Behind The Leaf: Scented Teas

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We’ve been enjoying a particular type of tea these days. A tea that melts the snow and warms our hearts. These special teas are scented teas. Have you tried Jasmine tea before? If so, you’ve had a scented tea. These are teas that have flowers added to the pure leaves, and are allowed to absorb the heavenly floral aroma. These steeped teas impart a gorgeous floral aroma to the air while they brew. Scented teas are only flowers and tea- not any other added flavors. It can take a few weeks to scent tea naturally with layers of flowers. It is a delicate process that takes patience. They are a bit harder to find but worth the hunt.

 Scented teas are not all created equal. It’s not easy to find just the right balance of flowers to tea. You don’t want to overpower the tea, just enhance it. Finding that balance takes a tea master. Scented green teas are most common but you can also find scented black and oolong teas. A few of our favorites are:

Jasmine: it’s easy to find Jasmine tea, but finding a tea scented just with jasmine blossoms is a bit more challenging. Make sure you’re not getting a tea scented with added aromas or oils. Jasmine tea was invented in China during the Song dynasty. Quite a long time ago.

 Rose- if you love roses as much as we do, why not try it as a tea? The soft, soothing rose flavor is immensely pleasing. Perfect for a quiet afternoon with a few French macarons on the side. Quite a sophisticated cup!

 Chrysanthemum- this delicately sweet tea is subtle and delicious. The flavor is reminiscent of honey and also has a mild herbaceous note. This tea is supposed to have quite a few medicinal benefits as well, but we like to drink it just for the taste and for how relaxed we feel afterwards. This is a tea you can typically find at Chinese restaurants, along with Jasmine tea.

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I love floral teas all year round and especially love them in the wintertime. That gentle floral flavor brings the hope of spring, even on the coldest, most blustery day.

 Other scented teas will contain flowers such as chamomile, and hibiscus. These can also be found as herbal blends, and not necessarily scented teas. But the possibilities are endless, and finding new and interesting scented teas is such fun!

 You should brew your scented teas just like you would the pure tea it comes with (ex: the temperature for green tea, if your base is green). We love using small glass teapots for scented teas, as you can see the beautiful flower petals dancing along with the leaves. It makes for a much more enjoyable experience. Watching those vibrant petals just brings the warm spring sunshine indoors.

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Tippy’s Masala Chai Brownies

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Dearies I was perusing the calendar we keep in the kitchen and December 8th is going to be my new favorite national day. It involves one of my favorite flavors, and can be enjoyed with tea. It’s National Brownie Day! Oh I just love caky, chocolatey brownies. But I suppose I also love the fudgy, dense kind too. They go perfectly with tea, don’t they? I decided that instead of a brownie to pair with tea, I wanted to put tea right in the brownie!

It was tough to choose a tea to add to a brownie. I was close to doing Earl Grey, since I love how it pairs with chocolate. But then I decided to go a completely different route. I’ve recently been playing around with masala chai and chocolate, and realized this would make a fantastic brownie! A little sweet, a little spicy, and that smooth chocolate flavor to round everything out. Here’s my recipe!

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Tippy’s Masala Chai Brownies

½ cup butter (1 stick)

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

½ cup flour

¼ teaspoon cardamom

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ginger

¼ teaspoon cloves

Heat your oven to 350°F. Line an 8” square baking pan with tin foil or parchment (make sure it overlaps a little to give you something to hold on to when you lift the brownies out of the pan) and grease the lining. In a small bowl sift the flour and spices together and set aside.

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In a small saucepan combine the butter and chocolate. Heat on low and stir until everything is just melted and combined. Pour this into a bowl (or use the same pot if it’s big enough) and stir in the sugar. Using a whisk beat in the eggs one at a time. Slowly stir in the flour and spices mixture until combined.

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Pour mixture into the lined pan and bake for about 20-25 minutes, until it’s just soft but not too firm in the middle. Cool in the pan on a wire rack (if possible. We sometimes just leave the pan to cool on the stovetop). Once cool, carefully lift the foil or parchment, and cut into squares. Enjoy!

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There you have it, Dearies! These brownies are on the fudgy side, which I think works very well with the chai spices. I think this would pair well with a nice robust Assam or bright Kenyan black tea.  Happy National Brownie Day!

Recipe: Tippy’s Chai Hot Chocolate!

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I’m so excited to share my new recipe with you! I’ve been thinking up ways to enjoy warming tea-infused drinks and when I saw Kat eating a chocolate cookie with her masala chai, it hit me! Why not make a chai hot chocolate? Imagine coming out from a chilly late fall or winter evening and curling up with a mug of something sweet, chocolatey and warming. Dearies, I must admit this is one of the most delicious recipes I’ve created. Kat and I had such fun testing it!

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Tippy’s Chai Infused Hot Cocoa

               2 cups whole milk

               ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

               2 tbps (or 2 tea bags) black tea

               8 cardamom pods

               1 cinnamon stick

               5 whole cloves

               5 peppercorns

               1 whole vanilla bean

               1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and smashed

               4 tbsp sugar

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Gently is the key word for this recipe. Since we’re dealing with milk, we don’t want to overheat and cause it to scald or boil over. Heat water and milk genly until slightly bubbly but not boiling. Reduce heat to low, whisk in the cocoa powder. Once incorporated, split the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds. Add seeds and bean, the tea, spices, and ginger. Allow to simmer gently for 5 minutes. Stir occasionally. Turn off heat and stir in the sugar. Allow to sit for 5 minutes and strain into two mugs.

This treat is delicious all on its own but you could garnish with fresh whipped cream, or add in a cinnamon stick. Enjoy my loves! If you try this recipe please let me know what you think? I know you’re going to love it.

Tippy’s Apple Cinnamon Tea Bread

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I’m all about autumn flavors these days, and I just came up with this tasty and easy quick bread to pair with your favorite teas. It’s perfect as an afternoon treat or a delicious way to end a dinner party.

This is made in a loaf pan to make it super simple. There is a streusel topping of cinnamon and brown sugar that also makes a surprise appearance inside the bread!

This tea bread has spices that remind me of apple picking and pumpkin pie. It’s the perfect autumn snack!

Tippy’s Apple Cinnamon Teatime Quick bread

makes 1 loaf

  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 large apple, peeled and finely chopped (any will do, but granny smith are best)

 

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Preheat your oven to 350. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan and set aside. In a small bowl mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together. This will be the topping and filling, so set it aside for later. In a second bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and ground ginger.

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In a mixer, cream the white sugar and butter until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until combined. Add about a third of the flour mixture, then a bit of the milk, and alternate until everything is just combined and smooth. Try not to over mix. If it seems too sticky, add a little bit more milk.

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Add half of the batter to the loaf pan. Then cover with half the apples and half of the cinnamon/brown sugar mixture. Then pour in the rest of the batter and top with the remaining apples and then the cinnamon sugar mixture.

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Bake for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean. Cool in pan before transferring to a cooling rack.

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This tea bread is perfect for afternoon tea, dessert, or even breakfast. It compliments many different types of tea and has all of the wonderful warming fall spices. I hope you enjoy!

 

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!