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.


Ingredients:

  • 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.



Procedure:
  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!



Tips:

  • 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!


Options:

  • 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.

Enjoy!





Wednesday, April 12, 2017

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

We are half way through our alphabet of tea definitions. Woo-hoo! See all the previous definitions by clicking on their letters:

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



Make:  Tea that is manufactured according to its grade


Malty:  A good taste specifically associated with Assam teas. A bit hard to describe, but, think of bread, beer, Ovaltine. Almost a doughy, yeasty taste with a hit of citrus notes. May also describe teas that are a bit over-fired.

Masala Chai:  Tea that has been produced using various spices. This is a traditional beverage consumed in India.  Something to note, chai just means tea in another language.

Matcha:  Japanese green tea where the leaves are made into a powder. Often used in the Japanese Tea Ceremony or Chanoyu.

Meat Tea:  Another term for High Tea where servings of meat are also provided.

Medium Grown:  Teas that are grown in-between low and high elevations, at approximately 600m to 1200m.

Mellow:  A smooth, pleasant taste without any strong astringency or bitter aftertaste.

Metallic:  An undesirable quality where the tea has a coppery taste.

Monkey Picked:  A myth actually, which suggests that monkeys were trained to pick tea leaves that were difficult for humans to access.

Moldy:  A poor quality in the taste and odor of the tea as a result improper storage.

Muddy:  Bad tea liquor with a dull, lifeless, and brownish appearance.

Muscatel:  A fine character in a tea that tastes like Muscat grapes. This quality can be found in Darjeeling teas.

Mushy:  A flat tea that may not have been dried sufficiently enough during the manufacturing process.

Musty:  Tea liquor that appears to be moldy or mildewed.