Archive for the ‘Black Tea’ Category

The Benefits of Iced Tea

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Iced tea is a great afternoon cooler, during hot weather it is nice to just be able to sit down and drink ice-cold tea to quench the thirst and keep the heat at bay. Many people enjoy making their own tea while some would rather buy powder formulas, liquid concentrates, and tea bags. These different kinds of teas can be made or mixed and then popped into the refrigerator overnight or served with ice to make it ice cold and perfect for the hot weather.

Drinking iced tea has many different benefits especially if you prepare and brew fresh ingredients yourself. It is rich in anti-oxidants such as Vitamins E and C, which are necessary nutrients that our body needs. Vitamin E, for example prevents the damages done by free radicals in our cells. Specifically, they prevent premature aging of the cells which may result in many different age related macular degeneration like cataract and they even prevent serious health diseases like heart disease and cancer. Vitamin C, on the other hand is known to increase our immune system. It fights off many bacteria and viruses that cause common colds and many others. They are also known to prevent hypertension and battle different kinds of infections.

Photo By: Ayelie

Iced tea also contains amino acids. They are the building blocks of protein and are very critical in the bio structuring of the body. Protein makes up the muscles, ligaments, tendons, organs, glands, nails, hair, many body fluids, and even our bones. However, they cannot be readily absorbed by the body. Instead, they have to be processed and broken down into amino acids in order for our body to take in.

Iced tea may be used as a slimming agent too. This is because drinking iced tea, especially lemon iced tea, burns calories in the body so many people drink iced tea instead of lemon juice when they want to shed some weight to become thinner.  It is certainly a healthier alternative than other popular flavored drinks such as sodas, and can be sugar free if you choose to drink unsweetened iced tea.

While there are many benefits to be had in drinking brewed tea, many people are arguing about whether the same can be had in pre-processed tea like the bottled tea, tea bags, and tea concentrates that are sold in grocery stores and other markets. There are many studies conducted to find out whether these types of easy to make and convenient teas have the same health benefits, and while the results show that there are more antioxidants and amino acids in brewed teas with fresh ingredients, surprisingly, the pre-processed teas are able to retain the same nutrients too albeit in smaller amounts.

Tea – whether in the iced form favored in hot climates, or served more traditionally as a hot drink – has a lot of benefits for your body. Whatever your flavor or brand preferences, adding plentiful servings of iced tea to your dietary fluid intake is a great way to keep hydrated while improving your health.

Thai Iced Tea Recipe

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Having lived in Thailand for over 25 years, I am quite familiar with both Thai iced tea and Thai iced coffee. If you love a sweet, milky tea then Thai iced tea will probably be a favorite! Be warned though, this tea is traditionally very sweet–yet it is that sweetness that makes it a unique drink that is especially delectable on a hot summer’s day.

The tea uses a black tea base, and it is sweetened with  both sugar and sweetened condensed milk! Here is a list of the ingredients you will need to have on hand if you want to make some.

  • black powdered tea leaves
  • sweetened condensed milk
  • evaporated milk
  • ice cubes
  • white sugar

 

Photo By: Rick

Preparation

First of all brew up some strong black tea. Traditionally, Thais will use a tea steeper to brew the tea. This is a muslin or cotton filter, somewhat tubular in shape that is attached to a wire ring and handle at the top of the filter. In reality, it works in much the same way as an infuser. You place the tea leaves inside the filter and pour boiling water over the leaves with the filter held over a teapot, waiting until the tea is the desired strength. Again, you will want to make the tea stronger than you would traditionally brew black tea as it will be diluted with condensed milk and it will be poured over ice. It is better to err on the side of a strongly brewed cup of tea rather than a weak or medium brewed cup.  Kasma Loha-unchit, on her Thai Food and Travel site, recommends two tablespoons of tea to one cup of boiling water.

