Tuesday, December 21, 2010

High Afternoon Tea?!, Queen Vic, NYC

I should have been alarmed when I read the title. High Afternoon Tea. What on earth...? A new British Pub, the Queen Vic, recently opened in the East Village on 2nd Ave and 4th St. A bit of an anglophile myself, I was very surprised to pass by it a few months ago. Even more surprising to me was that, on their menu, after the bangers and mash and meat pies on offer, there was an afternoon tea. High Afternoon Tea, but I wasn't alarmed. I was excited to see this cute little British pub promising "finger sandwiches, scones with cream and jam, and cakes".

The semester ended and finals were done with. Sarah and I were ready to have a lovely afternoon tea. We decided we wanted to try somewhere new. Of course Podunk is on the top of the list, but it's important to give all of the tea spots in this city a chance. I contemplated the Crosby Street hotel that serves what looks like a very traditional and delightful tea, but then remembered the Queen Vic and at ten dollars cheaper, it seemed a good deal.

The space itself was well decorated. A small pub with photos of the Queen on the wall, Christmas decorations brightening up the dimly lit space. The only waiter/bartender in the space paid us no mind on entrance, so we seated ourselves and picked out our teas. The tea list is small, but they have three traditional British blends on hand: Typhoo, PG Tips, and Yorkshire Gold. I went for Yorkshire Gold. Sarah decided to order Earl Gray, her favorite. I went up and ordered, mentioning that the sandwiches for Sarah had to be vegetarian. The bartender/waiter seemed a bit confused when I even said afternoon tea, but here is where the journey began.

We watched as he took down two oversized china pots and two cups and saucers. Okay, I thought to myself, no worries so far. Sarah's pot was a tall China, actually used for coffee, but a little creativity is never an issue. It was when we saw him throwing teabags into the pot that we jumped a bit. The menu states "all our teas are loose leaf". The pots came over and my Yorkshire gold was loose, but Sarah had two bags floating in her pot. Luckily, she's not hard to please and we just decided to accept it. It was then, a minute later, when the waiter came over and put down an extra bag, Twinings Brand, saying "in case you want it stronger". We had a good laugh over that...but seriously, Twinings bags.

The food would be better, I told myself, trying to be positive. We waited for a while, as the bartender sat up at the bar with his friends, drinking wine and flirting with patrons. Finally we heard a bell ring and he left and reappeared shortly with sandwiches.

Neither of us said a word. We just immediately laughed out loud as soon as he left. Mini white bread sandwiches, cut up like club sandwiches with the frilled toothpicks sticking out of them lined the plate. As if we were to be watching a football game or something! I was shocked. Sarah's very small portion of vegetarian sandwiches had cucumber, tomato and onion, and the meat ones had a thick ham and orange cheese. They were pressed and warm, and didn't taste bad, but for afternoon tea, I do not want wonder bread and grilled cheese! The waiter came over again and said "this is our first time serving afternoon tea, so we are going to give you guys half off. Let us know if you need anything else to add to it."

Well...At this point I had lost hope. Sarah ordered some french fries, because, let's face it, this wasn't a real afternoon tea. I was ready to switch over to gin and tonics as soon as the pots ran out. Surprisingly, about ten minutes later, warm and homemade scones emerged from the kitchen. They were dotted with fresh dates, three on a plate. It was almost a shock to receive this after what we had gotten so far. To remind us though, that this was no real afternoon tea, canned whipped cream swirls were placed between each scone and there was no jam. No cakes ever came to follow the scones. The chips eventually came out for Sarah and they were decent.

All in all, this was a laughable experience, and I really hope this little British Pub gets its act together. If they want to tout a "high afternoon tea", they better do it right, or not serve it at all. I seldom give negative reviews, but with the service and with the food and quality, I must say I was not pleased. For the two of us, the bill came out to a total of $25. We split it in half, and sure, we saved some money, but in all honesty, I would have been willing to double what I paid to go to the Crosby St. for a real tea. I'll be surprised to learn of how the next few months changes the Queen Vic and maybe I'll go back when I return to NYC in July.

