Tea Class at Harney & Sons (Soho)

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I love Harney & Sons tea and I love going to the Harney and Sons location in Soho, a beautiful store, with lots of tea (of course!) and thoughtfully curated tea accessories.  They are offering a tea class tomorrow at the Soho location led by Emeric Harney, a third generation Harney – you can learn about all different kinds of teas as well as taste a lot of them.  Act quickly, the class is limited to 6 people!

Details:

  • Date – August 15
  • Time – 7:30pm to 9:30pm
  • Cost – $50 per person
  • Address – Harney & Sons Soho, 433 Broome Street

Bottled Iced Tea Battle

On some days, there is just no time to brew your own tea, or perhaps, you just want to grab some tea on the run.  These are days when I’m grateful there is an abundance of bottled teas in the marketplace.  In today’s post, I assembled a panel of tasters to try 4 different bottled teas. 

I tried to avoid the very artificial teas like Snapple, Lipton, Arizona.  Instead, I went with two completely unsweetened teas and two very lightly sweetened teas.  Here are the 4 different teas:

The teas were judged on two criteria:

  • Does it taste like real tea?  (Scale of 1 to 5 – 5 meaning it tastes exactly like how fresh brewed tea should taste)
  • Would you drink it again?  (Scale of 1 to 5 – 5 meaning, yes, I would pay money to buy this again)

The Results:

ITO EN’s Oi Ocha – Unsweetened Green Tea

  • Average taste score:  3.7
  • Average repeat usage score: 3.5
  • Comments:  “not the taste of green tea I expected”, “ this one is my favorite, most tea-like tasting of the bunch”, “too strong and bitter for me”, “I would pay to drink this”

ITO EN’s Golden Oolong Tea – Unsweetened

  • Average taste score:  3
  • Average repeat usage score: 3
  • Comments:  “this tea is too light tasting for an Oolong”, “it tastes like tea, but not like Oolong”

Honest Tea’s Assam Black Tea  – “barely sweetened”

  • Average taste score:  2.1
  • Average repeat usage score: 2
  • Comments:  “I like that this is not too sweet”, “I don’t like this at all”, “tastes like watered down Lipton iced tea”

Plan Tea’s Black Tea – “no added sugar, just a drop of honey”

  • Average taste score:  2.7
  • Average repeat usage score: 2.5
  • Comments:  “the honey detracts from the tea taste”, “not sweet enough, should be plain or sweeter”, “tastes like honey and watered down tea”, “I would drink this if I want something sweet but rather not drink soda”

The overwhelming majority of this panel preferred the ITO EN Oi Ocha, however there was one outlier that liked Honest Tea that best. 

Personally, I thought the ITO EN Oi Ocha is a great choice for some iced tea on the run.  I tend to prefer unsweetened and stronger tasting teas.  I felt that the Honest Tea and Plan Tea was very watered down tasting and too sweet for iced teas that were only supposed to be lightly sweetened.  

Of course, this is not an exhaustive test of all bottled teas on the market and  by no means was this a scientific test, so I would love to hear if there are other bottled teas in the market that are more natural and true to the taste of ‘real’ brewed tea.

DIY – Dried Fruit and Herb Tea

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I am currently obsessed with the Whole Foods Recipe iPhone App and decided to try a recipe to make my own dried fruit and herb tea at home.  The recipe appeared to be simple, easy and delicious – basically, idiot-proof.  This is how the end result is suppose to look like:

fruit and herb tea

Dried Fruit and Herb Tea, image from Whole Foods

However, my attempt was not as successful, I ended up with mints leaves that were a little too burnt, ok, burnt to a crisp…  Depending on your own oven, I guess I would adjust the baking time for the mint part of the recipe.  If anyone has tried or is inspired to try this recipe, I’ve love to hear how it turns out.

Ingredients

  • 2 lemons, zest removed with a vegetable peeler and finely chopped
  • 2 oranges, zest removed with a vegetable peeler and finely chopped
  • 1 (3-inch) piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 small fennel bulb, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 1 cup packed mint leaves
  • 1 cup dried cranberries or chopped dried apricots

Method

  • Preheat oven to 250°F.
  • Toss lemon zest, orange zest, ginger and fennel together on a large parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
  • Scatter mint on a second large parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake, rotating baking sheets and stirring occasionally, until ginger mixture and mint are both dried out, 10 to 15 minutes for the mint and about 45 minutes for the ginger mixture; set both aside to let cool completely.
  • Crumble mint into a medium bowl then add ginger mixture and cranberries or apricots and toss.
  • For each serving of tea, steep 2 tablespoons of the mixture together with 1 cup hot water for 3 to 5 minutes. Strain and serve.

