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Tagged With: tea

New Teas, Take Two!

Seattle original, Jimi Hendrix

Seattle original, Jimi Hendrix

Great Seattle original Jimi Hendrix described seeing emotion as color, and played his music to match the colors he felt. While I’d never compare my palate to Jimi’s guitar prowess, I like to take the way he felt his art, and apply it to food, drink, and flavor. I choose from these teas- the lighter of our new offerings- when we get those clear, crisp, cloudless days… The kind when, if the breeze falls still over the Puget Sound for just a moment, the sun is toasty warm on an upturned face, the energy ebbing in Pike Place Market is gentle and communal, and the light that filters down through the trees is the same color as a perfectly brewed cup of green tea.

Ti Kuan Yin

Baked oolong tea

Ti Kuan Yin – Tieguanyin

We’ve carried a Ti Kuan Yin (or Tieguanyin,  or any number of other spellings) for some time in the shop. Although technically an oolong, that example is quite lightly oxidized, and has a bright, verdant flavor. Our newest Ti Kuan Yin is produced in the traditional method of coal firing, which results in a very robust toasty and sweet character, which I strongly prefer when the weather snaps cold. The toastiness is matched with a deep, lingering floral nose, and a subtle astringency. This Baked Ti Kuan Yin is nicknamed the “Iron Goddess of Mercy;” the “iron” is meant to indicate the strength and lasting power of this tea, though I secretly think of it as the elixir that turns me in to a superheroine of the same name…

Sencha, Japanese Steamed Green Tea

Sencha, Japanese Steamed Green Tea

Sencha

The Japanese talent for focusing on the beauty of single ingredients is as visible in their teas as it is elsewhere in their cuisine. Sencha is — with good reason — the most popular tea in Japan. This tea differs from the more common Chinese greens for the fact that it is steamed after picking (as opposed to the Chinese tradition of pan-roasting) to stop the oxidization process. This steaming imparts a fresh, pleasing, almost seaweed-like flavor to the grassy, vegetal, gold-green liquor, which so complements the characteristic “umami” profile of the leaves themselves. Brewed gently, it’s an exquisitely balanced cup.

Yin Hao Jasmine Green Tea

Yin Hao Jasmine Green Tea

Yin Hao Jasmine

Shop owner Amanda Bevill sips a fragrant cup of jasmine tea all day long- and in fact, if you don’t know her by sight, you could sleuth out who she is by the glass mug of clear green brew never far from her hands! Jasmine-scented green tea is traditionally made by stacking sheets of green tea leaves and jasmine flowers, one on top of the other, for anywhere from hours on in to days or weeks. Our Yin Hao Jasmine tea has been scented five times in this fashion, which imparts a heady jasmine fragrance in the nose, well balanced by the nutty undertone of lightly oxidized green tea. Often, jasmine tea is rolled in to pearls to make it hearty and protect the fragrance, but with these delicate leaves, take more notice of your brew time and water temperature or the tea may become too strong or astringent.

So, I solemnly swear, right hand raised, that I’m done complaining about the departure of summer. The promise of watching the rain come down in sheets (and maybe even snow? Yes, I said it!) on Western Avenue from the safety of our big windows here in the shop, while sipping these seven, new, delectable teas (for our first post on our new black teas click here), has me cozy and content, and ready for whatever the season brings. Swing by for a taste of any one of these teas, or to tell me how you’re preparing to weather the Pacific Northwest monsoon season!

Categories: Recipes, Tea, Wet Your Whistle | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More Than a Minute for Chai…

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The trains of India are legendary- they wind through the vast countryside and into the crowded cities, packing in locals and adventurers alike. Merchants selling traditional tea beverages- or chai wallahs- announce their wares at every stop, circulating through the cars to provide passengers with cups of steaming brew in low-fired clay cups (that you throw out the window when you’re finished!), jumping from the train as it pulls away from the platform.

Chai is such an integral part of the Indian culture that even if you’re miles away from food or potable water, there will always be someone to give you a hot cup of chai. The classic version is an aromatic brew centered around a black tea base, flavored with spices, and tempered with milk and a sweetener. Traditional chai beverages are brewed with different proportions of  warm, sweet spices such as ginger, cardamom, cinnamon and clove.

World Spice offers a variety of original chai blends to suit most any palate. Our most popular Sweet Chai is most traditional, with a little orange peel added for a full, aromatic flavor. Our Roast Chai makes use of deeply toasted spices to produce a sumptuous brew reminiscent of cocoa- and is also fabulous infused in to alcohols, or ground and used in desserts. Our Chipotle Chai is the chile-heads’ dream- flavorful, smoky, and spicy. The heat of the chile warms from the inside-out, no matter how frigid the drizzle.

We like to brew chai in a 16 oz. french-press pot, because it allows us to steep in two stages, getting maximum flavor from the spices while preventing the tea from becoming bitter. Add two tablespoons (or more!) of freshly cracked chai spice, and fill the pot half way with boiling water. After steeping for three minutes, add two tablespoons of black tea- our favorite is Assam- and top off the pot with more boiling water. Steep another three minutes, press, then add warm milk and honey to taste. Feel free to adjust the spice to tea ratio for a perfect personalized cup. If you’re accustomed to processed, syrupy chai concentrates, this process will be a revelation. Though a bit more of a time investment, you’ll find the reward well worth the effort- both for the steamy and fragrant amber brew, and for those few minutes you’ll learn to delight in taking for yourself.

Categories: Hot Topics, Indian Subcontinent, Notes from the Field, Spice Notes, Sweet Somethings, Wet Your Whistle | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment