Sunday, September 17, 2017

Teaology 101: Today’s post is brought to you by the letter ‘T’!

Time for the letter ‘T’ as in tea! What this whole dictionary is all about. Check out the previous letters too:

A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S

Tainted:  A strange flavour or aroma, usually something foreign in the tea which may have occurred during processing or improper storage.

Tannin:  One of the chemical components in tea. It is a polyphenol which is responsible for the astringency or bitterness of the tea.

Tarry:  Tea that has a smoky aroma resulting from being smoke-dried during processing.

Tat:  A mat made of meshed wire or burlap that is used to lay out the plucked tea leaves for withering.

Tea:  An aromatic beverage prepared by using the processed leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant and infusing them in heated water in order to extract its nutrients.

Tea Cozy:  A "sweater", usually made of wool, used to cover a teapot to keep heat from escaping.

Teacup:  A vessel used for holding and drinking brewed tea from.

Teapot:  A vessel used for holding brewed tea until ready to pour into a teacup.

Tea Taster:  Someone with expertise in judging the various stages of tea processing and production and the quality of the brew by using their organoleptic capabilities.

Tea Towel:  A piece of fabric used for drying dishware cutlery.

Theaceae:  A family of flowering plants to which the Camellia sinensis plant belongs to.

Theaflavins:  Antioxidant polyphenols found in fermented black teas.

Theanine:  An amino acid found in tea and is known to reduce anxiety and stress.

Theine:  Also know as caffeine, specifically occurring in tea.

Thick:   Liquor with flavour and substance.

Thin:  Weak liquor that lacks flavour.

Ti Kuan Yin:  Also known as Iron Goddess of Mercy, it is a popular, fragrant, Oolong tea.

Tip: This is the bud of the Camellia sinensis plant.

Tippy:  Tea with an abundance of leaf tips. May also refer to tea that contains a high concentration of white or golden tips.

Tips:  This is the bud and the top two leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Two leaves and a bud is the ideal pluck for production, providing the best flavour.

Tisane:  Also known as herbal teas or herbal infusions, these are beverages that are brewed like teas where the ingredients are infused in hot water. However, they do not contain the Camellia sinensis plant, and therefore, cannot be referred to as tea.

Toasty: A taste in liquor resulting from over-firing during the manufacturing process. Not necessarily a bad quality, it is a desirable characteristic in certain teas such as ones from Darjeeling.

Tung Ting:   An Oolong tea from Taiwan.

Tuocha:  Also known as "dome-shaped bowl tea", this is a compressed tea, usually made of Pu'erh.

Twankey: Inferior, old, unrolled, green tea leaves.

Twisted:  Withered and rolled tea leaves that have become curled.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Tea Readings: It's My Party!

Tea is a very social event. However, there are times when some solitude is called for. This "me time" allows for moments of deep thinking and contemplation. I've just celebrated another birthday. The additional digit brought on a wave of reflection and thoughts of what my next move will be. Where am I heading and am I making the right choices?

Please enjoy this little poem for a party of three.

The Tea Party

I had a little tea party
This afternoon at three.
'Twas very small -
Three guest in all -
Just I, myself and me.

Myself ate all the sandwiches,
While I drank up the tea;
'Twas also I who ate the pie
And passed the cake to me. 

~ Jessica Nelson North

Monday, August 28, 2017

My Cuppa: It’s Maya Chai, Darjeeling!

Yup. That’s a corny title. I try and add humour in my writing whenever I can. Didn’t say it was always good! Anyway. A few weeks ago I had attended a tea and baking workshop hosted by Teaventures. I really enjoyed my evening meeting like-minded people, talking tea, and making some tea infused treats. As mentioned, I was given a gift of a packet of tea by the event co-ordinator. The tea is called Maya. It’s a Darjeeling tea, and I am now trying it out!

Oh Darjeeling!

Darjeeling, as a masala chai, isn’t really the norm. Assam has traditionally been the chosen chai to make a masala chai. Assam is strong and bold enough to handle a variety of spices. Darjeeling, the "champagne of teas", is quite delicate, and best consumed on its own. Teaventures has done a great job of combining a simple and very subtle blend of spices to Darjeeling without destroying the tea. The spices used are star anise, green cardamom, and cracked peppercorns. They did not go overboard with gazillion different items to create this lovely tea!

