Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hojicha Green Tea Chile Sauce

Being Hispanic, Chile Verde sauce, aka Green Chile sauce, is in my blood and is always in my refrigerator. It's actually very easy to make and should be a staple in your cooking repertoire because it is such a versatile condiment. Spoon it over eggs, grilled chicken, steak or fish. It also makes a great dipping sauce for chips or veggies. 
Photo by The Tea Spot

The twist of tea in my recipe brings a basic Chile Verde sauce to another level. The nutty flavor and roasted aromas in Hojicha (or houjicha), a roasted Japanese green tea, melds perfectly with the roasted Anaheim and Poblano green chiles.  

Hojicha Green Tea Chile Sauce

  • 1 TBS Hojicha green tea
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 2-3 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 TBS flour,
  • 2/3 cup Anaheim chiles, roasted, peeled & chopped
  • 2/3 cup Poblano chiles, roasted, peeled & chopped
  • 1 TBS Boulder Blues Tea-soning
  • salt & pepper
  1. Roast Anaheim and Poblano chiles, see how to roast chiles below.
  2. Bring chicken stock to a boil and let cool for 3 minutes. Add Hojicha green tea to the chicken stock and let steep for 3 minutes. Strain tea leaves and reserve stock.
  3. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 2 more minutes. Stir in flour and cook mixture until flour turns golden brown, 3-4 minutes. 
  4. Slowly stir in reserved tea stock and green chiles. Add Boulder Blues Tea-soning.
  5. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
  6. Season with salt & pepper.
  7. Refrigerate for up to 7 days.
How to roast chiles:
  1. Oven: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place chiles on baking sheet and roast until skin darkens and bubbles, about 10-15 minutes. Flip sides and roast another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cover immediately to allow the chiles to steam which will make it easier to remove the skin.
  2. Grill: Preheat grill to high. Place chiles on grill and cook until skin darkens and bubbles, about 10 minutes. Flip sides and grill another 10 minutes. Remove from grill and cover immediately to allow the chiles to steam which will make it easier to remove the skin.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Tea-soned Maté Limon Shrimp Stir-Fry

A quick, easy & tea-licious meal that takes 20 minutes to make...


  •  1 lb shrimp, peeled & deveined
  •  1 1/2 TBS Maté Limon Chai* Tea-soning
  •  4 TBS canola oil, divided
  •  1 red onion, diced
  •  1 clove garlic, minced
  •  1 zucchini, chopped
  •  1 yellow squash, chopped
  •  1 red bell pepper, chopped
  •  1 can corn, drained & washed
  •  3 TBS teriyaki sauce
  •  1/8 cup cornstarch or arrowroot
  •  3/4 cup chicken broth
  •  salt & pepper to taste


1. Combine shrimp and Tea-soning in a large plastic food storage bag and refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.

2. Heat 2 TBS oil in a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add red onion & garlic and sauté until slightly soft, about 3 minutes. Add Tea-soned shrimp and cook until opaque, about 3 minutes. Remove shrimp and reserve.

3. Heat 2 TBS oil in wok. Add zucchini, squash, red bell pepper and corn to wok and sauté until slightly soft, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in the reserved shrimp and add teriyaki sauce.

4. In a bowl, whisk cornstarch and chicken broth together add to wok; cook, stirring until mixture boils. Reduce heat and serve.

Serving Suggested: Vintage Oolong Rice Pilaf. Visit teaspotchef.blogspot.com for recipe.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Our booth at EXPO or..."is that a toy"?

