Another Successful Tea Love Talk + “Chocolate Tea”

Each time I have a Tea Love talk, I am always amazed listening to myself and hearing how far Tea Love has come.   It just astounds me.

This past Saturday, Tea Love had another talk in conjunction with author Ovidia Yu (one of the sweetest people I’ve met!).   Ovidia met me in my boyfriend and me in my hometown of Cranford, New Jersey, and we trekked to Voorhees to talk at the Camden County Library -Voorhees Regional Branch.   I started the talk, telling everyone about tea culture and tea facts in China, Japan, and Singapore.   She wrapped us up by talking about tea culture in Singapore, elaborating on some interesting tid bits from a first-hand perspective.   From there, we all drank matcha tea, pulled tea (which everyone kept referring to as “chocolate tea”), and munched on some Asian-inspired goodies.

I saw some people from my previous talk at the library, which was wonderful!   We talked about what they liked, what they didn’t like, their experiences since my last Tea Love talk, and just life in general.   As I talked and explained both Tea Love and my life to people, I was slightly floored.

Tea Love started as a result of me not getting a particular job that seemed highly promising.   While I had a job, this one was in my field of interest, would have paid very well, and meant working in the City, a huge perk.   When I was informed I did not get the editing position that I applied for, I was a bit downtrodden.   After all, an English major who has been out of a job for over a year after graduation is never anyone’s cup of tea.   Throw on top of that that quite frankly, I have never been without a job in my life, and the pain was there.

Rather than sulk, I decided to start a blog and decided to dedicate it to tea.   Initially, I heard all sorts of weird reactions (and still do when people learn about my blog).   “How much can you even write on tea?” “You’re talking about the drink, right?” “Um… do you sit at home listening to classical music on weekends too?”   But now, since 2011, my readership has reached over the thousands, I have working relationships with various vendors, my Facebook page is doing well, and I even got to do a talk with an esteemed author.

So, I guess in a way, I am thanking everyone for making Tea Love truly what it is today.   I never run out of subjects, and everyone always has such a unique perspective on tea.   And of course, I receive so much support from my family, my friends, and my boyfriend that it warms my heart more than a nice cuppa 🙂

So thank you all so much ❤   And now, for the “chocolate tea” recipe that was provided at Saturday’s Tea Love talk:

Spiced Tea Tarik (Marsala Tea Tarik)

Recipe provided by Ovidia Yu, author of Aunty Lee’s Deadly Specials

‘Teh Tarik’, Malay for ‘pulled tea’, is a favorite old time Singapore roadside drink, so called because it appears  pulled between cups as it is dramatically poured between them to cool it and create its characteristic froth.   Masala chai or ‘spice tea’ is another popular drink seasoned with a combination of ‘warming’ spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, fresh ginger, fennel seeds, peppercorn, and cloves.   Some claim marsala tea stimulates the circulation while calming the digestion and easing sore throats and cold symptoms, but you really need no excuse to enjoy this sweet spiced tea, and it is even more enjoyable as a pulled tea.

These local teas are traditionally made with tea dust—the ground up remains of broken leaves.

Ingredients (for 2 cups):

  • 4 Tbsp powdered black tea (use 2 teaspoons of leaves or 2 tea bags if you can’t get tea dust)
  • 4 Tbsp condensed milk
  • 2 tsp sugar (or to taste)
  • Any combination of 2 or more of the following spices (lightly crushed in a mortar or under a rolling pin): 1 tbsp of cardamom seeds, small piece of fresh ginger, 1 tsp black peppercorns, 2 or 3 cloves, Stick of cinnamon, pinch of fennel seeds
  • Boiling water

Instructions:

  • Have two mugs or jugs ready—at least double the volume of the tea you are making
  • Pour boiling water over your tea and spices in one mug and leave to stand for 3 minutes
  • In the meantime, put the sugar and condensed milk in the other
  • When the time is up, pour the spiced tea through a filter into the mug of milk. Now you are ready to ‘tarik’ or pour the hot tea from one mug to the other with some distance between the 2 cups, until it becomes thick and foamy.   In the hands of experienced street vendors, this is performance art
  • However, if you don’t feel ready to take part in one of the region’s ‘teh tarik championships’ (measuring the greatest distance pulled without spilling), then you can put your condensed milk into a jar, add your hot tea, close the jar, and shake until you get it foamy. It will do you just as much good with much less mess!

