Tea Love: Instilling a Love of Tea, One Sip At A Time

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Growing A Little Love <3

First and foremost…   TEA LOVE TALK SCHEDULED!

Riverdale Tea Love Talk

Riverdale Tea Love Talk

On Saturday, February 28th, I will be speaking at the Ladies Fellowship Tea for my sister-in-law’s church.   This will be starting at noon and I will go over all my tea basics, as well as bring a sampling for all of you to try.   Try and make it!

Now, onto tea…

Let me tell you, I am fortunate to have a guy that not only allows me to have my obsessive tea habits, he feeds into it and even engages in them himself!

So, for Valentine’s Day weekend that is coming up, I am going to talk about a gift he bought me in January – a tea plant!

LOVE It!

LOVE It!

Now, I am definitely not the best when it comes to plant care.   Give me an animal, a human even (just babysitting though), I can coddle it, pet it, feed it, clothe it, and make it feel like the pretty prince/princess it is.   A plant?   They cower in fear, seemingly sentient to the fact that I have caused the death of many of their plant brethren since the day I was born.   I have killed air plants, succulents, hardy mums – you name it, it probably perished by my hand at some point in 26 years.

So, needless to say, when Camilo came over to me and put this pot in my hand, I was a little nervous.   How on Earth would I be able to keep this treasure alive?   A true love hobby given to me by a true love – if I allow it to die, both he and I would be heart-broken.

So thankfully, while I have a black thumb, my father has an amazing green one, growing bountiful gardens every year and ensuring all the plant life that my family and I have accumulated over the years (what can I say?   I see a pretty plant, I still want to at least try to grow it!) stay green.   In the meantime, this has also allowed me to look up how to even care for this plant to ensure that i can one day make a proper brew out of it (PS – popping off some leaves and throwing them in a mug, while it does work, does not produce the greatest of tea.   I will look into processing the leaves another day when I have a bit more time).

Important things to note –

Tea plants are all from the Camellia genus, which is resilient and adaptable.

I know that when I first got the plant, all I could think of was, Whelp, there’s another plant to throw in the compost heap in the backyard.   Did I want to?   Of course not!   Did I think I would have to?   Admittedly, with my luck, I kind of assumed that all my plants would make it there eventually.   It is comforting to know, though, that it is resilient, so it won’t die within my first week of owning it.

Buy Camellia sinensis, not Camellia assamica.

The Camellia sinensis, which is this plant, is the Chinese variety that one can grow tea in hardy environments.   The Camellia assamica, however, is the Indian variety.   While you can produce tea still, this one is not as adaptable to the cold.   Tea bushes are best in zone 7 climates (mostly in Southeastern states), but you can grow them indoors or in greenhouses to protect against the winter.   As you can probably tell by my couch in the background of this picture, that is exactly what I am doing.

Acidic soil is great, but the plants aren’t picky.

My family has in our backyard a blueberry bush.   That thing adores acidic soil.   I was ready to possibly dig up some soil from around there, but then I found out that it is OK to just grow the plant in the same soil that I would for the vegetable garden.   This is positive news, given that if you told me to measure the pH balance of the soil, I would make a deer in the headlights look intelligent and all-knowing.

Sun or shade is good, so long as they’re not competing.

Your plant won’t grow as strong if it’s trying to get sunlight.

Be careful of too much water!

This is a mistake that I was making initially.   I keep forgetting – tea plants are used to drought-prone environments and survive dry summers.   I was watering mine regularly, which caused a lot of the leaves to fall almost immediately and turn.   I have been leaving it alone and I can hear my plant yelling, Thank you!

Wait two years for making a good amount of tea.

To make a reasonable amount of tea, wait two years.   To regularly harvest, wait five years.

So, it sounds like I have a little waiting to do.   For now though, I think I can wait on my tea by going into the stash that I have piling up on my kitchen cabinet.

Hope everyone has a happy Valentine’s Day!

Last Red Rose Review! Naturally Decaffeinated

Oh noz!   My final Red Rose K-cup review!   For those of you who are late to the game, Red Rose gave me three different types of K-cups to review – English Breakfast, Original, and now, Naturally Decaffeinated.

For those of you who don’t know, decaffeinated tea STILL CONTAINS CAFFEINE.   It is in trace amounts, but it is still present, so please tread lightly if you have any allergies to caffeine.   Tea labeled as decaffeinated must have less than 2.5% of the original caffeine level.

Red Rose uses a process to decaffeinate their tea called the ethyl acetate, or EA, process, which is also the most widely used method in the US.   Basically, this means that the chemical ethyl acetate, which is found naturally in tea, is used as a solvent to extract the caffeine.

Now, the most important question – how is the tea?

