Hello Tea Lovers!
My Vanilla Chai Choc Chip Muffins have finally come into fruition- I am totally excited to share this recipe with you all.
If you are Chai fanatic like me, then these are a must try for the family, friends or just for a little self indulgence. They are not too naughty I promise! The original recipe was my mums banana muffin recipe but after 3 attempts I had to give the bananas up, they over powered the beautiful chai flavours too much. However, I still got to keep mum’s recipe minus the bananas. A win win for everyone!
Once you have made them a few times, its a versatile recipe to get creative and make it your own. The chai will work well with slithered almonds, shredded coconut or dried figs or anything that you think will compliment the chai.
So without further ado, I hope you enjoy the recipe and I would love to see you share photos and don’t forget to tag TeaEsk so we can see your creations. Cheers to creating extraordinary tea moments together and remember- always have fun!
Love Mel x
Hello, tea lovers!
I apologise for being away from my blog for what seems like forever and I have to admit this article is no stranger. I started it just before launching TeaEsk and let me tell you I wasn’t very good at writing blogs (I like to think I'm getting better), so I decided to leave it until inspiration found me, so here I am.
I had my first tea training session with a café who, I am delighted to announce are TeaEsk's very first stockists. Holding that training day got me thinking again about a simple question (and the point of this blog), “What is tea”?. I see the confusion in many people, and this is partly because we are unclear of the differences between tea and “herbal tea”. Somewhere along the way tea started to fuse with herbals, labelling them as "herbal tea", and yes this maybe nerdy as my husband always tell me, but this, in fact, is incorrect. The correct term is "tisane" the French word for herbal or what I like to call “herbal infusion”. Herbal infusions are blends of herbs, spices, dried fruits and flowers that we "infuse" in hot water, and do contain tea leaf or caffeine. Knowing the difference can take the confusion away and will be useful when browsing for your next brew.
So, “What is tea”? All tea- Black, green, oolong, white and Pu-er tea, all come from the same plant called ‘Camellia Sinensis”. It's the way the fresh tea leaves have been processed that places them in the different categories. Another important point, ALL tea contains caffeine, this is good to know especially if you are caffeine sensitive; you don’t want to be drinking a cup of green tea at night if you want to get a good nights rest. Rule of thumb is that supposedly black tea contains more caffeine than green or white tea, this could be somewhat true but, unless the tea has been tested for its caffeine levels, then we don’t know for sure. And it's safe to say that yes some green tea may contain more caffeine than black. So you might want to switch to an herbal infusion for your evening beverage.
If you're ready to get nerdy with me, then read on!
Camellia Sinensis is the evergreen tea plant that we know as the tea bush. There is said to be over a thousand subvarieties, but the two most popular when talking tea is the Camellia Sinensis var. Sinensis, and the Camellia Sinensis var. Assamica, which has found their place in history.
Tea plants are quite sensitive to ‘Terrior’ (soil, sun, altitude, longitude and humidity) and the interestingly beautiful thing is that they can absorb flavours of their surrounding environment, meaning, depending on where they are grown the flavours adjust to that particular climate of a region.
The other important part of understanding tea is oxidation, this determines what type of tea the fresh leaves are to become. I will never forget the apple comparison when I was studying. It is the simplest way to get your head around oxidation; think of an apple that you have cut. After a little while, the flesh of the apple starts to go brown; this is oxidation. The enzymes of the cut apple, when exposed to oxygen, begins the process known as "enzymatic oxidation", this is the same for tea. Once the fresh leaves are rolled, it breaks down the cell wall exposing these enzymes to oxygen causing them to brown. That is why black tea is darker in colour and more robust compared to green tea. Green tea is not oxidized, hence why it keeps its natural green colour and has lighter characteristics.
All of these elements play a significant role in the life of a tea plant, but let’s not forget about the people or should I say the real tea masters who, take the utmost care in nurturing and looking after the tea plant and manufacture it to produce the tea that we love today.
My hope is to see tea being ordered and enjoyed more among us. With a better understanding of this old world beverage, I know we will get there and only then we can enjoy tea as much as we have come to know and love coffee.
To get to know more about tea and how to brew the ultimate cup, take a read of my blog “How To Brew The Perfect Cup”. This will help you start a positive and enjoyable journey with tea.
Hello fellow Tea lovers!
I have an exciting recipe to share with you that involves one our teas that you could also incorporate into some home baking. I was feeling creative last week and at an already attempted go at this recipe (which apparently didn't work out so well for me), I tried for a second time
I have been wanting to make a cocktail with Wu Yi Mountain Oolong for a little while and had initially tried my hand at making a peach syrup to infuse the tea in. I let that idea go for a little while until this one afternoon I was snacking on some dates and sipping on some of my oolong and found that the two paired very well together. A light bulb moment struck and wah-la A Whisky Date was born.
