vrai-lean-uh

Cooking, eating, making sweeping pronouncements

Posts tagged tea

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Back when I worked at Tealuxe in college, we made a green-tea shake using matcha,  simple syrup, milk and ice. I think. It was delicious and fueled a horrendous caffeine addiction.
Matcha is a pretty high quality green tea milled into a fine powder. Rather than steeping the tea, you dissolve the powder into hot (not boiling) water; you can also use it as an ingredient in drinks or cooking (green tea ice cream, for example). Because you’re drinking the whole leaf, essentially, and because of the way the tea leaves are grown, the flavor is more intense than regular green tea. I think it tastes sweeter, too. People who care about these things talk about it being very high in antioxidants (because you’re consuming the whole leaf). I’ve been told that it’s high in caffeine for the same reasons.
We didn’t sell matcha at Tealuxe, and I didn’t really ever see it or think of looking for it until I was in Quebec City last weekend and at a lovely tea store that actually sold matcha (full disclosure: I went to TWO lovely tea shops. It was the best vacation ever). Here is the lovely tea store:

The place is called David’s Tea, and appears to be a Canadian chain started in 2008 in Montreal. It’s very hey-guys-tea-is-super-accessible-and-fun! which is fine and good. The staff were really nice. It’s on Rue St. Jean in Quebec City.
Back to the matcha. I bought it and then realized I didn’t have a good plan, since it was many years since I worked at Tealuxe and I wasn’t really paying careful enough attention.
I ended up dissolving a teaspoon of matcha into a few teaspoons of warm water, then dumping that into the blender along with probably half a cup to a cup of milk and a little bit of simple syrup and a few big handfuls of ice. I blended and it was really good, but not quite as fantastic as I had remembered. I think it might need more matcha?
Do any of you have advice? Do you know how to do this?

Back when I worked at Tealuxe in college, we made a green-tea shake using matcha, simple syrup, milk and ice. I think. It was delicious and fueled a horrendous caffeine addiction.

Matcha is a pretty high quality green tea milled into a fine powder. Rather than steeping the tea, you dissolve the powder into hot (not boiling) water; you can also use it as an ingredient in drinks or cooking (green tea ice cream, for example). Because you’re drinking the whole leaf, essentially, and because of the way the tea leaves are grown, the flavor is more intense than regular green tea. I think it tastes sweeter, too. People who care about these things talk about it being very high in antioxidants (because you’re consuming the whole leaf). I’ve been told that it’s high in caffeine for the same reasons.

We didn’t sell matcha at Tealuxe, and I didn’t really ever see it or think of looking for it until I was in Quebec City last weekend and at a lovely tea store that actually sold matcha (full disclosure: I went to TWO lovely tea shops. It was the best vacation ever). Here is the lovely tea store:

The place is called David’s Tea, and appears to be a Canadian chain started in 2008 in Montreal. It’s very hey-guys-tea-is-super-accessible-and-fun! which is fine and good. The staff were really nice. It’s on Rue St. Jean in Quebec City.

Back to the matcha. I bought it and then realized I didn’t have a good plan, since it was many years since I worked at Tealuxe and I wasn’t really paying careful enough attention.

I ended up dissolving a teaspoon of matcha into a few teaspoons of warm water, then dumping that into the blender along with probably half a cup to a cup of milk and a little bit of simple syrup and a few big handfuls of ice. I blended and it was really good, but not quite as fantastic as I had remembered. I think it might need more matcha?

Do any of you have advice? Do you know how to do this?

Filed under matcha tea

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It is already virtually impossible in the United States, unless you undertake the job yourself, to get a cup or pot of tea that tastes remotely as it ought to. It’s quite common to be served a cup or a pot of water, well off the boil, with the tea bags lying on an adjacent cold plate. Then comes the ridiculous business of pouring the tepid water, dunking the bag until some change in color occurs, and eventually finding some way of disposing of the resulting and dispiriting tampon surrogate. The drink itself is then best thrown away, though if swallowed, it will have about the same effect on morale as a reading of the memoirs of President James Earl Carter.

