tea journal

November 26, 2018

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The Secret to Amazing Iced Tea- Easy as 1,2,3.

 

Blueberry Ice Tea

I absolutely LOVE this time of year, summer is approaching and with the festive season just around the corner, there is always this fantastic buzz in the air that makes us feel good. These months are full of celebrations, and what would this time of year be without iced tea? That's why I'm here. To show you why we should all be celebrating with this marvellous beverage whenever we get the chance through a brewing technique that is so simple. Iced teas brighten up a party and evoke curiosity, so whether you want to enjoy them as a healthy alternative or as a cheeky cocktail for some added extra fun, make your iced tea the star of the show! 
Iced teas don’t need to be boring, you can jazz them up your favourite fruits, add some sparkling water for a spritz and splashes vodka or gin.

Want to know the secret? ….. Cold Brewing!!

Four reasons why cold brewing is so great
  1. Your iced tea will be much smoother in taste
  2. You can prepare it the day before
  3. You won’t need an infuser
  4. No preservatives, added flavours or sugars


The process of cold brewing releases the properties and favours of the tea leaf, herbs and dried fruits at a much slower rate, hence why your tea is smoother and brings out the beautiful sweetness and excellent characteristics of the tea.

How to brew
Cold brewing is as easy as 1,2,3 and let's be honest, you’ll never want to make it any other way. All is you need is 3 things, yep that’s right

  • the tea 
  • a jug, bowl or anything that you see fit to use and
  • cold filtered water


There is still one thing to keep in mind, when using tea leaf- black, green, white or oolong tea I personally still like to give them a time limit of six to eight hours, only because they do contain tea leaf and can even become too strong if left too long. For all herbal and fruit infusions, you can leave them longer- ten to twelve hours.

Here’s how to make 1-litre using TeaEsk’s Huckleberry Blue

Rule of thumb for iced tea, use 2 teaspoons per 250ml of water. The reason for this is that you need it to be strong enough so that when ice is added, it can withstand a little dilution.

  • In your jug add 1 litre of cold filtered water
  • Add eight good teaspoons of Huckleberry Blue to your water 
  • Leave in the fridge to brew overnight or for a good 12 hours


And that's it! So simple, it feels too good to be true.

Here comes the fun part

  • When you are ready to use, you will need to strain the infused liquid into another jug or bowl.
  • You can add a touch of honey or sweetener of your choice (I find that Huckleberry Blue is sweet enough on its own). If you do choose to add honey, I always boil some water first just add a little to a glass so the honey will melt before adding to your iced tea. 
  • Cut some strawberries and either add fresh or frozen blueberries along with sprigs of mint to the strained iced tea, along with a small amount of ice and stir. 

OR

Add fruit, mint and the ice cubes to individual glasses and pour mixture over ice.
Keep the jug of iced tea in the fridge so that it keeps cool and top up glasses as you need.

Feeling in the mood for a cocktail, or having a dinner party?! Add a splash of vodka or gin to spice things up. You can even add tonic water to make a spritz. This will totally impress your guests!


One more thing to mention, I only store my iced tea no longer than two days in something that is airtight. But let’s be honest, iced tea that tastes that good won’t last that long.

I hope you have enjoyed learning the secret to amazing iced tea, I have thoroughly enjoyed sharing it with you all. Best of all and the thing I love most about tea is not to take it too seriously, experiment and enjoy it the way you like.

Cheers to creating extraordinary tea moments together!

Love Mel x

Matchas Morsel Coconut & White Chocolate Cupacakes

 

 

This recipe makes 20. You will need to bake two batches

 INGREDIENTS

  • 429g plain flour
  • 125g butter, softened
  • 185g raw sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 spoon salt
  • 125ml vegetable oil
  • 375ml milk
  • 2 tsp greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 tsp TeaEsk Matchas Morsel greeen tea powder
  • 85g shredded coconut, extra handful for toasting
  • Generous handful of white chocolate chips (optional but seriously delicious)

 

METHOD

  1. Pre heat your oven to 160 degree Celsius
  2. Grease and line a cupcake pan
  3. Using a paddle attachment for your mixer, place all dry ingredients together and mix until combined.
  4. Next add your softened butter. Place mixer on low speed for a minute then onto a medium speed until mixture resembles fine sand.
  5. In the meantime, place all your wet ingredients in a jug and whisk it well.
  6. Keeping the mixer on medium speed, pour wet ingredients in a slow and steady stream. Mix until there is no more dry ingredients showing. Tip: try not to over mix.
  7. Remove the paddle attachment and sift in TeaEsk’s Matchas Morsel along with white chocolate chips (optional), and fold in gently until no more white is showing in your batter.
  8. Your cupcake mixture is now ready to be filled into the cupcake holders. Fill 2 tablespoons per cupcake holder.
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Or until skewer comes out clean when testing.
  10. Place on a cooling rack and cool down completely, before frosting is applied.
  11. Toast extra shredded coconut in a pan until golden brown. Or you can buy it already toasted.