From the aroma of the dark green tea leaves when the packet was opened, to the taste of the golden amber coloured liquor, everything about Maya was gentle. I found the smell of the dry leaves fresh and grassy. The spices in combination with the tea leaves smelled familiar to me. It reminded me of an herbal blend I use in some Italian dishes. 

Ohhhh Darjeeling!

The infusion was superb! Darjeeling is perfect without the need for milk or sugar, and that same sentiment holds true for it as a masala chai. It was flavourful without spice overkill. It’s slightly astringent at the end of each sip, but it did not linger. I really enjoyed this tea!

Teaventures has a Chai Collection of various black teas and a selection of spices to go along with that particular tea. They all sound amazing and I’m very curious to try each one of them. I’m sure they will become regulars in my ever-expanding tea cupboard!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Tea Spot: A new chai to try!

A little shop I've been meaning to check out since it opened not too long ago, is Elchi Chai Shop. It's received some great reviews, and I now know why.

Elchi Chai Shop is a cute little place with simple decor. The columns are plastered with fun facts about a variety of spices that are used in the shop. The menu looked great and I did have some trouble deciding what to get. I'll definitely have to swing by a few times in order to try the various dishes and drinks.

When I finally settled on my order and waited patiently for it, I was salivating at the food the neighbouring tables were getting. Everything looked delicious! It was a grey day but quite muggy, so I decided to go for an Iced Masala Chai instead of a hot beverage. For my meal, I went for the Butter Chicken Roti and Vegetable Samosas.

The samosas were a nice mix of spices. They were crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside. They were served with a tamarind chutney that had just a touch of sweetness. I was expecting just one, but received two. Not complaining at all!


The butter chicken was creamy with tender pieces of chicken. Not overly spicy, it came with some chopped peanuts to sprinkle on top. They added another level of texture providing a good crunch. The roti came in rough pieces. It was soft and slightly crunchy and went well with the butter chicken.

Butter Chicken!

On to my iced tea. I loved it! It came presented in a mason jar which I thought was just too cute! It was sweet, but not so sugary. It was a perfect balance of spicy and sweet. I could detect cardamom and anise. It really tasted like a traditional, authentic, masala chai you'd get in India. It was refreshing and went well with my meal.


The Elchi Chai Shop has become one of my new favourite places to attend. It's simple, casual, and affordable, with a great menu and very friendly staff. I've already been thinking of my next visit and hope to bring along a few friends to enjoy it as well.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Teaology 101: Today’s post is brought to you by the letter ‘S’!

Time for the letter ‘S’ in our tea focused dictionary. Don’t forget all the previous letters:

A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R

Samovar:  A heated metal container used to heat water in for making tea. Quite popular in Russia.

Scented tea:   Teas leaves that have been flavoured with oils, flower petals, or spices. Jasmine and Earl Grey are such examples.

Self-drinking:  Teas that don't need to be blended as they are perfect on their own.

Semi-fermented:  Tea that has only been partially oxidized prior to being fired and dried. These types of teas usually refer to Oolongs.

Sencha:  A popular, Japanese green tea that enjoyed as an everyday beverage.

Silver Dragon:  A Chinese green tea that's slightly sweet and nutty.

Silvery Oolong:  A costly tea made from the delicate whitish first flush leaves.

Silvery Tipped Pekoe:  Rare and costly, this is White Tea made of the unopened tea leaves or buds.

Sinensis:  This is a variety of the Camellia plant. See Camellia sinensis.

Sappy:  Full and juicy flavour liquor.

Single Estate Tea:  Any tea that originated from one single tea garden or plantation.

Smoky:  Tea leaves that give a taste and aroma of smoke as a result being fired over open flames on wood. Lapsang Souchong is such an example. However, the smokiness may also be unintentional and caused by faulty driers during the drying process.

Soft:  Lacking in flavour, this is weak tea that is under oxidized.

Souchong:  Referring to leaf size, this is inferior tea made from larger, older leaves of the shoot, usually the third or fourth leaf.

Sour:  Tea that has an acidic smell and taste. Not a good trait.

