Monday, December 28, 2015

Got it in the Bag: Rishi's Matcha Super Green Tea Bags

Tea and coloring books - best way to relax during the holidays.
Many a tea snob (myself included) will tell you that tea bags are often not worth the cost. Cheap tea bags (looking at you Tazo/Lipton/etc) are inexpensive and convenient but the drawback is taste. And for me, that is a major drawback. So, are there any good tea bags out there? Of course. But they are expensive. For the same cost of bagged teas, it is much more cost effective to buy loose leaf teas and bag them yourself. This is what I normally do but sometimes, especially if there is a sale, I will buy tea bags. My favorites include Mighty Leaf and Palais des Thes. These guys known how to make a tea bag and the tea itself is often whole leaves and delicious. Today I will talk about my newest favorite - Matcha Super Green by Rishi.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Autumn Moon Festival Tea Party

Well, this is slightly late (only a few months). I had a small Autumn Moon Festival party way back at the end of September to celebrate my new living space and the incredible balcony it came with. With that much balcony space, it was impossible not to decorate. So I decorated and asked my friends to come over and view the full moon. We feasted on all kinds of Asian goodies and for dessert - moon cakes and of course tea.

For my Asian inspired decor, I went with a predominantly green and white color scheme. I added red ixora (flame of the woods) for pops of color. The ixora looked a bit like chrysanthemums from far away so they reminded me of those big, beautiful chrysanthemums you see in old Chinese paintings. I cut the flowers low so we could see each other and converse more easily. It always bums me out to cut flowers so short but I think adding several vases along the table made it look elegant.

Friday, November 27, 2015

A Tea Lover's Christmas Wish List

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! And now Christmas is here. It is time to start thinking about presents for everyone. Unless you are me and you have been thinking about it all year round. I wanted to compile a list of tea related Christmas presents for the Tea Lover (seriously the best people) in your life.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Black and Gold Halloween Tablescape

I love Halloween. I love the costumes, the candy, the colors, the skeletons and skulls and the parties! Halloween parties are so special and there are a million ways to dress them up. You can have classy parties, not so classy ones, and kid parties. But the essentials are the same - you have to have candy, you need pumpkins in some shape or form and some element of spookiness.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Smoked Tea Eggs Recipe

 Lapsong souchong is a very polarizing tea. Some people love it and the others hate. I fall in the latter camp - I detest lapsong souchong. It is not tea, it is liquified BBQ. But as a tea drinker I have accumulated a lot more lapsong souchong than I want. But as a rule - I don't throw any tea away, especially if its from Bellocq. So, what do I do with all this horrible lapsong souchong? Make authentic smoked tea eggs!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Nut Hugging Teddy Bear Cookies

A few weeks ago my sister sent me a link showing these ridiculously adorable bears tightly clutching almonds. The cute was too much for me to handle. Clearly I had to make them. And so should you! Lucky for you, I will show you how I made mine.

Some very lucky friends were hand delivered these adorable surprises. 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Alice's Tea and Simple Scones

How much of the Mad Tea-Party chapter do you remember from Alice in Wonderland? It's so ridiculous, much like the rest of the whimsical book. Still, the idea of such an insane tea party endures and people are still fascinated by Alice and the Mad Hatter (who will forever look like Johnny Depp to some people and not the stunted, rude Hatter depicted by Sir John Tenniel). The fascination with the Tea Party has lead to the creation of all sorts of Alice related tea paraphernalia and even whole stores devoted to Alice's tea party. Even in San Antonio, we have a strange (but wonderful) place called Mad Hatter's. And in New York apparently, a sweet little shop called Alice's Tea Cup.

I'm crazy about these purple roses. Incredibly delicate and very beautiful.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Let's Talk About Éros - Mariage Frères

"It has made me better loving you... it has made me wiser, and easier, and brighter." Henry James, Portrait of a Lady.  

Monday, July 20, 2015

Marigolds and Bachelors Buttons Herbal Tea Blend

I had a small crisis this afternoon when I looked up from packing and felt only despair at the task at hand. How did I accrue so much junk? I bet that is how most people feel when they are getting ready to move. I stopped packing immediately and went for the tea cabinet (which I still can't bear to pack quite yet). What do you drink when you need to relax? Tea obviously. But what kind?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Cup of Tea For Father's Day - Lahaha's Aged Rose Pu-erh

My favorite grocery store (Central Market) has a great bulk goods selection, selling gourmet chocolate, nuts, grains, coffee, candy, and of course tea. I spent a long time in front of the wall of Lahaha Tea, a new (ish) brand of tea, ultimately deciding to buy a little of each.