Hot Taro Milk Tea, T-Kettle, NYC

Sometimes, the only way to get through one of these bitter New York City days is to stop into one of the numerous bubble tea cafes for a hot milk tea. This past Saturday, after a two-show day, I was exhausted and needed a bit of hot comfort. I settled into T-Kettle on St. Marks, and ordered my favorite milk tea, taro, hot without tapioca. The beverage came out promptly, served in a modern glass mug. Strong taro flavoring meets with tea and milk to created a wintertime oasis in a cup. Hot milk tea: a perfect excuse to get out of the cold!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Hong Kong Style Milk Tea

A perfect breakfast accompaniment, HK Style Milk Tea is a strong black tea brewed in a long "sock-like" bag, then mixed with sugar and evaporated milk. This overflowing cup came with a the handsomely priced $3.60 breakfast special at M. Star Cafe on Division Street. A perfect way to start the day.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Old Friend's Tea @ Podunk

Podunk, my favorite tea room in the city, has all sorts of crafty names for their various set teas. The classic British tea, complete with cucumber sandwiches, scones, and a sewing of the various sweets of the day is entitled "Old Friend's Tea". On a recent visit with a friend, Elspeth explained to me the logic behind the title. Originally, her menu didn't have the British sampler, but people kept asking for it, so Elspeth decided she would pay homage to our British neighbors and add the set to the menu, hence our "Old Friends" (the Brits) tea!

I enjoyed this lovely afternoon tea with a pot of Ceylon, simple and robust!

E. 5th St (btw Bowery and 2nd Ave)
New York, NY

Monday, November 15, 2010

Vietnamese Iced Tea, Tu Do, Chinatown

This Vietnamese restaurant sits on Bowery in between Grand and Hester with a simple red awning that reads Tu Do-Vietnamese Cuisine. I met up with Candice this evening for dinner and we both had an enjoyable time. The husband and wife couple who own the restaurant are quite kind. I ordered a Viet Iced Tea, basically iced tea sweetened with condensed milk. This blend was particularly sweet, even for my sweet tooth. But it was refreshing and rich nonetheless and helped balance out the savoury banh mi bo kho, a beef stew served with baguette.

Green Tea Baguette, Takahachi Bakery, NYC

25 Murray Street at Church Street in the FiDi wouldn't seem like a particularly special intersection to the unassuming New Yorker, however this particular corner is home to Takahachi Bakery. This little Japanese gem is a lovely spot overflowing with Japanese goodies including buns, muffins, cookies, cakes, breads, macarons and an assortment of teas and coffees. Not to mention there are already prepared lunch sandwiches and homemade ice cream. All baking is done on premises and you can see it being done through the glass window by the seating area. On this particular Saturday afternoon, friend Nicole and I lounged at Takahachi for a while sipping on Matcha Lattes and Espressos (both fabulous!) But something I was really intrigued by was the green tea baguette on offer. I had to buy one. It was fresh and lovely and subtle hints of green tea poured through each bite. Later, I toasted the remains of the baguette and added some Yeo's Brand Kaya. After toasting, the tea flavor was more intensified and it was a perfect partner to the kaya! Although I love Panya and Cafe Zaiya, there is something a little more laid-back and calm about Takahachi that the others lack. I can't wait to return for a weekend breakfast of an-pan, tea, and a good book! Go visit today!

Teh Tarik, Malaysia Kitchen for the World, NYC

Last weekend I was pleased to attend the Malaysia Kitchen for the World event at Grand Central with friends Dani, Candice and Melissa. Many restaurants around the city came out and supplied guests with some iconic Malaysian staples including Nasi Lemak, Rendang, and assorted Kueh (pandan cupcakes in our case).

Of course for me, the most exciting part was the free samples of teh tarik being given out by the Malaysia Kitchen for the World food truck outside. This truck has been making its way around Manhattan and Queens, doing the Malaysian Tourist Industry a great service.

The teh tarik was hot and frothy, sweet and light, not overly powerful, just like I remember it in Malaysia. A really sweet and nice balance. The vendors were so friendly and allowed us to take multiple samples of the mini cups. Did I mention there was also free plates of mee goreng? This is a perfect noodle accompaniment to the sweet milk tea!

Check out the Malaysia Kitchen for the World twitter to learn about the truck's locations and upcoming events!