Spicy:  This does not refer to a Masala Chai. This is liquor with the characteristics of spices such as cinnamon, cloves, or ginger possibly caused by cross-contamination.

Sri Lanka:  Formerly referred to as Ceylon, this island produces some of the finest black teas.

Stale:  Tea that is passed its prime and no longer fresh.

Stalk:  Tea leaves that contain pieces of stems due to improper plucking.

Steaming:  Light heat application, usually on green tea, during the manufacturing process.

Stewed/Stewy:  Soft liquor due to a lengthy fermentation, low drying temperature, or incorrect firing. Also refers to brew that has been infused far too long giving an unpleasant taste.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Adventures in tea and baking!

A couple of nights ago, I attended a Baking with Tea workshop hosted by Zen of Teaventures in partnership with Feena of Fefe Bonbon. It was a very casual evening and I had no expectations of any kind. To me, it was a night out meeting people who have a common interest.

Pretty teapot!

Zen opened the event by having the small group introduce themselves. I got the feeling everyone already knew each other through friendship or past events. I was the newbie! Zen introduced herself as a Tea Sommelier graduate from George Brown College. It's always nice to meet a fellow graduate and seeing where their studies took them. She continued her tea talk by sharing family stories, types of tea and how to brew them, and the many uses of tea besides consumption. It was an open dialogue where the group offered up their own experiences with tea. Unlike coffee, tea is a very social experience. As we chattered on, we enjoyed a pot of Darjeeling Chai produced by Teaventures. 

What to drink?
Later on, Feena, our Baker, took over and guided the group in the making of masala chai infused shortbread cookies and icing for cupcakes. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, the participants did not get to make icing, and instead just used the icing made by our baking instructor. The baking and decorating portion of the workshop was not very difficult. In fact, Feena, who instructs baking courses to children, brought along all her colourful cooking instruments she normally uses in her children's classes. Hmmmm... I wonder if she finds children easier to school than adults! LOL! Anyway, I wasn't expecting anything too deep in the workshop. The cookies and cupcakes looked decent and tasted pretty good. I have used tea in some of my past baking, and will definitely fine tune what I learned this evening and take them into consideration. 

Colourful tools!

Masala chai cupcakes!

When the evening came to an end, Zen approached me and offered up a package of her Darjeeling Chai, thanking me for attending her event. I will surely be enjoying this lovely tea. It really is good! She also seemed a bit apologetic about the workshop possibly being a little too easy for me because of my tea and pastry background.  I assured her many times over that I had a great time, enjoyed meeting her and everyone else, and had no expectations at all for what I signed-up for. She is super kind as is Feena, and I look forward to attending future events hosted by this talented pair.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Tea Spot: A piece of crepe!

The last time I was at Tsujiri, I had their amazing Houjicha Soft Ice-cream. It was a delight! I wanted to try some of their other offerings, and so headed back to the shop.

This time around, I went for the Matcha Crepe Cake. It is layers of crepes in-between layers of what appeared to be a Matcha mousse, similar to the Matcha Angel Hat Cheesecake I had at 
Uncle Tetsu’s Angel Café

Crepe cake.

The cake looked good enough. It was a sweet Matcha with a slight bitter aftertaste. It was smooth and much creamier than I thought it would be. Initially, I found the texture a bit strange, almost jelly-like. I soon got over it, though, with each bite.

It wasn’t a bad cake, and I’m glad I tried it. However, I wasn’t particularly wowed by it. I’ve had far better cakes, and so will skip this one.  I guess you really can't always have your cake!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Pour me another round!

A few weeks ago, I tried a cold brewed milk tea which I really liked. I had mentioned that there were other similar products available at the shop I made my purchase, which I was keen on trying out as well. With the weather heating up, I figured the timing is perfect for another test drive.

This time around, I opted for the Golden Oolong Tea. This is an unsweetened blend of Huan Jin Gui and Tie Guan Yin from Taiwan. I’ve had Tie Guan Yin many times before, which also goes by the name “Iron Goddess of Mercy” if that sounds familiar. I don’t think I’ve ever had Huan Jin Gui which means “Golden Osmanthus”, but I was up for the cold combo!

Ooohhh, so good!

