Thursday, May 29, 2008

Ice-T, Sucka

This steamy, 80-degree Thursday has me feeling it quite necessary to write an instructional on making delicious iced tea.

Thirsty? Don't try this, just make iced tea!
Image courtesy of

The most important thing about making iced tea that good old 6th grade (or was it earlier?!) mathematical trick: proportions!

The best way to make iced tea at home requires several tools. You will need an infuser basket or Steepin' Cup to brew your tea in, and I suggest using a standard martini shaker for the icing of the tea; no fancy-pants "Iced Tea Makers" needed; you are the iced tea maker!

Step 1: Choose the tea you prefer to ice, I highly recommend our Red Rocks and Green Roasted Mint as the most refreshing and delicious iced teas.

Step 2: Use double the amount of tea leaves. For example, an 8 ounce cup usually requires 1-2 tsp of tea. In this case, you will double that amount; so use 2-4 tsp of tea, depending on how strong you like you iced tea.

Step 3: Steep your tea for its recommended amount of time and water temperature in an 8 ounce Steepin' Cup.

Step 4: While tea is steeping, fill your martini shaker with ice.

Step 5: When tea has steeped, remove the infuser basket and pour your tea into the martini shaker.

Step 6: Shake it like a one-legged man in a butt kicking contest and ta-da! After you pour your martini shaker contents into a glass, you now have a delicious 16 ounce glass of iced tea!

Who knew it could be so simple? Well, I did, which is why I am sharing it with you all.

Big hugs and kisses!
Foolong Choo

Thursday, May 22, 2008

What's Cookin' Good Lookin'?

There's always something cooking in the TeaSpot kitchen, so in accompaniment to our blog about tea-riffic cocktails, I thought I would go ahead and add the piece de résistance: a few mouth-watering recipes for cooking with tea. So put on your aprons, collect your spatulas, and get in the kitchen and make me some dinner!

Image courtesy of

Tea has long been consumed at all times of the day and with all types of food, and also as an after-dinner digestif. Tea's wide range of subtle and poignant flavors make it perfect for added flavors in food. So it only makes sense that at some point during the human experience, our big-'ole brains would combine the two in the kitchen for some new culinary experiences.

So, without further ado, I give you the following recipes, courtesy of TeaSpot founders Maria Uspenski and Karen Harbour:

Green Tea Chicken Noodle Soup
8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken, cut into1/2 inch pieces
2 teaspoons GREEN ROASTED MINT leaves steeped in one half-cup (4 oz) water
5 ounces dry bean thread noodles
4 cups chicken stock
2 (1/2 inch thick) slices ginger root, lightly mashed
1/2 cup oyster mushrooms, cubed
3 cups packed spinach leaves, large stems removed
Salt and white pepper, as desired

PREPARATION: Place the chicken in a large bowl and add the green tea. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour to marinate. Cover the bean thread noodles with warm water. Soak until softened, about 10 minutes. Drain. In a big pot bring the stock, ginger and mushrooms to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes. Add the chicken, including the GREEN ROASTED MINT marinade, and noodles. Return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes. Add the spinach and boil for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Red Rocks Roasted Potatoes
2 lbs Red Potatoes, cubed
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
3 teaspoons agave or honey
3 tablespoons TeaSpot’s Red Rocks tea, finely ground
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt; 1 teaspoon white pepper

PREPARATION: Preheat oven to 425°. In a large roasting pan or baking sheet, spread cubes potatoes evenly. In a bowl, mix oil, vinegar, Red Rocks tea, agave, salt & pepper. Drizzle mixture over potatoes and toss together. Cover with foil and place in oven. Bake for 45 - 50 minutes. Uncover and stir. Broil for an additional 5 - 10 minutes to brown top. Serves 6 – 8.

Orange-Mango Tango Duck
2 Boneless duck breast halves
¾ cup chopped shallots
2 ¼ cups chicken broth
1 ½ cups fresh or non-concentrated orange juice
4 teaspoons MANGO TANGO leaves
1 Tablespoon honey
3 Tablespoons diced butter
salt and pepper to taste

PREPARATION: Preheat oven to 450F. Pierce skin of duck all over with fork and sprinkle duck with salt and pepper. Place duck, skin side down, in a heated skillet to brown (about 4 minutes). Turn duck breasts over and continue to cook for another 2 minutes. Remove and place in a roasting pan, then continue to cook in 450F oven to desired doneness, about 20 minutes for medium-rare. Meanwhile, heat the drippings left in the skillet over medium. Add shallots and sauté until golden. Remove discarded drippings. Add broth, orange juice and MANGO TANGO leaves. Bring to boil. Reduce to about 1 cup and strain. Return liquid to same skillet and add honey; simmer 2 minutes. Whisk in butter and add salt and pepper to taste. Slice thin and serve with sauce.

