Thai Iced Tea!

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The weather is warming up nicely, and it’s time to start thinking about iced teas! My tea lovelies, we’ve talked quite a bit about iced tea on this blog, but there are so many delicious ways to enjoy it. Have you ever had Thai iced tea? Oh Dearies, it is so delicious! It’s creamy, sweet, with interesting spice notes. Whenever Kat goes to her favorite Thai restaurant, it’s the first thing she orders. She’s admitted to me that she often suggests eating at Thai restaurants just so she can get the delicious iced tea!

Since Kat loves this drink so much, I decided find recipes to make at home. The tea ingredients will vary based on taste and authenticity. Some have sweetened condensed milk added (Kat’s favorite), some have star anise and other spices. I’ve come across recipes that also use coconut milk or evaporated milk. The tea is usually black tea, often strong a strong Ceylon tea. I do like using Ceylon in this drink, as the strength and brightness of the tea holds up to all the other ingredients. It’s important to use a bold tea, so the flavor shines through the milk and sweetness.

I love the idea of making Thai tea at home, because many of the versions found in restaurants contain food coloring. You can find pre-mixed Thai tea blends in many Asian grocery stores, but most of those also contain dyes. Besides the coloring, it’s just such a fun and easy drink to make at home. Here are a few of my favorite Thai tea recipe finds:

Here is a basic and simple recipe to prepare. It gets the flavors just right. The perfect balance of sweet, milky, and a bit of zingy spices.

I found this delicious vegan version. It uses coconut milk, vanilla extract, and black tea. yum! It has a more tropical flavor that is perfect for sitting outside during those warm spring and summer days. I’m thinking a little dash of rum wouldn’t hurt, either!

I like the use of both star anise and vanilla in this recipe. The spices give it an authentic flavor, yet keeps things well balanced. I like the the recipe also makes a large batch for a crowd. Perfect for those spring BBQ gatherings! This would even make a nice frozen treat- try pouring the mixture into ice pop molds! I think I need to have Kat start experimenting with this…

Thai Iced Tea is perfect for company, or just when you want a creamy, delicious glass to brighten up your day. Dearies do you share Kat’s love of Thai Iced Tea? Do you have your own favorite recipe? You know I want to hear about it!

 

Tippy Interviews Asya, the Turkish Tea Cup

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Dearies, I’ve decided it’s time to add a new series to the blog. As you know, I’m a traveling tea cup, and have been all over the world. I meet so many interesting pieces of tea ware, and it’s time that you started to learn their stories. Today, I’m interviewing Asya, a tea cup from Turkey that now lives in the US with one of Kat’s friends. I hope you enjoy!

Tippy: Please introduce yourself to my readers. Asya: my name is Asya, I am a glass lotus-shaped tea cup from Turkey. I was created in Turkey but now reside in a kitchen in the US I am a very busy tea cup, I get used all day long. I don’t have a particular saucer to call my own, my owner will pair me with whatever saucer she feels like using that day. She has quite a few colorful options. I love spending time with people, giving them lots of delicious tea to sip.

When are you used most? well, as I mentioned, I’m really busy all day long. Turks take their tea very seriously! I am used during breakfast, when company comes, for mid-afternoon work breaks, and after-dinner relaxation.

What kind of tea do you usually hold? In Turkey, lotus tea cups hold mainly bold, black tea. We refer to tea as çay. We brew our tea very strong, and then dilute it in the glass with hot water. Sugar is available as Turkish tea loves like tea sweet. We even have special tea kettles to prepare the tea.

Can you tell us a little more about the special tea kettle? Yes, we use a special double tea kettle, which is similar to the Russian samovar. It basically looks like one teapot stacked on top of a second one. Black tea is brewed in the top pot, and water is boiled in the bottom. The water is used to dilute the tea for each individual glass, so everyone can drink the tea as strong or as weak as they like.

Where do the tea leaves come from? The tea we prefer to use is grown and processed in Turkey on the coast of the Black Sea. Not many people realize that we grow tea in Turkey! We are actually the world’s sixth largest producer of tea.

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Everyone has heard of Turkish coffee, but is tea really that popular in Turkey? Yes, tea is really quite popular in Turkey. It is always offered to guests and visitors as a sign of hospitality. As I mentioned I am used multiple times a day at home, and people also consume tea in cafes.

Is the custom to drink the tea by itself, or add any milk, sugar, or anything else? We usually drink our tea without milk. As I mentioned you can add sugar, often two lumps will be sitting on my saucer ready for use. You may add the sugar to your tea, or people in some areas like to put a sugar cube between their tongue and cheek, and let it slowly dissolve with each sip. The only other thing that may be added is a slice of lemon.