How to make a decent cup of tea, following George Orwell’s golden rules. - By Christopher Hitchens - Slate Magazine (via bunnyvictorious)

This is VERY IMPORTANT reading.

(via bunnyvictorious)

Filed under tea

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Holiday Gift Guide! 

Still with the tea.

If you have a tea-drinker in your life and they do not have an electric kettle, well, you know what to do.  Namely: buy them one immediately.

I got a krups electric tea kettle when I moved into my dorm in high school, and I still use it basically every single day.  For this reason, I have to recommend krups tea kettles, but there are a number of varieties at different price points. 

Here are the benefits over stovetop kettles:

1. They boil water faster.

2. They boil water more efficiently.

3. They often have a little measurement scale on the side so you can boil just the amount of water that you need.

4. No piercing whistle that feels like someone screaming at you at the top of their lungs until you can get yourself into the kitchen to deal with it.  Whistle tea kettles make me feel really tense and harassed.  You don’t need that.

5. Auto shut-off, in case your tea kettle DOESN’T have a piercing whistle and you happen to be the kind of person that forgets about things and you happily avoid boiling an empty hunk of metal on the stove for half an hour after the water has all cooked off.  That smell?  It is the smell of you forging metal on your stovetop.

6. The fact that auto shut-off often makes a gentle click, like someone quietly knocking on your door saying, oh, hi there, the hot water is just ready, but don’t hurry yourself or anything, it’ll still be there in a moment when you’re done emailing that person about whether they appropriately budgeted for materials and supplies.

7. If you get a super fancy one, it will heat water to boiling OR to approximately 170 degrees, which is the temperature you need for green or white tea.  Look at that fanciness.  When my tea kettle finally bites the bullet, I will probably replace it with one that does variable temperatures.  (I still love you tea kettle!  Let’s never talk about this again!)

So, the first kettle pictured is a krups, and it’s on sale right now for $60 at bloomingdales.  This looks like the current version of what I have.  The second kettle pictured is a breville variable temperature kettle, which is also currently on sale, but still pretty expensive at $150.

Filed under holiday gift guide! tea

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Holiday Gift Guide!
I was totally going to put together a gift guide, but then I kind of fizzled on the whole thing.  I did get most of the way through tea-related gifts, though.  And look, I put together a little photoshop montage of teas.  I totally have useful skills that don’t just involve running conference calls.
So, tea can be hard, because some tea lovers can be quite particular about their tea.  We like to mock coffee snobs, but people who live in clear glass teapots with removable infusers shouldn’t throw stones at people in glass chemex drip coffee carafes.  I am not always so fancy though (shameful secret: I really enjoy Constant Comment tea), so I put together a mix of highbrow and mediumbrow (I was going to say lowbrow, but fuck that!  these are solidly mediumbrow!) teas.*
Clockwise from top:
Jasmine Pearl Tea, $28
I used to buy dragon pearl jasmine tea at Tealuxe in Boston, but they also sell this similar tea at Dean & Deluca and the picture on the Dean & Deluca website is much prettier.  This is the kind of tea that you need to steep with hot-but-not-boiling water (170 degrees) and it’s good stuff.  Don’t buy this for someone who doesn’t really care about tea or can’t be bothered to let the water cool down a bit before steeping.  It’s delicious and fragrant.
Comfort & Joy tea
I haven’t tried this tea, but Juli tells me it’s really good.  So.  Uh.  That’s the extent of the useful information I have to provide.  I would like it.
Harney and Sons Tower of London blend
This is so delicious.  It’s a flavored black tea with a mix of dried stone fruit, bergamot, and honey and it also makes a wonderful iced tea.  The tin is gorgeous, too. 
Dean and Deluca Earl Grey Tea, $10 for 4 oz. loose leaf tea
My favorite earl grey tea.
Mighty Leaf Orange Dulce Black Flavored Tea, $6.97 for 15 pouches (currently on sale!)
There are fancy tea drinkers who are all too good for flavored tea.  I am not one of those people.  It is a flavored tea that comes in tea bags, and it’s delicious.  I am not ashamed.
Not pictured:
Moroccan Mint Tea, approx. $1/gram, depending on amount
Sometimes you see “Moroccan mint” tea that doesn’t have any green  tea.  That is not Moroccan mint, it’s just mint.  Moroccan mint tea is a  mix of mint and green tea and is wonderful in the summer.  It also  makes a really nice iced tea.
Mariage Frères Rouge Bourbon Vanille Tea Bags, $20 for 30 tea bags
This is one of my favorite  teas, it is so delicious.  It’s an herbal tea, but has some of the  substance of a black tea (it’s not like a high end Lemon Zinger).  It’s a  nice afternoon or early evening tea when you don’t really feel like  pulling out the chamomile and jammies, but also don’t want to be awake  all night.  In the past week it disappeared from the Dean & Deluca website, but it appears it’s still available here.
Mighty Leaf Bombay Chai, $6.97 for 15 pouches (again, on sale)
Full disclosure: I haven’t tried this, but I still want it.  Homemade  chai is delicious, but also harder than putting a tea bag in a mug and  pouring boiling water in.
* For some, it’s not highbrow unless it includes a pu-erh tea, but I’m okay with that because I’m not yet ready for fermented and aged tea cakes.

