Monday, September 24, 2012

Otago Summer Fruits, Japanese Genmaicha and Governor Grey

I was talking with a lovely Chinese lady yesterday who enthused about our Otago Summer Fruits 'we have nothing like this in China', so I thought I'd include it in this weeks selection.  I'd also like to send our best wishes to everyone in Christchurch.  What with school closures, continued earthquakes and general upheaval life can't be getting any easier.  I admire your courage people of Christchurch.

Otago Summer Fruits  
Stone fruit goodiness with pretty little yellow rose buds and even carrot flakes.  Unlike so many teas with a rich red colouring based on rosehip and hibiscus, this tea brews a more delicate pale pink, taste is light, sweetish and delish.  There's a very good reason this tea is one of our best selling fruit numbers.

Japanese Genmaicha Green Tea  
Savoury.  If I had to use one word to describe this tea it would be savoury.  The toasted rice/green tea combination goes perfectly with savoury food or for those who don't like our sweeter flavoured green teas.  Once a month we have Sushi Tuesday here at tea HQ, always accompanied by Japanese Genmaicha because that's how we roll.

Governor Grey  
When we first introduced this version of Earl Grey it was called Lady Grey but then we received a very threatening letter from Twinnings about trade mark infringement, so we drew on New Zealands heritage and came up with our very own Governor Grey.  The Governor is a good general Earl Grey with the addition of citrus.  In the words of another famous tea vendor 'do try it'.

My selected picture of the week is entitled 'put the kettle on' - too funny

kettle helmet.jpg

Monday, September 17, 2012

Kia Ora Tea Drinkers

I heard a tourism marketing person saying we should greet everyone with Kia Ora because it's uniquely NZ.  Those who know me would say I'm not at all politically correct so it's not about me trying to do the right thing, more because I like the Kiwiness of it.   But I digress......

Spring Mix Fruit Tea
Pretty pretty tea with little blue cornflowers.  I know it's not supposed to be all about looks but how can you not enjoy drinking something beautiful?  Unlike the more recent additions to the Tea Total fruit tea lineup, Spring Mix is a more generic fruit tea without any a dominant flavour such as lime or pear.  You might call it the perfect blend of fruits and flower petals.

Sencha Ginger and Lemon Flavoured Green Tea 
Unlike the blend above, this one is all about green tea overlaid with the singular flavours of ginger and lemon.  They're such a perfect couple.  Love the smell of our warehouse when we've got this tea running through the hoppers.  If you like Japanese Lime then you're bound to enjoy Sencha Ginger & Lemon.

China OP Yunnan Traditional Black Tea 
Literally meaning "south of the clouds" Yunnan is the old Chinese name for this border region which was incorporated into China after 1350.  The area is thought to be the original home of the Camellia Sinensis species which probably spread from there to neighbouring Assam, Burma, Laos, and south China.  Some 260 of the worlds 380 varietals of tea may be found growing in Yunnan where numerous ancient tea trees still grow in the wild.  Historically Yunnan tea was exported to Tibet via horse caravans on the famouse south route and also dispatched to China proper via caravans originating from the market town of Pu Erh.  Yunnan is best known for its black teas which are full bodied and are prized for strength and golden tips. Yunnan teas are grown at misty mountainous elevations of 1,000 to 2,300 metres.
But what about the taste you ask?  Well it's got a mildly earthy/malty flavour which I personally enjoy and when so inclined I blend mine 50:50 with our Special Breakfast Blend just for a change.


Today's picture just had to be Spring Mix, because it's just so pretty.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Chai Cookies NOM NOM

it can be hard to find a good cup of chai — the stuff you buy at the coffee shop on the corner just isn’t the real thing.  Not that I’m saying a chai latte can’t be sweet and good and satisfying on a cold day, but sometimes I want strong chai, spicy chai, chai that punches my sinuses with spice and burns the back of my throat a little!

Anyways, these cute cookies are mildly spiced and crumbly, without being overly sweet. No sinus punching or throat burning going on here, I promise.