Lahaha means "Happy Tasting" and was founded by Angie Lin in 2009. They are committed to providing high quality, organic teas. I trust the brand, because I trust Central Market to carefully curate a selection of gourmet foods. Today, I drank Aged Rose Pu-erh, because I was curious about how rose would be incorporated into the puerh.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Tea for Indominus Rex - Silver Buds Yabao

To say I was excited for Jurassic World would be a bit of an understatement. Right before going to the movies, I decided to brew some tea, something light to tide me over and prepare for the onslaught of movie theater popcorn. I rooted around my overflowing tea shelf and found Silver Buds Yabao from Verdant Tea.
A brontosaurus looks on as I enjoy my tea. I still have my tiered dinosaur display from my Dinosaur Tea Party.
Silver Buds Yabao is not a traditional tea. It is harvested from the large ancient tea trees of Xishuangbanna in Yunnan. The tea has this interesting look because it is actually compact buds of the tea trees. Although this particular batch was plucked in the winter of 2008, the taste is quite fresh. Although some refer to these buds as "white puerh" or "raw puerh," the appearance and taste are quite unlike traditional puerh.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Spring in the Hill Country: Wildflowers in Texas

"... gentle flowers, teardrops of the stars, standing in the garden, nodding your heads to the bees as they sing of the dews and the sunbeams. [...] Dream on, sway and frolic while you may in the gentle breezes of the summer" - Kakuzo Okakura (on Flowers)

Okakura actually spends much of his Flowers chapter in the Book of Tea lamenting the wastefulness of cutting the "hapless" flowers for adornment. Okakura says the plants are unable to defend themselves against predators... but maybe he has not met the Texas thistle. She sure does not relent her beautiful blossoms easily! 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Aging Gracefully - Verdant Tea 1999 Longyuanhao Shu Puerh

I have become a puerh tea addict. Who knew this day would come? Lucky for me, there are a million perks to drinking puerh. See my earlier post on Sweet Green Puerh from Ito En for a quick refresher. For my birthday, my best friend surprised me with Verdant Tea's Longyuanhao Shu Puerh (1999). This tea is 16 years old!! And it has aged incredibly well! 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Dinosaur Themed Tea Party

"Growing up sucks. People aren't nearly as eager to know what my favorite dinosaur is."  - 50 Cent.

Truer words were never spoken Mr. Curtis Jackson! How can you not love dinosaurs? To celebrate my love for these gargantuan reptiles I decided to make a dinosaur themed tea party. Since I am not a toddler, I wanted my dinosaur tea party to be a classy affair. Impossible you say? Well, I beg to differ.

Esteemed guests took home an african violet with a hand-painted gold dinosaur. I just painted plastic dinosaurs with gold acrylic paint. Instant glam.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Should I eat flowers? - Easy Marigold Spring Salad

One of my best friends invited me to a dinner party at her house yesterday. I promised to make salad but I only had a vague idea of what I wanted. I knew I wanted flowers in my salad but they are often difficult to obtain at my grocery store. Luckily, I found some marigolds. For the first time flower-eater, consuming colorful petals seems wrong. When people see my salad they often ask, "Can I eat this?" and follow up with "Really...?" The answer is, "yes and yes." Flowers brighten up dishes with their vivid colors and lovely fragrance. Of course not all flowers are edible but when you find some, do use them in your dishes!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Blooming Flower Tea - Jasmine Rose and LA Burdick Chocolates

I can't believe how long it has been since I last wrote a post. I wanted to stay on top of this blog but the past couple of weeks have been insane. I went to Boston for Experimental Biology and had quite a bit of preparation to do for my presentations. Conferences are a blast but you really need a game plan. Thankfully I went with people I adore so it made my trip very enjoyable. Also, Boston, snow in April is crazy. I feel for all Bostonians. They are a strong people.

Anyway, I did get to enjoy a lot of tea in Boston. One of my favorite places was actually a chocolate shop called LA Burdick. I bought some Easter chocolates for my parents (and myself). I thought they would make a great pairing with any of my teas.
Chocolate bunny and mouse with marzipan eggs.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Happy Spring Tea - Palais des Thés, Thé du Hammam

Happy Spring! I know in many parts of the country, there is still snow on the ground and snow in the forecast. But, cheer up, brighter, warmer days are ahead!

Today I am enjoying Thé du Hammam from Palais des Thés.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Greek Yogurt, Apricot Jam, and Walnut Tea Sandwich Recipe

I made quite a lot of Greek yogurt recently. I strain my homemade yogurt for more than 12 hours. The result is the most awesome, super-thick Greek yogurt I could ever hope for. I ate most of it with fresh fruit but I also used some to make one of my favorite tea sandwiches. This recipe is very easy and you can substitute most of the ingredients for what you have laying around.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Homemade Green Tea Yogurt - So Easy You Could Literally Do it in Your Sleep

I recently tried some of Chobani's Green Tea Yogurt. It said "Limited Batch" and "Green Tea" so I didn't need any convincing to put it in my cart. I was really excited about it because Chobani Mango is my favorite yogurt. Ok, actually I love Noosa's Strawberry Rhubarb the most but that is wickedly indulgent (because I will eat a whole container). I feel less guilty about eating Chobani.