This Oolong blend wasn’t bad at all. Not as sweet as the milk tea drink I had the last time, but it was refreshing and easy to gulp down on a hot day. I liked the fact that it was unsweetened as I find some drinks with sugar added sometimes masks the true taste of the product. This beverage was smoky and sweet with light floral notes.

Though these ready made tea beverages are convenient and satisfying, they’re not cheap. They’re something to enjoy once in a while and hopefully over time as they become more popular, the cost will go down too. They are worth a try.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Steeping Beauty: Scent of a woman!

It’s been a long while since I’ve posted an article about a beauty product or routine. After some casual shop browsing, I came across a lovely tea inspired product that I felt was worthy of being shared.

I’ve always wandered into a beauty store called The Body Shop if I ever came across one. I just love their vast array of scents, scrubs, lotions, and creams, all produced without testing on animals. One such product I found on a shelf that got me all excited was a tea infused perfume. Made using Japanese green tea, The Fuji Green Tea Eau De Cologne is a blend of bergamot, lemon, mandarin, jasmine, violet, and of course, camellia. Much like certain green teas for consumption, the liquid is clear, and pale green in colour.

A spritz on my neck perhaps?

I really liked it! It smelled fresh, cool, and crisp. Not overpowering at all. It actually reminded me of Calvin Klein’s CK One, but more subtle. The sweet hint of green tea is definitely there. It’s a perfect fragrance to wear on a summer’s day. Light and breezy. Camellia sinensis at its finest!

I just happened to enter The Body Shop at a time when they were having a store sale. On this particular day, it was a “buy 2 items get 1 free” deal. Normally I stay away from such extra spending, but I found a couple of other fragrances that had my senses awakening. Along with my Fuji Green Tea Eau De Cologne, the Indian Night Jasmine, and White Musk Smoky Rose Fragrance Mist I also purchased is going to have me leaving a lovely trail of intoxicating aroma!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Teaology 101: Today’s post is brought to you by the letters 'Q' and 'R'!

Another double dose of letters, and for good reason. Not many words out there with the letter ‘Q’. Don’t forget all the previous letters either:

A    B    C    D    E    F    G    H    I    J    K    L    M    N    O    P

Quality: Distinctive attributes or characteristics of a good tea.

Queen's Tea: This a blend of various black teas created especially for Queen Victoria.

Ragged: A poor quality of tea that is rough and uneven.  See even.

Rainy: Dull tea liquor as a result of being processed during a season of rain.

Raw: A bitter tasting tea.

Red Tea: Not to be confused with Rooibos, this is what China refers to as black tea due to the reddish colour of the liquor.

Rich: Liquor that is smooth yet abundant.

Rolling: This is a process where withered tea leaves are rolled either by hand or a machine in order to give each tea its unique shape.

Rooibos: This is a tisane that means "red bush", and is a member of the legume family. It is a plant found in a very small area of South Africa.

Rotorvane: This is a machine used during the processing method where tea leaves are turned into CTC tea.

Rough: Irregular appearing tea leaves.

Round: A desirable trait in tea that is considered smooth.

Russian Caravan: A blend of various Chinese Teas, usually Oolong, Keemun, and Lapsang Souchong. The name originates from the 18th century camel caravans that transported teas to Russia.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Pour me a cold one!

Whilst out making a purchase at a convenience store one day, I spotted bottles of ready made tea in the refrigeration section. A couple of the bottles were for green tea, but what really caught my eye was the bottle of afternoon milk tea. It's made by a company called Kirin, and from what I've been reading, it's made using tea leaves from the Kandy area in Sri Lanka. The product, however, is Japanese.

Ready made!

I was keen on trying it, and so decided to buy a bottle. It looked pretty good. Besides black tea, the drink contains a blend of milk, milk powder, artificial flavouring, and sweeteners. I certainly wouldn't say it's a healthy beverage, but I have to confess, it is delicious! 

Just pour!

It tasted like some Oolongs I've had in the past, with its floral scent and taste. I found it refreshing and it really quenched a thirst. It is pretty sweet though, and so would never think about drinking it regularly.

Cold brew!

