zaterdag 28 november 2009

Tea- Marbled Eggs

3 cups water
8 small eggs (or 24 quail eggs)
4 tea bags of black tea or 2 tbs. of loose-leaf black tea, e.g. Keemun
1 tbs. salt 

Cover the eggs in a pot with cold water and bring to a boil, simmer for 10-12 minutes.
Remove eggs with slotted spoon, reserving the water.
Place eggs in cold water to cool and, when they're comfortable enough to handle, gently tap the eggs all over with the back of a teaspoon to make cracks.
Add tea leaves to the reserved water and then place the eggs back in gently and add the salt.
Simmer covered for an hour.
Take the pot off the stove and leave the eggs in tea water to soak for 30 more minutes.
Remove eggs and allow them to cool before removing the shells.
The eggs will then have a cobweb of brown lines not unlike those found on fine marble.
Halve them and sprinkle with paprika and minced parsley for added color.
If using smaller eggs, no garnish is necessary. 

vrijdag 27 november 2009

More Chai :-)

The Chai recipe I posted yesterday really started something :-)

So yes, please send me YOUR favorite Chai recipe too.

Debby Lovell has a wonderfyul recipe for Chai Meringues.

3 egg whites
1 c. granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves


Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer at low until they get foamy, then at high speed until they form stiff peaks.
You should be able to turn the bowl sideways without the egg whites moving.
Your bowl and beaters must be grease-free for this to work properly!
Gradually add sugar a little at a time while beating at high speed.
When all the sugar has been beaten in, the egg whites will look shiny.
Add the spices and beat in as briefly as possible.
Drop the mixture into small mounds on baking sheets that have been covered with foil or parchment paper.
Bake at 250 degree Farenheit for 90 minutes.
Turn off the oven and leave the meringues to sit.
Don't open the door!
Let them sit overnight (preferable) or at least until the oven cools.
Remove them from the foil and store in an airtight container.

For those Chai lovers amongst you who are still looking for the perfect Christmas present, have a look at this little gem:

Diana Rosen has done an excellent job of blending the romantic culture with the traditions of making and serving tea that transcends all classes and castes of the India subcontinent. After reading 'Chai' I ordered six more copies as gifts for my close friends. Everyone who enjoys a cup of tea, and what it can bring, will love this tasty and instructive book.

donderdag 26 november 2009


As winter draws near I am longing for a hot cup of Chai tea.

In many parts of the world, the word for tea is pronounced as "chai." 

The name Chai has also more popularly become known as a spiced tea-based beverage. You can find Chai offered hot or iced in many coffee houses, tea houses, and restaurants. And there are several brands of ready-made Chai as well as mixes and concentrates. But nothing tastes as good as making your own. It takes more time than using a mix, but the results are very much worth it. Soy milk tends to separate when boiled so I prefer rice milk, either in plain or vanilla flavour. Use the freshest spices -- you will definitely notice the difference in flavour and aroma. Adjust the quantity of each to suit your own taste. 

3 cups rice milk, plain or vanilla flavoured
3 cups water
sweetener of your choice
2 Tablespoons black tea leaves (try Assam or a breakfast blend)
1 two-inch or longer cinnamon stick
8 whole black peppercorns
2 whole cloves
4 cardamom seeds
1/4 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
2 whole allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Mix the milk, water, sweetener, and tea leaves in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
As soon as the mixture boils, turn off the heat and stir in all the spices. 
Cover the pan and allow the tea and spices to steep for fifteen minutes. 
Remove the cover, stir, and heat again to a boil. 
Again as soon as it reaches the boil, remove from the heat. 
Pour the mixture through a fine strainer or sieve into a teapot or directly into individual teacups or mugs to serve. 
Can be stored in an airtight container for up to two days, and served chilled or reheated. 

dinsdag 24 november 2009

Banana Coconut tea loaf

For afternoon tea, slice the loaf and serve with almond butter and unsweetened fruit preserves. 
Nice lightly toasted, too. 
Accompany with a second-flush Darjeeling or a tippy full-leaf Assam.