 

 

BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

I have used less sugar than a typical buttercream frosting, I find it more enjoyable. However, if you prefer it sweeter, then go on and add up to 500g of icing sugar.

 INGREDIENTS 

  • 250g softened butter
  • 380g soft icing sugar. Sifted
  • 1 tbs milk

METHOD

  1. Using a paddle attachment, place softened butter on low speed for 1 mintue then on high speed until pale in colour and creamy, about 3 minutes. You will need to stop mixer and scrape down the sides and mix again for a minute or two.
  2. Add half of the sifted icing sugar on very low speed until just mixed in. Then add the second half, on low speed again, until just mixed in. Add milk. Mixer can now go on high speed for another 2-3minutes. Scraping the sides as needed.
  3. You should have a fluffy and creamy buttercream frosting ready for your cupcakes.
  4. I used a 1M piping attachment.
  5. Once piped, sprinkle with toasted coconut and melted white chocolate. (melt white chocolate and cool down before applying. Using a spoon and fleck it across the buttercream frosting).

Watch the video

These are seriously so soft, creamy and morish that you won't be able to stop at one! You will have everyone impressed! Happy baking and always remember to have fun while creating. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!

Oceans of love

Mel x

A WHISKY DATE

 

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

 INGREDIENTS

  • 25 fresh dates, pitted (I used Medjool dates)
  • 3 cups of water
  • 4 teaspoons of Wu Yi Mountain Oolong 
  • Fine mesh strainer or muslin cloth is preferred
  • Chivas Regal whisky (or one that you like)

 

METHOD

  • Place the pitted dates and cold water in a saucepan
  • Using high heat, bring to a boil
  • Turn down the heat and gently simmer for 15 minutes. Stir every so often and with the back of a wooden spoon squash the dates. 
  • 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.

  • Once you have your liquid, add the oolong and let it infuse over night and covered. You can place it in the fridge if you want to.
  • Strain the tea leaves and discard them. Have a taste; it's so delicious.
  • Your syrup is now ready to use. You could totally use this on pancakes or as a sweetener in a cake or muffins :)

      

     

         

       

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    THE COCKTAIL

    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.

     

    • Place four ice cubes in a whisky glass
    • Add the whisky and tea infused date syrup and stir well
    • Thinly slice a strip of orange peel and twist it till its stays in a coil
    • Place orange peel on top of glass
    • Enjoy your Whiskey Date! It't the perfect winter warmer.

     

       

      Till next time

      Mel x

      January 20, 2016

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      How To Brew The Perfect Cup

       

      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.

      1.     Quality of water
      2.    Amount of tea used
      3.     Temperature
      4.     Steep time

      WATER
      In China, there is an old proverb “Water is the mother of tea”, suggesting the type of water you choose can make or break your tea drinking experience. Brewed tea is 99 percent water, so it is vital to use odour-free water that is as untreated as possible for a great tasting cup.

      Here in Australia, we are spoilt for choice with bottled water and very fortunate to have clean running water from our taps. Unfortunately, in most households tap water contains too much chlorine, which is a real destroyer to your tea, altering its taste and ruins complex flavours and aromas. In some cases, high amounts of minerals present can result in “hard” water that may result in adding nasty metallic tastes to your tea. Complete opposite, pure water like distilled that doesn’t have enough minerals and oxygen that can leave your tea flat and lifeless.

      I don't want to say that tap water shouldn't be used, and by no means am I a scientist; rather I am suggesting that there are other water sources to use that can enhance your tea experience. Cold fresh spring water is the purest and best kind to use. But let’s face it, most of us don’t have natural springs running through our back yards (wishful thinking), so filtered or bottled spring water is the next best thing.