Apparently milk tea is quite popular all over Japan. I'm thinking it's much like the Masala Chai made all over India, only it's offered chilled. I am glad I discovered it. It passes as a dessert to enjoy once in a while especially over the summer. I'm even thinking that making the beverage into popsicles wouldn't be such a bad idea! I will definitely swing by the store again and try out the other cold teas they have available.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Tea Spot: A simple taste of elegance!

Tucked away in an up-and-coming area of my city, is a cute little dessert shop called Roselle. I’ve heard about this place for several months now and have drooled over the pix on their website. I finally had the chance to swing by to try one of their tea infused desserts.

The treat I enjoyed was a  lovely piece of cake called “The Earl”. This bar is a “milk chocolate Earl Grey infused mousse, bergamot cremeux, vanilla sponge, crispy feuilletine”. Sounds sexy, no? The presentation was simple yet elegant. I almost didn’t want to break it apart. 

Divine dish!

I cautiously sliced into it and let each forked piece linger on my tongue, slowly melting the chocolate. It was divine! Creamy, crunchy, not overly sweet. I could even detect the earthy flavour of the tea. It wasn’t over-powering, but, it was there. I found myself separating the layers to get a closer look at the structure. 

Roselle didn’t have any Matcha infused desserts on this particular night, which is unfortunate. I was anguish to try an amazing looking cake they occasionally have on the menu. They also have an Earl Grey infused soft-serve ice-cream that I hear is quite a hit. That’s good. This gives me a reason to make another trip to their shop!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Tea Readings: In the words of Jarod Kintz!

Who? Um, you know. The Jarod Kintz. Okay, I actually don’t know who this person is really. He seems to be a writer of sorts. I just happened to come across many of his quotes, some of which pertain to tea. They’re not super hilarious, but I did find myself chuckling over many of his words. Thought I’d share the ones about tea with you:

“My thermos does such a good job of keeping my tea hot that it feels like I’m drinking iced tea.”

“I am greedy with water. I made your apology tea dry. I’m sorry. You might try snorting it out of the bag.”

“A cat purring on your lap while you sip hot tea, is there anything better? Oh, and you’re floating in a zero gravity environment.”

“I laughed so hard I nearly spit out my hot tea. The strange part was the fact that I was drinking coffee at that moment.”

“If I could make tea out of your love, would it be hot, or iced? Would it be black, or green? Would it be sweet, or unsweet? Would you offer free refills?”

“I treat strangers like friends, friends like family, and family like strangers. And I make love like a cup of coffee that likes a cup of tea.”

“Coffee, it's not my cup of tea. Being in love isn't really my cup of tea either, but when it's steamy I'll sip it dutifully.”

~ Jarod Kintz

Saturday, June 10, 2017

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

Enjoy the letter ‘P’ along with your tea! I could’ve been crass, but I have more class! Please check out all the previous letters:

A    B    C    D    E    F    G    H    I    J    K    L    M    N    O

Pan-fried:  This is a process usually associated to Japanese green teas, where the leaves are heated in wok in order to stop further oxidation.

Peak:  Associated to black teas, this is the high point during the tasting experience.

Pearl:  This is a process where large tea leaves are rolled into small, tight balls or pearls.

Pekoe:  Pronounced “peck-oh” as in “birds peck”, not “peek-oh” as in “take a peek”. Supposedly the term comes from a translation of a Chinese dialect which means “white down” or “white hair”. It refers to the fine white hair that covers the buds and some of the newer leaves.

Plain:  A neutral tasting tea that lacks character.

Pluck/Plucking:  The picking off of and collecting tea leaves during harvest traditionally done by hand.

Polyphenols:  These are antioxidant chemicals that have health benefits. They also give tea its briskness and astringency.

Pouchong: A fine, lightly oxidized tea that's between a green tea and an oolong. It is often used as base for scented teas such as jasmine.

Prune:  To cut away dead or overgrown tea bushes in order to increase its growth and maintain its shape and size.

Pu'erh:  Originating from Yunnan, China, this is a type of black tea that is produced by microbial fermentation and oxidation. These become better with age and as a result, more costly.

Pungent:  A strong black tea that's full of flavour and astringency without any bitterness.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Tea Spot: Hats off to you!

