All tagged California

My tasting notes: Machiko VS Fukumidori

Machiko is known to have the distinctive aroma of sakura, cherry blossoms, and fukumidori was described to me as bitter but in a good way, which is not a priority for me when choosing green tea from Japan (umami is at the top of the list usually). Apparently, Japanese tea drinkers seem to enjoy bitterness in their green tea and I was curious to see what that was like. Read on to discover my tasting notes and thoughts.

Tea and Murals. The Love Wall

If you’re new here (welcome!), tea and murals might sound like a far-fetched duo to you. Well, let me explain. Pairing tea and murals is my quirky way of combining two passions in a mindful way and a good “excuse” (as if you needed one!) to explore neighborhoods through tea and art. I’ve been asked what the tea scene in LA is like. Right this way, ladies and gentlemen! I enjoyed the mural, I drank the tea and I’m showing you where to go in one of my favorite LA neighborhoods (oh, hello Culver City) if you want to do the same.

Tea service in restaurants is appalling and it keeps me up at night

It was a damp, chilly, foggy summer night in San Francisco and I was having dinner with my husband at a fine dining restaurant, a newly opened neighborhood gem. Things were going pretty well, beautiful space, amazing food, thoughtful and friendly service. It couldn’t have been any more perfect until the dessert menu arrived. On a whim, I decided to order tea with my dessert, because the selection seemed promising. Big, big mistake, Anna, big mistake, sweetheart.

November tea and mindfulness

This time of year, we might get caught up in a great deal of stress and anxiety instead of enjoying ourselves and our loved ones and we might need a grounding inspirational moment to find balance again. I hope this collection of quotes and some of my most recent tea photography can help you ground yourself in your most stressful moments and inspire you to make a cup of tea for yourself or to share with someone else, because after all a mindful tea moment can be one of the most effective self-care strategies.

A Japanese dessert and snack tasting with tea pairing in San Francisco

Have you ever heard the quote “where there’s tea, there’s hope”? I took the liberty of rewriting that into “where there’s excellent tea, there’s the tea squirrel” because wherever you can find top notch tea, you can be sure that place is on my radar and you might find me there to enjoy it. So naturally I had to visit Oyatsuya, a pop-up Japanese dessert and snack tasting with tea pairings in the Mission neighborhood of San Francisco.

Ochazuke: a delicious Japanese tea soup

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.

Iced matcha rose tea latte

Let’s face it, most of us are more or less openly obsessed with matcha. Personally, I’ve learned to embrace my matcha obsession and even though my go-to is traditionally whisked, I’m always on the lookout for good flavor combinations with matcha and especially for matcha-based beverages that are naturally sweet.

A tea adventure along the California coast

If you - like me - are into hiking, the Bay Area and Northern California have a lot to offer. At least once a week, I crave spending time outdoors surrounded by nature (have you ever come across the Japanese tradition of "forest bathing"?). I find it uplifting and de-stressing. Nature is beautiful and inspiring and the perfect backdrop for a tea session, don’t you think? I’m incredibly lucky to live so close to scenic coastal trails, forests of towering redwoods, hills and farmland, waterfalls and mountains. This time I’m taking you hiking along the California coast, to Año Nuevo State Park, near Pescadero, about an hour drive from San Francisco.

Tea in San Francisco - by neighborhood. Hayes Valley

Hayes Valley is one of the most charming neighborhoods in San Francisco and a fine dining destination, full of independently owned shops and boutiques. I decided to explore it by taking a look at the tea it has to offer. Despite not having many tea houses or tea shops, there’s plenty of high quality, loose leaf tea in Hayes Valley! I have a few gems in store for you, are you excited?

Matcha madeleines


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! 

My tasting notes: Gold tea from Nepal

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. 

The Tea Squirrel visits The Aftel Archive of Curious Scents

Flavor is a combination of taste and smell, which is why I believe that to be able to fully appreciate tea, training your nose is equally important as training your palate. The Tea Squirrel visited The Aftel Archive of Curious Scents, a charming collection by Mandy Aftel,  renowned natural perfumer and book author who also works in the realm of flavor. 
 

Tea and murals. The So Cal edition

What is tea and murals? It all started with the realization that beauty can be part of my everyday life anytime, anywhere. Be present in the moment and you’ll be surprised how much beauty you will find, often in the most unexpected of places, sometimes in a cup of tea, sometimes just around the corner. Tea deserves more attention, and so does art. I’m pairing the two by showing you the most vibrant and fun murals while drinking tea. Grab your cup, let’s go!
 

The marine layer tea cocktail

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.