Tag Archives: tea

Spending the Yen: Days of the Week Tea

I found this Lipton day of the week tea at the Japanese grocery store last fall and I’ve been enjoying it all last week. It’s kind of fun to try a new flavor every day. (Or is it just a long winter and I’m looking for some excitement in my afternoon beverage?)I liked the sakura the best, with the créme brûlée a close second. The flavors are very subtle.

We are totally a coffee household and we’ve finally broken our daily Dunkin Donuts habit and have been making our coffee at home for about a year now. When Naoto is home, he also makes us each a cup of tea in the early afternoon. He always drinks green tea or matcha and I always have black tea. (I only drink black tea.) It’s become a nice little routine in our day. I bought a few other teas to try (including a yuzu one!) so I’ll share those soon.

Do you have a favorite tea? Usually, I drink Barry’s or (flavorless) loose leaf tea from a shop in our neighborhood if I feel like drinking a whole pot.

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Birthday at bunbougu cafe

bunbougu cafeWhen we planned our trip to Japan, I knew exactly where I wanted to spend my birthday…bunbougu cafe. Last year, I fell in love with the cafe that mixes stationery, coffee, letter writing, cocktails and tasty food all in one comfortable and eclectic location. bunbougu cafeWe’d never been to bunbougu at night, so both Naoto and I were excited to try out their one-of-a-kind cocktails. bunbougu cafeAt the risk of this turning into a Hasegawa Happy Hour post, let me tell you about these cocktails!! First there were the Adult Ramune and the Lychee Squash. Ramune is a Japanese soft drink that has a lemon-lime flavor, but really doesn’t taste its American counterpart…it has its own distinct taste that is tangier than the American drink. The Adult Ramune was made with blue curaçao and soda and it was my favorite. Who doesn’t love a blue cocktail? The Lychee Squash was lychee liquor, soda and grapefruit juice. It was so refreshing! (This might explain why it’s called a “squash” if you’re curious.) Neither of these cocktails packed a serious punch, but they were fun and tasty. bunbougu cafeFor our appetizer, we ordered edamame that was sautéed with pine nuts and soy sauce. The edamame, presented beautifully on Japanese paper, was oh so delicious…I can’t even explain how much I loved it. We want to try to recreate it at home. bunbougu cafeFor the next cocktail round, I got the Adult Ramune and Naoto got a Tea Mojito–a mojito that came with a shot of “tea espresso” to pour on top. bunbougu cafeI didn’t manage to take a picture of our dinners. Naoto had a miso coated pork chop and I had roasted chicken with herbs and apples. You’ll have to take my word for it. bunbougu cafeNaoto had a third cocktail. It was called “Sketchbook in the Tropics” and the only thing you need to know about it is that it came with a pencil stirrer!! (They sell the stirrers at bunbougu, too!) bunbougu cafeFor dessert, I had Matcha Tiramisu…I’m a big fan of real tiramisu, but dare I say the matcha version is better??? bunbougu cafeUnder the tiny paper box was a bowl of kuromame, sweet black soybeans typically eaten on New Years for good health. Naoto enjoyed those immensely while I ate up the tiramisu. bunbougu cafeI did a little birthday shopping at bunbougu, but I will share those treats later.

Thanks, Naoto, for taking me to the perfect place! bunbougu cafe

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Homemaker’s Challenge #2: Meyer Lemon Curd

Meyer Lemon CurdLast month for our Christmas tea, Peggy made two kinds of lemon curds, regular lemon curd and Meyer lemon curd. The taste between the two was remarkable. Regular lemons made bright and fresh tasting curd. Meyer lemons though, made rich, deep, citrusy curd…so different but in my mind, Meyer lemons are perfect for winter.

Using Peggy’s recipe (which is from What’s Cooking America), I made Meyer lemon curd for Naoto’s party and it was a hit. In fact, lemon curd just might be my new party staple. I love serving simple, no-stress foods that my guests don’t see at every other party. And let me tell you, curd is simple…you can even use a microwave!

Meyer Lemon Curd

3-4 Tablespoons Meyer lemon zest

1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice (freshly squeezed!)

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter (unsalted and never margarine!)