With our EXPO 'till you drop schedule in Anaheim, it was a bit difficult to keep up with blogging from CA... but here are some highlights from the rest of our time at Expo. Wish we had a nickel for every time our Tuffy Steepers turned heads.  Its similarity to the collapsible camping cups and silicone measuring cups had people asking why this cup had holes in it.  Quite a few folks thought it was a toy, and a few handsome customers treated it as such :-)  We enjoy having unique products to present, and to be able to make new strides with new products in support of our mission of making loose leaf tea an everyday luxury.  And it's rewarding to get compliments on our innovation and most gratifying to have folks applaud our team's professionalism :-))  Makes it easier to head back out of the So-Cal sunshine and into the chilly grind ~:-)

Personal highlights included a surprise visit from my fiance's daughter Sadie (pictured here with me) and spending an evening with one of my best childhood friends after the show was over; an amazing dinner we were treated to by one of our main importers of the best Indian food I've ever had in the US - you really must make an effort to go to Tandoori Garden at 30 South Anaheim Blvd (Rob pictured here with the Saag Shrimp); our fastest and most efficient set-up/break-down (i had nothing to do with either...) and leaving EXPO with all of our product samples sold; meeting the greatest number of new customers and interested parties from press to the Miss America organization, to many discriminating independent retailers, to larger natural foods stores that we've ever harnessed in a single show; and for me - watching Jared, Rob and Andrea in action.  I was one really lucky person, working with a blue chip team, committed to changing the way you think about loose leaf tea  ;-o

Monday, March 15, 2010

Roughing It with Gourmet Amenities

One of our newest customers just shared this photo with me. He emailed to show off how he hooks up great loose leaf tea while camping!

I met him and a bunch of other backpackers interested in brewing loose tea on the trail through a forum on backpackinglight.com. One of the forum members had suggested our Tuffy Steeper - due to its compact, lightweight structure. I added that for people who also enjoy a cuppa joe, the Tuffy can double as a filter for coarse ground coffee beans. And while that does add practicality, being a purist myself, I would buy separate ones for the trail so that residual coffee bean oils wouldn't taint my tea. Admittedly anal, I'm sure other tea geeks would agree.

Thanks Steve for giving our Tuffy Steeper a shot as your backpacking tea filter and we can't wait to see more photos of our Tuffy on the trails of Yellowstone. Congrats on your new job there!

As a matter of fact, we'd love to see everyone's photos of our tea gear in use. Send me your stories and photos, info@theteaspot.com

Friday, March 12, 2010

California Dreamin'

Coincidentally enough, this was the song blasting in my spin class the night before i leaving for EXPO (a funky hip-hop version) and it was indeed "such a winter's night" in Boulder...with Spring snowflakes the size of cotton balls floating around.  Checking in at the airport, a group of girls, Spring breakers, perhaps, were figuring out how quickly they could get to In-n-Out burger once we landed, and a very Western-looking couple, who may have been driving for a long time to get to DIA were concerned about where to find the McDonald's (at 8:30 AM?!)  Have any of these people seen Food, Inc???  The line at Einstein's bagels was longer than the one at security, leading me to wonder if, like my vegetarian daughter, these folks depend on bagels as their primary source of protein... Sometimes it takes a foray out of Boulder to realize that Natural Foods are, in fact, niche.

But now Anaheim Convention Center neighborhood is transformed into a granola megalopolis.  Unbelievable! You really have to watch what you pick up as you stroll the aisles.  Ever try pizza-yogurt-smoothie-crackers-protein bar-chips-chocolate milk in a 15 minute break?  Was that me having a hard time with the folks headed to the burger joints? ;)

Last night's opening reception was hosted by New Zealand.  Had a great organic Pinot, and treats ranging from Salmon rolls to goat cheese drizzled with honey (you see here my colleague Andrea enjoying her glass - she was happy to be finished with her 3 days of prospecting sales calls, but sad to be out of her rental jeep, which she aptly wielded around like a freeway native).

Our booth looks stellar, thanks to Jared and Rob for setting it up and merchandising it beautifully, and to Jessica for our gorgeous graphics.  We're having a tremendous first day, thanks in part to the onslaught of folks who responded to our 100 Tuffy Steepers and tea samples giveaway... guess our spreading the word really worked :) So nice to be meeting people who try and enjoy our teas, and admire our Steepware.  Cool to see, as well, how loose leaf tea seems like much less of an anomaly these days, than 5 years ago.