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Cha An, East Village, NYC

Cha An is a slice of heaven in the hustle and bustle of the East Village. The storefront is located in the Little Tokyo area that makes up 9th Street in between 3rd and 2nd Avenues. A set of stairs leads you up into a traditional Japanese Tea Parlor. It's so easy to forget you are in Manhattan after stepping into this other world. The staff is friendly and attentive and after I walked in from the chilly night air, I was quickly escorted to a private table in the back. I couldn't get over how much I was in love with the space. It was just beautiful. There is also a private room covered in tatami mats where a traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony takes place. For a very reasonable charge, you can experience the art of matcha.

But, because I was a solo diner on this particular night, and I just wanted some "me time", I ordered dinner, "Set A" from the food menu. There are several sweets that I would have loved to try, but I will be back for that. There is also a huge book of tea that is not only informative, but also just plain fun to read. I was learning about all sorts of Japanese teas that I did not know about before. However, I settled for a Matcha Latte, as I have read wonderful things about their iced lattes, and I had to try one of my favorite drinks at this authentic spot. The latte was perfect! It came out promptly, extremely well mixed, blending the sweet and powerful taste of matcha with milk. The latte was smooth and delicately blended, and I certainly appreciated that. To make it even more indulgent, there is a dollop of azuki beans (red beans) on top of the latte that you are to mix in, and then enjoy as you sip them up through the straw with your matcha. Heaven.

My set meal came out not too long after my drink arrived and it was simply stunning, both visually and gastronomically. A big bowl of Japanese 15 Grain Rice Porridge takes center stage. It was great. Along with the rice porridge, I enjoyed a mackerel in miso broth, along with small Japanese assorted bowls of Chinese cabbage, egg, seaweed, and a daikon salad. Everything was delicious. I will admit, I sampled the bit of sour plum that sits at the side of the tray, however it was much too sour for me and I left it off to the side. I could have been in Japan though, that's how authentic the food tasted. It was really quite nice.

In the set meal, dessert of the house is included. It rotates, but this evening, I was presented with homemade vanilla bean ice cream studded with mixed berries, sandwiched between two puff pastry outer shells, creating a splendid homemade ice cream sandwich. Delicious! If they have this when you are there, order it! The vanilla bean ice cream is out of this world. Very high quality, indeed!

I really loved Cha An. The space, the food, the tea. I want to return to try some of the house blends and sample some of the other menu items. I must say, although the menu seems like it is expensive, my whole meal with tea came out to only about twenty dollars. Not too bad. Head over and try some traditional Japanese tea house fare for yourself!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Some More Tea!

Here are two recent cups of tea I really enjoyed:

This is a pumpkin spice iced chai from It's a Grind Coffehouse, located in Plainsboro, New Jersey. One of my hometown coffeshops, It's a Grind has always made a really exceptional chai. There is no reason it wouldn't be even better with pumpkin. This is a gift from the gods in all of their orange, pumpkinlicious glory!

This is a simple chinatown milk tea from my local bakery on Hester St. The proprietor makes the cup extremely quickly and for 80 cents, you can't do much better. The red tag reads "Hong Kong Style Red Tea", however it is definitely not Rooibos. This is a Hong Kong Black mixed with milk and sugar in the Chinese fashion. Quite a tasty morning treat!

The Adore, New York, NY

I've been going to The Adore (say tea in French) for quite some time now, so I'm surprised I haven't written anything yet on this gem of a tearoom hidden away on 13th street between University and 5th. This little hideaway is actually very unique. All over Japan, there are little French-style tearooms serving up pots of tea alongside French patisseries and savouries. Many of the french style baked goods and lunch dishes have a Japanese style twist, namely cuteness and perfect presentation. The Adore is one of these Japanese wonders, but here's the kicker, it's located in Greenwich Village. I love taking newbies over to The Adore, regaling them with the fact that we are going to a French tearoom, owned and operated in a Japanese style, located in New York City. There is something just oh-so-awesome about that multiculturalism.