Red Rose Naturally Decaffeinated Tea

Red Rose Naturally Decaffeinated Tea

The first thing that I noticed about the tea was that it was lighter in appearance than the others.   While this normally is not a bad thing, it did sadly translate over into taste a bit.   I only tasted a hint of the tea and have not been able to figure out why.   I did find that the ethyl acetate is very difficult to remove and can leave a chemical taste to the tea sometimes.   However, thankfully, this was not the case.   The tea was just a bit weak for my taste.   It smells strong, and I brewed it in the Keurig as I did the other teas, but for some reason, this one is just not working for me.

So, in short, while I do love Red Rose tea, I am not sure if I will be running off to purchase more K-cups.   I might get the Original since that tasted like normal Red Rose tea, but the English Breakfast tasted just like the Original, so I’m not sure if that is worth it.

So Red Rose, I do thank you, and I will keep buying your tea bags, but your K-cups are not my cup of tea.

Happy New Year From Tea Love!

Happy New Year From Tea Love!

Happy New Year From Tea Love!

Merry Christmas From Tea Love!

Merry Christmas From Tea Love!

Merry Christmas From Tea Love!

First Round Of Red Rose Tea – Original K-Cup

Hi all!

So, for the first K-cup from Red Rose Tea, I decided to go with the original.   After all, can’t beat starting out with what seems to have been working!   So I ran upstairs in my office to our Keurig machine and brewed myself a cuppa in my cute puppy mug (because who doesn’t love puppies?).   The result?

A Cuppa, Cuppa, Cuppa Red Red Rose :-)

A Cuppa, Cuppa, Cuppa Red Red Rose :-)

A dark, rich color with hints of red undertones.   Not quite as dark as coffee, but not a light tea either.   The scent was a little weaker than what I am used to from Red Rose Tea, but the taste was still good.   Again, it was a little weaker than when I brew the bags myself.   That being said, I also tend to leave the tea bags in my mug while I drink, so that it something to consider when you brew this.

So, if you like a mellow tea, this might be the way to go for you.   I like mine a bit bolder (I blame the fact that I naturally have trouble breathing through my nose which then affects my taste glands, or it could be just that I like strong-tasting things), but I can see the benefits of having the tea in a flash like a K-cup Red Rose Tea can offer.

I know that my aunt has offered in the past that she adds a little orange juice to her tea, which helps to bring out some of the more acidic flavors to it.   While I don’t have any directly on hand, that might be a good solution to help bring out the strength of this tea while also keeping the brewing in a short time span.

Well, next week?   I’ll be reviewing English Breakfast :-)

Tea Love Talk This Upcoming Saturday, AND Coffee And Tea Festival!

Hi all!

Here is hoping everyone had a completely awesome Halloween, filled with candy, pumpkins, and ghost stories :-)   I know that I had a good one.   Here’s a picture of my boyfriend, my awesome friend, and me hanging out in our costumes!

Me, Camilo, and Christina In Our Costumes

Me, Camilo, and Christina In Our Costumes

There are going to be TWO exciting events going on for this upcoming weekend that you should all get super-excited about and hopefully attend!   First, on Saturday, November 8th, I have another Tea Love talk!

Camden County Library, 203 Laurel Road, Voorhees, New Jersey 08043, decided to invite me back for another talk on Saturday, November 8th at 1:00 PM.   This time, we will be focusing on Asian culture, specifically Chinese culture and tea, Japanese culture and tea, and Singaporean culture and tea.   I am really excited to be a part of their programming again!

This time, we also have an added surprise – Ovidia Yu, author of Aunty Lee’s Deadly Specials, will be joining us to talk about her book and will be selling copies for interested patrons.   Come hear about Rosie “Aunty” Lee, a vibrant cook, restaurant owner, amateur detective, and very feisty woman works to solve a murder, uncover what she thinks is an illegal organ selling market, and save her restaurant’s reputation after being accused of accidentally poisoning the murder victims!   This book is the second of the series following Aunty Lee, the first being Aunty Lee’s Delights.

The second exciting event?   The second annual Coffee and Tea Festival will be returning to Philadelphia, PA November 8 – 9.   Head on over to Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, 100 Station Avenue, Oaks, PA 19456 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM to meet over 40 exhibitors, get some nice tastings of both coffee and tea, and, most exciting, free stuff!   The first 1,000 people through the door will get a free gift bag.   Tickets are $20 for a one-day pass or $30 for a two-day pass.   Programming is going to be great, ranging from learning about India’s black tea to health and tea to tea etiquette (for all of those awesome tea parties you are attending).   For a little extra, you can also go to tea pairings and take a whole seminar on the tea business.

