Thursday, January 18, 2018

Tea Readings: More words to picture!

Let's kick a new month off with more inspirational quotes. Here are some of my favourites in colour and graphics:





























Sunday, December 31, 2017

A year steeped with delights!

Well, here we are again! The end of another year. How did things go for you? Mine wasn't too bad.

As I sit here sipping on my Lapsang Souchong, I'm thinking about all that I accomplished over this past year. I made some pretty good strides in my career, which is great because career changes can be hit or miss. I love what I do, and that really does make a difference. Work doesn't always feel like work.

I've also reconnected with some old friends that I really missed. Good friends are hard to come by. When you find that perfect circle, they will stick with you through thick and thin. I met some interesting people along the way too. Some of them I still connect with, though it's mainly through social media channels. Others, I just let go.

I didn’t get a chance to travel this year as work has kept me rather busy. I'm hoping to head off someplace in the new year, just not sure where. My travel bucket list is quite long! There are a few places I wouldn't mind revisiting.

I feel quite satisfied with how my year went, but I am ready to move forward and see what the new year holds for me. It feels like 2018 will be a good year for me. I've got some goals in mind that I hope I can accomplish.


I'm off to replenish my empty pot of tea now. I hope everyone has a great 2018 and everything they wish for comes true. Cheers all!




Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Yes Chef: The apple of my eye!

I am really into the whole Kombucha making thing! It's so easy and doesn't take much time at all. Plus, the array of flavour possibilities are endless! 

After making my first batch, I decided to make another round, this time using a black tea and flavouring it with apples, cinnamon, and cloves. The black tea I chose to use is Lovers' Leap from Sri Lanka.



A little apple and spice!

To make this Kombucha, I used the baby SCOBY created in my previous batch. The process was the same, so you just need to follow the method from part 2. Items required:


  • 1 L Mason jar
  • 2 cups boiled water
  • 1 ½ teaspoon loose leaf tea
  • ¼ cup of sugar
  • 1 cup distilled water at room temperature
  • 1 SCOBY plus the 1 cup of brew 
  • Apple slices
  • Cinnamon pieces
  • Cloves
  • 1 coffee filter
  • 1 elastic band

After the 7 - 14 days of fermentation, follow the flavouring procedure as outlined in part 3. I just dropped a few slices of apples, cinnamon pieces, cloves, along with about a tablespoon of sugar, for the second fermentation.

After a couple of days of fermenting, I was rewarded with a refreshing new batch of Kombucha! 



Kombucha ready!

I gotta say, I loved this flavour combination more so than my first batch. The carbonated beverage was slightly tart, and you could taste the apple with light notes of the cinnamon. I found myself gulping this batch down! Initially I was concerned that the flavour of the apple would not come through, but I was wrong. I will definitely using these ingredients again, with maybe a few tweaks. 


Kinda like wine!

I'm really glad I've developed an interest in Kombucha. I have all sorts of ideas about flavour combinations and the different types of teas to try. For sure it's becoming a new hobby for me! Perhaps I'll try a white tea next time? We'll see!





Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Cream puffs galore!

Guschlbauer is little pastry shop that I've been meaning to check out since it's opening not too long ago. They specialize in cheese buns and cream puffs, but are expanding to include loaves and croissants. Though the shops originated in Austria, they really took off in the Asian market.  Now they're here!

I went to Guschlbauer specifically for their Matcha cream puff, but ended up taking each one of their cream puffs. They all looked so delicious! The delights offered include: plain, lychee, Matcha, and chocolate.



Group galore!

All of them were soft and creamy with the mildly sweet cheese just oozing out of the soft bread. The plain tasted like vanilla to me, while the chocolate wasn't too bad, but I would've liked it to be chocolatier. They lychee was lovely and floral. The only issue I had was that it contained pieces of the lychee mixed into the cream cheese. Perhaps pureeing and creaming it would've given it a smoother texture?



Lovely lychee!

