Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Green Tea from Laos

My sister sent me a few packets of tea from her trip through Southeast Asia. This is my favourite so far (although I haven't tried all of them yet!) - a green tea from Laos. It had such pretty packaging, handmade, handpainted paper by the looks of it:

(love the smiley faces on the little printed label)

The tea inside is coarsely plucked, with quite a bit of stem, and seems to contain some jasmine blossoms as well. It certainly smells of jasmine. Most of the leaves are a medium olive-green, although some are darker.

The jasmine scent carries through to the flavour which is creamy, rich and thick, and surprisingly sweet. It's a very robust tea and stands up well to two long-ish (three minutes each) infusions, and you could probably do a third as well. Thanks little sis!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

What's your brewing style?

This is how I brew my tea most of the time:

1. Boil water in my stovetop glass kettle (actually a coffeepot, minus the percolator bit, that belonged to my parents - but seeing as they don't use it any more, I nabbed it [politely]).
2. Warm my glass teapot with a bit of the hot water, then pour that water into my green teapot to warm it as well.
3. Put the leaves loose into the glass teapot and pour on the boiled water (after it has cooled a little if necessary).

4. Steep the appropriate amount of time (or longer, if I get distracted... Whoops).
5. Strain the tea from the glass teapot into the green teapot. Drink and enjoy!

So why all the high maintenance and creation of more washing up than is strictly necessary? Well, I can't prove it with science but I really do think that allowing the leaves to float freely produces a better cup of tea... They have the chance to fully open and swirl around. Given that most of my teapots hold more than one cup's worth of tea, though, I need to decant it into a second teapot to prevent oversteeping.

Also, while my glass teapot is good because you can see how pretty the leaves look while they brew, it does have a badly chipped spout and doesn't pour well, making it less than ideal for serving the tea, especially to guests.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Tea Stuff Round-Up: Teacup Fun and Fruity Tea

I just LOVE these beautiful light fittings, made from upcycled teacups, which I saw in a post on the Frivoli-Tea blog. Aren't they amazing:


Here's a delicious idea: infuse your fruit with tea and your tea with fruit, simultaneously! Check out this post on T Ching for more details. Basically all you need to do is to gently simmer the fruit with the tea that you have brewed and strained and sweetened to taste, and then you have some tea-flavoured fruit to eat and fruit-flavoured tea to drink.

I have read about tea-poached pears on the Tea Spot NYC blog before, but never tried them; I think I will have to. And imagine how tasty tea-poached peaches or nectarines would be once summer comes round. I can't wait!

And guess what! For those of you who love tea-themed art* like I do, you can enter a giveaway at 74 Lime Lane to win one of Ruby Victoria's beautiful letterpress teacup prints, like this one (I so hope I win!):

*ok, tea-themed EVERYTHING. I'm not ashamed to admit it.

Versatile Blogger Award, continued...

Ok, so to continue my post about the Versatile Blogger Award... The blogs I am going to pass the award on to are not strictly recently discovered by me, but they are a regular part of my reading schedule and always brighten my day. I know I am meant to list fifteen, but I am actually only doing ten, because I don't like randomly handing out awards like this just to fill in numbers!

These blogs are written by some of the wonderful members of the Down Under Street Team whose advice and support are invaluable to me as I navigate the world of small crafty business:

Dance In My Garden
Music to My Eyes
Epheriell Designs
74 Lime Lane
Pink Lizzy Sews
New Earth Soaps
Two Cheeky Monkeys
Wing By Sea

Do check them out... 

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Tuesday's Tea of the Week - Chai Masala

I LOVE chai masala. There is something so comforting about a good cup of milky sweet spicy tea... A really special treat. There are obviously dozens of ways of making such a blend, and this is the one I've come up with for the shop. I think it's well balanced... No single spice predominating, just all round yumminess.

Along with the organic black tea, in this blend there you will find cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cardamom, fennel and black pepper - so many of my favourite things!

The good thing about this tea is that while it's delicious prepared the traditional way, by gradually bringing milk to boil on the stove top etc, it actually also works really well made a bit more quickly, just infused in boiling water in a teapot and with the milk added after, to taste.

I find that the cinnamon makes it sweet enough for my taste without anything added, but of course you can add some honey or sugar if you like! Perfect for curling up with on a cold winter evening - or for serving alongside your Indian dinner! If you have a milk frother, you can also make your own genuine chai latte, too easy (and 100 times better than anything made from chai 'powder' or 'syrup').

Next week: Outback Sunset

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Versatile Blogger Award

Thanks to Samantha from Tea and Ink I have received a 'Versatile Blogger' Award - how lovely, thank you Samantha! I am glad that you enjoy my blog so much!