But a chai cookie addiction? I can’t promise you won’t develop that.

Turns out that there’s actually no one “true” recipe for chai. It’s kind of like how everyone has their own way of making chocolate chip cookies, only this applies to tea. Masala chai has a couple common ingredients: cinnamon, cardamom, clove, milk, water, etc., but the rest is however you’d like it.

This is why when searched online for a recipe for chai cookies or biscuits, I pretty much came up with nothing.
Instead, I just sipped on chai and studied a couple tea recipes that seemed like they’d be palate-pleasing before making my own spice mix.  The result: addictive little cookies that taste like chai!

Chai Cookies


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground all spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground fennel
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • pinch of salt


Note: The key to this recipe is having all your spices very finely crushed or ground. It’s easy to buy most of these spices pre-ground, but you’ll probably have to crush your own fennel seed. First I used a mortar and pestle to crush the seed, then used a fine metal strainer to separate the larger chunks of fennel from the smaller ones, and used the smallest ground fennel for these cookies.

If you’re like me and you love chai, then feel free to double the amount of spice in this recipe — that’s what I did and it worked a treat.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together, add vanilla extract
Sift your flour, salt, and spices together. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mixing until just incorporated.
Roll the dough into a ball, flatten into a disc, and wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
After an hour preheat your oven to 175°C
On a generously floured surface, roll out the chilled chai dough to half a centimeter thick.  Use a cookie cutter to press shapes out of the dough. Re-roll the scraps as needed.  Bake on a greased cookie sheet for 10 ~ 12 minutes, or until the bottom edges of the cookies start to go brown.
I made tiny star-shaped chai cookies, packaged them in clear plastic baggies, and gave them out to friends. They made awesome little gifts!  Enjoy the ones that you don’t share with a big pot of chai tea.

One Green, One Fruit & One Traditional Tea that are worth their weight in gold....

Feng Shui Flavoured Green Tea  
Our second most popular flavoured green tea after Japanese Lime.  If you like light, fruity flavoured green teas, Feng Shui is a great option.

Cranberry & Carrot Fruit Tea
Super fruit meets super veg.  Cranberries are certainly the 'fruit de jour' in terms of their health benefits and carrots are as good as ever.  Nothing like the traditional berry and hibiscus based fruit teas, this style is where fruit teas are heading and for good reason.  Delicious.

Breakfast Tea 'Special Blend'
Last but definitely not least.  I personally like to drink traditional black tea over anything else and seeing as I own a tea company I have a good selection from which to choose.  Special Blend is the one I always have at home and the one I go back to after drinking whatever else has been grabbing my attention.  Blended from a mix of Ceylon high grown and leafy grades it's designed to be a good allround tea for any time of the day.  Works for me.

Finally, an image to celebrate tea, because it's worth celebrating. 


On the road less travelled this week......

Papaya Sencha Green Tea 
This flavoured green tea is often overlooked in favour of our more well known blends which just isn't fair.  Combinging flowers petals, carrot pieces, dried papaya and vanilla flavours this tea is first rate and deserving of some love.

Blood Orange Flavoured Black Tea 
From the Pacific to Spain for the flavours of this tea.  Blood Oranges, sometimes known as Seville Oranges, are bright red inside with juice like dripping blood.  The mild tannic acid of tea goes particularly well with the natural acid of oranges.  I'm not saying this tea has a more tannic or bitter taste than any of our others, not at all, simply that the tea and flavours are a perfect match.  This tea has a small but staunch group of followers, you could join that group.

Energizer Herbal Tea  
At the very least you can expect to energize your taste buds with this herbal offering.  Combining an array of flowers petals, berry fruits and herbs such as lemon balm mint, anis and peppermint.  Excellent any time of the day as well as after food.

I offer you the following image because life can be too serious at times.  

If you're going to try this at home please take a photo and send it through, we'd like a laugh.

blow teapot.jpg