The place itself is tiny, so I try to avoid extremely busy lunch hours. Some of my favorite hours are bright and early, just as the sun rises to take in their continental breakfast special, which includes a pot of tea, a croissant, and toasted baguette with butter and jam all for a very reasonable price. The room itself is adorable. The downstairs is a bakery display and take out counter where you can get your fruit tarts and scones or mini sandwiches with a cup of tea to go. Venture up the staircase (gracefully darting past the customers waiting for their downstairs orders) and you'll find yourself in a very rustic and homey environment. Wooden tables and chairs grace a lovely little space ending in a giant picture window that overlooks 13th st, however you'd never know you were in Manhattan looking out the window. There is a beautiful old tree that brushes up against the glass. Each table is adorned with a fresh flower and the menus are on delicate paper.

The tea menu is extensive. All of the teas are imported Mariage Freres brand, one of the highest quality teas in France, and in the world. I am never disappointed with this tea, and although I own a tin of MF Darjeeling, I try to save it for very special occasions as buying it comes at a high price. At The Adore however, four to six dollars. This price may seem relatively high, but this is a very fine tea and is worth each dollar. I of course usually order one of the two Assams. I enjoy both, but the Sankar is a maltier blend than the meleng. I have also tried most of the Ceylons, which are terrific and full of taste. The Marco Polo is one of Mariage Frere's most popular blends, and although I don't like fruity teas, I don't mind the burst of flavor that highlights this particular black blend. For the non tea drinkers, there is a wide variety of coffee options that always arrive at tables looking very appetizing. They are served in bowls, like in French cafes.

The food is also delicious! On a recent visit I enjoyed a light salad with fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado, in a vinaigrette. My go to order is the croque madame (ham, cheese, and a sunnyside up egg) and I also love the ham and brie on baguette. The baguette at The Adore is simply amazing. One of the best in the city. You can order it on its own also, and it always comes toasted and hot. Crispy and full of that good bready flavor. Ah. Their soups are also all homemade and very good.

If you still have room for dessert, try their madeleines. They are oversized and generously priced. Their scones are sweet and crumbly, and if you are in a more indulgent mood, try something like cheesecake or a raspberry tart.

This is a great place to unwind, relax and bring a book. Enjoy your tea time and really reflect on your life. After all, that's part of what tea is about!

*The Adore is a cash-only establishment, so make sure you visit the ATM before coming.

A Cuppa in the Morning

Nothing like a nice cup of my favorite blend, Assam, to start you off in the morning. This is a first estate Assam that I was lucky enough to find at a little Syracuse breakfast joint, Funk N Waffles. The Assam was full-bodied and hearty with a really delicate and malty aftertaste. It paired very well with milk and sugar, and was certainly not an overly pretentious leaf. The restaurant has a nice selection of loose-leaf tea to go with your morning indulgence. If you are curious, I ordered a buckwheat waffle with chocolate chips and peanut butter. It was delicious!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Tea with an Accent, Yardley, Pennsylvania

The Teatime Setting

You know when you walk into a tea room and something just feels completely right? I had that feeling this past weekend. I went back to New Jersey to spend some time with my mother. I have been wanting to try Tea with an Accent in nearby Yardley, PA for some time now, and we decided Saturday would be a perfect day. Oh, and it was a perfect day by the way. Did anyone else notice how beautiful this weather has been? Anyway, we booked a 12 PM seating for afternoon tea service and from the moment we stepped in the door, everything was beyond perfect.

Sugar Cubes Over Sugar Packets Any Day!

Shari Titterton, owner and tea connoisseur, a native of England, greeted us with a warm smile and showed us to our seats. Shari is as passionate a tea lover as any of us and it shows. Her warm and gentle nature, joined with her knowledge and expertise has helped her to create a top-rate tea room in a pocket of Pennsylvania. The room is painted in soft hues and fine China and tea-related pieces adorn the walls and mantle-place. It feels like you are sitting in your English mother or grandmother's drawing room. I loved it from the start.

Setting the Table for Tea

At our tables, wine glasses of ice water were waiting. The table was preset with Royal Albert China, my cup being a particularly gorgeous design. The teapot napkin holders were absolutely enchanting and I was slowly falling in love with the silverware. My mother and I chatted about the lovely atmosphere and the pleasantries of the day. In no time at all, Shari rang a bell and tea service began! Shari explained the two types of teas that would be served that day during tea-time, Lily's Delight and a Lemon Rooibos. After a brief introduction the piping hot tea came out!