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

Exploring Purple Corn, Getting Lost in Peru, and Sampling Inca Tea™

Tea Love has two exciting announcements to make!  First, on Saturday, November 8th, I will be traveling down to Voorhees, NJ to the Camden County Library, 203 Laurel Rd, Voorhees, 08043, to explain the process behind a Japanese tea ceremony!  Of course, traditional matcha tea will be served.  And we have a special treat – author Ovidia Yu will be attending as well to talk about her book Aunty Lee’s Deadly Specials.  Full of scandal, murder, and delicious traditional Singapore treats, Aunty Lee’s Deadly Specials is a must-read for those mystery lovers.  The event will start at 1:00 PM.  For more information, make sure to visit the Tea Love blog or check the Facebook page.

Second, a bit closer to home, you will start seeing a new brand of tea popping up in some stores near you.  Inca Tea is a privately owned company just starting to sprout up out of their home base in Cleveland, OH.  Founder and owner Ryan Florio first discovered the majesty of purple corn tea when he and his friends traveled to a Peruvian mountain trail for a whole ten days, led through the dangers by their guide, Edgar.

Prior to the hike, Florio had multiple health issues and was advised not to go.  “Of course, I went above and beyond my doctor’s wishes,” he said.  The first day out, Edgar decided to brew a cup of tea.  “is an old Incan tea.  Very good.  You must try,” Edgar said, brewing enough for the entire group.

Florio was struck by the deep red-purple color that the brew created and asked Edgar to brew a cuppa for each day of the hike.  “I felt physically awesome,” he said.  He eventually came back to the States, quit his job despite never having had coffee nor tea in his entire life prior to that trip, and started researching the tea, especially purple corn.

Purple corn has been studied extensively in the past 22 years and has shown great benefits.  It is chocked full of antioxidants, even more than blueberries and açai berries combined.  It is an anti-inflammatory, improves circulation, reduces cardiovascular disease, lowers blood pressure, and even aids in weight loss.  Florio trusted this drink so much, that he created an advisory board with a purple corn researcher on the team.

The tea, Florio explains is “based off of a thousand-year-old recipe.”  By September, loose teas should be served up along with the current four teas that are offered.

All teas are made with 100% biodegradable sachets and packaged in 100% recycled boxes.  Needless to say, this company is most certainly Mother Earth friendly.  The corn is also ground by hand, blended in Cleveland, bagged in Philly, and then Florio’s parents box it every night for sale.

Right now, Tea Love has four tea bags from Inca Teas, so I will be reviewing one bag of tea each month.

Yum!!!

Yum!!!

First, the Peruvian Spiced Berry.  Their main brew, it is based off of that ancient Inca recipe.  When you open the bag, the smell of the spices waft towards you, enticing you to take a sip.  The blend consists of hibiscus petals, elderberries, currants, purple corn, apple pieces, pineapple pieces, cinnamon, cloves and natural flavors.  It does not have a string on the bag, so you cannot really regulate the time as easily as pulling the bag out of your drink.  I just threw my bag into the water and sipped away.

The spices give a small bite to the drink, negating the sweetness of the fruit but in a positive way.  You can smell the cloves in particular when you smell the tea and the purple that is created is almost regal in appearance.  It is a nice, smooth tea, good for a late night of writing or just to drink to keep relaxed.

Interested in getting a box for yourself?  Order some at http://www.incatea.com/ or, if you live in the north New Jersey area, you can visit Bed, Bath, and Beyond in East Hanover or Woodbridge, where the drinks will be sold.

Next week?  Stay tuned for some Pick Me Up Peach.

Until next time!

A New Year, A New Tea Tradition

Hello everyone, I AM BACK!!!!!

I greatly apologize for all the hustle and bustle that is going on in my life!   October is the month where my friends and I run around like crazy for Halloween, then November was just insane, then December was Christmas (which we hold at my house), then things busy at work, and ACK!   But no more fear!   I am back 🙂

First and foremost, guess what!   We have another Tea Love talk coming up!   This one is on Sunday, January 19th, 1:30 PM at the West Milford Township Library, 1490 Union Valley Road, West Milford, New Jersey 07480.   As always, we will have a sampling of teas after the talk, so make sure you bring your favorite mug!   Registration is required. To register, make sure you email wmtl@wmtl.org, call 973-728-2822, or visit the Adult/Teen Services desk of the library.   Hope to see you there!