(Recipe provided by Whole Foods)

Dean & Deluca (Soho location)

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Dean & Deluca is a great place to buy tea.  They don’t have the widest selection, however, they have all the big names…

les palais des thesLes Palais de Thes…

mariage freresMariage Freres…

kusmiKusmi…

Not only do they have tea, they have…

honey selectionMore honey than you can shake a stick at…

gavottesTasty biscuits!  I love the super light and flaky Gavotte Crepe Dentelle!

hobnobs and digestivesHobnobs!

Michel & AugustinButtery sables from Michel & Augustin!

Wait, there’s more…

lady m cakesassorted cupcakesLady M Crepe Cakes – 3 varieties, S’mores from One Girl Cookies!  What more can a girl as for?!?

If you are in the Soho area, this is a great place to stop by and get some supplies for a nice afternoon of tea and sweets at home!

Dean & Deluca (Soho) – 560 Broadway (at Prince Street), New York, NY

Green Tea Roll Cake… with Flan!?!?! from Mitsuwa

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I took a trip to Mitsuwa in Edgewater, NJ this past weekend.  There was a special festival this weekend – the Kyushu and Okinawa Fair.  Fairs at Mitsuwa = lots of delicious food.  I scored one of the last boxes of this special dessert!

Green Tea Roll Cake

What’s in this box?

green tea roll cake mitsuwa

Green Tea Roll Cake with Flan

green tea roll cake with flan

A Slice of Green Tea Roll Cake with Flan

The Green Tea Roll Cake is FANTASTIC!  The cake part has slight bitter vegetal note that is indicative of high quality matcha.  The cake itself is very moist too.  The light vanilla scented cream pairs perfectly with the cake and is a great foil to the matcha.  The flan provides additional sweetness, but not too sweet, and a really nice textural contrast.  I could have this cake every day!  Keep an eye on special events at Mitsuwa to score one for yourself.  If you don’t believe me, this blogger recommends this cake too!

Cooking with Tea – Chinese Tea Eggs

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Happy Friday!  I wanted to end the week with super simple savory tea recipe – Chinese Tea Eggs!  I hadn’t eaten one of these in forever until last weekend when I went to Saint Alp’s Teahouse.  It really brought back memories of growing up, these were one of my favorite street snacks, so easily available – most 7-Elevens and Circle K’s in Hong Kong carried them, as well as local mom and pop snack shops.  Here is my favorite recipe for Chinese Tea Eggs, courtesy of Appetite for China.

Chinese Tea Eggs, Saint Alp's Teahouse

Ingredients

  • 6 medium to large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons or 2 tea bags of black tea or Pu’erh
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 pieces star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black peppercorn (optional)
  • 2-3 strips dried mandarin peel (optional)

Method

  • Put eggs in medium pot with enough water to cover eggs
  • Bring water to boil, after that, lower heat to simmer for 3 minutes
  • Remove eggs from heat and allow to cool a bit before handling
  • Take the back of a knife and crack eggs evenly all around (doing this well allows for maximize flavor seepage into the egg and for it a achieve a pretty marble-like effect)
  • Return eggs to pot with the rest of the ingredients
  • Bring liquid to a boil, and simmer for 1-3 hours, the longer the better, add water if the liquid level gets too low
  • Remove from heat and serve as a snack or addition to rice or noodles

My tips

  • I use ¾ cups of soy sauce and no salt as I felt I needed more liquid ingredients to cover my eggs
  • I always use Pu’erh tea as the base as I feel like it gives the eggs more depth of flavor

Enjoy!  Happy Cooking!

Kung Fu Tea – Summer Special

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Kung Fu Tea, one of my favorites, has re-launched their menu, just in time for summer!

In celebration, they are offering a free upgrade from medium to large size for a few selected items, such as white gourd green tea and fig jelly tea.  See below for more information on their summer specials and updated menu!

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Kung Fu Tea, free upgrade special

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Kung Fu Tea, new menu

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Kung Fu Tea, new menu

Smorgasburg! Sun, Food, Fun and Refreshing Teas!

