Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Yes Chef: Slurpin’ some smokin’ soup!

A couple of years back, I had attended a meeting held by the Tea Guild of Canada. At this meeting, members got the chance to sample a soup made using tea. In this case, the tea used was Lapsang Souchong. It was superb! We were all provided with the recipe for this soup, which I decided to make just recently with the cooler weather coming in.

I did make some modifications to the recipe to make it more to my liking. Not only did I change the quantities of some of the items, but I also wanted to kick it up with some spices and add a garnish. It worked out just right!


  • 2 cups of steeped Lapsang Souchong tea
  • 4 cups of chicken stock
  • 2 medium onions
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 8 small to medium sized parsnips
  • 475 ml of 18% cream
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • Chopped almonds


1.   Chop up the onions, celery stalks, and garlic cloves, and sauté. Add in the peeled and chopped parsnips and continue to sauté.

Takes these veggies...

...and chop 'em!

2.   Meanwhile, steep Lapsang Souchong tea, and set aside.

Lapsang Souchong dry.

Lapsang Souchong wet.

3.   Pour the chicken stock and tea into the pot of vegetables. Add the bay leaves, spices, and a couple of teaspoons of salt. 

It's coming together!

4.   Cover and simmer for about 2 hours until the vegetables become tender.

5.   Remove the bay leaves, then puree the vegetables with an immersion blender until smooth.

Blend away!

6.   Add the cream to the mixture and stir to combine.

Add cream.

Mix it good!

7.   Taste to see if more salt is required. I added a little more.

8.   Pour into a bowl and sprinkle with some chopped almonds.


Enjoy this bowl of goodness with some crostini, breadsticks, a side salad, or all on its own. You will detect the smoky aroma and even a light taste of the Lapsang Souchong. I also sensed the fragrance of the celery and parsnips. It’s creamy, but not thick, and the almonds added a great crunchy texture which I love.

Cooking Tips:

Chop all your veggies a day before and keep them in your fridge until ready to use.


Try some different nuts instead of almonds. Pistachios, walnuts, maybe even some sunflower seeds.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

My Cuppa: Is there a fire? I smell smoke!

Originating from the Wuyi region in the Fujian Province in China, is a black tea called Lapsang Souchong that is becoming quite popular. What makes this tea distinctive is its smoky aroma and taste which some may find a bit off-putting at first taste.

"Souchong" refers to fourth and fifth leaves of the tea plant. These leaves are not as desirable as the leaves closer to the top or the buds themselves. They are much larger, tougher, older, less aromatic, and not as flavourful as the newer more delicate leaves at the top. Smoking these leaves gives it new life and a means of purpose, thus, creating a tea that stands on its own. "Lapsang" is a combination of two words: l
ap means pine, sang means smoke. So you get pine-smoked tea.

To make Lapsang Souchong, the leaves are harvested, withered, rolled, and oxidized. Afterwards, the leaves are roasted in bamboo baskets which are heated over pinewood fires. This key step in the manufacturing process, contributes to the unique flavours of Lapsang Souchong which some describe as dried longan, a tropical fruit similar to lychee, and pine smoke. The roasted leaves are then pan-fired, sorted, and packaged. Of course, these are just the basic steps. Some steps may be repeated several times and even re-done in a different order all to achieve the best finished product. 

A smokin' tea!

Legend has it that this processing method originated during the Qing Dynasty, when armies passed through a village to take their rest on a tea plantation. Their stay slowed down the tea production and had the leaves sitting around exposed to the elements. After the troops finally took their leave, the tea producers decided to speed up their process by heating the leaves over pinewood fires. This resulted in a very interesting smoky brew.

To prepare a cup of tea, you make Lapsang Souchong just like other black teas you normally drink. I used 1 teaspoon of tea leaves for each cup of water. After bringing water to a full boil in a kettle, I allowed it to cool down for about 5 minutes before pouring it over the leaves sitting in a sieve. I gave it 5 minutes to infuse before removing the leaves from the bright reddish coloured liquor. You actually can add milk and sugar, but I prefer Lapsang Souchong on its own. The aroma and taste are perfectly smoky without any bitterness or aftertaste. I find the tea quite soothing. 

A smokin' brew!

Much like Matcha or 
Pu’erh, Lapsang Souchong is an acquired taste that may need some time getting used to, but it so worth a try. It pairs very well with barbecued foods, spicy foods, perhaps a pulled pork. It’s also great to cook with. You can used it in a sauce or even as a dry rub. In my next post, I’ll show you what I used it for.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Chai Wares: Cozy hugs for your mugs!

A few posts back, I shared some really amazing teapot cozies made by some very talented artists out there. Now how about some tiny sweaters made especially for mugs? Who wants boring, cardboard, cup sleeves, anyway? These cute cozies are far more fun to help keep your hands from getting burned!

Bow wow!

Oh so cozy!

Flower power!

For the gals!

For the lads!


Go Pokemon!

I love tea!

I Robot.

I'm Batman.

It's a bust!

Wool wonders!

Rudolph guides.

The nose knows.



Hoot hoot.

Monday, November 7, 2016

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

Time for another round of definitions in my tea dictionary project. Here we are with some ‘G’ words. See all the previous definitions by clicking on their letters:

A    B    C    D    E    F

Gaiwan: A set of traditional Chinese dishes specifically made to prepare teas in small quantities. A basic set comes in 3 pieces which includes a Gai (Lid), a Wan (Bowl), and a Die (Saucer).

Garden: Also referred as a plantation or estate, this is a specific area where tea is grown.

Genmaicha: This is a green tea combined with toasted rice.

Golden: Attractive, bright coloured liquors.

Golden Tip: A desirable appearance where the tips of leaves take on an orange colour in high quality black teas. This is achieved from good processing methods.

Gone off: Tea that has lost its quality from aging, or has become spoiled from mould.

Gongfu: Translated to ‘the art of tea brewing’, this is a carefully skilled style of tea making that requires much patience where brewing involves multiple infusions in a small pot called a Yixing, and then served in tiny cups.

Grade: This refers to the actual size of the tea particles and leaves. It has nothing to do with quality or taste.

Grainy: These are high quality, well-made CTC teas that appear as granules.

Green: Refers to poorly processed, under-fermented leaves, which results in an unflattering astringency of the black teas.

Green Tea: A type of tea where minimally processed leaves are withered immediately, then steamed or fired to stop the process of oxidation.

Grey: Poor colour of tea leaves as a result of becoming scratched and worn from aggressive sorting and handling during manufacturing.

Gunpowder: A type of Chinese green tea where the leaves are rolled into tight pellets and slowly unfurl when placed in hot water.

Gyokuro: A fine Japanese green tea produced from shaded plants. The word translates to 'Jade Dew', 'Pearl Dew', or 'Precious Dew'.