Fragrant Rice

VINTAGE OOLONG will give your ordinary rice a sweet and subtle aroma. Perfect with any mustard sauce or cream-based entree.
4 cups water
2 teaspoons VINTAGE OOLONG
2 cups rice
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
salt, 1/2 teaspoon, or to taste

PREPARATION: Boil water. Add rice, salt and olive oil and reduce heat to simmer. After 5 minutes add vintage oolong leaves. Cover and simmer for an additional 20 minutes or until water is absorbed and rice is ready. Remove vintage oolong leaves – they will all be at the surface of the rice. Serves: 4 - 6

Earl of Grey Cookies
2 tsp Earl of Grey (dry leaves, ground)
2 c flour
2 eggs
4 oz. (1/2 c) butter, melted
1/2 c cane sugar
1 TBS decorative sugar crystals
a few loose Earl of Grey tea leaves

PREPARATION: Beat the melted butter with the sugar. Add 1 egg, then flour and powdered tea, until you get a homogeneous dough. Form into a ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate 1 hour. Grease a cookie sheet. Preheat oven to 400F. Beat 2nd egg with 1 TBS water in a small bowl. Roll out the dough to about 1/4 in thickness, on a lightly floured surface. Cut out cookies into desired shapes, and place on cookie sheet. Brush with beaten egg mixture. Decorate with loose sugar crystals and tea leaves. Bake about 10 mins or until just golden. Cool on rack and let come to room temperature before serving.

Boulder Blues Fruit Salad
6 teaspoons TeaSpot’s Boulder Blues steeped in 4 oz hot water
1/4 cup agave or 1/3 cup honey or sugar
Assorted Fruit (Strawberry, blueberry, mango, pineapple, apple, raspberry, melon, grapes)

PREPARATION: Steep Boulder Blues tea in 4 ounces water at 175° for 2 minutes (Note to bring water to 175° - boil and let cool for 3 minutes). Add hot tea to agave and whisk. Mix fruit in a big bowl. Drizzle Boulder Blues syrup over fruit. Mix gently and let sit for 20 - 30 minutes before serving.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Delicious Tea Drinks

This week finds me appreciating tasty tea concoctions made with various distilled spirits.

The art of concocting deliciously balanced booze drinks really needs no justification or introduction. That being said, allow me to provide some interesting drink recipes for you to try in the comfort and privacy of your own home, and afterwards, you can score bragging rights for sharing these amazing concoctions with your buddies.

They might not look like these, but trust me, they will be delicious!
Image courtesy of

The Irish Earl:
This hot tea toddy is perfect for cooler weather. Which is perfect since we are still getting random snowstorms here in Colorado in the middle of May.
*Steep 1 tsp of TeaSpot's Earl of Grey for 4-5 minutes in 7 ounces of boiling water.
*Remove tea leaves, then add 1 ounce (that's a shot glass worth for you novices) of Bailey's Irish Cream.
*I said, Enjoy!

Tango Tea:
*Steep 3 tsp of TeaSpot's Mango Tango for 3-4 minutes in 8 ounces of boiling water.
*Pour over ice into a martini shaker to chill
*Blend 1/4 cup mango slices (or mango juice/puree) with a sprig of mint and a squeeze of honey
*Add tea and 2 oz fruit brandy or cognac
*Add ice to preference

The Anne Grenade:
*Steep 4 tsp of TeaSpot's Red Rocks in 8 ounces of boiling water for 5 minutes (or more, if you have time)
*Fill a martini shaker 3/4 full with ice, pour tea over ice and shake to chill
*In a 16 ounce pint glass, pour 1 ounce vodka and 1 oz Chambord over ice
*Fill remaining volume with iced Red Rocks tea
*Consume with relish. The verb relish, not the condiment.

