How to: Have Matcha On The Go!

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Matcha is all the rage these days, and with good reason. It’s quite delicious and packs a great long-lasting energy punch. Many of Kat’s friends have started getting into matcha, and try to make it in the morning. The problem is it can be a little time consuming. You need the right equipment, and just the right whisking technique to create a frothy bowl of matcha. A few of her friends have started asking Kat if she had any tips for creating a quicker cup of matcha at home. Well, we actually do have a secret for quicker matcha preparation! It just involves a little bit of elbow grease.

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In order to prepare your matcha in a flash, you just need a jar with a tight fitting lid, hot water, and matcha powder. You can use a fancy mason jar but honestly Kat often just saves small jars in her cupboard and grabs one when she wants matcha in a hurry.

Simple place your matcha in the jar, and add the hot water (make sure it’s about 165°. Then, all you need to do is shake! Shake it up until the powder is completely dissolved. Just be careful, if your jar isn’t very thick, it will get hot quickly. you may want to grip your jar with a tea towel. With vigorous shaking you’ll also get a nice frothy matcha. You can sip from the jar, put it in a mug, or just keep the cap on and sip on the go!

Behind the Leaf: Yellow Tea

 

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Dearies we’ve discussed all kinds of white tea, oolong tea, and black teas. But did you know we missed a category from the camellia sinensis plant? Yellow teas are harder to find, but they are a tea type that you all must try.

Yellow tea is more time consuming to process, than other teas which makes it less available. There are only three regions in China that process it, Hunan, Sichuan and Anhui provinces. It is processed like a Chinese green tea, but then after firing they go through a controlled oxidation. The leaves are steamed under wet cloth or thick paper, and often the process is repeated. This process can take a few days, and creates a mellow yet aromatic cup of tea. It also has a nice bit of sweetness.

Because this tea is given a heated fermentation, it’s type is a mix between a green tea and a puerh. Yellow teas were originally considered tribute teas, which means they were exclusively grown and picked for the Emperor! How very special.

Because it is similar to a green tea, you can brew this the same way you would your Chinese greens. I recommend using a gaiwan, going grandpa style, or using a small teapot with multiple short infusions. Yellow tea isn’t as prone to bitterness as greens are, so you can use a water temperature a bit higher, from 160-175° F.

The most famous yellow tea is Junshan Yinzhen, from Hunan province. This tea can also be called Mount Jun Silver Needle tea, as the leaves resemble the white tea called silver needles. This tea is picked only from late march to early April, a very short window of time. This tea consists of tender, fuzzy buds, similar to white silver needles. This is actually was a favorite of Mao Zedong which is why it is so well known.

Two other yellow teas you may come across are Meng Ding Huangya from Sichuan province, and Mo Gan Huang Ya from Zhejiang. Be sure to purchase your yellow teas from a reputable source that is knowledgeable in these leaves. As I mentioned, these teas are hard to find, but worth the effort.

As a teacup I’m of course going to promote any and every tea I can. But I must say Dearies, yellow tea is really special. If you come across it, do give it a try. You’ll be quite pleased!

 

Recipe: Matcha Lemonade

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The other day Kat came home and was telling me how much she enjoyed her lunch. The best part was her beverage- she had a ‘half n’ half, which is a half black iced tea, and half lemonade. It’s one of her favorite iced teas to drink. It got me thinking about how we could adapt this idea to other types of teas. We’d need a tea that could hold up to the strong lemon flavor but also be enhanced by some sweetness. Then it hit me- why not make it with matcha? Perfect!

I gave it a few tries,and learned a few things in the process. First, it’s important to whisk your matcha up with hot water first, don’t just add it to all of your liquids. This way it will be well combined, and not grainy. Also, make sure you incorporate the sugar when the matcha is still hot, to make sure it dissolves fully. This recipe is actually very simple! Do give it a try and let me know what you think.

Tippy’s Sweet & Tangy Matcha Lemonade

Makes about 3 servings

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 cup hot water

1 ½ tbsp. matcha

2 cups cold water

1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar

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First make the matcha- whisk the matcha in 1 cup of hot (not boiling, about 165 degrees F) water. once it is combined, add to the lemon juice and stir in the sugar. It helps if the tea is warm so the sugar will dissolve more easily.

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Add 1/2 cup sugar, taste and see if it’s enough sweetness for you, you can always add more if necessary. Pour this into a serving pitcher and add the 2 cups cold water.

