Tuesday, February 24, 2009

How To Decaffeinate Your Tea Right at Home

There is a Chinese method of infusing tea that has led to a simple way for anyone to remove most of the caffeine from their tea, at home - in less than one minute.

Many commercial methods of extracting caffeine from tea are harsh and can affect the taste, the flavor and selection of the finished product. This 'Gongfu' method is approved by the Specialty Tea Institute.

Because most of the caffeine found in tea leaves ends up on the outside of the leaf during the drying process, a simple 'leaf washing' or 'pre-brewing' is all that's needed to remove 80-90% of the caffeine from any black, oolong or green tea.

This method allows decaf tea drinkers to experience a whole world of teas.

  • Measure the correct amount of tea leaves into the teapot.

  • Bring fresh, cold water to a rolling boil in a kettle or saucepan.

  • Immediately pour this water over the dry tea leaves in the pot, only covering the leaves with the water. Do not fill up the tea pot just yet.

  • Wait 30-45 seconds. Pour away this small amount of water using a strainer to catch any stray tea leaf. Put strays back into the pot. By doing this procedure, you allow the caffeine to dissolve, then you pour this concentrated caffeine solution down the drain.

  • Now fill up the tea pot with your hot water and brew as usual.

That's it! You've done it - decaffeinated your own fine quality loose teas at home, in less than one minute!

You may notice a slight decrease in flavor or strength with a few teas after using this technique. If this is the case, simply add an extra teaspoon of tea to the pot prior to the procedure.

Note: Anything over 1 minute really affects tea flavor and does not insure additional caffeine reduction.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Tea & Food Pairing

Still an evolving art, pairing teas with particular types of food can add new dimensions to one's dining experience. As with wine - which has long been the subject of pairing with different food products and cuisines - the variety of flavors and aromas found across the world of tea offer countless culinary opportunities!

As you consider the pairing of tea and food, keep in mind that the most important consideration is your own personal taste. Below, are a number of suggestions:

White Tea: Because of the extremely subtle flavor of white teas, we recommend pairing them with only the mildest of flavors.
Bai Mu Dan - basmati rice

Green Tea: In general, the subtle, vegetative flavor and aroma of most green tea is well suited to mild or subtly-flavored foods, such as seafood, rice, salads, melon or chicken.
Dragonwell - seafood or fish, salads, chicken
Gunpowder - Asian or Middle Eastern Foods
Ti Kuan Yin - desserts and fruits

Oolong Tea: Many argue that the subtle complexity of flavor and aroma attributed to oolong tea demand drinking it on its own. However, because oolongs can range in character between green and black teas, many can be paired with food along the same lines as their green or black counterparts. For instance, greener oolongs tend to go well with scallops, lobster and other sweet rich foods, while darker oolongs compliment somewhat stronger-flavored foods such as duck and grilled meats.
Jade Oolong - chicken, seafood, or fruits

Black Tea: The more robust flavors and aromas of most black teas, as well as the most pronounced tannins, are well suited to pairing with full-flavored foods such as meat and spicy dishes.
Darjeeling - egg dishes; creamy desserts
Keemun - meats; fish; Chinese foods; spicy Mexican, Italian, or Indian dishes
Yunnan - highly seasoned foods
Lapsang Souchong - chicken, smoked salmon, lemony desserts Assam - hearty foods; breakfast foods; chocolate, custard or lemon desserts

Pu-erh Tea: Worthy of special note, pu-erh teas are known for their digestive benefits. Not only do these teas pair well with meats and oily foods, they can offer a welcome settling effect after large, multi-course meals!
Pu-erh - after a large meal (such as Thanksgiving Day); red meats, stir-fries, oily foods

Monday, February 9, 2009

Coffee Dacquoise Hearts

Looking for a great Valentine's Day treat for a coffee lover? Well, look no further!


2/3 cup hazelnuts
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon sugar
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 pinch cream of tartar
4 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon warm water
4 large egg yolks, at room temperature
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened


Prepare Hazelnuts:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Toast nuts in a shallow baking pan in middle of oven until skins are split and nuts are golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Wrap nuts in a kitchen towel and rub to remove skins (not all skins will come off), then cool. Finely chop 1/3 cup nuts and reserve.

Make Meringue Hearts:

Finely grind remaining 1/3 cup whole nuts with cornstarch and 1 teaspoon sugar in a food processor (do not allow to become a paste). Transfer to a bowl and stir in 1/4 cup sugar.

Reduce oven to 250 degrees F.

Cover 2 baking sheets with foil. Using cutter or cardboard template as a guide, trace 6 hearts on each sheet with pointed end of a toothpick (for a total of 12). Brush foil lightly with oil.

Beat egg whites and a pinch of salt with an electric mixer until foamy, then add cream of tartar and continue to beat until whites hold soft peaks.

Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar, beating until whites just hold stiff, glossy peaks. Fold in ground-nut mixture gently but thoroughly and transfer meringue to pastry bag.

Staying within traced lines, pipe 4 solid hearts and 2 hearts with a heart-shaped space in center on each baking sheet (there may be meringue left over). Bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until dry and pale golden, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Cool 10 minutes, then carefully peel meringues off foil and transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Make Buttercream:

Stir together espresso powder and 1 teaspoon warm water until dissolved.

Bring remaining 1/4 cup warm water and remaining 1/2 cup sugar to a boil in a very small heavy saucepan over moderate heat, covered, stirring occasionally until sugar is dissolved. Boil, uncovered, washing down sugar crystals from side of pan with a pastry brush dipped in water, until candy thermometer registers 238 degrees F or a drop of syrup forms a soft ball when dropped into a cup of cold water.

When syrup reaches boil, start beating yolks in a bowl with electric mixer until thick and pale.

When syrup reaches soft-ball stage, slowly pour it in a thin stream down side of bowl into yolks, beating constantly. Continue to beat at high speed until cool to the touch. (It is important that mixture is properly cooled before proceeding.)

With mixer at high speed, add butter 1 piece at a time, beating well after each addition until incorporated, then beat in dissolved espresso. Continue to beat buttercream until fluffy.

Assemble Hearts:

Spread 1 tablespoon buttercream evenly over each solid heart. Top each of 4 solid hearts with another solid heart, buttercream sides up, then top each stack with an open heart. Spread about 1 tablespoon buttercream around sides of each heart, then coat sides with reserved chopped hazelnuts.

Chill hearts 30 minutes, then let stand at room temperature 15 minutes.

Serve with coulis & Enjoy!!!

Recipe Provided By: Epicurious.com

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Valentine's Day Gift for Coffee/Tea Lovers

Looking for creative ideas for Valentine's Day?

This gift basket was so easy to put together and would be a great gift for just about anyone!

It includes four glass Cappuccino mugs, four napkins with napkin rings, a set of four drink charms from Acorn Accessories and a decorative rose heart.

Drink charms a "charming" way to tell guest’s glasses apart. The charm hangs from the handle of a mug (or stem of a wine glass). They add real "charm" to this gift basket!

If you want, you can also add to top off the gift with a pound of coffee beans or some unique tea.

Of course, the drink charms can also be used on wine glasses! As an alternative gift idea, simply replace the coffee mugs with wine glasses and add a bottle of wine.

For more drink charms, check out Acorn Accessories!