Once the tea is brewed, and while it is still hot, you need to add sugar (one or two teaspoons) and the sweetened condensed milk.  Remember to stir the tea when adding the thick condensed milk as that will help it dissolve into the tea. Otherwise, you may find the condensed milk simply sinks to the bottom of the tea and does not mix in properly.

When you have added the sugar and condensed milk to the black tea, pour this mix into a glass filled with ice cubes. Finally use the evaporated milk to top off the iced tea. Insert a straw into the drink, sit back and relax with your Thai iced tea.

What Type of Tea To Use

If you are using regular black tea you will want to add a couple of ingredients to the tea while it is brewing to bring out the “real” flavor.  You can also find Thai Spice Tea online, and in some shops–this tea is already flavored and in some instances an orange food coloring is added so that the resultant brew is quite orange in color. It is also referred to as “Thai Seasoning Mix” or “Thai Tea Dust”.  If you want it to taste very authentic, and you are not concerned about the color additives it will give you the most authentic glass of Thai iced tea.

If you prefer to use regular black tea you will want to spice it up with Star of Anise and cardamom.  Ground tamarind is also sometimes used; this will give it a lemon flavor which can be very refreshing on a hot day.  If you want to experiment you can try adding other spices to the tea such as cinnamon, cloves or vanilla beans. If you want the orange color, which is typical with Thai spiced teas, you could try adding a few drops of orange flower water. As you can see, there are quite a few variations you can try–experiment and see what you prefer!

Finally, if you want to be truly traditional, you should pour the mix into a plastic bag, stick a straw into the corner and wrap it off with a fine nylon string fashioned in such a way that you can carry the bag on your arm or in your hand!  Yes, in Thailand they really do serve many drinks in plastic bags with ice including iced coffee and even hot coffee! I have also seen them pop a straw into their bottle of beer, so be warned! Otherwise you can simply serve it in a tall, ice filled glass — with a straw, of course!

What is Bubble Tea?

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Bubble tea originated in Taiwan in the 1980’s, with two teahouses claiming to be the creator.  If you have ever been to Taiwan you will most certainly have tasted it as most Taiwanese are rather proud of their “Zhen Zhu Nai Cha” as it is called there.  Now it can be found all over the world in teahouses in America, Australia, Europe and of course all over Asia.

My First (and Last) Bubble Tea

Photo By: AZAdam

Upon arriving in Taiwan I was told that I absolutely must try some Bubble Tea (as well as Stinky Tofu or  tsoh doh-foo as it is also known as) and some other fairly questionable foods and drinks. I was willing to try, however I am not fond of drinking tea with milk so I was skeptical as to how much I would enjoy it.  The tea came in a huge plastic cup with plastic stretched tight to seal it over the top. I was instructed how to turn the large cup up and down and given a humongous straw to poke through the plastic.  Dutifully I poked the straw through the plastic and, as the weather quite hot and the tea was nice and cold, took a long suck on the straw. I almost choked as my mouth filled with large black balls–tapioca balls as I found later. It was such a surprise that I never really recovered.  So as tea with milk is not my favorite and as I’m not that fond of floating things in my drinks I generally opted to buy a mango slushy instead. (Incidentally, the mango slushies made in Taiwan are awesome, made with real fruit–not flavored syrups, etc.  You can also buy them with our without the small tapioca balls–my choice was usually without them.)

Photo By: Infrogmation of New Orleans

What is Bubble Tea Made From?

These days there are many variations of bubble teas to choose from. Many are made from a black tea or green tea base with milk and either tapioca balls or candied taro being added. Building on this, some teas have flavors added–fruit flavors or even coffee flavoring. Additionally, some teas have small jelly cubes instead of tapioca, or different sizes and colors of tapioca. The sky is the limit really when it comes to thinking up new ideas and recipes for bubble tea–it reminds me a little of the many different recipes you can find for cocktails. So, when it comes to bubble tea flavors there are a huge variety to choose from, with many teahouses making up their own variation.