More tomorrow, until then, keep it loose!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Westward Bound... to EXPO!

Feels like the night before Christmas - when all through the house, not a creature was stirring at The Tea Spot.

3 of our team of 7 are already in/on their way to Anaheim, CA for the largest Natural Food Show of the year, EXPO West.  EXPO's hosted by the Boulder media powerhouse, New Hope Media.  We'll be one of over 2000 exhibitors. From our town alone, about 40 companies are exhibiting - no small feat!  Our local paper ran an article, appropriately titled "Naturally Hopeful" in the biz section this week, stating (quite accurately, I might add) that this event is, for many companies, the largest annual marketing expenditure they'll choose to make.  So even from our 10x10 spot in the basement, we intend to wow many of the 53,000 anticipated "industry professional" passer-bys with our outstanding teas and innovative Steepware products, including some previews of exciting developments coming in 2010. Our newest development dovetails perfectly with the strong Going Green initiatives that New Hope has taken with CO2 emissions reductions initiatives at the show this year ;)

Our Natural Foods sets are growing, both in quality of products and number.  We're thrilled to be offering our teas in bulk to grocery shoppers in select stores like Whole Foods (Southglenn store set pictured at center) and Food Lion.  But the cornerstone of our brand and affinity for the natural and organic shopper comes from retailers like Lazy Acres in Santa Barbara, and Ellwood Thompson's (set pictured at the bottom) in Richmond Virginia.  This is our customer, and this year, we hope to be able to better represent our brand on their shelves, offer a wider variety of products in bulk, as well as new and innovative tea steeping tools for the consumer as well as foodservice.

The feeling of pending expectation has been building... now in our 5th year of exhibiting at the show, we're (thankfully!) at our most organized and well-mobilized, and looking forward to not only representing our own products and mission of fostering health and wellness through loose leaf tea, but taking in what others are doing in our industry. 

So please come by and visit us (and enjoy some tea!) at booth 5766 in Hall E - our hall opens at 9:30 AM - 30 minutes earlier than all the others (is this 'cus it's hard to get to, I wonder?!)

The Natural Products EXPO West show runs from March 12-14 at the Anaheim Convention Center. 

And I'll do my best to report here on our experience at the show :)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Steep up a little dust lately?

read on... odds are, if you're a US tea drinker, you probably have :(

I did a double take then I first saw this headline in the Financial Express: "Clean tea, dusts in strong demand" Who's demanding dust, I wondered... but of course - your best-known tea companies!

From Wikipedia: "Dust tea...Traditionally these were treated as the rejects of the manufacturing process in making high quality leaf tea... has however experienced a huge demand in the developing world in the last century as the practice of tea drinking became popular. Cheap tea stalls in India and the South Asian sub-continent, and Africa prefer dust tea because it is cheap and also produces a very strong brew - consequently more cups are obtained per measure of tea dust."
Terrific... We Americans and Brits established dust's popularity, and tea bags made it all possible.  I guess there's something to be said for the vertical integration and sustainability aspect to being able to use the whole leaf, even the rejects from the manufacturing process ;)

Even the "clean tea" that was in high demand was - fannings!  Fannings are barely a step up from dust. They're defined in the tea industry as: Dust or very small particles of tea left over after processing. This is the lowest grade of tea.  Some auctions, however, include "dust" as an actual grade of tea, namely the one being reported on in our subject article.

Take heart, however, in that you'll probably never find dust or fanning grade tea in any loose tea product.  From the seven main grades of tea auctioned off, we're the ones who buy up the top 3 grades. So you can drink up and feel good about it :)

Photo Credits:
* Teabag beauty shot from prwatch.org 
* New Moon Darjeeling leaf pile from theteaspot.com

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tea-n-Drinkin' (Calm-A-Sutra of Tea scholarship competition)

A runner up in the Calm-A-Sutra Tea Competition, this video made me feel stronger just watching it.