Second, 2014 is on the road and is coming up fast (ACK!   Everything seems to be coming up fast lately!).   So, people are breaking out the party poppers, champagne, and noise makers as they anxiously await 2013’s exit and 2014 grand entrance.

But, where can tea play a part in all of this?

Well, why not borrow from the Chinese New Year for ours?

An image of a 10th century tea offering, found in a tomb in Hebei, China.   Image from TeaGuardian.com

An image of a 10th century tea offering, found in a tomb in Hebei, China. Image from TeaGuardian.com

According to the Tea Guardian, a website whose mission is to promote fine tea as a gourmet habit, an offering of tea is a gesture of respect and gratitude.   Therefore, on New Years in China, children would offer to the elders of the family a cup of sweetened tea, made sweeter by candied fruits and vegetables placed at the bottom of the cup (keep in mind, different fruits and vegetables symbolize different things!).   This was done with great care, with the handle facing the right of the person receiving the offering and the left of the person offering.   The child holds the saucer with both hands as the elder takes the cup by the handle with one hand and the saucer with the other, and sips the tea while listening to child offer well wishes for the upcoming year.

The person offering does not leave empty-handed, though.   The elder, after hearing the well wishes, gives the child a red packet and offers wishes in return.   At one point, the red packets use to hold the wishes, but now they tend to hold trinkets and monetary gifts.

So, this New Years, after making all the noise, the chatter, the clinks, and the mess, offer your elder a cup of sweetened tea and wish them the best for this sure-to-be-wonderful new year.   Start a new tradition that not only celebrates tea, but also celebrates gratitude and the wisdom of years.

Tea Love Talk + Wet Tags

First and foremost, who is going to the Tea Love talk on Saturday, September 21st in Riverdale, New Jersey?!   Come out, get free tea, and learn more about the tea process 🙂   Registration is a must, so make sure you call the library and RSVP 🙂

And now, for the blog…

While doing a quick Google search, I came across TeaTime Magazine, a Burlington, Alabama publication that, “proclaims the pleasures of tea as a gourmet beverage, and offers informative articles that range from food features to tearoom profiles.”   Their Facebook page posted an article from the Washington Post about tea bag tags slipping into drinks.   Ugh…   Always a mess, always a nuisance, and you want to stick your fingers in to fish out the tag right away but know you will face burning immediately.   By the time you get a spoon to fish out the tag, it is already soaked through and you have a blog hanging off of a string.

Whatever is a tea drinker to do?

Well, the Washington Post polled around for this exact question and got some great responses.   You can see some of theirs below, with my own assortment thrown in every once in a while.

One reader, Lynda Maudlin of Chevy Chase, said to just tie it to the handle.   Makes sense, right?   After all, it is a string.   It should be simple enough to make a pretty bow on your mug handle.

Another reader, Laura, recommended to just use a clip, almost like a potato chip bag clip or an alligator clip found in the office, and just slip the string on.   But my oh my, now I have a clip in my tea!   I’m not sure I would be entirely fond of sipping my tea to have a plastic clip poke me in the eye.   No thank you!

What about Wayne Williams of Lake Ridge’s suggestion to just wrap the string of the tea bag around the handle of a spoon before you pour the water?   Personally, I very rarely use a spoon when I have my tea.   More often, I drink my tea without any sugar, cream, honey, etc, so I don’t have that handy-dandy spoon.

Why not follow Thomas Leo Briggs’ suggestion to put the tea tag under the tea mug?   Ah, closer!   But what if your string is not long enough to go under your mug?

One that I like Jane Smith’s reaction.   She said to just pour the water in first, then add the tea bag.   Personally, that’s what I do when I have tea with a tea bag.   Usually, I’m fine with that.

Randall Bovbjerg has a pretty good tip – Hold the string against your mug while you pour.   I wouldn’t highly recommend this one, especially as a sloppy pour-er.   More often than not, I slosh a little bit of water over the side and a burnt thumb does not appeal to me one bit.

My personal tip?   Use loose-leaf tea leaves!   While it’s also not entirely error-proof (sometimes, the hook at the end of the tea ball will slip off the side of your mug and fly into your hot brew, leaving you at risk of a bitter tea), it’s better than a spit-wad of a tag resting on your table.   Or you can always hold onto the string of your tea bag while you pour, allow your tea to steep, then toss the bag out immediately afterwards (which you’re suppose to do anyway but, if you’re like me, you don’t mind a bit of a strong, sometimes bitter brew).

And that’s that!   What are your tips to avoid having the dreaded wet tag?