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