The Matcha cream puff tasted light with just a hint of bitterness at the end. My faves were the Matcha and the lychee cream puffs.


Magnificent Matcha!

Guschlbauer makes a great addition to the pastry market in my fair city. I will definitely be swinging by again to try the colourful cheese buns they have and of course, grab some more cream puffs.





Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Teaology 101: ‘Booch brewing part 3!

Time for part 3 of my series on Kombucha brewing. Make sure to review part 1 and part 2 for further information.

Now it’s time for the second fermentation. You actually don’t need to do a second fermentation if you’re completely happy with the first fermentation. All you need to do is remove the “baby” and “mother” SCOBYs, pour the brew through a sieve, and refrigerate the Kombucha for drinking within 2 weeks. 

SCOBY removal.


SCOBY storage.


The SCOBY’s should be stored in a clean jar with about a cup of the brew, and kept in the refrigerator for future use. The second fermentation is only required should you wish to flavour your brew, but otherwise, you’re Kombucha is ready to go. 

The flavouring choices are endless! Try a piece of ginger, some fresh fruit or berries, maybe a vanilla bean, or perhaps some mint leaves. 
 
Flavouring!


Feed for the SCOBY!

If you want a flavoured brew, here’s what to do:

Process:

  • Remove the coffee filter covering the jar.
  • Remove the new “baby” SCOBY and the “mother”, and place them in a clean jar with about a cup of the brew. Refrigerate.
  • Add your choice of flavouring to the remaining brew being used for the second fermentation. 
  • You may want to add a couple of spoons of sugar for the teeny, tiny SCOBYs to eat during the second fermentation. You control the sweetness and tartness of your brew.
  • Cover the jar with the lid this time, and sit it somewhere to rest at room temperature for 2-3 days.
  • After the resting period is complete, carefully twist open the lid as the contents are now carbonated.
  • Pour the brew through a sieve to remove any remaining SCOBY particles. 
  • Refrigerate your Kombucha and consume within 2 weeks.

2nd fermentation underway!

That’s all! Pretty cool process, huh? Easy too!

Just a little fyi about my brew, I used a Jasmine Green Tea for fermenting. I then used a combination of blueberries and raspberries, plus a spoonful of sugar for my second fermentation. It was really good, but, now I’m already thinking of other flavours to use!


Ready for consumption!

Now that you have the process down, check out some other blogs and sites that offer their suggestions. When you feel confident, go forth and brew your own ‘booch! Have fun!

Notes:

  • As stated in part 2, the “mother” SCOBY can be reused many times over for about another month. I actually decided to discard mine as I will use the “baby” SCOBY for my next fermentation, repeating the process.
  • Occasionally unlock the lid of the jar storing the SCOBY in order to release the carbon dioxide.
  • Be creative and go nuts with the flavouring. Really experiment until you find a few great flavour combinations.




Thursday, November 30, 2017

Teaology 101: ‘Booch brewing part 2!

Did you read part 1? Did you? If you didn’t, you might want to check it out for a little general information on Kombucha, otherwise keep reading!

I enrolled in my Kombucha workshop offered by Nancy, self-proclaimed “Kombucha Queen”. You can look her up @KombuchaQueenNancy if you’re interested in contacting her.

To create the first fermentation, you will need a few items. In this case, we will be making a litre of Kombucha. You will need the following:

  • 1 L Mason jar
  • 2 cups boiled water
  • 2 teabags or 1 ½ teaspoons loose leaf tea
  • ¼ cup of sugar
  • 1 cup distilled water at room temperature
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • 1 SCOBY 
  • 1 coffee filter
  • 1 elastic band

With the exception of the SCOBY, Most of the stuff on the list are standard kitchen items. The best way to acquire SCOBY is through a friend who makes Kombucha. You can also search online for a supplier, and even check out your local health food stores, some of which are now shelving SCOBY. I got mine from Nancy at my workshop. During fermentation, a new “baby” SCOBY will be created from the “mother” which you can use for future batches. The “mother” will keep for about another month, so continue using that if you wish.


