Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tea on Pinterest

A lot of the people who are passionate about tea are on Pinterest.  Are you one of them?  I've created a number of tea related boards:


Teapots and Teacups

Tea Party Treats

Tea Towels

But I feel like I've just barely scratched the surfece.  Share your favorite tea board, or your own tea board.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Tea of Week: Zhena's Ambrosia Plum White

I had about half an hour to kill at a shopping center that houses a World Market.  Naturally, I had to make my way to the tea sampling station at the back of the store.  Sadly, the dispenser for the tea was empty, but as I browsed along the shelf, I saw this Ambrosia Plum White Tea from Zhena's Gypsy Teas.  I was curious.  Would all the other flavors -- including strawberry and rose overwhelm a delicate white tea?

Liquor -- light, but with a warm golden tint

Aroma -- Sweet, with a distinct floral note and a whiff of licorice
Body -- light
Flavors --  This tea has a good balance of flavors, with none of them really overwhelming the others.  The fruity plum note is actually more understated than expected.  You also get a nice taste of rose before a hint of acidity hits your tongue.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Tea Recipe: Layered Tea Jelly Mold

I have become a bit obsessed with jelly molds lately.  I started picking up vintage copper molds at thrift stores, and I've even started collecting photgraphs on a Pinterest board.  The need to make a tea-based layered mold wasn't a huge leap.  After all, tea jelly has been around forever.  In Japan, jelly desserts are plentiful and beautiful, and when tea is added, it is often a green tea, perhaps matcha.  In Taiwan, jasmine tea and oolongs are favored, and cubes of the resulting jelly are often diced into bubble tea as an alternative to tapioca.

For my layered mold, I wanted to highlight the beautiful colors you can get from the liquor of different kinds of tea.  I wanted a pale white, a brilliant green, and a deep black tea.  (I chose a white tea with pom from a local tea shop, Joy Luck green tea, and Twinnings English Breakfast, but you can choose your own favorites).  I alternated these with milky layers that incorporated the tea from the layer above.  The bubbles at the top are filled in with a pure white milk jelly for contrast.  The tea layers are only lightly sweetened, which balances the very sweet milky layers.  The following recipe is for a 5 cup mold.

Layered Tea Jello Mold

1 1/3 c. room temperature brewed white tea
1 1/3 c. room temperature brewed green tea
1 1/3 c. room temperature brewed black tea
3 tbsp. sugar
1 can sweetened condensed milk
5 packets unsweetened geletain

To make the cream bubbles: combine 1/4 of a packet (appx. 2 grams) geletain with 1 tablespoon cold water and allow to bloom for two or three minutes.  Pour 2 tablespoons boiling water over this, and mix until the geletain dissolves.  Add 2 tablespoons of condensed milk.  Use an eyedropper to fill the "bubbles."  Place in the referigerator for 15-20 minutes, or until set.

 To make the white tea layers: Meanwhile, pour 1/3 c. of the white tea into a dish and add 1 packet and an extra 1/2 teaspoon of geletain. Stir and let bloom.  Heat the remaining cup of white tea to boiling.  Pour over the geletain mixutre.  Add 1 tbsp. sugar.  Stir until sugar and gelatain dissolve.  Measure out 1 c. of this liquid and allow to cool to room temperature.  When cooled, spoon or cerefully pour into the mold.  Return mold to referigerator until sticky-set (15-20 minutes.)  To the remaining liquid, add 1/3 cup condensed milk and stir until well combined.  Pour this over the transparent layer to make a creamy opaque layer.

To make the remaining layers:  Repeat the above steps to make a transparent and milky green tea layer, then a transparent and milky black tea layer.

Let set overnight, then unmold onto a plate.  If your jelly is resistant to unmolding,dip it in a bowl partially filled with hot water for a few seconds (being careful to keep the water from getting on the jelly), then loosen the edge with a flexible spatula or a butter knife.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Tea of the Week: Republic of Tea Pomegranate Green

A friend of mine left this pomegranate tea at my house, and when I opened the canister and smelled the dry tea, I just had to try it.  Republic of Tea is one of my favorite brands, and I like the fact that they have brought two extremely healthy ingredients together.

Liquor -- dark, with a deep purple tint

Aroma -- Very fruity and sweet 

Body -- medium

Flavors -- The pomegranate dominates this tea, and there is a slightly acidic aftertaste.  It is not nearly as sweet as it smells.  You can taste the vegetal note of the green tea, but it has a minor feel.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tea Recipe -- Black Tea Linzer Cookies

This cookie reciepe was acutalloy inspired by a Vanilla Almond Black Tea that I really enjoy. 

I decided to make a black tea jam by cooking down strong black tea with apples (to provide petin) and lemon (to add acid).  The fragrance of the jam was amazing while it was cooking, with the black tea as the predominant note.  You do taste a lot of the apple.  If you want a purer tea taste, just let the liquid drip through the strainer, and don't press the apple pieces through.  Either way, you will wind up with more jam than you need to fill the cookies.  Put the extra in a lidded jar and store in the referigerator. 

What better way to show off the resulting tea-hued preserve than peeking through the window of a Linzer cookie?  Linzer cookies already have almonds, and I upped the vanilla to make it a little more like the tea.

Black Tea Linzer Cookies

2 medium cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped
2 1/2 c. strong black tea (English Breakfast or similar)
2 c. sugar
Juice of one lemon
1 c. slivered almonds

2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. butter, brought to room temperature
2/3 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 egg yolks
Zest of 1 lemon 

Combine apple pieces, tea, sugar and lemon in a medium pot over medium-high heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture starts to thicken.  Continue, stirring frequently, until the mixutre reaches the soft ball stage.  Place a strainer over a medium bowl.  Pour the apple mixture in, letting the liquid drip through, then press the apples through.  Stir to combine.  Set aside until needed.

Using a stand or hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl.  Add the vanilla, egg yolks and lemon zest and beat to combine.  Use a nut grinder to turn the almonds into nut meal.  Add to butter mixture, and beat to combine.  In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon and salt.  Add flour mixture to butter mixture in three additions, beating between additions.  Divide dough in half.  Wrap each half in plastic wrap and referigerate for an hour or up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchament paper.  Roll out one half of cookie dough on floured surface to 1/4"thick and cut out using a pair of matching cookie cutters, one of which has a "window" in the middle (or using a separate smaller cutter to make holes in the top cookie).  Bake for 12-15 minutes.  Cool completely on cooling rack.

If you have referigerated everything overnight, heat 2/3 c. of the jam in a microwave for 20-30 seconds, or until it reaches an easily spreadable consistancy.   Use a spoon to spread a thin layer of jam onto the base cookie.  Place the cookie with the cutout on top.  Carefully spoon more jam into the hole to fill it.