Different Names For Bubble Tea

Bubble milk tea is sometimes referred to as tapioca bubble tea, foam milk tea, pearl milk tea, or simply pearl tea. It is usually referred to as bubble tea by westerners, and is known as Boba tea in many Asian countries.  Usually tapioca bubble tea is more common than taro bubble tea, with the larger one quarter inch, black tapioca balls included in the drink.

Incidentally, the drink was not named after the “bubbles” or tapioca balls, but rather it was originally called bubble tea because it was shaken vigorously after being made resulting in a top layer of foam and froth — the bubbles. Hence the origination of the name ‘bubble tea’.

The First Recipe for Bubble Tea

As stated in Wikipedia and also mentioned quite a few other places online, the very first milk tea was actually made from hot black Taiwan tea and it was not served cold. The tapioca balls were added–though the smaller balls, not the ¼ inch ones, and it was topped with both condensed milk and syrup.  Now that would have been one sweet cup of tea!  As mentioned before, these days it is generally made using ice and served as a cold tea drink not as hot tea.

Can You Make Your Own Bubble Tea?

Yes, you can. I will try to dig up some recipes for bubble tea and post them soon. It is possible to make them without buying expensive bubble tea equipment though of course the equipment does make the job a whole lot easier, especially if you are making a lot of bubble tea.

So if you haven’t yet experienced bubble tea I’d suggest you do so. There are so many varieties to choose from, some with and some without tapioca balls, that you will most likely be sure to find something that suits your tastes. And, if tea is not your favorite, try some of the great tasting fruit slushies that are also often served as well.

 

 

Tea is a High Living Delight

Monday, January 24th, 2011

Perhaps tea was always destined to be today’s perfect way of coping with the current high cost of living. As a beverage, tea has so much going for it.

  • It’s economical. At a cost of mere pennies a cup, what a splendid alternative to those more expensive packaged and manufactured drinks.
  • It’s convenient. No need to lug huge jugs or cartons home from the store. Tea tins, packs, and canisters are small and convenient to purchase.
  • It’s flexible. This little taste of heaven can be consumed warm, cold, or at room temperature according to your preferences.
  • It’s tasty. If you favor it sweet, use your preferred honey, sugar, or artificial sweetener. Want a little tartness? Add a slice of aromatic lemon.
  • It’s subtle. Each variety of tea has its own unique quiet charm. Getting to know the many flavors of tea is one of life’s most exciting armchair adventures.
  • It is responsive to your preferences. Tea allows you to make it weak or strong, steeped or boiled. Whether you like it light straw amber color or prefer it as dark as molasses, it’s just a matter of how much time you leave the tea bag infusing and being hydrated in water.

    Photo By: Chris Makarsky

  • It’s friendly. When your neighbor from downstairs pops in, offering her a cup of tea shows hospitality. We appreciate tea as the perfect conversation beverage to accompany little chats about all matters great and small.
  • It’s genteel. Teapots are items of beauty and aesthetic wonder. Having a classic afternoon tea time break during the day allows us focus on the lost art of etiquette and the beauty of the serving pieces and cups. Even casual tea mugs gain special stature in our hearts because only they are the ones chosen to hold this favorite beverage.
  • It’s liquid joy. A simple pleasure.
  • It’s romantic. With a cup of tea in hand, all is right in the universe. We are able to see the gentle glory of life. One is not often in a negative mood drinking tea.
  • It’s a royal moment. Back in the day, tea merchants like the Dutch East India Company, imported tea only for kings and queens, for the wealthy and the famous. Now it is accessible for enjoyment by all who purchase it, and still retains noble character and special uniqueness.

Enjoying one or more tea moments each day is the way to relax and appreciate the world around you. Whether you opt for Darjeeling or yorkshire gold tea, or any other favorites remember to relax and savor the moment!