SCOBY!


Process:

  • Pour the boiled water into the Mason jar, and add the tea of your choice. Let steep for 10 minutes.
  • Discard the tea and add the sugar. Stir the mixture to dissolve the sugar.
  • Pour the distilled water and the vinegar into the jar and give it another stir. 
  • Allow the mixture to cool down to room temperature.
  • Drop the SCOBY disk into the jar. Cover the jar by attaching it with the coffee filter and elastic band.
  • Lightly spritz the coffee filter with vinegar daily if possible. This will prevent the growth of any bad bacteria.
  • Place the jar in a dark area  at room temperature for 7 – 14 days.

Over the fermentation period, you may taste test your Kombucha. Do so with a straw rather than pouring it into a cup and disturbing the SCOBY. You’ll know it’s done when it tastes good. This, of course, sounds ambiguous. Everyone’s taste buds are different. However, you’ll know because you wouldn’t want to consume something that just doesn’t taste right to you. So, trust your judgement!

That’s the first fermentation. Not so bad, huh? Stay tuned for the second fermentation in our ‘booch brewing journey!


Round 1!


Notes:

  • The use of the coffee filter allows for the Kombucha to release carbon dioxide and to prevent outside items from dropping into the jar. 
  • The distilled vinegar is needed as a substitute in case you do not have a starter tea. Another option would be to use store bought, raw, unflavoured Kombucha.
  • Ensure that you use a pure tea. Any type of tea is fine be it black, white, green, etc... A blended tea like Earl Grey is not ideal due to the oils that can be released and destroy the SCOBY.





Monday, November 27, 2017

Teaology 101: ‘Booch brewing part 1!

A few months back, I had posted an article on my first drinking experience with Kombucha. I had meant to do a follow-up article on what this beverage was along with its health benefits. Through my research, I came across many workshops dedicated to making your very own Kombucha at home. Awesome! I took a course and learned quite a bit. Now I have a whole new interest in this wonder drink. Since Kombucha is made over time, I’m going to break my write-ups into a few posts so as not to overwhelm you with non-stop reading and information overload.

Kombucha is a fermented beverage of black tea or green tea. It is lightly carbonated, usually sweet, and contains a colony of bacteria and yeast. Though the exact origins of this super elixir are unknown, it is said to have originated in the Far East around 220 BCE. There are many health benefits to consuming Kombucha, but like anything else, more studies need to be conducted to confirm these claims. Some of these benefits include:

  • Assisting in digestion
  • Proper functioning of the cardiovascular system
  • Providing an boost in energy 
  • Promoting a healthy state of mind
  • Protecting cellular damage
  • Helping to manage diabetes
  • Detoxifying the liver

Exactly what is contained in Kombucha involves some science. You have the tea of your choice and a sweetener. You will also need something called SCOBY, which stands for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. This SCOBY is also referred to as the "Mother" or "Kombucha Culture". When the SCOBY comes in contact with the nutrients in the tea and the sugar that acts as food, the initial fermentation process is underway. After the second fermentation, the Kombucha becomes an effervescent concoction of vinegar, vitamins, enzymes, probiotics and various acids. Everything needed to help you stay healthy!

Now, you're probably wondering what SCOBY is made of. Well, it’s basically a culture of specialized cells. The bacteria portion consists of the following:

  • Gluconacetobacter 
  • Acetobacter 
  • Lactobacillus 
  • Zygosaccharomyces 

The yeast component includes Saccharomyces and a few other species. A lot to digest, and definitely beyond the scope of this humble post. However, know that this culture works together with the tea and sugar to create Kombucha. It's a "symbiotic" relationship and it’s all good!

Now that you have an idea of what Kombucha is and some understanding of what it’s made of, it’s time to make your very own Kombucha! Hey, why not? The beverages sold in the stores are not cheap and it’s actually super easy to make. It just involves a little nurturing and patience. I’ll take you through the first phase next time!