3 eggs

zesting and juicing meyer lemonsZest and juice the lemons. Five Meyer lemons gave me the proper amount of juice but I was lacking in the zest department…I imagine that the lemon-intensity would be out of this world if I’d had a few extra lemons to zest.butter Chop up the stick of butter and put it in a dish to melt in the microwave. Mine only took thirty-ish seconds, with a stir in the middle. beating eggsWhile the butter melts, crack and lightly beat the three eggs in a microwavable bowl (or Pyrex). Then mix in the sugar, zest and lemon juice. meyer lemon curd before cookingOnce the butter is melted, incorporate it into the lemon/egg mixture. (My butter was lukewarm, so I didn’t have to worry about curdling at this point, but be careful of curdling if your butter is blazing hot!)

1 minute lemon curdNext, put the curd in the microwave for one minute intervals, stirring after each minute, for 3-4 minutes. This was mine after the first minute. You can see there was a bit of curdling. (I think my microwave runs a little bit hot.) After this first minute, things are going to look weird and slightly disastrous. Have no fear and keep going. lemon curd, minute 2Here was mine after minute two, before stirring. You can tell the mixture is getting thicker.lemon curd, minute two, after stirringAnd after stirring.lemon curd minute 3And in the last minute, you can see things thicken a lot. final lemon curdAfter stirring on minute three, I felt like mine was ready. The curd should be nice and glossy and thick enough to coat your spoon. And it should taste delicious. curdled lemon curdBut what about the curdling? Both times I made this lemon curd, I had plenty of curdling, in spite of the fact that my mixture never boiled in the microwave. It still must have gotten hot enough to cook some of the egg. So I ran mine through a mesh strainer and then it was perfectly smooth and dreamy. lemon curd in a mason jarPour into a jar and refrigerate until set. It will thicken up even more as it cools.

At the party, we served the Meyer lemon curd with my homemade ricotta (shared here in Homemaker’s Challenge #1!) on crackers. But really, lemon curd is decadent on a scone or toast…and I have my eye on this recipe for Lemon Bars…yum!

***This post is the long-overdue second in a series of Homemaker’s Challenges: activities that get me (and hopefully you, too!) out of the everyday routine of cooking, cleaning and laundry and into a routine of trying something new and experimental. I’d love it if you’d play along!

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#30DOC Week 2

This week was a lot harder to manage because life got in the way…in a good way! We had some unexpected get-togethers with our neighbors last week, which is always a good thing in my book. I used my Sunday afternoon to catch up on a few days, but now I’m back and ready to stay on track this week. I have a few projects planned, so that should help with the “what should I make today?” dilemma. This is what I created during week 2:

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From the top: 6/8 etagmai practice, 6/9 somen, 6/10 handmade business cards, 6/11 sun tea, 6/12 Father’s Day mail art, 6/13 rope plant hanger (using this simple tutorial by Elise) 6/14 glittered bomb pop stationery, 6/15 glittered neon stationery (I’m clearly in a glitter mood! Both glittered stationery projects used the Sakura Quickie Glue Pen from my Little Red Toolbox.)

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The How Green Was My Valley Tea

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I didn’t disappear last week…I spent all day Thursday and Friday reading the most lovely book, How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn. It was the March choice for my book group and we celebrated it with a green-themed tea at Peggy’s house. We all contributed a little something, but as usual, Peggy went above and beyond baking up a storm and choosing the perfect linens, dishes and flowers to set the mood. Seeing the daffodils throughout the room really made it feel like spring, even though we all came in our winter coats on a chilly grey day.

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Peggy made a leek, bacon and goat cheese frittata, rosemary pistachio scones, homemade lemon curd and citrus cranberry pull-apart rolls. Bobbie brought chicken salad cream puffs, Peggy (we have two Pegs!) made Irish soda bread, I made homemade ricotta and we enjoyed English breakfast and Highland Toffee teas along with mimosas. It was a tea to end all teas…so much deliciousness in one place!

We indulged and chatted and then spent a good part of the afternoon talking about the book…we always talk about the book. (We aren’t one of those book groups who just gets together to drink wine and gossip.) Everyone wholeheartedly loved How Green Was My Valley. It captivated me for two days, and over those long afternoons of reading, I had to remind myself to slow down and soak in the beauty of Llewellyn’s writing…

I keep reading several passages from the book over and over again. (I need to take it back to the library, but I can’t let go yet!)