Holiday Gift Guide!

I was totally going to put together a gift guide, but then I kind of fizzled on the whole thing.  I did get most of the way through tea-related gifts, though.  And look, I put together a little photoshop montage of teas.  I totally have useful skills that don’t just involve running conference calls.

So, tea can be hard, because some tea lovers can be quite particular about their tea.  We like to mock coffee snobs, but people who live in clear glass teapots with removable infusers shouldn’t throw stones at people in glass chemex drip coffee carafes.  I am not always so fancy though (shameful secret: I really enjoy Constant Comment tea), so I put together a mix of highbrow and mediumbrow (I was going to say lowbrow, but fuck that!  these are solidly mediumbrow!) teas.*

Clockwise from top:

Jasmine Pearl Tea, $28

I used to buy dragon pearl jasmine tea at Tealuxe in Boston, but they also sell this similar tea at Dean & Deluca and the picture on the Dean & Deluca website is much prettier.  This is the kind of tea that you need to steep with hot-but-not-boiling water (170 degrees) and it’s good stuff.  Don’t buy this for someone who doesn’t really care about tea or can’t be bothered to let the water cool down a bit before steeping.  It’s delicious and fragrant.

Comfort & Joy tea

I haven’t tried this tea, but Juli tells me it’s really good.  So.  Uh.  That’s the extent of the useful information I have to provide.  I would like it.

Harney and Sons Tower of London blend

This is so delicious.  It’s a flavored black tea with a mix of dried stone fruit, bergamot, and honey and it also makes a wonderful iced tea.  The tin is gorgeous, too. 

Dean and Deluca Earl Grey Tea, $10 for 4 oz. loose leaf tea

My favorite earl grey tea.

Mighty Leaf Orange Dulce Black Flavored Tea, $6.97 for 15 pouches (currently on sale!)

There are fancy tea drinkers who are all too good for flavored tea.  I am not one of those people.  It is a flavored tea that comes in tea bags, and it’s delicious.  I am not ashamed.

Not pictured:

Moroccan Mint Tea, approx. $1/gram, depending on amount

Sometimes you see “Moroccan mint” tea that doesn’t have any green tea.  That is not Moroccan mint, it’s just mint.  Moroccan mint tea is a mix of mint and green tea and is wonderful in the summer.  It also makes a really nice iced tea.

