Sunday, July 26, 2015

Silly sips for a bunch of bucks!

With the hot and humid weather my city’s been experiencing lately, I’ve turned to various ways to beat the heat and keep myself comfortable: taking colder showers, sleeping naked, eating ice-cream, drinking more water. I’ve also been enjoying more iced-teas and smoothies.

One day, whilst meeting a friend who works at a Starbucks in my neighbourhood, I noticed they had a Green Tea Frappuccino on the menu. I went for it even though I’m usually dead set against ordering over-priced fancy schmancy drinks with long silly names that sometimes damage the true essence of the main ingredients. In this case, Matcha

Green Tea Frappuccino.

This Frappuccino was a blend of Matcha and milk, lightly sweetened, and poured over ice. You may have it as is or topped with whipped cream which I had. Hey! Go big or go home, eh?

With whipped cream!

I’m not gonna lie. It was delicious! Creamy and refreshing, with a hint of Matcha. Though I do prefer my Matcha made the traditional way, this is an indulgence I can handle occasionally. It is definitely not something I could drink regularly, hot outside or not. It’s not the healthiest thing and it could leave me penniless!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Tea Readings: The Little Black Book of Tea

I just finished off a book called The Little Black Book of Tea. It describes itself as “the essential guide to all things tea”. To make this claim is a complete overestimate in my opinion. This “essential guide” is a basic reference book just shy of fifty pages. I wouldn’t call it the definitive go-to guide for tea knowledge. Hey, it’s a cute book, and I suppose a good starter for someone with a passing interest in tea or just getting into it. It is not a comprehensive book to refer to on a regular basis.

Nothing essential here!

The Little Black Book quickly covers the history of tea, what the tea plant is, characteristics of various teas, their health benefits, the tea drinking rituals in the many countries tea is consumed, some brewing basics, and of course, includes a selection of recipes. Whew! All in less than fifty pages!

The book lacks in information and also misinforms. It mentions the widespread availability of “Chai Tea” in India. The discussion of Afternoon Tea and High Tea neither explains where the concept came from and what the difference between the two are if any.

The writing style, too, seemed juvenile! (Not that I write for the mature audience!). I would not suggest The Little Black Book of Tea as a reference especially if you’re in the tea business or have some formal education on tea. Even the self-educated can avoid it!

The Little Black Book comes in a series on various topics such as Shots and Shooters, Beer, Poker, Sex, and the Kama Sutra just to name a few. I don’t know about you, but methinks an entire encyclopedia should be dedicated to sex and all its many art forms, not fifty pages! Just sayin’!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

My Cuppa: A good Mate for me!

Thought I’d post another article about a product my friend offered me to sample. This time, I’m trying out Mate Aguante by Greenfield. It’s a tisane, and if you go back a few posts, I had written an article about Mate. Go read it! Oh, and aguante is stamina or energy in Spanish.

Mate Aguante by Greenfield.

I prepared my Mate according to the directions on the packet by infusing the double-chamber bag in a cup of water off the boil for about 5 – 7 minutes. The result was a lemon yellow infusion with a light citrus scent. The taste was lemony with a bit of smokiness. 

A cup of energy!

I noticed from the dampened tea bag that there were bits of citrus rinds mixed in with the Mate.  This explained the citrus aroma and flavour, though the packet did not indicate it was a blend.

I liked it. Much like lemonade, this would be great over ice or even mixed in a cocktail!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Come Oolong for tea!

Recently, I attended another tea tasting with some fellow tea lovers. This time around, we enjoyed various oolongs. I'll discuss what these amazing teas are on a future post. For now, the tastings!

I was introduced to oolong teas about 4 years ago by a tea merchant near where I live. They were some of the most aromatic and flavourful teas I had ever tasted. Floral and sweet, they were like bottles of perfume. One even tasted like ice wine, only it was warm.

The unveiling!

The teas we sipped at this tasting were much different. We detected everything from sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami. One was bland and watery, with not much taste at all. Another had more body with some vegetal notes. Still, we had another one that tasted smoky and quite bitter. It was like tobacco. The aromas were all over the place as well. Vegetal, caramel, smoky, and light floral scents were noted. There were definitely hits and misses for everyone!

A 1991 oolong.

Some of the oolong teas we sampled:
  • Siji Chun
  • Jin Xuan
  • Dong Ding
  • Li Shan
  • 1994 Tieguanyin
  • 1991 Wenshan Baozhong

My personal favourites were the Dong Ding and the Wenshan Baozhong oolongs. I sensed floral, vegetal, and umami tastes from the Dong Ding. The flavour was a nice mixture with good body and a lovely golden colour. The Wenshan Baozhong was great too, slightly salty. I noticed that the taste did not become bitter or strong even after it sat stewing away for many minutes.

I'd love some!  Thanks!

Not only was the event a good learning experience about the history and geography of oolongs, but the introduction to new and rare teas was a treat and something I may add to my list of future purchases. Another great evening tasting awesome teas was had!