      FILTERED WATER
      Filters are an excellent appliance to invest in as they should provide consistent, high-quality water. They can remove sediments, chlorine, and impurities from your tap water, allowing for a ‘cleaner’ taste so that tea's true characteristics and subtle aromas can shine through.

      BOTTLED SPRING WATER
      Bottled spring water should contain a neutral PH balance and a healthy amount of nutrients, minerals and oxygen to brew a delicious cup of tea. If bottled water is to become your preference, I would recommend comparing two or three against each other to see which suits you and your tea best.

      The bottom line is, that no matter how great your tea leaves are or how amazing your teapot is if you use poor quality water it will result in a poor tasting tea.


      AMOUNT OF TEA USED
      Something as simple as adding too much or not enough tea leaves can alter the way your brewed tea tastes. This topic has been debated many times on what the universal standard for tea to cup ratio should be, this is for Western style brewing. The conclusion is two grams of tea per 250ml of water –one teaspoon. It is a great guideline to follow; however, I do believe this also comes down to personal taste.

      Sometimes measuring becomes tricky as tea comes in all different sizes as does tableware teaspoons. If you want to have more control on consistency, I would recommend using a measuring spoon used for cooking purposes as a guide and stick to using that one spoon. From there you can decide whether to add more or less for your perfect cup. Or you can become really professional and weigh your tea.

      A good rule of thumb is that the more "leafy" the tea- Oolong tea, the more you will have to use as they tend to produce a lighter brew. Smaller cut leaves like an English breakfast will infuse much quicker emanating in a stronger brew; therefore, the opposite applies.


      TEMPERATURE    
      Temperature is vital when making the perfect cup of tea, and where most of us go wrong. You could have the finest tea leaves, and followed all the above steps, but if you choose the incorrect temperature, some tea will be burnt and ruined.

      Choosing the correct water temperature allows the tea leaves to release the right amount of astringent tannins, flavonols (antioxidants) and amino acids, allowing the tea to show off its exceptional characteristics, subtle flavours and aromas.

      Oxygen is also important when bringing out the taste of tea, it allows the aromatic compounds in the leaves to be released- mostly volatile oils. The majority of oxygen is released when the water temperature reaches boiling point. Water should never be re-boiled or over boiled, this flattens water through distillation, leaving it “lifeless”.  

      Cooler temperatures for White, Green and greener style Oolong teas, are a must as water too hot burns the tea leaves freeing too many tannins too quickly that results in the tea to become bitter, and why so many people don't enjoy Green tea. A handy tip to remember is, the lighter in colour the tea leaves, the cooler the temperature and darker they are the hotter the water.

      The way I like to achieve cooler temperature is by always boiling the water first, and pour it into my brewing vessel to let it cool down for the appropriate amount of time needed. Then add the tea leaves.

      BREWING TEMPERATURE GUIDE

      • White tea: 80-90 degrees Celsius. Two-minute cool down.
      • Green Tea (Chinese): 75-80 degrees Celsius. Five-minute cool down.
      • Green Tea (Japanese): 65-75 degree Celsius. Six to seven-minute cool down.
      • Oolong Tea (Greener style): 80-85 degree Celsius. Five-minute cool down.
      • Oolong Tea (Darker style): 90 degree Celsius. One to two-minute cool down.
      • Black Tea (most styles): 100 degree Celsius. No cooling needed.

      STEEPING TIME
      Last but not least we have reached the final step on brewing the perfect cup. The amount of time you let your tea brew for will determine its strength and taste. If you love a nice strong cuppa,  I will always suggest adding an extra teaspoon of tea rather than over brewing; this will allow for added strength while still enjoying teas nuances. Over steeping any tea causes the tea to be unpleasantly astringent and does the leaf no justice at all (in my opinion). Black teas taken with milk do permit you to brew a little longer but still not to the point of overkill.

      I have shared a guideline below as a good place to start. These instructions are for Western Style brewing.

      • White Tea: 3-5 minutes. White tea can be re-brewed.
      • Green Tea: 1-3 minutes. Most good quality greens can be re-brewed.
      • Oolong Tea: 3-5 minutes. Oolongs can most definitely be re-brewed.
      • Black Tea: 2-5 minutes.

      A great guide to follow, but by all means, you can adjust this to your personal taste.

      If you made it here to the bottom, thank you for taking the time to read my article. Even if I only help one person in turning their tea experience from a mediocre one to an outstanding one, I will be happy knowing that I made that one difference. Please feel free to share with family and friends and let it be your guide to finding your perfectly brewed cup.