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I made the long journey out to Williamsburg this past Saturday to partake in the weekly feast known as Smorgasburg.  Every Saturday at the Williamsburg waterfront between North 6th and North 7th Streets at the East River (from 11am – 6pm, rain or shine), various food entrepreneurs as well as established food purveyors from New York City and beyond converge and present one of the most delicious offerings in the city.  From Asian street eats to barbecue to vegan/vegetarian options to delicious sweet bites, there is something for everyone.  I want to highlight some of the tasty tea options I discovered…

takumi taco drink menu

Takumi Taco Drink Menu

Takumi Taco, one of the newer offerings at Smorgasburg, offers Japanese-inspired Mexican street food.  I tried their short rib taco, which was delicious, and their kalamanchi (calamansi) green tea – refreshing!  I would not normally select iced green tea, I much prefer using black tea for iced varieties, but I made the right choice this time.  The kalamanchi puree in the tea really brightened the drink making it very refreshing in the hot weather and a delightful break from the delicious flavorful offerings at the market.

Thirstea menu

Thirstea Menu

Thirstea Cafe had several bubble tea offerings at Smorgasburg, while those flavors are not normally my first choice.  I found the mango peach quite delicious, the tapioca had a good consistency and the tea was not too sweet.

kelvin natural slush menu

Kelvin Natural Slush Menu

Of course, a hot summer day is not complete with one of Kelvin Natural Slush’s Arnold Palmer slush.  I’ve review this before and yes, it is still tasty and refreshing!  I wish their truck would come here during the weekdays, when I need a quick pick-me-up during work hours.

Gourmet Sorbet menu

Gourmet Sorbet Menu

This sounded really interesting, iced tea topped with lemon thyme sorbet from Gourmet Sorbet.  Unfortunately, I was beyond stuffed with bulgogi buns (tasty, messy, and HUGE), short rib tacos, blood orange donuts (from my most favorite-ist doughnut place ever), chocolate babka ice cream (I love chocolate babkas!) and teas… Anyone tried it and have feedback for me?  I will definitely put this on my list to taste next time!

Pretty Tea Accessories!

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I’ve written tea reviews, about tea inspired desserts, and multicultural tea traditions – but all this is of no use unless we have something to brew tea in and to drink tea from!  Here is a quick round up of some pretty tea accessories I want!

striped tea cups

Striped Tea Cups for sale on at Ferse Verse

molo float tea cups

Float tea cups by Molo

tea bag mug

Tea bag mug – sold at Bailey Doesn’t Bark

suomi pot

Suomi pot – sold by Moss

Hong Kong Tea Traditions – “Cha Chaan Teng”

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Welcome to part II of Hong Kong tea traditions!  You might remember in part I of this series, I covered “Yum Cha” or Dim Sum as it is more commonly referred to in the US.  It is the most famous Hong Kong tea tradition.  In this post, I want to delve into a Hong Kong tea tradition that is lesser known – the “Cha Chaan Teng“, the literal translation being “tea restaurant”.  Growing up in Hong Kong, these were one of my favorite types of restaurants to go to, so I am very excited to share this with my readers.  I find cha chaan tengs a little hard to describe to people who have never been to one, they serve a Hong Kong-style western cuisine that is very specific to Hong Kong, I guess the closest type of restaurant we have to a cha chaan teng is a diner – both types of restaurants have an extensive menu, affordable comfort food and while it is not fancy, it would not be considered fast food either.  Cha chaan tengs serves “western” cuisine as interpreted by chefs to better suit local palates – there are a lot of dishes that can be offered at these restaurants, but one thing they have in common: Hong Kong-style milk tea.

Drinking at cha chaan tengs

Hong Kong-style milk tea (Wikipedia)

  • Hong Kong-style milk tea (“naai cha”) – the origin of this tea goes back to British colonial rule over Hong Kong, it was influenced by the British practice of afternoon tea where black tea is served with milk and sugar.  Hong Kong’ers adapted it to use evaporated or condensed milk instead.  A blend of several different Ceylon teas are often used as the black tea base, it is usually brewed very strong through a silk stocking like filter and then either evaporated milk and sugar or condensed milk is added.  It is served hot or cold.  A delicious, intense and creamy tea that leaves you wanting more!
  • Lemon tea (“leng cha”) – an alternative to milk tea, this is made from a Lipton-style brew and comes with at least 4 slices of real lemon and sweetened with syrup.  This is also served hot or cold.  The icy cold version hits the spot in the hot and humid Hong Kong summers!
  • Coffee with tea (“yun yeung”) – a popular beverage that contains a blend of coffee and black tea.  The name of this drink comes from the Cantonese words “yun” and “yeung”, which means the male and female Mandarin duck.  This drink is so popular that in the summer of 2010, Starbucks in Hong Kong and Macau promoted a seasonal frappuccino version of this drink.

