Thursday, June 30, 2016

My Cuppa: Pineapple green tea redux!

A couple of years back, I had sampled a pineapple flavoured green tea a friend had given to me. I didn’t care for it. It was way too fruity for me. Well, I’m taste testing another pineapple enhanced green tea today. This is one of the samples from my Christmas gift. The last sample I tried as part of this package wasn’t that bad, so this may be just as good.

Initially, I wasn’t too keen on it after reading the list of ingredients that included: g
reen tea leaves, natural pineapple flavour, and marigold petals. However, it’s a freebie, so let’s give it a shot! The dry leaves looked attractive, but the aroma reminded me of cotton candy. Right away I was convinced I’d be getting a bad cup. 

Have a look!

Surprisingly, the taste wasn’t that bad. The pineapple was there, but it was subtle. Not overpowering and super sweet like the previous pineapple green tea I had. The aroma was not as strong either. I thought for sure I’d be drinking a cup of sugar. 

Pineapple Green Tea.

Though, I still wouldn’t add this to my regular rotation of teas for consumption, I think this pineapple green tea would make a great iced-tea or perhaps a mixture in an alcoholic beverage. Anyone up for cocktails?

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Tea Spot: A lazy day of culture and tea!

Today was a glorious day for a cultural adventure. I joined for a day trip to head out to a museum, get an educational lesson on teas, followed by Afternoon Tea in a banquet hall at a local Mariott Hotel. It was a hurried day, but fulfilling.

Our first stop was at the Waterloo Region Museum which focuses on the history of the Waterloo region. I had been here before, so I planned most of my time touring the Doon Heritage Village area which takes you back to life in the early 1900’s. 

Simpler times!

Later on, we all gathered in the museum’s theatre for our lesson on teas, tisanes, and syrups. All the information covered by the presenter was nothing new to me, but it’s always nice to re-learn old material. 

Listen up class!

The lecturer explained the basics which included:

Once the presentation was completed, we got the chance to try samples of 3 syrups and 3 tisanes. The syrups were so good! An Almond Syrup, a Lemon Syrup, and a Cinnamon and Brown Sugar Syrup really hit the spot. The tisanes were freshly made and included a Ginger Tisane, a Lemon Balm Tisane, and a Bee Balm Tisane. A recipe of the items sampled were provided to us, and I can’t wait to make the syrups at home!

To end the day off, we headed off to the Mariott for a typical Afternoon Tea. It was nothing special, but I was famished. 

Tiny sandwiches.

Scones and tarts.

The spread included finger sandwiches, scones and tarts, an array of mini cakes, and some very yummy chocolate covered strawberries. The tea wasn’t anything special. They were various Tazo brand teabags. I had an English Breakfast followed by and Earl Grey.

Mini cakes.

Berry divine!

My tummy felt so much better after devouring all that I had. My mind on the other hand could have done better without some of the company at my table. It always amazes me the amount of complaining some people do! Life’s too short to whine about everything. Keep calm and drink tea!

Overall, it was a lovely day to get out of the city on a lazy Sunday. It was something I really needed after a fast and busy couple of weeks without much rest!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The essential Sencha session!

Last night was another tea outing with my tea club held at Infuse Café. It was also the last event for our organizer, who’s heading off to the Far East for the summer. Hopefully upon his return he’ll have a whole new stash of interesting teas for us to sample. 

The perfect pour!

On this night, we indulged in a sampler kit of various Sencha teas. Not a one was a disappointment. All the teas we consumed were traditionally made in a Gawain. For the most part, multiple infusions of each tea were quite good. There were a couple of teas we felt didn’t work for a 
4th, 3rd, or even a 2nd  infusion. The dry tea leaves we had grew darker green in colour as we went through the sampler which included the following:

1.  Sayama Karigane:  High grade tea stems that looked and smelled like sweet, fresh cut grass. The taste was sweet and lively.