What a Cup!

There is something SO special about Tea with an Accent that I think you would be hard-pressed to find at most tea parlors in this country: Instead of ordering your afternoon tea off of a menu and receiving a personal tea pot at your table (they do have an extensive tea menu that you can select off of during lunch seatings!), Tea with an Accent pairs their scrumptious food with an initial tea and a dessert tea. White-gloved tea mistresses gracefully glide across the floor with large Royal Albert teapots, making sure your cup is always filled. I love this because it reminds me of an earlier time, when in London tearooms, servers would come up to your table with large silver teapots offering "India or China" teas. Also, despite not knowing the other diners, this way of serving gives off a community atmosphere. Everyone is drinking the same tea from the same pot and enjoying the same treats together in this wonderful little space. Something about that just warms my heart.

My First Cup of the Afternoon

The teas were phenomenal. My mother and I could not stop talking about them the whole afternoon. The first serving was of the house blend, Lily's Delight. This is a black tea blended with vanilla and bergamot. I've certainly tasted similar blends before, but in my experience either the black tea is too strong or the vanilla/bergamot flavor too powerful. This blend was perfect. Light, crisp, and I could taste the notes of vanilla and bergamot meeting the black tea without a dictatorship of any of the taste elements. I am a professed milk and sugar tea drinker, but not only did I not need milk for this tea, I also didn't even need any sugar! It was just that good. My mother and I both enjoyed this thoroughly. The Lemon Rooibos was also fabulous. I have to say, I really don't like lemon or citrusy flavors, but this I did not mind at all! It was light, crisp, refreshing and paired so perfectly with the sweets. So on to the food!

I Added Milk Initially. Then I Drank it Black!

Iconic for All Afternoon Teas

The service started out with a cheesy vegetable soup served in a very nice gold and pink laced bowl. The soup was excellent and despite wanting to save room for the three tiers to follow, I couldn't resist finishing every drop. After the bowls were cleared, our magnificent three-tiered server arrived with all the necessaries for a splendid afternoon tea. We continued the savoury course and began from the top of the server with sandwiches. All the perfect teatime amenities, we enjoyed cucumber, turkey, chicken salad, and mini quiches. I always appreciate a finely cut cucumber and this was no exception. Perfectly sliced to form a finger sandwich worth remembering.

Great Soup


Tea was changed over as we began to tuck in to the scones course. Shari brightly explained the large extras bowl, a place where we could dump our first brew if we had any extra so our cups were ready to receive the rooibos, steaming hot. At this time, I also had the pleasure to begin chatting with Shari about tea and her experiences working at Tea with an Accent and traveling and trying other tearooms. She had so much to say and I was so glad to talk to her. A kindred tea spirit! She made me and my mother feel so welcome, and I felt as though I was talking to an old friend, not someone I had just met.

These are True Scones!

The scones were of the autumnal variety, cinnamon chip. One of my favorite varieties! And they were perfect. Just the way a proper scone should be. Not excessively large (America, you are doing it incorrectly!), not overbearingly sweet, light, flaky and oh so good! I enjoyed the fresh whipped cream and strawberry preserves and ate my scones the Cornwall way, not the Devon way (for some fun, look up the difference)!

Fresh Cream and Jam

And on to the sweets! We were both feeling pretty full at this point, but some amazing variety awaited us. They were all phenomenal miniatures! There were earl-grey cookies, jam crumbles, lemon curd tartlets, petit-fours, and chocolate mousse tarts in a dark chocolate shell. The mousse cups were my mother's absolute favorite and although I loved them as well, my heart and soul were with the petit fours which were out of this world! My mother even let me have the second half of hers after she saw how much I enjoyed it. We couldn't finish it all, but luckily Shari brought us a little box to wrap everything else up in.

A Sweet Display

After tea, we headed on back to the shop, a great little post full of exceptional teas and teaware. My mother bought a small blue pastel tea cup and saucer set, and I purchased another piece of Royal Albert to add to my collection. Because Shari couldn't find the saucer at the time, she said she'd send it to me, and because of the inconvenience she threw in a free matching plate! A genuinely kind soul, indeed! We chatted more about tea, travels, and the world and I was so thoroughly impressed with Shari! She runs a quality business! I also picked up some White Christmas Tea because I don't have enough white teas at home, and I'm trying to get more into the white blends, particularly as the season gets cooler.

