TeaGuide: Reviews and Ramblings

February 27, 2011

Cooking with tea and tisanes

Filed under: cooking,exotic tea,food,recipes,tea,tea recipes,Tea sites — by teaguide @ 3:35 pm
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This is the first in a new series of recipes for cooking with tea and tisanes, and teatime treats, from a vegan perspective.

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Here’s a variation on the traditional Blanc mange that I came up with when I had some leftover flavoured rooibos. When I created this recipe a number of years ago, hardly anyone had heard of rooibos, but now it has become so popular that most people are familiar with it. Rooibos is actually not a tea, but a tisane or infusion that is prepared from a unique South African plant. Rooibos contains high levels of protein, Vitamin C, flavanoids, minerals, and anti-oxidants — plus it’s low in tannins and completely caffeine-free. While it will never replace my favourite cuppa, I do enjoy rooibos as an evening beverage, and like to serve it to those who prefer to avoid caffeine. You can get this particular flavour of rooibos (as well as other flavours and unflavoured) from Simpson & Vail. You can also prepare this pudding with your favourite flavoured teas or a hearty English or Irish breakfast blend — nice as a light teatime treat. (Just a reminder: steeping strong tea or rooibos means using twice as much leaf, not extending the steeping time, as this will make the tea or tisane bitter.)

Vanilla Roo pudding
About 4 to 6 servings

1-1/2 cups strong-steeped Strawberry Almond Mint rooibos
1-1/2 cups vanilla-flavoured soy milk, lite or regular
1/4 cup sugar, Sucanat®, or other granulated sweetener
4 rounded Tablespoons cornstarch

This recipe is the copyrighted property of TeaGuide Worldwide Tea Directory™ Copyright ©1997-2011. All rights reserved. This recipe may be printed out for personal use. It may not be reproduced in any form for any other reason or purpose, nor included in any other recipe collection, online or offline, without prior written permission. For reprint information please contact us. Thank you.

Mix together in a saucepan the rooibos and milk, then whisk in the sugar, then the cornstarch, until smooth. Heat the mixture, preferably placing a heat diffuser under the pot (if you don’t use one, cook over a lower temperature and watch constantly so it doesn’t burn). Stir very frequently, scraping the solidifying curds from the sides and bottom and mixing them in. The mixture will eventually begin to bubble, making the surface look kinda bumpy. Keep cooking/stirring. As soon as the bubbles begin to break at the surface, the pudding is done. Pour the mixture into one big or four to six smaller serving dishes, and refrigerate until set. Please note: The amount of sweetener you use, and the type, is up to you — the milk is already sweetened so you might want to taste the mixture before you add too much additional sweetener.

Variation:

> If you prefer to use a liquid/syrup sweetener, add an additional 1 teaspoon of cornstarch.
> Reduce the amount of milk and rooibos or tea to 1-1/4 cups each and you’ll have a delicious filling for cakes, cupcakes, and pastries.

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February 25, 2011

A freebie for tea lovers!

Filed under: tea,tea accessories,tea gifts — by teaguide @ 1:56 pm
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This just in: Get free shipping with a simple click of your mouse!

CrafTea Designs needs only a few more followers to be able to officially claim their FaceBook name.

Help them out by visiting their FaceBook page and clicking Like — and they’ll give all of their followers free shipping on their next order of beauteaful gifts for tea lovers!

Yee Haw!

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February 18, 2011

Review: Nantou High Mountain Oolongs from BodySoulandTea

Filed under: food,oolong tea,Tea sites — by teaguide @ 1:55 pm
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Retail only.

Photos by the author and stock photos.

Yixing teapot and cupIf somebody told me I could drink only one type of tea for the rest of my life, I’d probably choose Taiwan oolongs. Although I admit I’d miss Darjeelings and a whole lot of other teas, so I hope I never have to make the choice!

But if I did have to choose, I’d still find a fairly wide selection of teas. The good news for lovers of good oolongs is that the marketplace seems to be expanding. Every time I find a new favourite oolong merchant, another contender shows up. The Brits call this abundance “spoilt for choice.” And what a tasteful spoiling it is!

One serious contender is BodySoulandTea, a new (at least to me) direct importer of high-grown Taiwan oolongs. They recently sent me samples of the three teas they currently feature in their website catalogue.

I have to admit that the tea samples waited for over a week after I received them while I was fighting off an upper respiratory infection. Even so, these oolongs, from the winter 2010 harvest, have a very fresh aroma and flavour. All three were formed into beautiful rolled leaves, like tiny fists of tea, each giving off a subtle floral aroma. I prepared each sample the same way, in my oolongs-dedicated six-ounce clay teapot: filtered water brought to a full boil then allowed to cool for a moment to “fish-eye” temperature; a brief “rinse” of the leaves in the teapot; first infusion of about twenty to thirty seconds; second infusion about forty-five seconds. All were strained into a glass pitcher, then sipped from a glass handle-less Japanese teacup. I like to use glass tea ware whenever possible for full appreciation of the colour of the tea.

The first tea, Dong Ding (or Tung Ting), is one of my long-time favourite oolongs, and this one did not disappoint. There was a bluish cast to the rolled leaves — a characteristic that, in my experience, is an indicator of a higher-quality oolong. A lovely floral aroma, a light golden liquid, a smooth taste and texture without the slightest trace of astringency (the mark of a truly good oolong, IMNSHO), and a hint of carnations in the long finish. The second infusion coaxed out a tad more of the florals in the finish. A delightful cup!

The blue cast of the fist-like rolled leaves of the Golden Lily/Jin Shiuan foretold of another high-quality tea. A slightly more roasty flavour than the Dong Ding, although still smooth and clear. One reason I like Golden Lily oolongs is their subtle creamy texture — an inherent quality of the processing of the leaf, not something added. Perceived as just a slight coating that lingers on the tongue and palate. BodySoulAndTea‘s sample is a perfect representative of this quality — a quality that you have to taste, but only once, to understand.

The third sample was a ShanLinShi (or ShanLinXie, as I have seen it elsewhere — I’m not sure there is a standard spelling for Taiwan or China teas). I am less familiar with this type of oolong, but suspect I may have found a new favourite. Dry leaf “fists” a shiny blue-black colour. The made tea was light and smooth on the palate, a field of spring flowers in the nose, and greenish-gold in the cup. A wonderful sweetness that seems to intensify with each sip, and lingers on the tongue. This is a tea that I could drink every day and never grow tired of it. Second infusion produced less aroma while enhancing the flavour. Curious, but wonderful!

BodySoulandTea‘s website has a good deal of information about oolong tea, including clear, thorough, and well-illustrated instructions for preparing their teas. Tea newbies never believe me when I say that oolongs are probably the most forgiving of all teas if you don’t get the preparation just right. If you follow BodySoulandTea‘s instructions, you shouldn’t have any difficulty at all. They offer free shipping on orders over $50; order a package of each of these three teas and it will come to about $55.

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