Mariage Frères Rouge Bourbon Vanille Tea Bags, $20 for 30 tea bags

This is one of my favorite teas, it is so delicious.  It’s an herbal tea, but has some of the substance of a black tea (it’s not like a high end Lemon Zinger).  It’s a nice afternoon or early evening tea when you don’t really feel like pulling out the chamomile and jammies, but also don’t want to be awake all night.  In the past week it disappeared from the Dean & Deluca website, but it appears it’s still available here.

Mighty Leaf Bombay Chai, $6.97 for 15 pouches (again, on sale)

Full disclosure: I haven’t tried this, but I still want it.  Homemade chai is delicious, but also harder than putting a tea bag in a mug and pouring boiling water in.

* For some, it’s not highbrow unless it includes a pu-erh tea, but I’m okay with that because I’m not yet ready for fermented and aged tea cakes.

Filed under holiday gift guide! tea presents I want

Notes

Tea Parties

You might think that if I were having people over, I would offer them fancy cakes or cheeses or somesuch.  This is not the case.

Any time I have more than four people in my apartment, I offer tea.  If there’s more than five people, I force tea upon them whether they like it or not.  Why?  Teapots and tea sets.

There is nothing I like better than the idea of serving guests tea in a nice tea set.  It’s elegant, everyone gets their own little cup and saucer, and I get to use my teapots.  I have three.  I am still dreaming of the event in which I will use all three teapots (I will serve a black tea, probably earl grey, a green tea, and a fruity tisane, unless I shake things up and go for a rooibos (this one)).  It will be fantastic.

I used to have a 90-something great-great-aunt who lived in Cape Cod.  I am not sure I will ever in my life meet someone so gracious.  She went to college in the nineteen-teens and for many, many years ran a successful real-estate business with her longtime (female) partner.  She and her partner, and then she alone, lived in this big old impeccably-decorated house on the water with grand entry and a shaded library with a typewriter and the perfect table for doing jigsaw puzzles.  In the afternoons, generally after I had spent the day at the beach or playing card games with my brother, she and I would drink tea together and converse about life.  She would tell stories of taking my grandmother to the theatre in Boston when my grandmother and her sister were little girls and leaving a glass of juice out on a cold windowsill overnight to make slush.  Obviously we drank tea from her very lovely tea set, and I got to add little sugar cubes with abandon because she was mostly blind at that point.

Before she went blind, she was frighteningly good at Scrabble.  Multiple bingos in a single game good.

I suspect she knew that I had many sugar cubes in my tea.

A mug with a teabag in it is not the same.

Here we are watering the lawn.

Another note: if you have halfway decent cookies on hand, serving them with tea makes them seem far more elegant than they would otherwise.  Shortbreads in particular.

Filed under tea entertaining

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I knew it was a bad idea as it was happening and I was powerless to stop it.  I just poured myself a glass of iced tea with honey and mint. 

It tastes like magic. 

And probably, if I think hard, also like lying awake in bed at 2 am.

Filed under bad decision-making tea

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6 Reasons That Brunch Sucks

I understand that this is an unpopular opinion, but sometimes it’s important to express unpopular opinions.  I dislike going out to brunch.

There are some exceptions, obviously.  If brunch involves raw oysters; caviar, wee pancakes, and sour cream; smoked fishes; a variety of soft cheeses; chocolate souffles; and cocktails, I can muddle through.

Otherwise, I have the following issues with going out to brunch:

1. I get irritable if when I’m hungry.  I don’t want to wait until noon to eat breakfast if I wake up at 9 am. Certainly, I could have breakfast at 9 am and then brunch at noon, but at that point, I’d rather just get lunch.

2.  I can be wearing pajamas if I eat breakfast at home.  If I go out to brunch, I need to a. put on pants, b. wash my face, c. brush my hair, d. brush my teeth, e. make sure I have my wallet. 