3 cups unbleached or whole-wheat pastry flour, or a combination of the two
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 Tablespoons sunflower or other light oil
2 Tablespoons maple syrup or alternative liquid/syrupy sweetener
4 very ripe bananas, mashed well

Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Lightly oil and flour a loaf pan. Combine the flour, coconut, powder, and soda in a large mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients, mixing together well with a wooden spoon or your hands, as batter will be thick. Spread evenly into the loaf pan, smoothing the top. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick stuck into the middle comes out clean. Cool for at least twenty minutes before slicing and serving. You can leave the loaf in the pan or remove it to a serving dish or storage container.

donderdag 19 november 2009

Darjeeling: Sultan's Tea

The main problem with Dareeling tea is quantity: there will never be enough to satisfy demand. The region is small and produces much less per acre than Assam, for instance. It is colder and higher, growth is slow, and the crop devilishly difficult to harvest.

Even in a good year production amounts to only twenty two million pounds or so, less than one percent of all the tea India produces. Yet this is unquestionably India's best-known tea and the passionate aficionados of the Cult of Darjeeling are among the worlds most discriminating tea lovers.
Like the great Burgundy wines of France, Darjeeling teas often disappoint. In exceptional years, however, when a flavor unique to Darjeeling which cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world is pronounced, these teas are simply spectacular. In these favored years it takes no connoisseur to explain why the name Darjeeling deserves its fame.

Kanchenjunga, one of the world's tallest peaks, rises east of Darjeeling and is among its chief attractions. Mountain slopes of less than forty-five degrees are considered almost level by Darjeeling standards: planting on slopes up to sixty or seventy degrees is the rule, not the exception. These steep slopes provide natural drainage for the generous rainfall the mountainsides receive from seasonal monsoon winds. Tea will not grow at elevations much above six thousand feet. In these Himalayan foothills it is planted from approximately eighteen hundred to sixty-three hundred feet, which makes much Darjeeling pretty nearly mile-high grown tea. Each garden varies considerably in altitude and many a property could follow the example of Namring, which sells a Minting Upper to distinguish its higher-grown tea from the lower-grown Namring, tout court.
The higher it is grown, the thinner a tea's body and the more concentrated its flavor as a rule. Yet altitude is only one factor determining the quality of Darjeeling. The intermittent cloud and sunshine playing over the slopes make their contribution, as do exposure, that is, the direction a slope faces, and a host of other variables like the soil chemistry, temperature and rainfall unique to the area. Another-and more surprising-factor affecting tea taste is the wind.

An additional explanation for Darjeeling's uniqueness is the type of tea plants grown. Most are of the China or China-hybrid type, which are found almost nowhere outside China and Japan except in Darjeeling and the Caucasus. These plants are more resistant to cold than India's native hush, the Assam jat or type, but their yield is much lower and the leaf smaller. On China hush this small leathery leaf is a dark glossy green, often covered with silvery down.
Since the tender young shoots must be harvested as soon as they are ready, each bush on an estate must he hand-plucked every four to eight days throughout the growing season. A typical plant yields only about one hundred grams per year, that is, maybe four ounces, of made tea. This is less than a third the yield of Assam plants growing in the plains. Each kilogram of Darjeeling consists of over twenty thousand individual shoots; about half as many are required for the same weight of tea produced from the large-leaf Assam jat. Such figures serve to illustrate the extent of human effort that Darjeeling tea requires.