The requirements of the award are as follows:
  • Thank the giver and link their blog in your post.
  • Share seven things about yourself.
  • Pass the reward to 15 recently discovered blogs.
  • Contact the bloggers to let them know about the reward
It's taken me a bit of time to get around to fulfilling them as Real Life has not left me much time for Blog Fun this week, unfortunately, but here we go - seven things about me:

I'm a terrible gardener. I get inspired to plant stuff every spring, but it never works out because I forget about whatever I've planted and they die. This is why I don't grow my own herbs. So this spring I'm NOT going to even start!

I'm hearing impaired, since birth, which makes life a bit more complicated sometimes, but I manage pretty well.

Very occasionally, I have an inexplicable desire to watch a Big Dumb Action Movie. The Transporter is awesome (or anything with Jason Statham really) and GI Joe was quite fun too.

I have one of the world's daggiest iPod music collections... The Lord of the Rings soundtracks, Clannad and Enya are my most listened to items.

I drink more tea than any other fluid these days (no surprise there). Yum.

I am a rather anxious kind of person. Also impatient. Working on both these things.

I would love to go on a meditation/yoga/spa retreat at some point. Especially the spa bit.
I will have to come back to this in order to pass on the awards to the appropriate people, but I will have it done soon...

Morning Flower Tea

I was lucky enough to win some of this lovely tea from Samantha at Tea and Ink: Morning Flower Green Tea from The Tea Centre.

It's very pretty to look at, with the colourful petals scattered amongst the green leaves. I've been drinking quite a lot of it since it arrived (I kind of overdosed on awesome Darjeeling black teas from Thunderbolt Teas in the last couple of weeks - too much of a good thing, etc - so am going for greens for the next couple of days at least!) and enjoying it greatly. It's a very pleasant change of pace for me.

The website doesn't really describe the flavours of this tea at all, just labels it as 'Green tea with sunflower blossoms, cornflowers & rose buds', but there is a peachy-apricotty flavour to it; it's fruity and floral without being cloying at all. I've been doing two infusions at a time (about 2-3 minutes each) and they both have plenty of taste. I bet this would be a terrific iced tea for the hot weather as well! If we ever get any. I am totally freezing today.

Thank you so much for this tea Samantha, I have really appreciated it! Samantha was also kind enough to give me a 'Versatile Blogger' award, and I am getting around to passing it on... I might have to do it in two batches, though, being rather short of time!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Wishlist Wednesday - A Question of Necessity

It's been a while since I did a Wednesday Wishlist!

My sister maintains that a milk jug is an unnecessary piece of tea accoutrement. I suppose, from a certain point of view (a certain point of view??), and depending on the kind of tea you drink, she may be right. However we should not let that stop us from celebrating the dubiously necessary in all shapes and forms...

I have a little Bison milk bottle (scroll down on the Bison page to spot them) in a lovely sagey grey-green... which colour would you choose? I'd quite like a cherry red one as well.

Love the simplicity of this creamer and sugar bowl set - the little birdie detail is adorable!

How about a teabag rest... well if you're not into teabags then like me you would use it for your tea strainer...

... wouldn't mind this tea strainer myself actually!

And some coasters... I would LOVE to have this set:

So much fun stuff to choose from... luckily I'm rotten, stinking, stony, stinking broke at present.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Tuesday's Tea of the Week: Relax

My Relax blend was created at the request of my friend Melanie, who wanted to know if I could make something similar to a herbal blend that she loved, but wasn't able to get hold of easily where she lived. I thought this would be an interesting challenge... and luckily Melanie, I and many of my other customers have been very happy with the result!

This has definitely become one of my most popular teas. I love the look of the variegated green leaves, and I also love drinking it myself... in fact I think I need to go and divert some of my bulk stock to my pantry right now.

Relax contains a beautiful array of calming, soothing herbs - lemon balm, passionflower, skullcap, limeflowers - and a bit of spearmint and stevia (a naturally sweet herb) for added flavour. Everything organic! The stevia makes it sweet enough that you shouldn't need to add any honey or anything. However, Melanie likes to drink hers mixed with her favourite black tea... a combination I have also tried and can heartily recommend! I am wondering whether I should actually offer such a blend, pre-mixed, it's so nice!

Just as a word of warning, because of the passionflower and skullcap, I wouldn't recommend drinking this tea during pregnancy without at least consulting with your health professionals first.