Hello Healthy Breakfast!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Flower Viewing: Blooming Marigold Osmanthus Tea from Ten Ren

Flowering teas are a bit of a novelty. It is such a joy watching each delicate leaf unfurl, slowly releasing the hidden blossom. For this reason, they are best enjoyed with a glass teapot.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Matcha in Minutes: Introducing Matcha Blendy Stick

My best undergraduate experience was definitely going to study abroad in Tokyo, Japan. There will never be another opportunity in my lifetime to take 6 months and go to any place in the world just to study. Someone was there to help me with the travel, living, and language arrangements. The best thing about studying abroad was living with my host family. Six years later, we are still in contact. They regularly send me treats from Japan. Everything from pizza-flavored pretzels (delicious) to autographed albums (my host grandmother organizes classical concerts in Tokyo... how awesome is that??). The most recent parcel from Tokyo totally blew my mind.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Roses and Lavender: Valentine's Day Tea

Happy Valentine's Day (eve)!

Today's tea is Lavender Sencha from Ito En. I paired it with rose+pistachio and raspberry macarons from Bakery Lorraine. If you are still looking for a gift for that special someone... I can't recommend macarons and tea enough.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Tea in the Mail - Packaging and Sending Tea

My sister is always sending me sweet teacups for my collection and is very supportive of my blog. To thank her, I wanted to send her some of my recent favorites. To show that I care, I put a lot of effort into my packaging and wrapping (always).

Friday, February 6, 2015

Tea Time at Trader Joe's - Yes, it is Possible

If you are lucky enough to have a Trader Joe's nearby, you probably realize it has something like a cult following. It carries a small selection of interesting and often very tasty items (organic pumpkin pop-tarts anyone?). The parking lot of our Trader Joe's is consistently full of cars, forcing us to circle around many times before finding a coveted spot. The employees are extremely friendly, offering all kinds of suggestions to pair with that siracha BBQ sauce you have in your cart. Of course, some products are a bit dubious (hello weird, dry gnocchi and prepackaged "sushi.") but the great customer service and low prices always bring me back. I seriously love my Trader Joe's. 

Tea time at Trader Joe's!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Rose Green Tea Makes the Perfect Gift for Valentines Day

February is here! With it comes snow, sleet, rain, and worst... Valentines Day. You have to get your significant other/BFF a gift but the dazzling pink and red aisles in the stores hurts your eyes and have you running out the door. You want to wow your loved one but can't think of anything outside of the heart-shaped, chocolate-filled boxes. Well, I have a solution for you. This year... how about tea? This subtle Rose Green Tea from Ito En would make a perfect Valentines Day gift! It embodies the holiday with its sweet roses but can be consumed year round.

Rose green tea for valentines day
Sweet Valentines Day card from Trader Joes.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Strawberry Rose Champagne Tea from Teavana

I am incredibly surprised by the number of positive reviews for this tea. I think it tastes gross. I know, not the best way to start a review for Teavana's Strawberry Rose Champagne Oolong Tea.

I'm not sure what pairs well with this. I bought some strawberries so I just made whipped cream.
I like to keep an open mind about tea. I will try anything at least once before I make a face. I mean, my people invented fish sauce so really, nothing grosses me out... at first.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Eggs in the Basket (bowl): Easy Peasy Breakfast or Brunch

I love eggs. Plenty of protein, filling, and can be cooked a million ways. From the simple hard-boiled egg to fussy souffles, the egg is my shining kitchen star. So, I eat eggs all the time. One of my favorite ways to eat eggs is with bread. And the absolute best way? In a bread bowl. Everything tastes better in an edible vessel.

I'm drinking Breakfast in Paris from Stash Tea. I usually don't drink bagged teas but this came in my monthly Love with Food box (referral link). I love getting tea in my snack box.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Gift Idea for Lunar New Year: Ito En's Sweet Green Pu-Erh Tea

I admit, I never seek out Pu-erh, even though it is many a tea blogger's favorite. Complex, robust, rich, and occasionally rare and extremely expensive, it basically screams connoisseurs only. I've tried some, admittedly not the very rare or expensive kinds, and I never thought that Pu-erh trumped Japanese green tea in any respect. Until a few days ago.

We actually had a super beautiful day today (after a week of gloomy winter rain) so I brought my tea tray outside.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Hodogwaja (Korean Walnut Shaped Cakes)

Aren't these walnut-shaped cakes adorable?? They are called "hodogwaja (호두과자)" in Korean. My mom bought them at the local Korean grocery store and I love them! They remind me of taiyaki, those wonderful fish shaped pastries filled with adzuki paste (or cream or whatever you like). These are like bite size taiyaki. So brilliant. 

Tomato Jam (and cheese) for Breakfast

I am so blessed to have such awesome friends. For Christmas, I received a jar of tomato jam from a sweet pal who loves food and science just as much as me. It is the perfect thoughtful gift - homemade, novel, and best of all, edible. 

Tomato jam with cheese on toast. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

How to make (and drink) matcha like a boss

I am sure you have seen the quintessential Japanese tea ceremonies in some form of media or if you are lucky, have been a part of one. In these ceremonies, the Grand Master, making minimal but very elegant movements will make you a cup of the highest quality matcha prepared with something cool like rain water. If you can't participate in one of these ceremonies, don't fret. I will show you how you can still enjoy matcha with very basic kitchen tools.