Tea with an Accent featured in Bucks County Living

I left the shop extremely happy. I've had many wonderful tea experiences in the past, but the little extras that make Tea with an Accent stand out make it that much better of a tea experience. Unfortunately, Tea with an Accent will be shutting its doors after this holiday season. But Shari will be selling all of her wonderful teas online, so you can always purchase Lily's Delight to delight your soul! If you can make it over, please do! I'll hopefully be attending a tea tasting next month, and a holiday tea in December! Enjoy your cuppa!

The Best Part of the Afternoon: Spending Quality Time with My Lovely Mother

-The Tea Gastronomer

Monday, October 4, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Chai from Starbucks

Okay, if you read my blog enough, you know that although I will always promote the high-end, good quality teas, there is a place in my heart for the lesser varieties...even if that means visiting Starbucks every now and then. Their matcha lattes are not bad, and I have always been a fan of their chai.

It's at this time of the year when I get super excited, because the pumpkin spice flavoring, a seasonal addition, is back at Starbucks locations across the city. On this brisk, rainy evening, before my 9 PM meeting, I stopped in at the Washington Square location for my autumnal favorite: a tall pumpkin spice chai tea latte. The complex flavors of Fall are all present: ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, clover, and of course pumpkin. These robust spices are combined with milk and tea for a robust combo that leaves a light tingle on your tongue. Although the cold is already getting to me, at least I have a nice hot beverage to quell those cold-day blues!


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Oolong Tea, Chinatown, NYC

I've been exploring my neighborhood more and more lately, and every Friday morning, I'm trying to try a new place for Chinese breakfast. This past Friday I went to Big Wing Wong on Mott Street for a hot bowl of shrimp congee and youtiao (fried cruellers).

One thing many of us take for granted when entering almost any Chinese establishment is the excess of tea streaming from a giant metal carafe into your cup, be it little Chinese bowl or regular water glass. In the morning, you will usually receive the latter. At Big Wing Wong for breakfast, I took time to reflect on the Chinese tea culture, and its centrality to life. The tea you will inevitably be given is a simple Oolong Cha, a tea not fully oxidized, falling somewhere between the categories of green and black. I have recently begun to appreciate a nice Oolong more and more.

At Big Wing Wong, my cup was always filled, with a very nice, light and refreshing Oolong. The flavor was crisp, but not overly powerful. And there is something so nice in looking around and seeing all the other patrons sipping on the same tea, from the same pot in their own little water glasses. Tea is everywhere and unites people, and this particular Friday morning, I was certainly reminded of that.

The Oolong selection from China is extensive and varied and easily available for purchase at any Chinese grocery in the neighborhood. Pick up your own box today...or have any meal at a restaurant in the area!


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Always Tea Time!

Even at my desk, in the midst of writing homework and learning monologues, I never fail to make time for "a nice cup of tea and a sit down" (quote borrowed from nicey and wifey's book/website). Something about tea helps me make everything going on just a bit more relaxed. My spirit is already feeling lifted.

Pictured is my Royal Albert "Golden Glory" cup and saucer set, filled with Tea and Sympathy's English Breakfast Blend. Biskut Kelapa, or Coconut Biscuits from Malaysia, made by 21st Century Biscuits, are my tea biscuits this afternoon. What are you sipping on?


Monday, September 27, 2010

Monday Milk Tea @ Saint's Alp, New York, NY

Since returning from Southeast Asia, it's hard to be satisfied drinking New York Chinatown's 90 cent bakery milk teas: a tea bag sitting in a small cup with light cream and sugar (the price is DAMN good, though). I miss those street teas from Mamak Stalls in Kuala Lumpur, rich and full bodied, made from real tea leaves and sweetened so perfectly! And yet, I drink my neighborhood's milk tea for cultural and comfort reasons. There is something very soothing about starting the day in a Chinese bakery in NYC surrounded by my neighbors.

