Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Red Espresso: Better Tea Than Coffee?
I didn't think of Businessweek as a source of dining information, but it turns out to have an eating and drinking column. This week it covers red espresso
, actually Rooibos tea made from a legume found only in South Africa [UDDATE - I originally had types America, showing that I should have had more of something before typing, and thanks to the person who wrote in pointing out the error]. Apparently it's being marketed as a non-coffee espresso, like the Postem of the latte crowd. According to David Kiley, stick with the real brew and save the Rooibos for actual tea, hot or, where it is exceptional, cold:
If you are a tea drinker, and you do not drink coffee because you don't care for the taste, red espresso may appeal to you. I drink a lot of tea and a considerable amount of espresso. I have no objection to coffee or caffeine. Indeed, I'd go so far as to say I need a cup of coffee a day. So, for me, red espresso brewed to take the place of espresso joins that list of stuff that doesn't hit my taste buds well, such as Postum, lite mayonnaise, Diet Coke, NutraSweet, Lactaid Milk, nonalcoholic beer, and "yogurt" made from tofu.
Supposedly the person who invented this did so because he found himself drinking six shots of espresso a day. Good lord.
If I were brewing tea, though, I'd probably stick to a fuller cut leaf and not something pulverized. That would be like using a cheap tea bag.
Labels: coffee, espresso, tea
Friday, May 16, 2008
Product Review: TeaSpot Steepware Cup and Earl Grey Tea
's Steepware cup is a nicely designed product, and if you have a taste for non-bagged tea, it's something you should consider. I tested the 8 ounce model ($15.95) in a flashy red. Without a handle, it looks like a perky oversized Japanese tea cup. But this ceramic vessel comes with an equally ceramic strainer insert and a top. Slide the strainer into the cup, drop in a teaspoon of loose tea, add the hot water, and put the top into place. A few minutes later, when the tea has brewed properly, you remove the lid, invert and set it onto a flat service, then pull out the insert and place it on the top. It looks good, works well, and is just plain smart. Personally, I prefer a handle (although warming - not burning - your hands on a day far crisper than should be allowed in spring is pleasant). There is a 16-ounce mug with handle ($20.95) if you prefer more volume and cooler way to hold it.
The company also sent a tin of Earl Grey - great balance, and I was surprised to see a thread or two of some blue bonotanical that I haven't seen before in this style looseleaf. Fragrant and very pleasant to sip, in case you need something with which to test your new cup.
Labels: drinks, product, review, tea
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Review: Ito En Teas' Tea
There are those who like their iced tea sweetened and flavored enough to mask the taste of the foundational ingredient. And then there are others who enjoy the tea itself. Finally, there are the fickle, like me, who sometimes want cold tea one way and sometimes another. This morning, after making the rounds for my daughter (busy social calendar) on her paper route, I wanted something more astringent and yet delicate. I found that with Teas' Tea from Ito En
. My choice was a jasmine green tea, brewed, apparently, from loose tea leaves, jasmine flowers, water, and some vitamin C. The taste was pleasant, clean, and as close to real tea as I can imagine you can get in a bottle. The 16.9 ounce bottle I had was a bit under $2, a case of 24 bottles purchased online is $36 (not sure about shipping, as I didn't want to sign up for the site), and there's a retailer locater. There is also a range of flavors, mostly based on green, but with a golden oolong and a brown, not available at the local shop. Wish they were.
Labels: product, review, tea
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Review: Saphara and Lipton "Pyramid" Bag Teas
It's a damp and chilly New England day - just the type to call for a good cup of tea. I've noticed that a growing number of tea manufacturers have jumped on the pyramid-shaped tea bag bandwagon. The rationale is that the shape of the bag allows manufacturers to include whole tea leaves, not just bits and powder, and that water can flow more easily around the ingredients, improving the flavor.
My testing and tasting suggest that a lot more is due to the quality of the tea first and the bag's shape second. For example, Saphara, which is a brand from Celestial Seasonings, was enjoyable. Of the two types that the PR representatives sent, I gravitated to the mango ginger decaf green, though I was a little less enthused over the tropical rooibos - a South African herbal tea with lemongrass, orange, and coconut. Nothing wrong with it; the mix just wasn't my - my apologies - cup of tea. Calling the tea "whole leaf" is a bit disingenuous, as when you read the box you see that it's "rough cut." I think that means that whole leaves don't hold up in bags, even if they are mesh pyramids. The bags, tags, and strings are biodegradable, which is responsible in my eyes. But the list price is $6.99 for a box of 15 bags, or about 47 cents a bag. Personally, I'd prefer to brew a pot with whole leaf tea, but as each bag comes in a separate plastic wrap, this is more convenient.
I received a greater array of flavors from Lipton, but found that the pyramid bags there seemed more of a gimmick. The PR write up says that the shape "allows for the long leaves and real fruits and caramel to fully infuse while steeping in a hot cup of water." Sorry, but I don't think you'll find a long leaf in one of them, as they are pretty much all broken up as well, though not as much as a country western song or the traditional flat bags. The teas are cheaper, at $3.49 for a 20-count box, or 17 cents a bag, and they taste it. Of the six flavors the PR people sent for me to sample, the Bavarian wild berry was reasonably pleasant. Others seemed weaker in flavor, even steeping for upwards of five minutes.
I'd skip the Lipton, pick up some Saphara - or, better yet, Revolution Tea
- for convenience use, and then get a decent tea pot and a good batch of loose tea. You'll pay less and enjoy it more.
Labels: opinion, product, review, tea
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Review: Bombilla & Gourd Mate Tea
A PR contact send some samples of Bombilla
& Gourd Mate Tea. Mate tea is popular in South America and supposedly delivers lots of vitamins, minerals, and energy. I can't vouch
for that, but the blueberry flavor was pretty tasty, and I'm getting ready to head down and have a chilled pomegranate-flavored one as soon as I'm done with my hot Earl Grey. There's a lot less caffeine than in coffee, and the tea is actually brewed and bottled, not reconstituted from tea concentrate. It's supposed to be organic and available at Whole Foods stores. It's worth picking some up to try.
Labels: opinion, product, review, tea
Friday, November 16, 2007
Review: Golden Moon Tea
I received a number of samples of loose tea from Golden Moon Tea
. I've gone through a few different types and have found them interesting - in a good way, that is. There's an intriguing assortment. For example, you can get the Sugar Caramel Oolong - rolled green leaves that unfold in hot water with a caramel infusion - or a French Breakfast black which is most pleasant. The prices seem on a par with other premium teas I've seen. And one nice feature - you can get collections of tea samples, each in an airtight envelope with enough leaves for about four cups. That way you can taste a number of brews before investing in a larger quantity of something that you may or may not like. And now, time for another cup of tea.
Labels: opinion, product, review, tea
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Brine Shrimp in Tea?
Associated Press writer J.M. Hirsch has this advice
on using tea in cooking, with a recipe for brining shrimp in a tea and salt water mix. I haven't tried it yet, and I'm not sure that I'd agree that a brine would add moisture (it should actually dry some moisture out through osmosis - a good thing probably for shrimp that have been frozen and are now water-logged). But this does sound interesting. I'll try experimenting with an appropriate dipping sauce and report on the results.
Labels: brining, shrimp, tea