling water) and enjoyed many cups throughout the day. The actual taste of this tea is quite sour at first – to me, it looks and tastes a bit like pink lemonade. But since it’s said to detox and boost my immunity, I drink up and then move on to eating the tea itself - but be warned, unless you've brewed this several times, it will be very sour! Lorna’s customers swear by this tea, so much so, it’s become a best-seller.

08 November 2011

Tea-infused cooking and cocktails in SoHo

In a city where Earl Grey is quickly becoming a popular flavour for martinis, ice cream and cookies, and even your craving for a green tea doughnut can be satisfied, I was particularly excited to sit down to an entire meal where tea was the star flavour.

Sanctuary T, located in SoHo, New York, not only offers great cups of loose leaf tea, it uses tea as the star ingredient in many of its savoury dishes and cocktails. I went with a friend for lunch recently and we both dined on roasted bell capsicums stuffed with oregano basil vegetables, perfectly capped off with a rooibos tea-infused tomato sauce. The rooibos gave the sauce a lovely sweetness but for anyone wanting to spice things up, you could always sprinkle some chilli pepper rooibos or tahitian green ‘t dust’ found on every table in lieu of salt and pepper shakers. We also gave the popcorn spiced with tea-infused butter a go – really yummy, especially if you decide to order one of their tea cocktails…

My green tea margarita, made with matcha green tea, tequila, peach schnapps, triple sec and a touch of lime – packed a bit more punch than expected! But perfect for adventurous tea drinkers looking to relax after some serious New York shopping.