I made a date syrup, and cold brewed the oolong overnight. Because this oolong is a heavy roasted tea, it has excellent woody, slightly smokey and stone fruit characteristics and thought it would pair nicely with whisky as the base of this cocktail. Sometimes things are just meant to be!
Here’s how the recipe goes:
A Whiskey Date
NOTE: If you see white foamy bubbles on top of the liquid, skim it off with a spoon.
Once 15 minutes is up let the mixture cool down
Grab your strainer or muslin cloth and strain the mixture. You’ll want to use a super fine mesh so you're getting the liquid as clear as possible. This may take a while so you can leave it and come back. Another tip, with your wooden spoon press on the mixture to be sure you get all that wonderful juice out of the dates. I only received about half a cup of liquid.
I used one nip of whisky to one nip of the syrup. You can change the ratio to suit your taste buds. I used orange rind as a garnish, but you could totally use a cinnamon stick.
Till next time
Hello, fellow tea drinkers!
Apologies for being away from my Tea Journal; I had a lot going on, from travel to moving house, etc. But now that I am settled, it is great to be back and to be sharing all things tea with you again.
Through these busy times when life gets a little too crazy, my Matchas Morsel Milkshake helps me get through the day and keeps me focused. So, I thought this easy recipe was a must to share. When I say "Milkshake" I don't really mean milkshake, there is no ice cream, or other naughty indulgences added, you will need almond milk, and you do need to shake it. I like to think of it as a healthy morning beverage that helps kick start your day!
Matcha has lots of wonderful benefits, it contains higher antioxidants than blueberries, helps boost your metabolism and it's going to give you long lasting energy over a three to six hour period but at the same time keep you feeling calm. Great before a gym workout!
Matcha is an excellent choice for those of you who want to try giving up coffee or find a substitute, so I would highly recommend giving Matcha a try. You are still receiving an intense flavour and caffeine hit; the difference is tea releases caffeine at a slower rate over a longer period without feeling jittery or crashing after about an hour, and it's lighter on the stomach.
For this recipe, I like to use organic almond milk and have discovered a new brand called “Inside Out” and I can’t tell you how addicted I am to it. It has NO added sugar, is gluten free; there are absolutely no nasties and has great taste, the best almond milk I have had by far. By all means, you can use whatever milk substitute you prefer. The only thing I would like to point out is, if you are going to use cows milk, just keep in mind that the calcium found in cows milk will counteract the absorption of nutrients found in Matcha, so I would recommend almond, coconut or soy milk.
I always use my TeaTank when making my shake (500ml). TeaTank is super handy I would be lost without mine, you don’t have to fuss around, you can brew and sip from the one vessel. The only exception when I don't use my TeaTank is if I am making it for guests, then I make it in a plunger.
- 150ml 80 degree water
- 1 teaspoon Matchas Morsel
- 350ml almond milk
- 1 teaspoon of honey or to your liking
- Boil fresh filtered or bottled water
- Pour into your vessel and let it cool down for 5 mins
- Add Mathca and give a stir
- Add honey
- Add ice cubes
- Pour in almond milk
- Place lid on and give it a good shake so it gets frothy
You can also have fun with this and add chia seeds or some of your favourite muesli for some added crunch!
Love Mel x
I will be the first one to put my hand up, in admitting that yes once upon a time I was a careless tea maker who used boiling water and paid no attention to steeping time, for any tea I made for myself or guests. If I knew then what I know now, I would be totally embarrassed serving any tea that was undrinkable. I was often left puzzled as to why my tea always tasted offensively bitter and astringent. I'm positive most of you know what I'm talking about, especially if you have ever had green.
I bring you good news; I am here to help take the bitterness out of your cup (nobody has time for that) and to shed some light on how you can brew the perfect cup at home, that will make your tea drinking experience a more enjoyable one.
I would like to point out that however you fancy your tea comes down to personal taste; I am sharing guidelines on what I feel is important to ensure that you have consistency and able to savor this old world beverage to it's full potential. I also recommend using this guide with good quality loose leaf tea.
Tea is the second most-consumed beverage after water; apart from using good quality fresh tea leaves there are four important elements to remember when brewing tea.
Today I had the pleasure of visiting Tea Drunk, a quaint tea house nestled in the East Village NY. A great place to relax, read a book and, of course, drink some of the finest tea. I would highly recommend visiting if you ever the get the chance even if you are new to tea.
