Saturday, October 31, 2015

Tea Readings: Chai Tea Sunday

A novel I finished just recently is called Chai Tea Sunday by Heather A. Clark. Obviously, I picked up this book for its title. I actually enjoyed it very much even though I found it rushed and predictable at times and especially so near the end. I also thought the title selected was not the best. It’s rather weak.

Chai Tea Sunday

The book centres around a woman named Nicky who along with her husband, Eric, finally become expectant parents after many years of failed attempts of starting a family, only to suffer the devastating loss of that child shortly after birth. Nicky goes through a moment of depression while Eric pours himself into his work in order to put this experience behind him. The pair become less and less communicative and finally decide to separate to start new lives.

Nicky, still feeling the loss of the daughter that could have been, decides to escape by taking a volunteering position as a teacher at an orphanage in a small community in Kenya. She becomes close to her host family in particular the matriarch, Mama Bu. As the relationship flourishes, Nicky slowly opens up and shares her story with Mama Bu over cups of chai. At the same time, Nicky discovers issues surrounding the orphanage and is determined to resolve them, and rightly so. Again, long, deep, discussions occur over cups of chai.

It’s a good, light read. However, as I said, the title is rather weak. Sure, the characters are consuming chai during deep talks, but it’s not all the time and not necessarily on Sunday’s either. I think a stronger title that gives some description of the plot would have worked much better. Plus, it’s a redundant title. You may recall my chai versus tea write-up some time ago.

Tea is very much a social drink to be enjoyed with others. You see this in formal settings like Afternoon Tea or a Japanese Tea Ceremony. Friends and couples enjoy it over chit chat in cafés. Words are exchanged whilst lingering over cups of tea. I loved this one quote in the book: there is nothing that a big, steaming cup of chai can’t make better. So true.



Sunday, October 25, 2015

Come over to the dark side!

Last night I headed out to another tea tasting event with my fellow tea lovers. This time, we were invited to cross over to the dark side. Halloween is just around the corner after all. Moohoohaha! Actually, we had the pleasure of tasting a few different black teas. Please do read an earlier post I wrote about regarding the terminology of black and red tea. The difference in meaning is geographical.

The teas we had included:
  • Oku Yame Black from Japan
  • Keemun from China
  • Golden Assam from India
  • Vanilla Bean Black from USA. This is a blend.

The tastings were quite interesting and there was a lot of chatter around the tables about our experiences with each brew. Our event took place in a new tea establishment called Infuse Café. This tea shop uses the BKON method to brew their teas. 


Just the facts please!

I’ve never heard of this technology so I can’t say too much about it other than the fact that there is a noticeable difference in flavour, aroma, and colour of the infusions compared to traditional brewing methods. BKON is something I’m definitely going to look into further in order to form a better opinion. 

Infuse!

We were provided with two tastings of each tea. One brewed using a regular steep and filter method, the other using the BKON method. What a difference! 

All done!


Can you see the difference?

The BKON brews of each tea were bolder and stronger in every sense. Like most Westerners, I’m a milk and sugar kinda gal for some black teas, particularly Assam. We didn’t take our tea with any additives so I’m sure the astringency and aroma of the BKON infused Assam would have been subdued with milk and sugar. It made a lovely cup with a regular steeping.

Take these leaves...

The Oku Yame on the other hand was like night and day. It was as though we were drinking two completely different teas. The BKON yielded an astringent, smoky cup whereas the filtered method produced a sour almost lemony flavour. Interesting! 

...and brew them old school...

The Keemun and vanilla bean blend teas weren’t too bad either way though I did lean more towards the traditional brews for their mild tastes and light aromas. The BKON brews were far stronger. 

It was definitely a fun event with lively discussion. Always fascinating to see the latest technologies even in the world of tea. It will be very interesting to see where systems like the BKON will take us tea lovers. 

...to get this cuppa!

However, I’m not entirely keen on tea becoming the next coffee where it involves speed. I like taking my time in preparing a good cup of tea, watching the leaves slowly unfold revealing themselves and changing the colour of the water. Still, I’m not dismissing BKON, and will learn more about it.



Sunday, October 11, 2015

More Celebrity Mug Shots!

A while back, I did a post featuring pictures of famous people enjoying their cups of tea. I found so many photos, I thought I'd dedicate another post to them. Really, it's just a fun article, so I hope you enjoy it!



Lady Gaga goes googoo for her tea!



"May the force be with you" Mr. Ford!



"Live long and prosper" with a cup of tea!



Rolling with the Stones!  Could tea be the key to their longevity?



House M.D. actor Hugh Lauire knows that tea is just what the doctor ordered!



Alfred Hitchcock presents tea, and a strange looking dog!



Saturday, October 3, 2015

My Cuppa: Another Shade of Earl Grey!

On my tea trek a few weeks ago, I did end up making a purchase. Pippins was the one shop I had been wanting to visit. It’s a sweet little shop with a British-centric atmosphere. I thought the shop owner was such a delight to chit-chat with. She even provided everyone in our group with a recyclable bag to collect our purchases along our route for the day. I just had to buy something for her graciousness. The top selling tea at Pippins is Cream Earl Grey. Sure, it doesn’t sound very extraordinary, but after viewing the contents of the canister and being allowed to smell the tea, I was sold.

Of course I’ve had Earl Grey many times. As I mentioned in an earlier post about Earl Grey, there are many variations of the tea. The package I purchased from Pippins is quite different from the few other Earl Grey teas I have had. The appearance of the dry leaves was dark and rich with specs of blue cornflowers. The aroma was just incredible. A strong perfume of floral and citrus notes wafted out of the canister. I even detected hints of vanilla.

Creamy Earl Grey.

To make a cuppa, simply bring water to a full boil, and measure out 1 teaspoon of tea leaves for 1 cup of water. I always wait for about 3 minutes for the water to cool down before pouring over tea leaves, but it’s not necessary for Earl Grey. Feel free to use the water right off the boil. Steep for 5 minutes before removing the leaves from the liquor.

The beautiful golden-reddish coloured liquor had a light, sweet scent, much like the dry leaves. I thought the taste was so light that it did not require any milk, but just a touch of sugar to subdue the slight astringency at the end of each sip. It was a lovely cup. I did make a stronger cup later on by using more tea leaves and brewing a little longer just so that I could try it with milk and sugar. The creamy tea was just as good.

Golden goodness!

Earl Grey tea is quite versatile. Try the many variations on their own or in your cooking and baking. You will notice the differences and always end up with something just a little new.