Sayama Karigane

2.  Aracha “Hoju”:  Sweet tasting with the scent of spinach or asparagus.

3.  Sayama Sencha “Kakurei”:  Slightly astringent with grassy notes.

4.  Premium Sayama Sencha “Suiren”:  Slightly astringent and very vegetal that was much like asparagus. The 
2nd infusion was way too bitter and unpleasant.

5.  A handmade Shincha:  From Obubu Farms in Kyoto, it is this year’s harvest and auctioned off at a very pretty penny! We had last year’s harvest at our first ever tea event, and this tea was just as wonderful. The infusion looks like water, but it is so flavourful. Light, sweet, and vegetal. The three infusions were perfect!

Handmade Shincha

Shincha unveiled

Finally, to wish our organizer a bon voyage, Infuse Café provided a round of BKON brewed tea cocktails, much like the vodka infused drinks we had on a previous occasion. This time around, the tea of choice, called “Fruit Sensation”, was a blend of Rooibos, black tea, and a variety of dried fruits. The mixture combined with vodka and carbonated water was delicious! It tasted like a fruit punch or cream soda. It was the perfect drink to end off the evening and a long, hot day.

Time for a stiff drink!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Teaology 101: Today’s post is brought to you by the letter 'B'!

Okay, we are now getting into the letter 'B' for our tea dictionary. Refer to my post on Letter 'A' for those definitions.

Baggy: This is a bad taste usually found in teas that were withered on low quality hessian or stored in sacks.

Bakey: A poor tasting tea due to over firing.

Bancha: This is a Japanese green tea for everyday consumption.

Basket-Fired: A processing method for Japanese tea where the leaves have been cured in baskets by firing or drying.

Bergamot: This is a citrus fruit belonging to the orange family. The rinds of these oranges are used to produce their essence. This essential citrus oil is used to flavor tea. Earl Grey tea is mainly associated to bergamot.

Billy or Billycan: This is an Australian makeshift kettle used by Bushmen. The procedure utilizes tin containers suspended over a campfire to boil water for tea.

Biscuity: Describes a particular aroma and taste of the liquor resembling English biscuits. It’s quite often associated to well-fired Assam tea.

Bite: It’s a taste that’s alive and bursting with flavour.

Black Dragon: Another term for Oolong.

Black Tea: The most commonly consumed tea in the world. Black tea is the most processed of all teas in that the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plants are fully oxidized or fermented. Black tea also describes the colour of the dry tea leaves. It is actually known as red tea in China where colour is associated to the colour of the infusion rather than the dry leaves.

Blend: A mixture of teas from several different regions. This is done in order to achieve consistency or create a particular flavour profile every growing season. Blends can also be a mixture of various ingredients combined with tea.

Bloom: This refers to the attractive sheen of the tea leaves.

Body: A term describing the mouth-feel of a full strength brew. It can also refer to the taste as full and strong.

Bohea: This is an old term referring to one of the most popular Chinese black teas from the Wuyi Shan Mountains. It also refers to the stalk of the tea plants.

Bold: This actually refers to the large cut of the leaf, not the taste of the liquor. Some leaves can be far too large for grading.

Brassy: This is a bad, metallic, or acidic taste as a result of poorly withered tea leaves.

Break: A term used at auctions referring to the sale of a lot. A lot usually consist of 18 or more chests of tea.

Brew: This is the process of making tea for consumption by combining tea leaves with boiling water. It also refers to the drink itself.

Brick Tea: A processing method that steams and compresses old tea leaves, stems and twigs, and shapes them into blocks. Pu’erh is a common brick tea.

Bright: This describes the attractive and lively appearance of the red liquor, as well as the lively taste and astringency of the liquor.

Brisk: Much like bite, it’s a good, lively taste with some astringency.

Broken Orange Pekoe: These are small-sized tea leaves and tips or broken tea leaves created during the manufacturing process where the leaves are mechanically cut into bits.

Brown: This is an undesirable colour for the tea leaves.

Bud:  This is the tip of the tea plant.

Burnt: A poor tasting tea due to over firing. It’s actually worse than bakey.