All sorts of companies are coming from the tea world, the coffee world, and even from the chocolate world (because let’s face it, who doesn’t like a piece of chocolate with their afternoon tea?).   The festival also engages in charities.   This year, you can donate to Cup for Education, non-profit organization that is helping poor, rural coffee communities of Central and Latin America build schools within their communities, and assist in providing them with teachers and the basic tools needed to educate future generations of coffee farmers, or you can check your coat in and donate to The Committee to Benefit the Children (CBC), which is a 501(c)3 volunteer based charity dedicated to improving the quality of life for children and their families who face cancer, leukemia and serious blood disorders. The CBC’s mission is to provide families facing these challenges with support and resources that are not available elsewhere.

Go out, have an amazing time!   I hope to see you at my Tea Love talk and I hope that you will head right over to the Coffee and Tea Festival right after.

Much of Matcha Goin’ Around!

First, I want to let all of you know about an upcoming Tea Love talk!   On Saturday, November 8th, I will be returning to the Camden County Library, Voorhees Branch, in order to have a special talk on Asian tea culture.   Come learn more about Chinese, Japanese, and Singaporean tea culture, taste some matcha and Marsala tea tarik.   Not only that, we will have author Ovidia Yu, author of Aunty Lee’s Deadly Specials, come in to talk about her latest book, which will be available for purchase that day.

The talk will start at 1:00 PM at 203 Laurel Road, Voorhees, New Jersey 08043.   Call the library at (856) 772-1636 to RSVP.   Space is limited!

Second, I feel that, in order for you to understand me for Tea Love, you must understand that I am most definitely a Jill of All Trades, mostly trades that make me come off as a 90-year-old grandma instead of a rockin’ 26-year-old woman.   When people talk about getting so drunk last night, my evenings consist of baking with friends, maybe watching Pokemon or Dr. Who, and just being overall nerds.

Me Being My Dorky Self

Me Being My Dorky Self

One of my passions?   Baking.   I adore the holidays when I can bake eight batches of different cookies as well as fudge and not be judged for it.   Tell me it’s too hard to make fondant?   Watch me go!   And fail!   And have fun failing!   But that’s besides the point.

Combined this love of baking with Pinterest, my nerdy self, and you better believe I am going to come up with awesomely unique recipes, a lot involving matcha tea!

For those that do not know, matcha tea is green tea that has been ground up into a very fine powder.   You then put it in your tea mug, whisk it up, and drink up, tea leaves and all.   This produces a slightly sweet tea and is often used in desserts due to the consistency, tender sweet undertones, and very vibrant green color.   For those who love Starbucks, you can find matcha in green tea lattes.   For those who love bubble tea?   There’s a green tea version.   For those that love the color green… well, you get the picture.

Below, find some awesome links to some fantastic matcha tea recipes.

Chocolate Chip Matcha Mug Cake (From Thirsty For Tea):

One-cup recipes in of themselves are gifts from the gods.   When you are looking for something sweet but do not want to spend the hours making a whole batch of cookies to enjoy just one, throwing a mug in a microwave with a few ingredients is a life-saver (and a waist-expander).   This chocolate chip matcha mug cake appears simple and sweet.   I plan on making this baby ASAP!   Looks delicious!

Click on the picture for the recipe:

Chocolate Chip Matcha Mug Cake

Chocolate Chip Matcha Mug Cake

Matcha Meringues (From Bitter Sweet):

If there is one recipe I can never make right, it is meringues.   For some reason, I can never get everything come together just right, so it ends up being a puddle of white goo spread out at the bottom of my baking sheet rather than those fluffy clouds of goodness.

Bitter Sweet managed to find a vegan box recipe, which I never knew existed!   She simply added some matcha to the recipe in order to make her matcha meringues.

Click on the picture for more information:

Fluffy Green Clouds of Meringue

Fluffy Green Clouds of Meringue

Matcha Goma Entremet (From Vintage Trinkets):

So, an entremet, I found out, is a small course served between fancy-schmancy meals, or it can be simply a small dessert.   This particular one consists of black sesame cake, matcha cake, black sesame mousse, matcha mousse, and topped off with a sesame nougatine.   Pretty AND delicious!   What’s also beneficial?   This blogger also posts about her mistakes and how she corrected them so that you can make sure that YOUR dessert comes out being the best that it can be.

I would definitely say that anyone present at your dinner parties would be impressed with this recipe.

Click on the picture for the recipe:

 

Matcha Goma Entremet

Matcha Goma Entremet

Matcha Green Tea Donuts (From A Beautiful Mess):

Everyone likes donuts.   I can be adverse to most of them, but there is usually some sort of variety that people are just prone to go running to, whether glazed, chocolate, plain, whatever!   But how about one glazed with matcha tea?   Um, yes, please?   The sweetness of the donut can ONLY be complemented by the strong, slightly bitter yet sweet taste of the matcha!   And this must make for a nice breakfast when you are on the go and want something with a slight caffeine boost.

Click on the picture for the recipe:

Matcha Green Tea Donuts

Matcha Green Tea Donuts

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