Tuesday, September 30, 2014

My Cuppa: This Sencha is berry good!

Not too long ago I purchased samples of various teas being sold at a local tea shop called Steeped and Infused. One of the selections I chose was called Sencha Berry Fig. It’s a Sencha blended with pieces of strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries, along with figs and peony petals. Sencha is one of favourite green teas, so I decided to try this interesting mix even though I’m not a big fan of fruity teas. It’s just a sample, so why not?

The dry leaves look pretty. It contains sprinkles of the berries, figs, and peonies. The aroma is sweet and fruity. 

Colourful Sencha.

I prepared this tea using the same directions indicated in a previous Sencha post.

The leaves produced a pale yellow liquor. The aroma was just as sweet and fruity as the dry leaves. You can really detect the strawberry. It tasted good! It was quite mild with light fruity notes. Very smooth with no aftertaste. It didn’t taste at all like the Sencha I’m used to. I managed to get 3 good infusions before the leaves lost their flavour. The fruitiness did diminish after each steep, but it did not take away from a great tasting cup.

Berry delightful!

I thought this tea would be perfect over ice with blueberries floating in it. A great summertime drink! Or perhaps even as a syrup for drizzling over ice-cream or some pastries. Hmmm…the endless possibilities!



Sunday, September 21, 2014

Tea Tips: It's a dirty job, but I gotta do it!

Chores are never fun, but they must be done. I noticed my wooden pieces of furniture were quite dull looking no matter how often I dusted and wiped them down. I love my solid wood furniture and did not want to use harsh chemicals on them. A mixture of water and vinegar could work, but the smell is not particularly pleasant. I had heard that tea could be used as a substitute cleanser, so after some sleuthing on the internet for confirmation, I came across many do-it-yourself articles about using tea for cleaning purposes. 

Just spray...

It’s very simple! For your wooden furniture or hardwood floors, use the cheapest black (red) tea you have. Tea bags, even the no-name brands work just fine. Just brew as normal making enough for what you want to clean. I steeped 2 tea bags in 4 cups of water. After allowing it to cool down, I poured it into a spray bottle. You may need to brew more tea and pour it into a bucket if you intend to use it for mopping the floors.

and wipe.

Now it’s time to clean. Simply spray the tea onto your furniture, and use a cotton cloth to buff and wipe. Not only will the tea clean and make the surface shine, the acidic properties of the tea will help keep the wood in good condition and even enhance its colour. Add a few drops of lemon juice to your brew for really dirty surfaces like the floors. You can even try a flavoured tea like Earl Grey or some other fruity blends to add a sweet scent to the room. 
 
It's clean!

Tea as a cleaning solution is so economical and friendly to the environment. Happy weekend chores!




Saturday, September 13, 2014

My Cuppa: A good shot of green tea!

A little while ago, my mum provided me with a package of green tea she did not want.  I happily accepted!  This was Temple of Heaven Special Gunpowder.  A nice everyday green tea in my opinion.  

Gunpowder is grown in the Zhejiang province in China, but like any other tea, there are variations. Taste, aroma, and appearance depend on where and how the plant was grown and processed. In China, it is referred to as Zhu Cha which translates to "bead tea" or "pearl tea" but please don't confuse this with the Bubble Tea topic that I posted a couple of months back. No, this is something completely different. Gunpowder's name comes from its appearance. After the plucked leaves are withered and steamed, they are hand-rolled into pellets. Then, these pellets are dried resulting in a final product that looks much like grainy, black powder. 


Pellets of green tea.

To prepare Gunpowder, I use 2 teaspoons of tea for every 1 cup of water which I bring to a full boil and allow to cool down to 75°C. Ideally, you want your water temperature to be between 70°C - 80°C. As always, play around with the amounts and temperatures to find what works best for you.


I steep my tea for about 2 minutes allowing the tightly rolled leaves to slowly unfold as it mingles with the water.  The colour of the brew is a golden yellow.  The flavour and aroma is bold and smoky.  I can even detect hints of honey and grass.

A shot of Gunpowder.

You may do several infusions of Gunpowder. I'm able to get 4 infusions before the tea begins to lose its flavour.  Each time, the leaves unfurled even more so, creating another level of tastes and scents.

As I said, this is a nice green tea to have on a daily basis. Gunpowder is often the green tea served in restaurants, in particular sushi joints.  It's very popular in the Middle East.  Mix it with spearmint and you've got yourself Moroccan Mint Green Tea.  I just might do that!



Sunday, September 7, 2014

My Cuppa: It’s Rooibos, honey!

Things were hectic this past week, so I thought I’d start September off with a simple tasting. I've selected another Greenfield sample suggested by my friend. This one is called Honey Rooibos, which is a Rooibos tisane flavoured with honey. My friend didn't like this at all as she is not a fan of honey.  Really?

Before!

I prepared the tisane as instructed on the packet by steeping it for 7-9 minutes. As the water gradually grew into a gorgeous, golden orange-red colour, the aroma of the honey really became noticeable. I did find it a bit strong and overpowering myself.

After!

I love Rooibos. It’s great on its own or even with a little milk and sugar. However, I was just not impressed with this brew. I was expecting something far more flavourful because of the intense colouration and strong scent. This sample lacked in flavour and felt thin as it lingered on my tongue. It seemed as though I was just drinking warm water. I drank it as is, but I don’t think that adding anything to it would have helped.

There are many teas and tisanes that aren't so bad even when made using tea bags. From my own experience, I find Rooibos produces much better cups from loose leaves, but I’ll continue to keep an open mind for the sake of research and discovery!