Tuesday, March 29, 2016

My Cuppa: Blending bonanza brew 3!

It’s time to taste test the next drink from my blending session at T-Buds. I’ve already had “Seduced By Sencha” and “My Chai To Die For”. Now I’m going to review a tisane that my group and I named “Rock Me Rooibos”.

Rooibos, which means "red bush", has been marketed as a "red tea". However, it is not a tea, which would consist of the Camellia sinensis plant. It’s a tisane that’s just red in colour. It’s good on its own, but I actually prefer it mixed with other ingredients. I especially like it with vanilla flavouring.

Rockin' ingredients!

“Rock Me Rooibos” contains the following ingredients:

  • Rooibos
  • Licorice
  • Peppermint
  • Schizandra
  • Gojiberry
  • Elderberry
  • Lemon Essence
  • Strawberry Essence

I found our blend smelled like chocolate. A bit fruity, but definitely chocolate and peppermint. I prepared my tisane my usual way, by pouring hot water over the leaves for about 3 – 5 minutes, and then separating the liquor from the wet leaves using a filter. The aroma of the golden red liquor was minty and fruity. Even the taste was minty and fruity. I could even detect the lemon essence. Overall I found it quite soothing.

Rockin' drink!

“Rock Me Rooibos” was not a bad blend, but I’m not an avid drinker of Rooibos. I usually drink it if someone offers it to me. I’m also particular about some things and I’m getting the feeling that with Rooibos, a vanilla blend works better for me. However, Rooibos is very much like tea in that it gets its characteristics from the terroir and the manufacturing process, so it’s always good to try different brands and blends. Be open to variations.

One more blend to go! Rock on!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Pour another round of Pu’erh!

Last evening, I met up with my tea group back at our usual digs, Infuse Café. Our host decided we needed to do another round of Pu’erh because it’s so unusual. Hey, I’m in! I’ve grown to enjoy the many variations of this fine tea and learning more about it. 

Impressive compression!

The spin on this session was the manner in which Pu’erh is stored, which can dictate its taste. We were offered two samples of each tea. One was stored in a tin container, the other in a glass container. Both were placed in a dark cabinet in the absence of light. It was up to us to determine if there were any differences between the two. I suspected there would be. Tea is very much like wine. I’ve visited many wineries and have tasted some wines stored in wooden barrels, and others kept in plastic bins. You do notice a difference in taste.

Unravelling the truth!

The Pu’erhs we sampled included:
  • Purple Pu’erh
  • Gyu Pu’erh
  • 7542 Pu’erh made in 2007

My group certainly did detect a difference in taste, aroma, and colour in the Pu’erhs we drank. We had about 3 infusions of each tea as well, which added to more changes. For example: A 1st infusion of a tin container sample was better than a 1st infusion of a glass container sample. However a 2nd infusion of the same tea would be better from the glass container rather than the tin container! Infusion confusion indeed! Very interesting though. However, this wasn’t a very scientific experiment. There could have been more tea in one case, a longer steep time in another case, more water in another case and so on. We would really need to test everything in a controlled setting for more accurate results.

Is it tin or glass?

We also had a lovely Vanilla Mint Chai Pu’erh offered to us by Infuse Café which was made in their BKON system. It tasted like candy cane with hints of chocolate and vanilla. As well, we tried a surprise Pu’erh that our host made at home. It wasn’t bad. A found it a bit lemony while someone else thought it was nutty. Always interesting how everyone has a different palate for the same things.

Is it glass or tin?

It was another great event drinking and comparing teas with lively chatter. I even brought a batch of Matcha Cupcakes I had made for sharing with the group, and they certainly went well with everyone!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Yes Chef: Getting my green on!

Green is my favourite colour! I like every shade and love how it works with my skin tone. I don’t need a special day like St. Patrick’s to wear green! I prefer savoury foods, but I’ll indulge in a good cake once in a while, especially in the form of cupcakes. They’re just the right size and they’re kinda cute. I love tea of course! I thought I’d make a sweet treat using tea to celebrate St. Patrick’s this year. Matcha Buttercream Cupcakes. How yummy does that sound?

So cute!

I make cupcakes occasionally so I’ll be using my standard recipe and instructions with the appropriate adjustments to incorporate Matcha. See my posts for Earl Grey Lavender Muffins and Chamomile Cupcakes for more inspiration. You will get about a dozen cupcakes with some vibrant, green icing. Here’s what you’ll need:

For Cupcakes

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons Matcha

Adding the star ingredient!

Batter up!

For Buttercream

  • 4 cups icing sugar
  • 1 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons Matcha
  • 4 − 5 tablespoons water

Preparation for cupcakes:

  • Preheat oven to 180 °C.
  • Mix flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and Matcha in a bowl and set aside.
  • Add in slightly beaten eggs and melted butter.
  • Mix all ingredients together just until they combine.
  • Spoon the batter into lined cupcake pans about ⅔ full.
  • Bake for about 20 − 25 minutes. Afterwards, place the pans on a rack to cool down.

Ready to get their green on!

Preparation for buttercream:

  • Beat the butter in a mixture bowl on medium speed until it forms a creamy texture.
  • Slowly dump sifted icing sugar and Matcha into the mixing bowl.
  • Begin adding bits of water as you continue to mix.
  • Once completely mixed and smooth, pipe the icing onto the cooled cupcakes. 

Dressed to thrill!

I made a great batch of green goodies! I even used various piping tips to create different designs. The cupcakes were yummy! Sweet, with just the right amount of vegetal flavour of the Matcha. They tasted like the green tea ice-cream you get sushi restaurants. What a great way to use Matcha! I’m sure these sweet treats would change the minds of those who aren’t so fond of Matcha.

Have one!

Cooking Tips:

  • Use a boxed cake mix if you’re just too busy. Nothing wrong with that.
  • Don’t overdo it on the Matcha. Too much may produce bitter results. 
  • No need to pipe. Use a small flat spatula or even a spoon to ice your cupcakes.


  • Add nuts like chopped pistachio. Goes well with the green icing and adds a new texture.
  • Use green sprinkles to create different designs.
  • Add a few drops of green food colouring to punch up the colour.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Tea Readings: Tea: Reference To Go

I checked out another tea reference book as I’m always looking for ways to expand my knowledge on tea. There is a vast amount of information out there about anything and everything, and I think that exploring specific topics through various avenues really gives you better insight. I read books, blogs, company information, and even belong to tea groups. It’s a passion for sure!

The book I reviewed this time is by author Sara Perry, and is entitled Tea: Reference To Go. It’s 100 pages and covers “50 ways to prepare, serve, and enjoy” my favourite beverage. It’s not a bad book for the tea novice. Far better than The Little Black Book of Tea which I reviewed a few months back. There is way more information here that is concise and nicely organized. 

Tea: Reference To Go

The book opens up with a glossary of some widely used tasting terms like astringency, body, liquor, orange pekoe, and oxidation. Then it provides some general information about tea such as its health benefits, how to prepare it, water quality and temperature, storing and shelf life, and tea folklore. Everything was short and to the point.

What I really liked next was how each tea was broken down by type such as black, green, white, oolong, and then consisted of a brief description on its origin, taste, and preparation. Each part included a lovely colour photo of the tea.

Finally, the book concluded with some recipes that either incorporated tea as an ingredient, or provided a recipe of a food item and paired it along with the best tea to drink with it. I really liked the sound of a recipe for a Green Tea Margarita! I might consider making this sometime in the coming summer months.

Tea: Reference To Go is a good starter book for someone getting into teas. They can use is as stepping stone to other more comprehensive books as they continue to journey forward in their discovery of tea.