This rainy, Monday evening, I popped into the greatest spot for bubble tea in Manhattan...and no, it isn't in Chinatown! Saint's Alp Teahouse on 3rd between 9th and 10th streets never fails to impress. This Taiwanese teahouse is a great place for snacks and tea with friends, and very decently priced dinner bowls. Because of the dreary weather, I ordered a hot pot of milk tea, no tapioca. The tea comes in Saint's Alp teapots with matching mugs. You can get a small pot for a very fair $2.75, and the thing I love about this tea is that it reminds me of Singapore and Malaysia. The brew is creamy and thick, and is truly a comfort to drink. Although I'll keep it local for a morning brew, when I'm in the East Village in the afternoon and want something richer and tastier, Saint's Alp is the place to go!


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Making Singaporean Breakfast in New York!

One of my favorite, favorite meals in Southeast Asia is the infamous Kaya Toast Set in Singapore and Malaysia. Kaya is a coconut jam that takes hours of constant stirring to create. It is a staple of most households in Singapore. I am very happy to report that down here in Chinatown, bottled kaya is easy to come by. Of course it isn't as delicious as the homemade variety, but it is still quite good. The most common variety, easy to pick up at Hong Kong Supermarket or The SE Asian Grocery on Mulberry St is Chanhong Kaya. So how do you put this lovely breakfast together? Start by brewing a cup of tea, as of course this is a tea blog and where would any of us be without the liquid gold? In Singapore, one of the common ways to drink tea is teh-c, tea with evaporated milk. I brew a strong black tea blend, such as English Breakfast or Assam, add 2 tsp of sugar, and then add the evaporated milk until you get a light, khaki color, and a rich flavor. While your tea is brewing, soft boil two eggs. When they are cooked, crack them and mix them into a bowl with soy sauce and white pepper. And of course, your kaya toast. Toast your favorite type of bread, I like to use a whole grain, whole wheat bread (Arnold brand is great!). Put a few pieces of butter on one side, and slather the other side with kaya. Put the two pieces together and cut as you like...I make them into fingers, almost like tea sandwiches.

Look at the beautiful kaya and butter pairing together! Take these fingers and dunk into the egg and soy sauce concotion. If you've never tried this dish before, the combination of sweet and savoury may seem odd to you, but believe me, it's delicious. Wash the meal down with your hot cup of teh-c, and you are ready to start the day! I love being able to have a little piece of Singapore in New York City!

Happy Tea Days!


Friday, September 3, 2010

The Art of Making Tea in Indonesia

The Way of Tea

This is my last Indonesia post...until I return. Then I'll have a slew of new posts! But, I'm back in New York...Until January, and then I head to South Africa for the semester so be prepared for lots of Rooibos related articles!

If you haven't realized already, tea is HUGE in Indonesia. Everyone drinks it at every time of day. Teh Melati (Jasmine Tea), hot or iced, with or without lemon, always sweet. You can always find a kaki lima (literally five feet, meaning a street stall) selling your cuppa.

On my last day in Java, I went with Ria and her cousin Monika to visit their family in Solo, another small city in Central Java only an hour away from Jogja by train. When we arrived at the station, we had a bit of time to wait until we were swooped away by family for a wonderful day. So what to do? Drink tea of course! The tea kettles in Indonesia are these huge, metal monstrosities. They need to be big though, for all of the tea the locals are drinking. The tea leaves are popped right into the kettle of boiling water and set to brew. Depending on how you like your tea, it is then made to order.

The Giant Kettles

It wasn't until I got to Indonesia that I could appreciate drinking tea out of glass cups. But all the tea is served in small beer mugs or small glasses and it soon became a way of life for me. The sugar goes into the cups, the tea is filtered, and then additionals are added. That morning I had teh panas (hot tea), Monika had es teh manis (sweet iced tea) and Ria has es teh lemon (you can guess what that is!)

Tea Time!

I never had a bad cuppa in Indonesia, that's for sure. The tea men and women make tea all day and certainly know what they are doing. Anyway, this post is making me nostalgic for a hot beverage. So before I begin to ramble I'm going to put the kettle on and enjoy some Teh Sosro Heritage Jasmine Tea from Indonesia! Thanks for reading!

Me having fun in Solo