All in Pairings
I don’t know very much about Sweden, the only thing I know is that their pastries are my new obsession. One kind in particular, Swedish cinnamon knots, also known as kanelbullar. In Sweden sweet treats are a very important part of fika, the Swedish coffee break, which is more of a lifestyle, actually and alternatively can include tea too! Join me on the blog as I pair these delicious pastries with 4 different teas!
You can’t see me but I’m doing a little happy dance over here, because my trip to Japan is fast approaching!! I’ve never been to Japan in the wintertime and I’m super excited to visit again one of my favorite countries in the world. Cold weather means hot tea and comforting dishes and I will definitely be on the lookout for the best ochazuke, a Japanese tea and rice soup, basically the epitome of comfort food (but healthy). Usually, genmaicha and hojicha are the teas of choice but sencha and matcha can also be used. Today I’m testing out a recipe from Bon Appetit magazine.
I love the fall for two reasons. The light, which is a photographer’s dream, and the produce. Dates, passion fruit, chestnuts and quince … I mean, have you ever tried fresh Californian dates? I’m obsessed. My recent trip to Madrid, Spain inspired this combination of quince and cheese on sourdough (which is all the rage there thanks to great artisan bakeries, I felt very at home). In Spain membrillo (quince paste) is a popular accompaniment for Manchego sheep milk cheese. I didn’t have Manchego on hand but Pecorino, Italian sheep milk cheese. The sharpness of the cheese goes really well with the sweetness and tartness of quince. I added a strip-style oolong from Korea to the mix (because... I’m the Tea Squirrel, remember?). Its pronounced roasted, slightly smoky but still buttery notes are a great addition to this savory tartine. Fall cravings? Satisfied! Oh, I almost forgot! Scroll down to catch a glimpse of my new tea pet.
The original recipe for matcha poached eggs is attributed to the author of the cookbook The Breakaway Cook and founder of Breakaway Matcha, Eric Gower. I came across it after falling down an internet rabbit hole and being the curious squirrel that I am, I had to try it out and see what all the hype is about.
I love infusing tea in savory dishes and the flavor combination of ripe puerh and mushrooms is a no-brainer. Earthy, woodsy and deep, bold, savory notes work perfectly together. Does this remind you of fall? While the rest of the northern hemisphere is enjoying the last weeks of summer, here in San Francisco we can’t wait for Fogust (fog+August) and its gray skies and chilly temperatures to be over. The good news is, from September on, we will have our fair share of summer too! Yay! So let me snuggle up with these delicious Korean steamed eggs while I bid adieu to Fogust and get ready for San Francisco summer!
Have you ever noticed that it’s almost impossible to get an unsweetened (or even lightly sweetened) chai latte in coffee shops, tea shops, cafes or bakeries? Chai lattes are almost always made from a chai concentrate, a fancy name for chai flavored syrup, which means you can’t have an unsweetened chai latte. I don’t enjoy sweetened drinks and this is one of those things that I find extremely frustrating, second only to fine dining restaurants serving awful tea. I understand that most establishments have constraints in the preparation of drinks, but there must be a solution. I was craving a good unsweetened iced chai tea latte and my only option was to make it myself from scratch.
While tasting a 2018 Yiwu raw puer by Bitterleaf, I practiced my macro photography skills (I have a new lens, yay!) and mindfulness with some gorgeous sea shells I found along the coast on a beautiful beach in Mendocino, California.
Two Nepali white teas, spring and summer harvest, side by side.
Let’s discover Korean green teas. Join the Tea Squirrel for a Korean tea primer and tasting comparison of Se jak and Woo jeon.
Happy National Iced Tea Month! I’m celebrating with my new favorite iced tea recipe, you don’t want to miss it! Right this way —>
Last Saturday I attended the grand opening of Stonemill Matcha Cafe, the newest addition to the San Francisco tea scene. Keep reading if you’re curious about my first impressions and pictures. Right this way —>
Tea is an incredibly versatile beverage. Have you ever tried sipping tea while savoring high-quality chocolate? If the answer is no, you’re missing out on a unique sensory experience. Tasting tea and chocolate together can help amp up both of their delightful nuances. And because we all secretly need an excuse to eat more chocolate, this looks like a perfectly acceptable one, and it’s virtually guilt-free, because, after all, it’s also a tea tasting.
Darjeeling and Assam are the most renowned tea producing regions in India, but they are not the only ones. The tea I’m tasting today comes from the Nilgiris or Blue Mountains in the state of Tamil Nadu, in Southern India. According to the Indian tea association, Nilgiri tea accounts for about 10% of the total tea production of India.
Some days, I find myself craving matcha. Does that ever happen to you? I crave the chawan in my hands, the powder on my fingers, the swoosh of the chasen, the pattern of the tiny bubbles on the surface and the aromas and texture and flavor. It’s irresistible. Some other days, I crave whatever edible and colorful pops up on my Instagram feed and that’s exactly what happened when my sister Chiara made her matcha madeleines dipped in white chocolate and those popped up on my feed… they’ve been on my mind ever since!
This is a very experimental tea brewing and tasting session with a black tea from Nepal. Instead of Western style, I brewed it in a gaiwan (but I have to specify, not gongfu cha style) to push it to the edge of flavor and aroma, to get a more concentrated brew. It was a series of trial and error and adjustments to the brewing parameters, but I’m happy with the results.
I am a huge fan of craft cocktails and I probably don’t have to tell you that I’m always on the lookout for tea-infused craft cocktails wherever I go. Recently, I’ve realized that 99% of the already scarce tea cocktails available on the local imbibing scene feature Earl Grey. Don’t get me wrong, I love me a good Earl Grey tea cocktail, but I believe it’s high time bartenders tried something new. To make up for the lack of other teas in the craft cocktail world, I have a beautiful recipe for you. When I don’t go out, I love playing bartender at home. Let’s be honest, sipping a fancy, creative drink crafted with homemade and locally sourced ingredients and served with great attention to detail is still a fancy affair, even if you are in your pajamas and slippers.
No matter how much I try to convince myself otherwise, we’re still in the dead of winter. January has brought a lot of rain and grey, overcast skies to San Francisco and I cannot deny the intoxicating allure of bold, charcoal roasted teas. I let my imagination run wild and I picture myself in a forest of tall, majestic redwoods (that’s what we have around here), sitting by the fire and clutching a warm tea cup filled with fragrant Da Hong Pao.
Remember the mochi muffins? I while ago I had shared the recipe for matcha mochi muffins and - to date - it is still one of my most popular posts here on the blog. If you are not familiar with the mochi muffins (which I refuse to believe if you live in the Bay Area), let me tell you what the hype is about. This time around, I’m flavoring the mochi muffins with hojicha, roasted Japanese green tea, which I think pairs really well with the other ingredients.
It's no secret that I’m an epicurean tea drinker. I find pleasure and excitement in the taste of tea and in pairing it with fine foods. Indulgence, beauty and deliciousness are the principles I live by. I’ve paired tea and cheese many times before and it never ceases to amaze me how two things that are so different can go so well together. You guys love it when I put together a cheese board to pair with tea, so I’ve decided it was high time to do it again.