All Darjeeling is processed by the traditional Orthodox method of black tea manufacture, but today's teas are made in a different style from previous ones. As Prohibition destroyed the U.S. vine industry, World War II, and Indian independence soon after, unsettled Darjeeling's traditional ways. The style of teas produced there since the 1950s is widely attributed to the inspiration of German tea man Bernd Wulf. Today, individual Darjeeling teas are often as recognizably unique as human personalities. The different batches of fresh leaf brought to a factory require intricate variations in processing to realize their full potential. Each day's batch is plucked from a different section of the garden and is processed and packed as a separate "invoice." In less than twenty-four hours this batch of green leaf has been transformed into an invoice of "made tea" in chests, usually five to ten, which are then sold together as a single lot at auction. For tea professionals and connoisseurs, each invoice produced in the spring and summer has a separate and memorable personality. In response to growing appreciation, more and more retail shops and catalogs identify teas from Darjeeling for these discriminating consumers by garden name, flush, and even specific invoice number.

The character and quality of Darjeeling tea varies dramatically over the course of each year. Foliage functions as the skin of a plant. The texture and flavor of the tea leaf change continuously with the climate and season, even in the same sections in each plantation. In fact, these alter not just with the seasons but also week to week, day to day, and morning to evening, depending on the type of bush, the wind, humidity, sun and other factors already mentioned.

After a period of dormancy in winter months, Darjeeling's tea plants wake up in early March and begin putting forth the first new growth or "flush" of the year, delicate slender shoots with a glazed grey-green appearance. First Flush season often lasts into early May, though unseasonal rains sometimes render the whole crop a disaster. This crop's unique quality results from the leaf growing in intense sunshine but in the cold crystalline Himalayan air of early spring. These growing conditions make First Flush Darjeeling a puckery young tea, almost as light as any green but, unlike greens, flamboyantly aromatic. Infused leaf shows a pronounced lime greenish brightness. These are the Spring Teas, as they are also known, always amazingly fresh and flowery tasting. Amazingly astringent too, and easily oversteeped. I like them best after three minutes, or three and a half, seldom more. So delicate is First Flush Darjeeling that it especially well repays using water about thirty degrees below boiling, as in preparing green tea.

Incredible prices are paid at the Calcutta auctions each spring for the most stylish or prestigious invoices (lots of usually two to five chests) of Darjeeling's Spring teas. Throughout the '90s each year's priciest tea at auction regularly brought over US$500 per kilo. Except for certain rarities, Chinese and Taiwanese mostly, First Flush Darjeeling is the world's costliest tea. It is much sought after by wealthy Indian buyers, who must compete with brokers acting for German and Japanese importers and the occasional sultan as well.

woensdag 18 november 2009

Fruited couscous

If you've never tried couscous,  this might be just the dish to start with. 
Serve hot as a breakfast cereal or chilled for dessert. 
For breakfast, top with plain or vanilla soy milk or cultured soy "yoghurt." 
The tea I prefer for this dish is called Citrus Blend.   It is a black tea flavoured with the citrusy oils of bergamot, orange, and lemon, and it makes a delightful cuppa on its own. You can also use a regular Earl Grey, or even a plain black tea. Whichever you choose, steep the tea to normal strength rather than extra-strong so it doesn't overpower the other flavours.

1 cup regular-strength steeped tea
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup fresh or not-from-concentrate orange juice
1/2 cup raisins
1 ripe banana, sliced thinly
1/4 cup maple syrup or alternative syrupy/liquid sweetener
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup couscous, preferably whole wheat

Place all ingredients in a saucepan and stir. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest in the pan for about ten minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve hot, or transfer to an airtight container and chill several hours or overnight.

> Replace the cinnamon with 1 teaspoon vanilla.

dinsdag 17 november 2009

Applesauce tea loaf

What better for holiday tea times -- or any time -- than a fruity tea bread? Please note that if you use cranberries, you should look for the unsweetened kind. The ones you find in the supermarket are generally presweetened, so if you use them be sure to reduce the amount of added sweetener by up to a Tablespoon. A malty Assam or a black blended tea would complement this teatime treat.