Eating at cha chaan tengs – Here is a sample of just some of the dishes you can expect to see on the menu:

“Oil and Sand” toast – from bluebalu.wordpress.com

  • Sandwiches – filled with Spam, eggs, tuna, pork cutlets, etc
  • French toast – stuffed with peanut butter or kaya (a sweet coconut jam)
  • Oil and Sand” toast – thick slices of soft bread toasted to perfection, coated with butter (“oil”) and white granulated sugar (“sand”)
  • Macaroni soup – a very common breakfast option, it consists of macaroni in a chicken-based stock topped with ham, roast pork or even a fried egg sometimes!
  • Baked Pork Chop Rice – crispy fried pork cutlets on top of egg fried rice, smothered with tomato sauce and cheese and baked until all the cheese melts.  Quintessential cha chaan teng dish!
  • Portuguese Chicken Rice – a Macanese dish clearly influenced by Portuguese rule over Macau.  It is a Chinese-Portuguese fusion dish, think of it as a mild coconut curry chicken.
  • Chinese Borscht (“lor sung tong”) – unlike the “real” version, the Hong Kong take on this Russian classic uses tomatoes instead of beetroot for the soup base.  It is pure delicious comfort food, Hong Kong style.
  • Hainanese Chicken Rice – a Chinese dish that is more often associated with Singaporean or Malaysian cuisine.  This meal consists of boiled chicken served at room temperature over a bed of cucumbers doused in a dark soy, along with rice cooked in chicken broth and a hot soup completes the set.
  • Breakfast Sets – more about this in the next section!  Keep reading!

My favorite Hong Kong cha chaan teng: Australia Dairy Company

Australia Dairy Company in Hong Kong, this is one of the few places where I will end up eating multiples times during my visit.  It is the BEST breakfast place, the BEST deal in the city and the BEST representation of a “typical” breakfast set at a cha chaan teng.

Australia Dairy Company

Australia Dairy Company – a long queue is not an uncommon sight here, but it moves very fast.

Located on a small street in the Jordan area of Kowloon, Hong Kong, this no-frills restaurant will typically have people queueing up for breakfast on the weekends and sometimes even weekdays.

Australia Dairy Company

Australia Dairy Company – a la carte menu

Australia Dairy Company

Australia Dairy Company – set menu

However, this restaurant is the model of efficiency, even if the line is more than 30 deep, the maximum you will ever have to wait is 15/20 minutes.  It also helps that they strongly believe in close communal seating – think two parties of two sharing a small four-top with plates overlapping.  Once you are seated, the waiter will appear within 30 seconds, not leaving much time for you to contemplate the menu, but it doesn’t matter, there is only one choice (at least for breakfast).  The breakfast set – consisting of (1) macaroni in soup with ham, (2) toast with scrambled eggs and (3) your choice of tea or coffee, hot or cold (extra $2 HKD for iced drinks).  All this for for $26 HKD, which translates to just under $3.50 USD!!!

Australia Dairy Company

Australia Dairy Company – breakfast set (iced milk tea not pictured)

The macaroni in soup will appear with 1 minute of ordering (sometimes even faster), and the scrambled eggs and toast will appear within 3 minutes of ordering.  When you are almost done with your food, the waiter will reappear to take your drink order: coffee (iced or hot), milk tea (iced or hot) or lemon tea (iced or hot) – go with the tea, their coffee is forgettable.  The macaroni in soup is something I find is typically more appreciated by people who grew up in Asia.  However, the scrambled eggs and toast is loved by most – spreading the love, here, here and here.  Thick slices of super soft bread is used for the toast, generously buttered, but the eggs are the STAR.  I generally despise scrambled eggs and avoid it at all costs, but these are the only eggs to get here, the eggiest, creamiest, moistest eggs ever.  And then, after all this food, the tea is served.  Their milk tea is very smooth and flavorful, perfect way to end a meal!

While some feel the service and waiters here are a bit brusque, I feel they are very helpful in their own way.  If you try to order something that is not what they feel is the best thing on the menu, they will ask you in a somewhat curt way if that is really want you want, making it very clear they feel you have made a wrong choice – but fret not, the waiters really do know best here.  Just listen to them, follow the locals, don’t hold up the line and you will have a great experience!

Australia Dairy Company 澳洲牛奶公司
47-49 Parkes Street, Jordan, Hong Kong
Tel: 2730-1356

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