Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Tea matters

A few days ago I blogged about some nifty teabags from Shirakata Denshiro Shoten. Well, of course I forgot to go into the reason for the pyramid-shaped teabag. I admit that I was so thrilled by the notched tag designed to be latched onto the rim of the teacup that it clouded my priorities. In any case, the teabag design is so that tea leaves can circulate more freely in the teabag. This is supposed to allow larger tea leaves to be used, and a taste more similar to that of loose tea.

I don't know if it's the teabag design or just the fact that this is good-quality tea. I've been careful brewing it, too; normally, I have a bad habit of letting my teabag steep until the cows come home. In any case, these teas are very nice indeed. The aroma of the steeping tea perfumes the kitchen. The sencha (plain green tea) has a wonderful extra sweetness that reminds me of some green tea candies I've tried. The roasted aroma of the koujicha is good, too, but I find I prefer the sencha. Now, even though I already have genmaicha, I want to try this maker's genmaicha. Judging from these other two teas, it should be worth it.

My other recent tea adventure involves a visit from The Dancer last week and a trip to the Asian supermarket. We both splashed out on goodies, one of which was a big bag of Thai tea mix. I don't know how many times I've strolled down the tea aisle before, but I never saw this mix on previous trips. Either I've been really inattentive, or this is just one of those little stocking mysteries the Asian supermarket is prone to.

Once we got back to my place, there was no question that we were going to make a batch of Thai iced tea. We followed Nancie McDermott's instructions in Quick and Easy Thai. She recommends boiling four and a half cups of water, stirring in 3/4 of a cup of the Thai tea mix and removing it from the heat to cool. She also advises adding 3/4 of a cup of sugar at this stage, stirring to dissolve it, but we opted to add sugar to taste later on.

Once the tea cooled a bit, we strained it and poured it into two big plastic ice-filled cups (we didn't wait for it to cool all the way because we were impatient). Then we added sugar and evaporated milk to taste (McDermott suggests 3/4 of a cup of tea and three to four tablespoons of evaporated milk per glass). The straining process ended up being messy and I think we'll handle it more elegantly next time (if only to spare various kitchen equipment from the prodigious staining qualities of this mix once it has steeped). It didn't matter, though; it tasted just like it does in a Thai restaurant. Mmmmm. The Dancer doesn't drink caffeinated tea often, so this very strong brew gave her a good buzz. I was rather wakeful that night, too, but I don't know whether to blame the tea or general life distractions.

When it was time for The Dancer to go, we split the tea powder. The only thing I wish is that I had a recipe to make a glass at a time; on the other hand, maybe the thing to do is brew the tea in quantity, stash it in the fridge, and then dole it out as necessary, just adding the milk (and sugar, if wishing to add it later in the process) when serving.


Garrett said...

Good luck on your thai tea dilemma. I recently had some fascist thai iced tea at a restaurant (very little for a high price), and tried the canned version. My advice on that: Don't.

Winslow said...

Hi Garrett,

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the warning. I think the biggest step is getting the Thai tea mix. Once that's on hand, I figure I can play around with it and see what works best. In fact, I might try making a batch today.

Gustad said...

mmm, thai iced tea

Winslow said...

Hi Gustad,

I hear you! :) It's wonderful, addictive stuff. I'm so happy I can make it at home now.

Thanks for stopping by.