2 cups unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup sunflower or other light oil
1 cup Sucanat® or alternate granulated sweetener of your choice
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups unbleached or whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup seedless raisins, dried currants, or dried cranberries
Additional applesauce, optional

Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Prepare a loaf pan by lightly oiling and flouring. In large mixing bowl, stir together the applesauce, oil, sweetener, and vanilla. In a separate bowl or on a sheet of wax paper mix together the dry ingredients: flour, soda, and spices. Blend these into the wet ingredients with a wooden spoon, beating vigourously until smooth. Mix in the dried fruit, blending well to distribute evenly. Pour the batter into the loaf pan, smoothing the top with the spoon. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Leave the loaf in the pan to cool to room temperature before slicing. Serve topped with a spoonful or two of applesauce, if desired.

Letter to Santa

I came across this old letter onthe internet today. Since the Holiday Season is almost upon us, I just needed to share :-)

Dear Santa,

This year, my holiday wishes have changed.

I've decided not to ask for a puppy again (as this request has gone unrequited for our past two correspondences), but instead have found something even more desirable: tea. In the past year, I have discovered many interesting facts and fascinating stories about this delicious beverage, and am now officially hooked! In this letter, I hope to prove to you that tea is the perfect gift for me and everyone on your list this holiday season.

As I'm sure you know, Santa, the gift of tea is not a new idea. In the past, tea gifts have changed history, incited trends and made legends. According to one ancient Chinese legend, Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy, presented tea as a gift to a devout farmer who diligently maintained her old, dilapidated temple.

Inside the temple was Kuan Yin's elegant iron statue to whom followers prayed for enlightenment. One day, however, the iron statue appeared to come alive. Shocked, the janitorial farmer fell to his knees and the goddess whispered," The key for your future is just outside this temple. Nourish it with tenderness; it will support you and yours for generations to come." Unable to contain his curiosity, he went outside and found a withered, straggly bush.

After much care, the bush grew rich and full, with thick green leaves. Experimenting, the farmer dried the leaves in a stone wok. They soon turned a smooth charcoal black, just like the statue of Kuan Yin. The nectar produced from leaves fired in this way was ambrosial and fragrant, like the finest blossoms. It was more delicious than any other drink that ever touched his lips. Thus, the magical Ti Kuan Yin - "the tea of Kuan Yin" - came into being.

Yet another excellent tea gift was given in 1660, when Charles II (referred to as the "Merry Christmas Monarch") brought the gift of tea to England. When he first married Portuguese Princess Catherine, they were forced to live in exile in Denmark (thanks to Oliver Cromwell). At that time in Denmark, tea was already enjoying widespread popularity and both Charles and Catherine were huge fans. When Cromwell misplaced his head, the couple was able to return to England. They brought a chest of tea with them, which was met with thirsty enthusiasm by the British court. This gift provoked the craze for tea in Great Britain (in which the English are still fully embroiled).

And let's not forget, Mr. Claus, about the most famous example of a monumental tea gift: the recipe for Earl Grey. Legend says that in 1830, an Englishman named Charles Earl Grey traveled on a diplomatic mission to China. During this time, he risked his life to save the drowning child of a Chinese noble. In return for his act of kindness, the mandarin presented him with the recipe for making this distinctive tea.

However, a few corrections are in order to present an accurate historical record (and to keep me off of your "naughty" list). Firstly, the Chinese have never been black tea drinkers, and were unlikely to have a recipe for Earl Grey to bestow on visitors. Secondly, Charles Earl Grey never set foot in China. Otherwise, the story is completely true.

As you can see, Santa, tea gifts have had a significant influence. So please keep this in mind when filling my stockings and bedecking my tree. I'm not saying, by any means, that I need a history-altering event; just a delicious drink that will both relax me through the holiday stress and warm me against winter's cold.

Don't worry- I'll be sure to leave out a few tea biscuits for you and Rudolph, just to remind you.

Still believing,
Age 25
December, 2004