I’ve been wanting to visit Uncle Tetsu’s Japanese Cheesecake, a very popular Matcha inspired bakery, for quite some time. I just don’t wish to endure the long line-ups. This has been ongoing for a few years now, so, rather than heading to the original hot spot, I ventured off to Uncle Tetsu’s Angel Café, a sister operation, with less to no line-ups, and a variety of dessert options to satisfy your Matcha fix. 

The green dome!

I opted for something to takeaway rather than dine-in, though, I wouldn’t mind heading here one evening to experience the whole Japanese maid-style service and try a few different plates along with a Matcha latte or two. Another time for sure!

A bird's eye view of the dome!

For my takeaway, I went for their signature Matcha Angel Hat Cheesecake. At $10, it’s a good portion for two or three people to enjoy. It’s a cute, smooth, dome-shaped cake. I enjoyed it. It was unlike the traditional, dense, western-style cheesecakes. I’ve never been a big fan of cheesecake. It always felt like I ate a brick, especially after a full meal. I much preferred this texture. It was fluffy, airy, soft, and moist. It was a cross between a sponge cake and a mousse. Not super cheesy either. 

The dome is open!

There was a slight bitterness at the end of each bite, much like you would expect of any Matcha infused item. It wasn’t overly sweet either, which I liked. Perhaps a drizzle of dark chocolate sauce would enhance the experience and take it to a new level, but it’s lovely all on its own.

The Matcha Angel Hat Cheesecake is not the best cake I’ve ever had, but I’m glad I tried it. I prefer it over the regular cheesecakes, and I am curious about the other flavours the shop offers. Of course, I will need to swing by for the maid service. I hear they perform J-pop routines on their stage. Cool!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Tea Readings: Tea for thee and me!

A little while ago, I posted a write-up on I’m a Little Teapot, a very well known nursery rhyme made into a song and dance. Well, there are other tea nursery rhymes too, though perhaps not as popular. At least I’ve never heard of them. I would describes these rhymes as “school bus songs”. They’re the sort of rhymes with repeated lyrics, that children sing on buses to pass the time away and drive their teachers insane. ‘The wheels on the bus go round and round…round and round…’ (Rolling my eyes!)

Here are a few more for the little ones to kill some time!

I love Billy.  He loves tea.  Go Billy!

Molly likes coffee.  So sad, but, let her be!

Party hearty girlfriends!

Polly makes, and Sukey takes!

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Tea Spot: Hits the sweet spot!

Though it’s not summer yet, my hometown has experienced the odd day with high temperatures normally expected in July or August. What better way to beat this sudden heat than with a treat in the form of an ice-cream? I decided to swing by one of the many Japanese dessert shops that have popped up in the city these past few years. These shops specialize in tea, specifically Matcha, in their products, whether it’s cheesecake, tarts, cookies, and of course, ice-cream.

The shop I decided to visit in order to partake in their ice-cream offerings is called Tsujiri, which was established in 1860 in Japan. The have shops all over the world, and Toronto is lucky to have the first of its kind in Canada. Woo-hoo!

I knew what I already wanted after checking out Tsujiri’s website, so, when I stepped into the shop, I quickly ordered myself a Houjicha Soft Ice-cream. I figured there were plenty of Matcha options that I could always have another time here or at some other similar shop.

Houjicha is a Japanese green tea, usually made from Bancha leaves that have been roasted in a pot over charcoal. The green tea leaves turn into a reddish-brown colour as a result of being fired at high temperatures. The amber liquor from Houjicha has a toasty and nutty aroma and flavour. These unique characteristics can be found in the ice-cream too. 


I opted for a cone rather than a tub for my treat. The soft ice-cream had a lovely caramel colour and the taste was a pleasant surprise. It wasn’t overly sweet, which I find sometimes masks the true taste of a flavour. It had a roasted taste with just a touch of astringency at the end of each yummy lick. It was like having a Houjicha tea but as an ice-cream. I really like it. It’s definitely not your typical chocolate and vanilla ice-cream.

As I said, there are many other items on the Tsujiri menu that had me drooling. Clearly, I will need to tackle the menu and work my way through it. Hey, it gets pretty hot in city! Besides, I’m always on the lookout for new content. This is investigative journalism at its best!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Teaology 101: Today’s post is brought to you by the letters 'N' and 'O'!