Mix until everything is combined to a beautiful green hue. Pour over a glass with lots of ice and garnish with lemon slices. You can add freshly sliced strawberries or mint to your lemonade. It’s such a delicious way to beat the summer heat!

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Dearies, I was just thinking you could probably pour this mixture into popsicle molds and have a delicious frozen treat! I’m sure there are more ways to get creative with iced matcha this summer. I’d love to hear your ideas!

Green Tea Vinaigrette For Summer Salads

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As the weather gets warmer, all Kat wants to make is huge salads. The other day she came back from the farmer’s market with bags bursting with delicious fresh veggies. She loves to cook with fresh vegetables but often just likes to make an enormous salad for dinner. Her favorite are filled with leafy greens like kale and arugula. She’ll include some hearty additions such as hardboiled eggs, sliced ham, baked tofu, and even steak. The finishing touch to her salads is always the dressing. Kat love making dressing from scratch.

I started wondering how I could help create a new dressing for her summer salads. It dawned on me that I could include tea! After much thought and experimentation, I’ve come up with delicious green tea vinaigrette to add to all your salads this summer. It’s light but extremely flavorful.

Tippy’s Green Tea Vinaigrette

2 Tablespoons lightly flavored oil, we like grapeseed

1 tablespoon Rice vinegar

1 Green tea bag steeped in 1/4 cup water for 5 minutes and cooled.

1-2 teaspoons honey (if desired)

2 teaspoons diced shallot (optional)

2 teaspoons lime

Salt and pepper to taste

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To create the dressing, combine the rice vinegar and tea. You can then whisk in the oil until it’s well combined. Add the other ingredients and mix thoroughly. Sometimes when Kat and I are pressed for time or if the bowls are all in the dish washer, we combine all the ingredients in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid and shake away until everything is combined. That’s it! It’s super simple and delicious.

Kat always likes to start slowly when dressing her salad. She’ll use just a few teaspoons of dressing and mix everything gently. She’ll taste and see if more is needed. Especially in summer, it’s nice to have a salad that isn’t super soggy.

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You can even use this recipe as a template. Try out other types of tea, add a different vinegar, maybe a different sweetener. You could even try adding a little bit of Dijon mustard. Get creative and you’ll have salads that everyone will be sure to devour. The dressing could also be used on boiled potatoes as a spin on German potato salad.

I just love creating these recipes for all of you, it’s so much fun to cook with tea! Happy steeping and eating, my dear friends!

Behind the Leaf: Chinese Green Teas

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Dearies, do you know where your green tea comes from? I did a post about popular Japanese green teas recently, and now I’m going to discuss some popular Chinese green teas. I remember traveling through China with Char. The big cities are so very interesting, and the rural areas we saw were just beautiful. Travel was a bit tough at times and I constantly worried about chips and scratches, but it helped that we were offered amazing tea everywhere we went. Chinese green teas vary depending on region and processing. Here are some of the more common types you’ll find:

Long Jing- grown in Zhejiang Province. In English it’s referred to as Dragonwell. This is the most well known tea in China, and because of that it’s also the most copied. Be careful and know your source! Why is this called Dragon well? According to legend, a Taoist monk came across a dragon hiding in a well. There was a lack of rain and drought in the area,  so the villagers prayed to the dragon to come to their aid. After the prayer it started to rain!  This tea has a flat shape. You’ll taste marine notes such as seaweed and ocean. It also has a lovely cooked veggie flavor that reminds Kat of steamed green beans. There is even a hint of sweetness in this tea. It is the most popular tea for a good reason!

Anji Bai Cha- also grown in Zhejiang. The word bai actually means white, but this is definitely a green tea. The white refers to the leaves which are so pale, they are practically white!  The leaves here are thin and long. The flavor is grassy, floral, and vegetal. It has a surprising tanginess as well. It’s a lovely, complex tea.

Mao Feng- grown in Anhui province. This pretty tea has lots of fine buds. It has a green bean fresh veggie flavor. But it’s more like raw veggies and not cooked like long jing. The freshness makes it mild and quite sweet.

Liu An Gua Pian- grown in Anhui province. This tea means ‘melon seed’ because of the shape of the leaves. They’re flat and a bit oval. This tea uses the second leaf, not the buds. Using these more mature leaves is very different from most other Chinese green teas that use the buds and young leaves. Since the leaves are a bit more mature, they have a more concentrated flavor. This tea is not delicate or vegetal. It has a toastier flavor due to being fired in the wok multiple times, with a nice floral finish.