Tea Drunk is a tea house with an extensive range of all the classes of tea –Black, Oolong, Green, White and Puerh teas, and holds authenticity in Gongfu Cha, which is the Chinese tea ceremony and method on how tea is served. In Gongfu Cha quality of tea leaf is imperative, appreciating the colour of brewed liquor, aroma and, of course, the taste. You use more tea leaf to smaller amounts of water and shorter brewing times which allows for multiple steeps of the tea, enabling you to enjoy and appreciate the subtle changes in every brew.
As I walked in the shop, pleasant aromas of sweet florals and fruits lingering in the room happily reminded me of a freshly brewed Oolong. I was welcomed warmly by a gentleman who goes by the name Dylan, who invited me to come and sit at the bar. Soft music of the Blues playing in the background, sets the mood nicely when enjoying tea. I had a feeling this was going to be good.
After some friendly banter, he kindly served me a taste of what he explained to be a Phoenix Oolong (guessing what I could smell when I first walked in), that is from the highly revered Wu Dong Mountain, China. It was highly aromatic with notes of sweet florals and stone-fruits. This tea had a magnificent complexity of flavours with a smooth finish and lingering notes of peach. What a treat!
Dylan asked what type of mood I was in –did I feel like something light or heavy. With a full belly after lunch I guess you could say I was in a “something light” kinda mood. Looking through the green teas, I couldn’t help but choose one of my favourites Longjing that also goes by the name of ‘Dragon Well’. It is very rare to come across an authentic Longjing as there are many copies of this famous tea, so I wasn't going to miss the chance.
First, I was handed the dry leaves to smell –they were fresh with nutty notes of chestnuts and slightly vegetal, and then was asked to pick out a tea pet of my liking. A tea pet is a ceramic animal that sits on the tray when serving tea Gongfu style and keeps you company while drinking your tea. They had an excellent selection, but my choice was the sweet tortoise that had a jade-green shell.
Hot water was poured back and forth between the water pitcher and the glass server about five times; this helps to cool the water down by about 10 degrees every time it is re-poured, a cooler temperature is a must for green tea. The brewed liquor was pale yellow and bright; I enjoyed the warm toasty aromas before taking my first sip. It was deliciousness in a cup; light, fresh and nutty, I was in heaven. The tea was good for three infusions and held all its wonderful flavours till the end, me savouring every last drop.
It was an outstanding sensory experience, and I thanked Dylan for his brilliant tea service that was truly admirable. I left feeling totally satisfied with a smile from ear to ear.
The Nan Tien Temple is the biggest temple in the southern hemisphere. “Nan Tien” in Chinese, literally means “Paradise of the South”, and that it truly is!
Tea and Buddhism have a long history together. Buddhism was introduced to China in the Han Dynasty; tea was instantaneously embraced for its healthful properties and rejuvenation abilities. Monks found that tea helped them stay awake and focused during long hours of meditation. Tea became a necessity for these holy men, an “elixir of life” that should be consumed daily by all people. Tea first became popular in temples, and then a part of daily routine among monks and Buddhists and then finally became a vital part of Chinese life. According to a Chinese proverb, tea is said to be one of the seven essential elements needed in daily life.
The Temple is a two minute drive from the home I lived in for 15 years and a sight I saw every day on the route I used to take to work. I always had good intentions of going but never quite made it. Maybe as I am getting older and somewhat wiser (I like to think), I am more interested in finding the true meaning of life and how to live it wholly and mindfully, in this crazy society. Studying tea has also taught me to slow down and be present in the moment, and I thought the temple would be a great place to start.
Seeing that the weather had finally warmed up yesterday, I took the opportunity to take a walk to the Nan Tien Temple. Wandering up the long road to the entrance jacaranda trees in full bloom enveloped me, and a very large Buddha (a statue of course), who was looking mighty jolly greeted me at the entrance. I instantly felt calm in the presence of my surroundings, listening to the birds and looking up, to see a family of dragonflies hovering up above me.
Readers, I'd also like to share something beautiful that I experienced on my visit. I took a seat in the shade; a quiet spot - away from the bustle of tourists. As I sipped on my tea, I found myself not thinking about anything or anyone just being present in that simple moment. I felt at peace in the silence and smiled with happiness. I was happy because I felt content in just being alive, in that very second - I felt a real appreciation for life. Just me, that moment and my tea. I didn't really know what to expect coming to the temple, at the very least I was hoping for a good cup of Oolong, but what I found was what I can only explain as mindfulness, or joy, or peace (I'm struggling to find the words)!
With a belly full of tea and seriously satisfied, I lazily made my way out of the Temple, knowing that I will return to this magical “Paradise of the South”.