Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tea Education-Chefs and Sommeliers Take Notice

This week, I am in Seattle teaching classes for the Specialty Tea Institute with my friend and colleague, Kyle Stewart of the Cultured Cup in Dallas, Texas  The Cultured Cup ships their teas around North American and carries a huge selection of Mariage Frere teas.  Kyle wrote a great piece about education with the Specialty Tea Institute especially geared towards the culinary world and sommeliers.  I thought I would share it with you this week. 

For many years, tea and coffee were an afterthought at top tier restaurants across the U.S. No More! As tea continues to become more popular, restaurants are replacing teabags with quality loose leaf tea. Typical Earl Grey and English Breakfast selections are being replaced with single estate first flush Darjeelings, Wuyi Mountain oolongs, and 40 year old cave-aged Pu-erh brick teas. As better teas appear in the American market, how do culinary and wine professionals learn the basics about premium tea?

Sharon Hage, the former chef-owner of York Street Restaurant in Dallas, Texas and five-time James Beard Award nominee, created dozens of tea and food pairing luncheons and dinners over nine years. Working closely with Kyle Stewart, co-owner of The Cultured Cup, the CIA educated Hage tasted and discussed the flavor profiles of hundreds of artisan teas.

Photo courtesy of Dallas Morning News
“Quality tea was just as important an ingredient for York Street as the pristine fish from Browne Trading Company or the free-range chicken from Windy Meadows Family Farm,” said Hage. But her tea journey didn’t stop with quality ingredients; she learned how to adjust the flavor profile of teas by manipulating the steeping technique variables (tea amount, temperature and time). “Learning about tea for me was similar to an artist discovering a new range of colors,” said the CIA trained chef.

For James Tidwell, Master Sommelier and Beverage Manager at Four Seasons Resort and Club near Dallas, Texas, learning about tea was similar to learning about wine. Tidwell, a long-time tea drinker, says “Wine professionals are being called upon to manage or present many facets of the hospitality industry. With roles changing, and well-rounded experts needed to fill key positions, knowledge of the world's second most-consumed beverage is essential. Therefore, certification by an independent organization is as necessary for the study of tea as for the study of wine.”

Tidwell, also a CIA graduate, took both introductory tea courses offered by the Specialty Tea Institute (STI), and highly recommends them to culinary and wine professionals. “Although Sharon Hage and I have spent years learning about tea, STI Levels One and Two quickly give culinary and wine professionals the information and skills they need to know about tea.”

Level One: Foundations of Tea
Level One provides a strong understanding of the five tea categories and two traditional styles of tea production (orthodox). Topics include the components of teas, growing regions and terroir, tea processing stages, a comparison of tea categories, and steeping, tasting and evaluating the characteristics of tea (called cupping).

Level Two: Foundations of Tea
Level Two examines CTC (cut, tear and curl) tea production, blending, flavoring and scenting, and introduces sensory evaluation of teas. Includes: an explanation of tea grading, how to name teas by country of origin, and how to examine, cup (prepare, taste and evaluate) and compare the characteristics of 5-6 pairs of teas.

Students successfully passing Levels One and Two qualify to continue their tea education with five Level Three classes. By successfully completing the seven courses comprising Levels One, Two and Three, students are awarded the title of Certified Tea Specialist (CTS). According to Joe Simrany, President of the Tea Association of the USA, 65 people world-wide hold this title.

So chefs and sommeliers, what are you waiting for? 
 If you aren't learning about tea, you are behind on your game and training! 

I am teaching a Tea and Chocolate Pairing class at the Northwest Tea Festival  and doing a book signing afterwards on Saturday 10/1.   If you're in the Seattle area, I would love to see you!

I look forward to sharing all about Seattle and the Northwest Tea Festival!

Happy Sipping from Seattle, Lisa

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

World Tea East Summary Part 2

I hope last week was a fun look at some of the new products in store for you tea lovers out there.  This week, I am continuing my virtual tour of World Tea East for you.  There was a beautiful art exhibit by Michele Brody called Reflections in Tea where participants could write prayers for Japan on tea-stained paper filters and post them on a model tea house! It was stunning and touching. 

We are going to move on now to tea accoutrements.  For those that like to keep their tea warm in the teapot, have you tried a tea cosy?

 Here are some from Set to a Tea

If you think tea or tea cozies need to be feminine, think again! These are known as HOBS by Thistledown Cozy!

How about a tea candle? THE LOVER, chocolate chai candle made in France has a unique long lasting scent of warm, sultry dark chocolate laced with complex notes of varied exotic spices and has top notes of chai tea blended with cinnamon, cardamon and vanilla.  This is made by Tracy Stern.

Here are some wonderful silk scarves with teapots and tea leaves on them made by Harshita Designs

I was so pleased to be given a Tea Tangent seen below.  I will be blogging specifically on this product in the near future.  So UNIQUE...

I hope you have enjoyed your virtual tour of some fun tea products!  Christmas isn't that far off so these might be easy finds for the tea lovers on your list-including youself!!! 