3.  Brunch foods are crazy easy to make.  You can be half asleep and still make good pancakes.  Or eggs.  Making good eggs is not hard.  You could be basically brain dead and still make bacon.  French toast?  Really fucking easy.  And not only really fucking easy, usually takes about ten minutes.  At the very most.  Even things like biscuits, or home fries, or omelets are slightly harder, but not rocket science.  You can make pancakes with sautéed apples and sour cream and a slice of bacon on the side all in a single skillet (not all at the same time). 

4.  Despite the easiness, brunch restaurants often mess up the basic stuff.  Oatmeal at restaurants is generally shitty.  Rarely do they serve steel cut oats, and generally the oats they do serve are gelatinous, or too runny.  Things that are sweet are often too sweet, things that aren’t sweet are often really heavy.  Sometimes I just want some fruit, but the fruit salad is, again, usually shitty.  I don’t want a heap of cut-up pieces of hard honeydew melon, questionably-ripe pineapple, grapes, and apple slices.  Especially if I’ve got a mango waiting for me at home.

5.  Restaurants often fuck up tea.  I don’t really drink coffee.  I drink tea.  I don’t think this should be a big deal, you know?  It’s not like I’m too good to drink regular tea and need to have fancy whole-leaf teas.  My standards aren’t super high.  And this is what serving decent tea requires: some halfway decent tea on hand (and honestly, anything beyond tetley will work for me), boiling water, a means to get the tea and the water to the table in a timely fashion.  Unless a restaurant is exclusively serving lunch, a meal at which people don’t often drink tea, it should be able to figure this out.  This is the worst: waiters that bring a cup of moderately hot water, then check on other tables, see what’s what, then disappear for ten minutes, then come back with the selection of teas for you to choose from.  Or, a variation, waiters that arrive with the mug of water, and then ask you what kind of tea you want, and then disappear for ten minutes before reappearing with the tea.  This is the second worst: the waiter shows up with a small carafe of warm water and a selection of teas.  In both cases the water is no longer hot enough to make tea.  HOW DO YOU FUCK THIS UP?  And honestly, the period of the day between getting out of bed and having a cup of tea is not an awesome time for me patience-wise. 

6.  At $3.50 a carton (what I paid at the local farmer’s market this weekend), one egg costs 29 cents.  A moderately fancy tea might cost $8.99 a box for 15 teabags, which works out to 60 cents for a cup of tea.  Omelets, french toast, frittatas, muffins, soufflés, oatmeal, all this stuff is really, really cheap to make at home.  And you can make it well. 

In other words, I don’t want to haul myself out of bed, put on real pants, leave the house, get myself to a restaurant, to pay to eat relatively unexciting food that I could make myself, easily, at home. 

Filed under breakfast tea brunch things that are not awesome

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Important Morning Beverage Related News:*
I made iced tea with 1/2 decaf and 1/2 regular tea today, because obviously I have no self-control when it comes to iced tea.**
However, it’s chai, and while I did sweeten it, it has to be really sweet to work well with the milk.  So I’m drinking it un-milked.  Still good.
* I wrote this yesterday and then forgot about it because I do things like that first thing in the morning.
** It turns out that too much iced tea in the morning does not result in a mid-afternoon crash for me.  It results in my lying awake in bed for an extended period of time.
*** This may all just have been an excuse to show you a picture of my super awesome teapot.  Super awesome!  It’s one of three, but I try not to play favorites because I love them all.

Important Morning Beverage Related News:*

I made iced tea with 1/2 decaf and 1/2 regular tea today, because obviously I have no self-control when it comes to iced tea.**

However, it’s chai, and while I did sweeten it, it has to be really sweet to work well with the milk.  So I’m drinking it un-milked.  Still good.

* I wrote this yesterday and then forgot about it because I do things like that first thing in the morning.

** It turns out that too much iced tea in the morning does not result in a mid-afternoon crash for me.  It results in my lying awake in bed for an extended period of time.

*** This may all just have been an excuse to show you a picture of my super awesome teapot.  Super awesome!  It’s one of three, but I try not to play favorites because I love them all.

Filed under tea learning from mistakes