Green Roasted Mint Mojito:
*Steep 3 tsp TeaSpot's Green Roasted Mint in 8 ounces of 175 degree water for 3 minutes.
*Fill a martini shaker 3/4 full with ice, pour tea over ice and shake to chill
*Muddle 2-4 sprigs fresh mint, 1-2 lime wedges, and cane sugar or agave in a 16 ounce pint glass
*add ice to glass
*Fill remaining volume with iced Green Roasted Mint tea

Boulder Blues Marteani:
*Steep 1-2 tsp TeaSpot's Boulder Blues in 8 ounces of 175 degree water for 2 1/2 minutes.
*Fill a martini shaker halfway with ice and add half of the steeped tea (4 ounces)
*Add 8 ounces lemon vodka and a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice
*Shake, shake, shake!
*Pour into frozen martini glass

If you aren't loaded by now, you must be passed out on the couch! If anyone else has any delicious drink recipes to share, shoot!

Easy, killer! Image courtesy of

Thursday, May 1, 2008

What is this "Pu-erh" You Speak Of?

Pu-erh trees. Image courtesy of .

You may or may not have already heard about "Puerh" tea, an ancient form of Chinese tea that is carefully aged and fermented over time. "Puerh" is the name for the tea in Mandarin, and "Bolay" or "Polay" is it's name in Cantonese. The tea itself is named after the Pu'er province in Yunnan, China. The best and true Puerh teas come from extremely old, wild tea trees. These teas are highly sought after and valuable, due to the increasing scarcity of these trees as well as an increase of faux puerh production utilizing other types of tea leaves. The tea plant itself, if left to its own devices, will indeed grow into a large tree. However, since plucking tea leaves off of anything that is higher than your own body is extremely difficult, the tea plants are kept pruned to a more managable height.

Puerh has long been considered a healthy tea by the Chinese, and medicinally, is believed to invigorate the spleen, relieve dampness, counteract alcohol toxins (ie, hangover cure), release stomach heat, and descend stomach qi (or chi). Puerh has also been considered a weight loss supplement due to its ability to aid in fat metabolism. So next time you roll through the line at McD's, do yourself a favor and wash it down with some puerh!

There are two types of processed Puerhs: Raw (aka green), and ripened or (aka cooked). Raw puerh is converted into "maocha," which means "rough tea." This is done by spreading the leaves in the sun to remove some of the water content and to wilt the leaves a bit. After that, the leaves are pan-fried in a wok to arrest all enzymatic activity and stop further fermentation. The leaves can then be rolled and shaped, and are given another sun bath. Once it is dry then voilá, you've got your green puerh.

Ripened puerhs undergo an additional process that imitates bacterial and fungal fermentation by controlling humidity, temperature, and the aging process. The process itself is very similar to composting. (Think hot, humid foodstuffs churning in the sun. Yum!) This takes 6 months to a year (and up, sort of like wine), and if it isn't carefully overseen, then you could end up with a not-so-pleasant tasting tea. The older the puerh, generally the more revered it is.
After the fermentation, some puerhs go on to be compressed into small cakes or bricks called "touchas," typically using a hydraulic or lever press.

Hey Beavis, this looks like a cow-pie, but really it's a Puerh brick.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Puerh is certainly an adventure for your taste buds if you have never tried it before. The first time I tasted Puerh, I thought it tasted like garden dirt in hot water, and I vowed never to drink it again. However, after continuing to hear about its many health benefits (mostly when I would explain them to customers) I figured I would give it another go. While traditional puerh certainly has an extremely earthy flavor, it is a flavor that grows on you, much like beer and mustard do after the age of 12. ish.

MA! This dirt tastes like puerh!
Image courtesy of

Green puerh, according to TeaSpot founder Maria Uspenski, tastes like "bacon and eggs."
"Most green puerhs are smoky," she says, in comparison to black puerhs. And I will have to take her word for it because I am certainly green myself when it comes to tasting these teas.

Green Puerh. So, so good. And good for you!

Whether you are new to puerh or not, the best way to learn what you like most is to get out there and try them. Our downtown store carries two varieties: a black, 7-8 year Aged Puerh that is very lovely and smooth, as well as a Green Puerh Chrysanthemum Toucha, which is, now that I think about it, rather smoky. Another great thing about puerh is you can re-steep it many times and still have a great cuppa. Our Bolder Breakfast Blend also incorporates pu'erh in the mix - inspiring its "Bolder" name!

So get thee out there and drink puerh! Immediately!