Bi Lo chun (spring snail)- grown in Jiangsu province. These trees also produce Dong Shan tea, which is harvested after the bi lo chun season. This tea is called spring snail because it’s rolled into a spiral that looks like a snail and of course harvested in the spring. This tea has a delicate taste and floral aroma.

These are just a few of the many glorious Chinese teas you can find. All of these teas can be brewed in a gaiwan, grandpa style (loose in the cup/bowl), or also in a western style teapot. We like using a gaiwan as much as possible for these teas, as it extracts a large amount of flavor and you can get multiple steeps.

How many types of Chinese green tea have you tried? Dearies, they are all a bit different, so get out there and taste as many as you can.

Tippy’s Sweet Matcha Butter Cookies

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My lovelies, we’ve discussed springtime picnics and afternoon teas, and I thought I should give a recipe that you can use for both, or even just for snacking on your own. Have you ever made green tea cookies? Kat and I have an recipe for a buttery, tender cookie that have pleasing sweetness and a powerful matcha punch.

These cookies are perfect for any gathering, or could be enjoyed on your own with your favorite cup of tea. Dunk them in your favorite green tea for a super delicious experience.

These cookies only require a few ingredients, and are super simple to make!

Tippy’s Sweet Matcha Butter Cookies

For the cookies:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 tsp culinary grade matcha

1 stick of unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup powdered sugar (confectioner’s sugar)

For the topping:

1/2 tsp matcha

1/4 cup granulated sugar

In a medium bowl sift together the flour, salt and matcha and give it a mix to make sure everything is well combined. Set aside. For the topping, in a small bowl mix together the 1/2 tsp matcha and granulated sugar.

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In an electric mixer cream the butter and powdered sugar until it’s light and fluffy. It will be much lighter than you started, a few minutes on medium/high.

Switch the mixer to low and slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until fully combined. Be careful not to have the mixer on a high setting or you’ll have a cloud of matcha flour in your face!

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When everything is combined, you’ll have a deep green dough. Remove this dough and shape into a log that’s about 10 inches long. Wrap in plastic and put in the fridge for 30 minutes. This step is important to make sure you have well-formed cookies!

While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. When the dough is ready, slice into cookies about 1/4 inch thick and spread them out on a lightly greased baking sheet (or you can line the cookie sheet with parchment paper if you have it).

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Bake cookies for about 15 minutes (may need a few more minutes depending on how thickly you sliced them) until they just start to get a bit brown and firm. While the cookies are still hot, spring with the sugar/matcha mixture. Transfer to a rack and allow to cool completely, if you can wait that long to taste them!

Enjoy with your favorite green tea! Kat likes to serve these cookies with Citrus Green Tea from Private Selection. This is a beautiful blend of light, vegetal green tea with a delicate orange flavor. The green tea of course blends well with the cookies, and the orange flavor breaks up the green tea sweetness and refreshes the palate. I just love this combination! Kat always has this tea available in the warmer months for a refreshing yet light iced tea. It’s perfect for picnics and BBQs.

I do hope you enjoy my special cookie recipe! Be sure to check back for more recipes coming soon!

Tippy Interviews Li Juan the Gaiwan

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Hello Dearies! A little while back I did my very first interview. It went so well, that I decided it was time for another! Today you’re going to learn about Li Juan, a very beautiful Chinese Gaiwan. Li Juan now lives with Kat’s friend Sansan, who brought her back from a trip to China a few years ago. The gaiwan is used to steep tea in the gong fu style. You can learn a little more about this method and see another picture of Li Juan right here. But I’ll let you learn more about this beautiful vessel in our interview below!

How are you used? I hold a large amount of tea leaves with a small amount of water. You can use the highest quality leaves you can find, because I extract as much flavor as possible from those beautiful leaves. I steep the leaves very quickly, only a few seconds for the first couple of steepings. I can be tricky to use, as you have to balance my lid and often my saucer in one hand while pouring out the tea.

What’s your favorite thing about steeping tea in the gong fu style? I love how I get to give the tea taster a full flavored brew. I give you a true taste for the tea. I also love that with each steep you can watch the leaves start to unfurl while they change in flavor. Using a gaiwan helps you get more interactive with your tea. It is also quite meditative.