After a day of teaching and looking around the expo, I taught two days of classes for the Specialty Tea Institute (STI).  It was my first time as an instructor for them and it was exciting to teach Level I and II.  I have been a student of STI for over five years earning my Certified Tea Specialist title in 2008.    It is an honor to serve on the Educational and Certification Committee for STI's Advisory Board.  It is thrilling to be part of cutting edge tea education in the world! 

The students go through the coursework and they taste teas from around the world gaining insight into where the tea is grown, how it is processed, and the unique flavor profile to each tea. In the end a test is given.

To round out the trip, I did some sightseeing on the last day.  A trip to Philly wouldn't be complete without seeing the Liberty Bell.

I finished by trip with a visit to Love Park and taking in the tastes of the Food Truck Scene!
Thanks for coming along for the tour!  I hope you found some tea products you must have and enjoyed the review.  Do you have any new favorites?

For those of you in the Atlanta area, I will be doing a demo at Williams-Sonoma Lenox on Satuday from 1-3 pm.  We will be tasting teas and I will show you how to make a scone with tea in it.  I hope to see you there! 

Happy Sipping from Philly, Lisa

Thursday, September 15, 2011

World Tea East-Philly Summary Part 1

I just returned from an exciting tea show for the trade called World Tea East. It was held in Philadelphia, in the heart of the historic area. Tea shows are always fun for me as it is a time to see new tea products, old friends, meet lots of new ones, and taste tons of teas!

After teaching Tea 101 for the conference attendees at 8 a.m., I rushed to a board meeting for the Specialty Tea Institute, and then I was off to the expo floor to discover new tea and tea products.  

  For me, World Tea Expo shows are like a kid going into a candy store!!

So come with me as I tell you all about what I discovered.  You may want to look for these things in your local tea store or online! These are some of my highlights, but every booth offered something a little different. 
Here is the tea display for Rishi Tea.  Their award-winning teas are lovely and all the people working the booth were so nice to talk to.

Here is a lineup of Teas Etc teas.  Beth Johnston is the CEO of Teas Etc and a good friend.  Teas Etc has won many awards for their teas and are great to work with.

Teas Etc offered many tasting throughout the show.  I was lucky to participate in a tasting of a 60 year old Pu'erh and a 20 year old Baked Amber Oolong!  For you tea geeks out there, you know this was a treat!  For those that don't know about these tea treats, I will have to follow up with a blog!

Below is a picture of a Purple Tea from Kenya.  I have been reading about this tea and was excited to finally taste and see it.  There will be more to come on this tea in a separate blog.

Another tea friend at the show was SerendipiTea. The owner is Linda Villano who not only sells wonderful teas, but is a lovely person as well. 

For those interested in teapots, the selection was vast and wide.

I thought this tea collection was cute from Adrea by Sadek.  I seem to be on a bird kick lately, how about you?

 And the show stopper for teapots, in my opinion, was the Sorapot by Joey Roth!  It won one of the best product awards as well. Love it for its sleek design!

Next week, I finish my summary of World Tea East with some VERY cool tea products, a little Philly sight seeing, and my first time teaching for the Specialty Tea Institute!  What is your favorite thing so far?

Happy Sipping from Philly's World Tea East, Lisa

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Chilled Berry Tea-Wonderful End-of-Summer Recipe

I met Katie Chin at The International Association of Culinary Professionals Annual Conference (IACP) in June. Katie is an Asian food expert, cookbook author, and TV host. Her most recent appearance was on The Cooking Channel's show
Food(ography).  Be sure to check out her blog to see that segment as well as great Chinese recipes and tips.

Katie and I thought it would be fun for our readers to guest post on each other's sites. She has some wonderful recipes with tea as an ingredient that I thought my readers would love to try. I hope you enjoy Katie Chin's guest post below.

References to tea in Chinese literature go back approximately 5,000 years so it has obviously played an integral role in Chinese culture. While I love to sip cups of tea throughout the day, I also think it’s wonderful to incorporate tea into recipes for its amazing and subtle flavor.

Dried tea can be mixed with dried rice and brown sugar to create rich and delicate tea-smoked dishes or steeped with spices to create the most elegant, layered flavors. This recipe for Chilled Berry Tea combines the freshest berries at the peak of the summer season with star anise and passion fruit tea to create an amazingly refreshing, easy yet sophisticated dessert that will have your guests raving. The hint of mint leaves as garnish is the perfect compliment to this light and delicious recipe – the perfect ending to a late summer dinner party.

Chilled Berry Tea

5 whole star anise (if using broken pieces, use 1 tablespoon)
1 ¼ cups sugar
2 passion fruit tea bags
3 cups mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)
½ cup bananas, cut into ½-inch dice
fresh mint leaves for garnish

In a saucepan, place 1 ½ cups water and the star anise, bring to a boil, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the sugar and stir well until the sugar is dissolved. Return to a full boil and turn off the heat. Place the tea bags in the syrup, stir, and let cool. Remove the tea bags, and the star anise. Pour the chilled tea over the berries and bananas. Place in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Garnish with mint leaves right before serving.

Thanks Katie for sharing your recipe.  I hope you enjoyed the guest post.  I will be blogging about her new book that just came out  soon. Did you know that you could make 300 recipes in a rice cooker?

Happy Sipping and End-of-Summer, Lisa