      Mel x
      January 08, 2016

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      Tea In NYC

      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.

      Mel x

      November 19, 2015

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      A DAY IN PARADISE


      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.

           

      315x420 

      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”.

      Mel x

      November 01, 2015

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      My Three Favourite Tea's... (at the moment)

      This post was originally written for the wonderful audience of Natalie Carter Talks Fitness, which you can find along with other fantastic information on her website here.

      Tea is personal; like your favourite pair of shoes or flavour of gelato. Just like those things, your taste can change, you change - so right now here are my three favourite tea's, in no particular order.

       

      #1 Sleepy Head

      Let's face it, we're all busy! Whether we're deep in the rat race of a 9-5 or taking care of our little ones. We look for ways to unwind; we're all looking for moments of escape. For this, my tea of choice is an herbal infusion called Sleepy Head.

      Sleepy Head is a wonderful caffeine-free tisane making it a great choice for an evening beverage. Hand-blended with lemon balm, chamomile, lavender and pink rose petals;  these ingredients have mild sedative properties, which can help take the tension away, so you can feel relaxed.

       Some helpful tips:

      -You can steep Sleepy Head anywhere from 3-5 minutes. Personally, I like to steep mine for 3.5 minutes.You can leave it longer if that is your desired taste. 

      -Boiling water is must, this allows for all the essential oils to be released. Always keep the lid on your teapot when infusing, this stops the oils from escaping, meaning you get full benefits from your brew.

      - You could even try this in your bath. I would suggest placing it in a muslin cloth, so you don't find herbs and flowers in places they should not be.  You would need at least eight teaspoons. Pop it into the bath (along with yourself) and let it steep.

       

      #2 Yellow Mountain Green Tea

      Need to perk up? A favourite of mine is our Yellow Mountain Green tea. It's a refreshing brew with loads of flavour! I find green tea keeps me alert (due to a small amount of caffeine) and focused. There is an amino acid found in green tea called L-theanine. It neutralises the jittery effects of caffeine, keeping you relaxed yet focused.

      There are mornings where I like to swap my black tea for green tea, especially in the warmer months (green tea can cool the body down when feeling hot). Spring is amongst us, and I was doing a little experimenting the other day, and I came up with a fun idea of making green tea ice cubes. A nice alternative to flavour your water on those warm days (and maybe adding a couple to a cheeky vodka cocktail... just saying).

      Here's how it goes:

      1. Add two teaspoons of Yellow Moutain Green tea to 500ml of 80-degree water. TIP: Green tea does not like boiling water; it burns the tender leaves, and you will have a very unpleasant, bitter tasting tea. What you need to do is, boil your water, pour it into a teapot or whatever brewing vessel you have, let the water cool down for 5 minutes before adding the tea leaves.

      2. I let the tea steep for about 2-2.5 minutes, then remove your infuser. If you don't have one, you can use a strainer.

      3. Stir in half a teaspoon of honey. I would start with half a teaspoon, as you can always add more.

      4. Pour the green tea liquid into your ice cube tray, and freeze.

      5. Enjoy!

       

      #3: Matcha's Morsel

      All this green tea talk leads me to Matcha. This powdered green tea is taking the world by storm due to its many health benefits. Our Matchas Morsel is an A Grade organic pick  - quality does matter with this tea.

      Matcha is being categorised as a superfood, due to its high levels of antioxidants, a class known as 'Catechins', EGCG being the most potent!

      It's a natural detoxifier that is full of powerful properties -chlorophyll being one of them.  Simply, it makes you feel good!

      There are many ways that Matcha is being consumed, on its own, as a latte with soy or almond milk, add it to your smoothies or sprinkle it on some yoghurt. You can even bake with it.

      One of my favourite things to do in the mornings is to make myself a smoothie with Matchas Morsel powder! They are fast, easy and taste delicious. Here's what I do:

      To your blender, add:

      - One banana

      - Small handful of almonds

      - A quarter of an avocado

      - One scoop of vanilla powder

      - Half a teaspoon of Matcha

      - One teaspoon of chia seeds

      - 200 ml water and 200ml of Almond milk

      Give it a go, it's SO delish!

       

      Everybody's different; their lifestyle is different, their palette is different - if you need help finding your blend contact me through Facebook or why not join our tea club? We send you different sample size teas every three months.

       Mel x