Are you usually used with any other teaware? You could pour the tea I steep right into little tasting cups, but it’s best to first pour the tea liquor into a fairness pitcher, or cha hai. This is a small pitcher used to make sure everyone’s tea is steeped exactly the same. It’s easier to distribute and pour into the cups using a pitcher, and it even lowers the temperature of the tea a little bit, which makes it a bit more comfortable to drink.

What teas do you work best with? I urge you to try and steep all different types of tea in your gaiwan and see what the results are like. Play around with the amount of leaves and see what you like best. But I am mostly used for oolong, puerh, and Chinese white and yellow teas. But as I said, have fun experimenting!

What is your favorite tea to steep? I love many types of teas but my most favorite to steep are raw puerh teas. I just love that you can steep these aged teas for many, many infusions. Sometimes you can enjoy them all day long! The flavors greatly change over a period of steepings. Some of my favorite raw puerh teas have surprising flavors such as sweet fruit and woodsy notes.

Is there anything important you’d like to tell my readers about using a gaiwan? well I’d ask that you please make sure to practice on a sturdier gaiwan before trying a more delicate vessel like mine. It takes bit of practice to pour the water into the fairness pitcher. Don’t forget that if you’re using black teas or roasted oolongs, the temperature of the water can be quite hot, and it takes practice not to burn your fingers! Don’t be ashamed in quite a bit of practice before trying a fancier gaiwan!

Oh thank you so much Li Juan for taking the time for this interview! Dearies, I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit about being a gaiwan as much as I did.

Tea Scene: Portland

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It seems like all of Kat’s friends are visiting Portland, Oregon these days. It’s a mecca for cool young folk looking for delicious food and artisanal goods. Kat is planning a trip there and has discovered there are quite a few interesting tea destinations in Portland. We discovered an amazingly long list of place to visit. Here are some of the highlights that we found:

Smith Tea You may have seen Smith Teas in specialty shops around the country. They have their home base in Portland, with two beautiful tasting rooms. The shops are sleek and industrial. You can try a flight of teas to really get to know a particular type, or just a relaxing pot of tea. They also get experimental with interesting blends that they create themselves. If they happen to be offering a tea on nitro, go for it! It sounds mysterious, but trust me you won’t be disappointed.

The Jasmine Pearl Tea Company– This is the perfect place to get loose tea, sparkling teas, and tea lattes. They serve sweet and savory food, and have fun pieces of teaware for sale. Teas can be served in the gong-fu style in traditional and modern vessels, and you can taste teas from all around the world.

Behind The Museum Cafe– This place is just what the name says- behind the Portland art museum cafe, there is a beautiful little Japanese tea shop. Beautiful Japanese tea and teaware line the walls, such a pretty sight! They even have a gallery space for Japanese art and culture. The cafe serves homemade Japanese sweets, sandwiches and savory dishes. You can get matcha and beautiful wagashi while relaxing after an afternoon at the museum.

Tea Bar– This is a light and airy place, comfortable and relaxing to enjoy a well-sourced cup of pure tea, tea latte, matcha, iced tea and kombucha. They also make their own bubble teas! Kat had a few friends visiting Portland that went back to Tea Bar a few times to try all of their different iced selections.

Townshend’s Tea House– This mini chain of tea houses is a lovely place to pop in for a reliable cup with 100 different kinds of loose tea, and kombucha on tap. It’s a good place to keep in mind if you are running about the city.

Red Robe Tea House & Cafe– This is a Chinese tea shop in the heart of Portland’s Chinatown. They have a large selection of Chinese teas with a focus on oolongs. The serve the teas in elegant gong-fu vessels such as gaiwans. They also have a lovely menu of delicious food items to pair with your tea.

Dearies these are just a few of the many exciting tea places Portland has to offer. I can’t wait to visit with Kat. This little teacup wants to hang out with the cool kids! If we’ve left out your favorite Portland tea shop, please let me know.

DIY: Make Your Own Bubble Tea!

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Dearies, do you like bubble tea? Do you even know what it is? It’s a sweet iced tea drink that has chewy tapioca ‘bubbles’ on the bottom. The brew can often be shaken in order to combine all the ingredients, and can look at bit frothy and bubbly on top.

This sweet drink originated in Taiwan in the 1980s, and has recently become popular stateside. It’s common to see the drink in specialty bubble tea shops. Kat developed a taste for these teas while travelling in Vancouver, where she had many a bubble tea in Chinatown. It’s harder to find in our neck of the woods, so she’s discovered how to make her own. I actually think it’s better to make your own bubble tea, because you can control the amount of milk and sweetener you add to the brew.