Focus: Yorkshire Gold Tea

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

Yorkshire Gold Tea is a tea blend produced by Taylors of Harrogate.  This company is one of the few remaining family owned businesses dealing in coffee and tea merchants left in the UK.  With Brits being well known for their tea consumption and appreciation, you can be fairly certain that a tea blended and produced by such a well known and long time tea merchant is almost guaranteed to be of excellent quality.

The tea itself is marketed as the perfect breakfast tea, though of course it tastes just as good no matter what time of the day you drink it. Yorkshire Gold is a blend of tea, with the teas coming from Assam, India; Rwanda and East Africa. A very popular tea, the flavor is a little malty giving it a very full bodied taste. When brewed it is brown colored and, being full bodied it is also quite a strong tea thus better prepared with a little milk and sugar rather than drinking it as a black tea without condiments.  Considered to be both a premium and luxury tea, it is available in tea bags or as loose leaf tea.

While many teas brewed from teabags can be called mediocre at best, this tea will not disappoint. Each tea bag yields a rich, dark tea that can be enjoyed without becoming bitter providing, of course, that the tea is brewed properly. One of the main reasons people become disappointed with premium teas, such as this, is that they do not brew the tea correctly.

How to Make Yorkshire Gold Tea

First of all, the most important part of brewing tea is to start with freshly boiled water. When stating ‘freshly’ brewed, I mean just that. Do not reuse water in a kettle over and over again by simply putting it on the stove to reboil as the resultant boiled water will be less oxygenated, thus any tea brewed with that water will taste a little flat.  Pour fresh water into a kettle and boil it once to make your tea. Do that each time you make new tea for the best results.

Tea Bag and Mugs:  Put your tea bag into the mug and pour the boiling water over it. Do not do it the other way around.  Leave the tea bag in the water for two to three minutes and then use a teaspoon to scoop it out. You may want to squeeze it against the side of the mug once before taking it out of the mug.

Tea Bag in a Teapot: The first step is to warm the teapot with hot water.  Pour some in and splash it around a little to warm the teapot, then tip it out. Next, place in your teabags and pour freshly boiled water into the teapot.  For Yorkshire Gold it is recommended that you place two teabags into a four cup teapot. If you have a two cup teapot, just use one teabag.  Let it sit for two to three minutes, depending on how strong you want the tea, then pour it into your mug or cup.

Loose Leaf Tea in a Teapot: If you prefer to brew loose leaf tea the instructions are basically the same. Start off with a warmed teapot, then add one teaspoon of loose leaf tea plus one extra “for the pot” and then pour freshly boiled water over the tea leaves. Let it sit for two to three minutes and then pour your tea out into your cup or mug. You may want to pour the tea through a tea strainer so that you do not get tea leaves in your pot. Alternatively, you could use a tea infuser to brew your tea.

Where to Buy Yorkshire Gold Tea

Click the Teas Below To Buy From Amazon

If you live in the UK you will find Yorkshire Gold Tea available at most supermarkets in either teabag form or as loose leaf tea.  Packs of 40, 80, 160 and 240 teabags are available. Loose leaf tea is available in 250gm packs.   If you do not live in the UK, fortunately you are still able to buy this fine tea online. Amazon carries a complete range of all of the Yorkshire teas, including Yorkshire Gold.

It is also sold through distributors in the following countries:

Australia
Austria
Belgium
Canada
Finland
China
France
Germany
Greece
Holland
Italy
Japan
New Zealand
Poland
Russia
Singapore
Slovakia
Slovenia
South Korea
Spain
Taiwan
US

To find who is distributing it in the countries above, here is a pdf document listing addresses and telephone numbers.

Many people, outside of the UK, find that it is simplest to locate the tea online and buy direct. Prices are reasonable and delivery times are usually fairly short.

Aside from enjoying the tea personally, many people who have tea houses, restaurants or bed and breakfast motels also offer this tea to their customers, as a full bodied British tea. While not as well known, perhaps, as some other famous teas such as Darjeeling, Ceylon or Earl Grey, it is definitely growing in popularity especially now that it is readily available worldwide.