Time for some more alphabets! This time, we’re getting another double dose of letters. Can you handle it? See all the previous definitions by clicking on their letters:

A    B    C    D    E    F    G    H    I    J    K    L    M

Neat:  This indicates a well-made tea with good even-looking leaves.

Nilgiri:  Located in south-west India, this mountainous region produces some delicate tasting, fine black teas.

Nose:  Refers to the scent of the tea brewed. May also imply that the aroma of the brewed tea is good.

Nutty:  These are teas that taste, well, nutty. It's a good taste and can be detected in some Assam teas and even Genmaicha.

Nuwara Eliya:  This area, located in located in Sri Lanka, produces some fine, fragrant black teas that are light and delicate.

Old:  Tea liquor that has lost its usual characteristics due to the aged tea leaves.

Oolong:  Usually described as a Chinese tea falling between a green tea and a black tea, in that it is partially oxidized after the withering process. The name is derived from "wulong" and translates to Black Dragon.

Open:  Refers to an untwisted, loosely rolled, whole leaf. Shoumei, a white tea, is such an example.

Organoleptic: The process of using all your senses to evaluate foods. This procedure is used by tea tasters to evaluate the quality of teas.

Orange:  This refers to the colour of the tea tips or buds.

Orange Pekoe:  This refers to the size of the tea leaves. It has nothing to do with the flavour, colour, aroma, or any other characteristic of a tea.

Orthodox:  A style of tea making in India, these are teas that go through the traditional methods of plucking and processing tea. It is not a CTC processed tea.

Oxidation:  This is a process where the leaves react to the oxygen causing chemical changes that result in the teas unique aroma, flavour, and colour.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Tea Readings: Cooking with Tea

Tea is just extraordinary. You can drink it, eat it, clean with it, use it as part of your beauty regimen etc…

The list really goes on. It’s fantastic as a cooking ingredient, especially since there are so many types of teas. Sometimes I play around with recipes and try adding a specific tea to what I’m making. Other times, I review recipes I’ve researched and adjust them according to my needs.

I found this lovely book, simply called Cooking with Tea by Robert Wemischner and Diana Rosen. It’s about “taking tea from the cup to the plate”. Like many tea cookbooks, this book starts off with some tea basics, introducing the reader to what tea is, the various tea types, brewing methods, and tea wares. 

Cook on!

Part 2 gets right into the recipes and is broken down into four sections:

1. Starters, Condiments, Complements, and Sides
2. Entrées
3. Desserts
4. Tea Beverages

Recipes in this section include:

1. Jade Shrimp in Lung Ching Tea
2. Tea-cured salmon and Ginger Sandwich
3. Morocco-Darjeeling Halibut
4. Green Tea-Poached Asian Pears with Pistachio Cream Sauce
5. Iced Tea with Lemongrass Syrup

Sound yummy? Uh-huh!

The 3rd and final part is the Appendices which includes the following topics:

1. Pairing Teas with Foods
2. Glossary Of Words Used In Tea Tasting
3. Resources For Ingredients, Teapots, and Teashops

I really liked Cooking with Tea. The book describes various cooking techniques and the ways to use specific teas. The recipes just sound delicious with some gorgeous pictures accompanying certain recipes. I will surely be keeping some of the recipes in mind for future cook ups!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

My Cuppa: The Dragon’s Ball!

An event I really enjoy volunteering at is with the Toronto Tea Festival. I think the city is blessed to have such a unique event where like-minded people can gather together and partake in all that the festival has to offer. Do read up on my experience at this year’s Tea Festival.

Like with most organizations, volunteers are sometimes rewarded for their time and hard work. The Toronto Tea Festival has always been gracious towards their volunteers and show it with a gift in the form of something related to tea. This year, volunteers were provided with the Tea Festival 5th Anniversary Commemorative White Moon Pu-er Dragon Ball. I’ve been dying to try my dragon’s egg since receiving it a few months ago. Let’s get crackin’!

The dragon's egg!

After removing the foil, a tightly coiled ball of greyish-white tea leaves was unveiled. It smelled sweet, slightly floral. I almost didn’t want to break the perfect sphere of tea leaves. Almost! The instructions, as indicated on the festival programme, applied to a Gongfu, however, it did go on to say that if a regular cup is being used instead, the leaves can be steeped for 2 – 3 minutes to desired strength.