There is good a cup of tea when you are feeling low. Thin, and plenty of milk, and brown sugar in the crystal, in a big cup so that when your mouth is used to the heat you can drink instead of sipping. Every part of you inside you that seems to have gone to sleep comes lively again. A good friend of mine is a cup of tea, indeed.”  [from chapter sixteen]

There is a lovely smell with tweed. Good it is, and honest, of the earth and of humankind, and a pleasure to wear, and always a friend to you. I had a brown tweed, the colour of a ploughed field in the pebbly soil, when leaf has been put down about three months before, and grass is just poking through, barely to be seen, but there. That, and a grey, the colour of spring rain, and almost as soft to the touch.” [from chapter twenty-two]

Throughout the book I was lulled into the comfortable arms of Huw’s memories growing up in a big family with strong and tender parents…and the book is peppered with tales that are sometimes shocking, sometimes horrifying, sometimes hilarious…very real for the turn of the century in a South Wales mining community.

I absolutely loved the book and I love that we chose to read it this month. It couldn’t have been a more perfect choice for a morning tea at the arrival of spring.

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I *Heart* David’s Tea

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Naoto & I had a tea date Sunday night. See him up there paying for our tea like a true gentleman? (The money comes out of the same account, but sometimes it feels nice not to have to be the one pulling out the card…it gives me an opportunity to take awkward pictures.)

David’s Tea has quickly become our favorite place. I read about it over a year ago here, and didn’t really give it a second thought…I mean, it was a Canadian shop and I wasn’t going to order tea online when I have a tea store in my neighborhood. (A tea store that I never shop at, by the way.) One day last summer while visiting Naoto’s office, I noticed that a David’s Tea came to his neighborhood–the design of the store made me take note–I love the clean, simple logo, the teal and the bright store! (I’m a sucker for these things!)

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Our first visit was a little overwhelming at first–we got attacked with samples right away. And once we said it was our first visit, the staff eagerly started pulling down tea after tea after tea for us to smell. Once we narrowed down that I don’t like chocolate in my tea (ew!) and I don’t like herbal tea (double-ew!) it was easy to narrow down the wide array of teas and focus on the black teas for my initial visit. (I love oolong and green teas, too, but to keep things simple, I wanted to stick with black on my first try.)

We’ve been going regularly since the fall to try out cups of tea and to stock up for our teapot at home. Naoto goes so often that he is known as the Matcha Man (he gets a cup of matcha every time he goes). I get something different every time I go. David’s has a really interesting menu of teas, with some really unusual choices. One of the first ones I tried was Root Beer Float, and it really does taste like root beer! (This is both tasty and weird…) Right now, I’m working my way through the menu one pot at a time. I get a cup of tea to drink in the store, and usually have them measure out one pot’s worth of something new to try at home. Once I know I love something, then I get a larger amount to have on hand.

We’ve tried more than a dozen teas so far and my top three are Ceylon Star, Cream of Earl Grey and my favorite, Glitter & Gold. Glitter & Gold is such a show stopper! It has cinnamon, gold sugar balls and silver sugar crystals in with the tea leaves. As the tea steeps, the sugar melts and it leaves your tea slightly sweetened and shimmering!! I sometimes feel guilty about making it for myself on a Tuesday afternoon, but who says you can’t have a little celebratory tea on a chilly winter day?

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They also have a gorgeous collection of tea cups and tea pots…

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…and a rainbow of other tea accessories.

The only bummer for me is that this location is more of a tea store/take-your-cup-to-go kind of place. There is a couch in the front by the window, so if you’re the only one in the store, you can sit there for a bit and enjoy your tea. Otherwise you can sip your tea and check out the teapots or take your cup to go. I still love this location though…the staff is so nice and helpful (and of course it helps to know the Matcha Man!)

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Christmas came early…

 

Davids Tea teapot

…in the form of a teapot.

I am an avid coffee drinker (obviously, you know this from these posts). But lately, especially in the afternoons, I’ve been drinking tea. Part of it is out of pure laziness–it’s way less mess to boil some water, grab a mug, pop in a teabag and enjoy than it is to boil the water, grind the beans, measure it all out into the French press… The other part is that it just feels nice to take a little afternoon break and have a spot of tea (read with a British accent) to warm up. So, I’ve started buying a few teas again and I asked for a teapot for Christmas (the specific teapot above, actually). Last night, on his way home from work, Naoto stopped and got it for me so that we could start using it tomorrow for Thanksgiving. Yay for early Christmas presents! And, as a bonus, it came with two free tiny teacups!

The teapot is from here. Davids Tea deserves a post all its own–soon!

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