Can you tell us one of your most memorable tea experiences? Well, when my owner Natalie was visiting her family in Turkey, she was taught how to brew tea using our special kettles. One afternoon she was alone in the house when a family friend dropped by. After greeting the friend, Natalie offered her something to eat, but not any tea! After a little while I was able to get her attention and explained that she must offer her guest tea. When her parents came home, she was reprimanded for not immediately offering her guest tea. It’s considered very rude not to have tea ready for guests! Everyone was laughing at Natalie’s mistake, but she was quite embarrassed. I am actually fond of this memory, because it’s the first time I was able to help Natalie out with tea time.

Thank you so much Asya for the interview! See Dearies, I’m not the only chatty teacup! I hope you enjoyed the first interview in our series. If you have any questions for Asya, let me know in the comments!

Tea Around The World Pt. 2

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Dearies, you may remember my Tea Around the World post from a few weeks back. Well, there was so much to cover, that I must add part 2! As you know I’ve travelled extensively with Char and a bit with Kat, and tea was consumed almost everywhere we went. Here are a few more of my favorite tea traditions we’ve experienced:

 Japan- The Japanese tea ceremony is a beautiful experience. It focuses on preparing and serving tea with a pure heart. Each piece of teaware has significance, and everything is treated with the utmost respect. Movements are fluid and artistic, just like a choreographed dance performance. The ceremony is called chanoyu, which translates to ‘hot water for tea’. It sounds like a simple event, but it’s complex and takes years of study to master. The ceremony is an interaction between the host, guests, and the teaware. Matcha powder is expertly prepared in a chawan (tea bowl) using a chasen (matcha whisk) and an array of significant teaware. I urge you to experience a Japanese tea ceremony if you are able to. It is a special, meditative experience. Aside from the tea ceremony, tea is ubiquitous in Japan and is enjoyed daily. Green tea is consumed everywhere. You can learn more about Japanese green tea in my previous post here.

 United Kingdom- I’m sure most of you know that teatime in the UK is an important part of the culture. Tea is used to wake up, soothe, calm down, and socialize. In the UK tea is almost always the answer to any situation. Kat has a British friend that ‘puts the kettle on’ all throughout the day. In the UK, black tea is most popular, and is often consumed with milk. Of course, there is the famous afternoon tea that is a fancy affair- finger sandwiches, scones, pastry and cakes are consumed along with a fancy pot of tea. But for most ordinary British folks, tea is consumed daily by the mugful, with water boiled in an electric kettle. A buttery, crisp biscuit often is enjoyed with the tea. Dunking is optional! Kat prefers her tea without milk, but when she’s watching one of her favorite British shows, tea with a spot of milk is just the right thing.

 Turkey- Oh, how I loved having tea in Turkey! The super-strong black tea served in pretty curved glasses. I like how each glass always has a porcelain saucer. I just wouldn’t feel right without my saucer! Tea is an important social element in Turkey. Similar to Morocco or even the UK, tea is offered to guests as soon as they arrive. It is also consumed over business transactions, and is sold from street stalls (like in parts of India). Most towns in Turkey have a tea house, and it’s the place to go to socialize and learn about town current events. Turks prepare tea similarly to the Russian style. They use a double teapot similar to a samovar. Water is boiled in the lower large pot and loose leaf tea is steeped in the smaller top pot. The tea can be sipped nice and strong from the small pot, or diluted with a little water from the larger pot. As I mentioned, I adore the curved tulip-shaped glasses that are used all throughout Turkey. They are small, but the perfect size for the strong tea. I love admiring the beautiful reddish hue of the tea through the glass. Oh, when the sun shines through that glass of tea, there just isn’t a color more beautiful. Sugar is often added to Turkish tea, but no milk.

 Tibet- Tea is considered a nourishing drink in Tibet, and is consumed multiple times a day. In fact, yak butter tea is the national drink of Tibet. Traditionally the tea leaves are in brick form (which could have been be pu-erh or black tea). The leaves are are crushed, soaked and then boiled for a few hours. Then yak butter and milk, plus salt are added and actually churned together until it is thoroughly mixed. A more modern version of the tea preparation is steeped loose leaf tea mixed in a blender with the other ingredients. I must admit that Tibetan tea is an acquired taste. To my porcelain palate it tasted a bit greasy, funky, and very salty. We learned that the Tibetan custom is to offer guests a bowl of tea, and refill it after each and every sip. The guest would have an endless bowl right until the time they were to leave. When it was time to get going, the guest is expected to finish the entire bowl before leaving. Kat seemed to enjoy it, and slurped down quite a bit of it. I was happy to just take tiny sips of mine. I suppose I was not the most gracious guest. But as a teacup, no one seemed to be offended by my behavior!

 Dearies have you enjoyed tea in any of these regions? I’d love to hear your travel stories and learn of tea in places I haven’t visited yet.