The first thing you’ll need is the boba (tapioca pearls). You can find these at most Asian grocery stores and also through a quick online search. They are usually black, but also come in fun rainbow colors. The boba themselves don’t have too much flavor. They’re mostly for texture but you can cook your boba in a little bit of simple syrup to give them a touch of sweetness. You boil the pearls until they are soft (about 5-10 minutes) and then they are ready to add to your tea. The boba don’t stay chewy for very long, so I’d suggest only making enough for a few cups of tea. They start to get hard after a few days.

After you’ve procured the boba, it’s time for the tea! The simplest thing is to just make a very strong cup of your favorite tea. Kat usually uses 2 tea bags. You’ll want it a  bit concentrated since you’ll be adding your milk of choice.

To create your DIY bubble tea:

Make simple syrup:

Boil a cup of water and a cup of sugar, until the sugar is dissolved.

Cook the boba:

Follow directions on the package, but it’s usually 2 cups of water for every ¼ cup of boba. Bring the water to a boil and add the tapioca pearls. Cook until they start to float to the top and get nice and chewy. Quick cooking boba takes 5 minutes, the regular kind can take about 10. After cooking submerge boba in the simple syrup for at least 15 minutes.

Make the tea:

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and then steep 2-3 tea bags for at least 5-10 minutes. Allow the tea to cool. Once cool, add your milk of choice. Kat loves to use coconut milk, almond milk, even sweetened condensed milk for a real decadent treat. Add as much or as little milk as you like. Add some of your simple syrup, to taste.

Put the boba in a glass, pour in your sweet, milky tea, and top with ice. Enjoy!

A fun variation is to add a flavored tea bag, and even fruit nectars. Kat likes to use HEB Mango black tea along with a few tablespoons of mango nectar added to the brew. Kat adores mango, and the HEB tea is a perfect combination of sweet, tart, and juicy. She was so excited to find this tea in her local store, and always has a box on hand for iced tea, afternoon tea breaks, and of course bubble tea.

To drink your tea you’ll need wide bubble tea straws (easily found online) since the boba are too big to fit through a regular straw. Or simply slurp without a straw altogether.

See it’s easy to create delicious bubble tea at home. Why not give it a try? If you come up with some exciting flavor combinations, be sure to let me know in the comments or via twitter!

Tea Gatherings

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My fine tea friends, do you know of any tea societies? Years ago Char used to be part of a ladies’ tea society that gathered once a week for tea, light refreshments, and lots and lots of gossip. These sort of tea societies are fewer and far between but the idea behind them is still relevant. A time to relax, see friends, share a delicious snack with your favorite teas.

In the UK I’ve come across tea societies that meet for afternoon tea, tea discussions, etc. Sort of like a book club for tea lovers. It’s just a lovely reason to get together. Some tea societies hold themed gatherings where you dress up in costume from a certain period of time. I think I should be an official tea society consultant- I’ve been around for so many decades that I could help out with choosing clothes and food to pair with the teas!

A quick search on meetup.com will result in tea gatherings all over the country. I’m so thrilled to see that people are gathering for tea! If you are interested, try to start a tea society in your area! You’ll have the opportunity to meet people and instantly have something in common with them.

I’ve even come across an organization called Tea With Strangers that is trying to get folks around the country together for tea, in order to get out, meet people, and just have a lovely time.  Especially in this age of constant screen time, it’s so important to foster in-person relationships.

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Kat is trying to create her own little tea club, but it’s been ever so difficult to schedule. Her friends are all so busy! She’s thinking of taking the club online, via Skype or G+ as a weekly hangout. They’ve been coming up with themes for each meeting. For the next meeting, Kat would like to have a ‘berry’ theme. Everyone needs to bring a favorite tea with a berry flavor. Kat’s going to bring her HEB Superberry Green Tea. This tea is full of cranberry and blueberry flavor. The sweet blueberry is enhanced with tangy cranberries for that classic sweet and tart combination. Hibiscus adds to the snappy flavor, and the mellow, vegetal green tea rounds everything out. Kat picked up this tea to ice in the summertime, and realized it is just as delicious hot. Even though the flavors are zippy, the warm green tea always makes her feel calm and relaxed. It’s quite a versatile tea.

Dearies, do you have a tea gathering that you attend? Are you thinking of starting one? I’d love to learn your thoughts!