Next week: Chai Masala

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Tea Stuff Roundup - Tea Spaces, Tasting and Economics

I have just discovered the Bon Teavant blog and was so inspired by this post describing the creation of 'tea spaces' in Taiwan:

The "tea room" designs created by the students under the direction of Ms. Li are sometimes very contemporary and at the same time in rhythm with centuries of traditional tea cultures found in Asia. Ming Dynasty tea bowls sit on brightly colored modern textiles laid on the ground as a tea "tableau" rather than a traditional tea table. Dramatic overhead lighting is screened through trees brought in to throw shadows on the scene and highlight the drama of the tea ware.  Dancers spin through the empty space like human mobiles or constellations in a dark and open sky.
How awesome would that be... I would love to see something similar in Melbourne!

An interesting post from Alex Zorach about whether tasting tea affects your palate, and vice versa... and some more about tea-tasting on the Leafbox Tea forum. I've been thinking about this, as I've been re-reading some bits of The Harney and Sons Guide to Tea and trying to pay more attention to the flavours in my tea. Is it all too subjective though? What do you think?

And, on a more serious note, the ever-thought-provoking Corax from CHA DAO writes on the economics of tea: is tea an affordable luxury? Is the tea industry in danger? Should we develop our own 'tea stimulus packages' (I certainly do my best)? I don't understand a great deal about economics, but it seems to me that this might be another argument for purchasing tea as close to the source as possible, cutting out the middlemen and helping the manufacturers of high quality tea to make as much profit as possible from their extraordinary skills. What's your opinion?

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Tuesday's Tea of the Week: Lemon Myrtle Basic Black

I am slightly in love with lemon myrtle, I think. I like it better than lemongrass (although that is also good stuff). I can't tell you how much I love opening up my bulk bags of lemon myrtle tea; the aroma is sensational. If I could bottle it I would. Also using lemon myrtle makes me feel wonderfully Australian in a refined rather than bogan manner.

Lemon myrtle is a little bitter and overpowering on its own though, which is why I include it in quite a few blends (Rainforest, Outback Sunset, Lemon Breeze) but rarely drink it on its own.

Lemon Myrtle Basic Black is a fantastically complementary combination. The zestiness of the lemon myrtle is offset by the very slight astringency of the black tea base; it's fragrant and delicate enough for an afternoon tea party but also refreshing and energising.

The black tea does contain caffeine but because at least half the bulk of the dry leaf is herbal, it's not that strong so should be less of a concern for those of you who are cautious about caffeine intake. Both the lemon myrtle and the black tea are organic as well.

Next week: Relax

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Daintree Tea

Yes folks, tea grows in Australia too, up the top in sunny Queensland!

The other week a friend of mine was making a trip to Sassafras and offered to get me some tea from Tea Leaves... I was going to be good and say 'No' but then I didn't, because I am a naughty, naughty tea fiend at heart, and asked her to get me some Daintree tea and some Nilgiri, neither of which I have tried before. Actually, that's not quite true - I have had Daintree tea before, in a blend - Hari Har Chai - but not on its own.

  Image from Tea Leaves site.

I've been drinking quite a lot of the Daintree over the last week and getting to know it a bit better. According to the Tea Leaves site, this is:
A superb black tea, grown near the Daintree rainforest of northern Queensland. The rich, fertile, lowland soil produces a well-rounded, medium strength tea.
I don't know if I would describe this as superb,; it's not ever going to make my list of top teas, but it's enjoyable enough. The dry leaves (as you can see in the photo above) are very small CTC with quite a bit of (what I think are) thin pieces of stem. They have a faint smell of strawberries.

I've brewed the tea at three minutes (two infusions), four minutes and five minutes (single infusion). The first three-minute infusion was my favourite (the second was a bit of a waste of time). The wet leaves had an aroma of raspberries and possibly gingerbread, and a faint yet distinct smell of star anise or maybe liquorice (the confectionery not the herb). This aniseedy flavour carries over, still faintly, into the brewed tea which is a beautiful clear copper colour.

I was actually expecting this to be quite astringent and need milk once I got past the four-minute infusion mark, but even at five minutes it's quite ok black. It does leave my tongue feeling dry though; not as thirst-quenching as some teas can be. The flavours I mentioned just before kind of disappear though and it just tastes... boring, I think is the only word to describe it. Bit of milk and sugar though and it would be quite an acceptable and comforting cuppa for those days when what you want is a cup of tea just like your mum or dad used to make when you were little.

(Side note: dubiously, the Daintree tea website claims that their tea contains 'no tannic acid'. This is both true and slightly misleading, because as I understand it, NO tea contains tannic acid... just polyphenols [a type of tannin, which is different from tannic acid]. I'm doing a little more research into this, although I'm no chemist, and hope to post about it in the near future)


Related Posts with Thumbnails