Any dragons?

No baby dragons here!

Instructions for Gongfu:

For best results, wake up the tea leaves by rinsing them first, prior to steeping. Do this by pouring the heated water over the leaves, and discarding it immediately.

3 g / 1.5 tsp
100 °C / 212 °F
Glass / Ceramic Gaiwan

This tea can be steeped up to 4 times allowing you to get a range of tastes from the leaves.

1st Steep:  30 – 50 seconds
2nd Steep:  10 seconds
3rd Steep:  15 seconds
4th Steep:  20 seconds

I, unfortunately do not own a Gong Fu, yet, so, I steeped it using a regular cup of tea. I did rinse the leaves first, and I did follow up with multiple steeps and playing around with different lengths of time. I loved this Pu-er! The pale yellow liquor was smooth with a thick mouth-feel. It tasted slightly sweet and fruity without any bitterness.

What a ball!

The Commemorative White Moon Pu-er Dragon Ball was a delight. It’s definitely a good tea for anyone wanting to try a Pu-er for the first time before getting into some of the darker, bolder flavoured Pu-er teas. I have just enough tea leaves for a few more cups to enjoy, but I’ll be on the search for other white Pu-er teas to try.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Yes Chef: A new shade of Earl Grey!

I really love Earl Grey tea with lavender. They just seem to go so well together, especially in baked goods. Remember my Earl Grey Lavender Muffins? The aroma is so intoxicating! I thought I’d use this dynamic duo in a cookie recipe this time around. This particular recipe incorporates a list of ingredients that subscribe to the caveman diet or paleo diet, of which I’ve developed a keen interest in. The flours used, such as almond and coconut, work differently than your traditional, all-purpose flours. They provide an interesting taste, texture, and aroma, and I’m just loving them!

Ready for the oven.


  • 2 tbsp Earl Grey tea
  • ½ tbsp edible lavender buds
  • 2 ½ cup almond flour
  • 2 tbsp tapioca flour
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ½ tbsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp salt

All set to go.

  1. Whisk together almond flour, tapioca flour, salt, and baking soda.
  2. Melt coconut oil and butter. Should take about 25 seconds in the microwave.
  3. Pulverize the Earl Grey tea and lavender in a food processor.
  4. Add the pulverized tea and lavender to the flour mixture.
  5. Add the coconut oil, butter, maple syrup, honey, and vanilla extract to the flour mixture.
  6. Combine the ingredients until a ball is formed. *Roll this into a log, and wrap it in plastic.
  7. Place the log of dough in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to stiffen. I left mine in the fridge overnight.
  8. Remove the plastic, carefully slice the log into cookies, and place on a parchment lined baking tray.
  9. Place the cookies into a 163°C, pre-heated oven, for 15 minutes or until the edges begin to brown.
  10. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool down, and then they’re ready to eat!

Nice and golden.

All cooked up.

Looks good!

The aroma wafting from my oven was delicious! Now, the cookies themselves are not particularly attractive. They have a very rustic look. Almost looks like cork. You can pretty them up using a glaze or icing, but, I just enjoyed them as is. The cookies are soft and slightly chewy, and the flavour! Wow! You can really taste the Earl Grey tea and lavender. The almond flour and coconut oil was also noticeable. So good! I will definitely be making these cookies again.

Pretty in pink!

*Note: I actually did not roll my dough into a log, however, I recommend this as the best method. These ingredients are quite delicate and so you will need to work quickly with the dough. I left my dough in the fridge overnight in order to be able to roll out the dough with a rolling pin and then use a cookie cutter. It’s difficult, but possible, as you can see from the pictures. If you’re ambitious, feel free to go this route instead.

It's a wrap!


  • Refrigerate dough overnight in order to stiffen enough for using cookie cutters. See *Note.
  • Share the cookies with others to get their opinions, and because it’s a nice thing to do!


  • Try glazes or icings to decorate the final product. 
  • Use another sweetener, maybe agave, instead of maple syrup.
  • Instead of butter, try another neutral tasting oil, such as grapeseed oil.