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Deb and I had the pleasure of attending a tea cupping event at Chazzano Coffee, one of our local indie coffee houses. The event was presented by Anthony Capobianco of Zen Tea Traders, another in a growing line of people I've met who are truly living the dream of turning their passions into their careers. In much the same manner as Frank presents his coffee cupping parties (similar how one explores and experiences wine tastings), Anthony led us through the steeping, huffing and slurping of various single-origin, whole-leaf teas he sources directly from small farms throughout Asia. Our evening began with the subtle, mellow tones of a light bodied white tea, followed by a Japanese green tea, a darker, heavier still Oolong tea, a black tea and finally a special treat from Frank, a coffee-tea made from the dried fruits of the coffee bean which are left over once the beans are removed. For my tastes, the savory green tea, the powerful black tea and the really unexpected flavor of the coffee tea provided most of the mind blowing. Without transcribing the entire presentation, some highlights of knowledge Deb and I learned this evening which may inspire you to conduct further "research" aka pouring more tea into your face: All Tea is from the same plant: the Tea Plant or Camellia sinensis. White, Black, Oolong, Green, etc are all tea leaves harvested at different stages of development and dried at different amounts of time post harvest. The activities as a whole are called "Processing". The "lighter" the Tea, such as white or green, the less processing involved. Like the grapes of wine, the beans of coffee, the tobacco of cigars - Terroir matters for tea as well. Tea grown in Japan will carry the subtle influences of the climate that make it distinct from Tea grown in China or Taiwan. Many of us grew up knowing only of little paper sacks of bitter Tea leave chaff from Lipton - use it once, throw it away. Turns out most whole leaf teas can not only be steeped multiple times, but some are often even better tasting, albeit much lower in caffeine on the second and third steep. Like coffee, water temperature and steeping time vary from Tea to Tea and cold steep vs hot steep produce a wide range of flavor profiles. Similar to coffee (and for the same reasons). Unlike coffee, where farmers and farm workers in the countries of origin often never drink from the fruits of their labors, exporting every last bean of a crop to make every penny they can, many tea growing regions keep the best crops for themselves, and only share the harvests they feel are of lower quality. All told we spent about three hours exploring Tea with Anthony and Frank. If you're in the Metro Detroit area, definitely seek out a Tea or Coffee cupping event from Zen Tea Traders and Chazzano Coffee - and be prepared to stay up late afterward. I'm so frikkin wired right now I may not sleep until next week. If you're in the mood for additional tea photos, I stuck a bunch into a gallery on the RE Facebook page. -///
It was an unseasonably hot and humid day in the Motor City today with a high of 89F. The summer like sunny weather prompted our pals, The Hungry Dudes, to pose the following query to their facebook audience:
"It's toasty out there, how are you going to keep cool? Frosty beverage perhaps?"While a cold bottle of beer is the quick and easy, This one is so damn simple to make that it's worth the ten minutes messing with knives and blenders. The unlikely flavor combination of lemon and anise is the most refreshing thing I've ever tasted on a hot summer day and it's made with lots of ice... ice is water... so it's good for you.
Recipe Type: Beverage
Author: Bob Perye
Prep time: 10 mins
Total time: 10 mins
Grab the blender and some straws. It's time to cool off.
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/3 cup cane sugar
- 1/3 cup Arak Haddad or similar anise flavored spirit
- 1 tblsp lemon zest
- 4 cups ice
- Special hardware required: zester, juicer, blender and straws.
- Zest the lemons, then juice. Load the blender with the zest, lemon juice, sugar and booze. I prefer Arak Haddad Crystal, but any anise flavored liquor such as Pernod or Ouzo will do.
- Blend until the sugar is dissolved and you have a consistent syrup. Add the ice, cap the blender and power through until you reach a smooth slushie consistency.
- Pour into your preferred vessels, garnish with zest and a straw, then head out to the patio to sit on your ass and chill out.
You'll get roughly 24 oz from this recipe, depending on how tightly you pack the ice. I mix it thick, if you prefer a milder flavor or need to stretch it, pop 2 more cups of ice in. Got a variation or a favorite alternative to whet your whistle after an afternoon of sunshine and yard work? I'd like to know about it. Tell the world in the comments. -///