Discover Teas

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Tuesday, 02 February 2016 15:48

What's in a Tea (Tasting)?

Tea tastings don't have to be scary! Too often, people feel intimidated and think that they have to be sophisticated, ultra-formal tea snobs to enjoy a tea tasting. Here at Discover Teas, that is anything but the truth. At our tea tastings, our primary goal is right in our name—we want to help you discover great teas!

Take our Savors of Grey Tea Tasting, for example. We don't expect everyone who comes to be a tea expert, so we begin with a brief lesson on Earl Grey, talking about the history and key facts of the tea. Then we go into some common features of teas and ways to think about tasting tea before brewing up a few Greys. We'll talk about common ways to identify flavor notes so that you find out what notes call to you when you are tasting different teas. This will help you in the final stage, where you get to blend your very own Grey! It's a fun way to get to know how changes in ingredients and ratios can make a big difference in the flavor of your tea.

What if you are already an experienced tea aficionado? If you are the type who enjoys matching aromas on a flavor wheel, you'll love examining the variations in tea liquor, aroma, and flavor at a tea tasting in order to find what works best for you and taking notes on our tea tasting note cards.

Tea tastings are the kind of rewarding experience that just keep growing in value. Every time you attend a tea tasting, your level of knowledge and expertise will increase, which means that you will always be able to discover new nuances and expand your horizons further than ever before!

After all, one of the best things about a tea tasting (other than tasting delicious tea, of course), is that you can explore as much and in as much detail as you care to. So, what are you waiting for? Check out our event calendar here or on our Facebook page to see when our next tea tasting is, and get ready for your next adventure in tea discovery!

Previously, I've gone over some of the great reasons why you should cook with tea, as well as some ideas for how to cook with tea. By popular request from those who are hungry for recipes to start your culinary tea journey, I'll be periodically sharing some of my favorite tea recipes to show you just how easy and delicious cooking with tea can be!

I wanted to start things off with this tas-tea twist on baked Brie (or "Brie en croute," if you want to get fancy), a popular favorite for fall and winter entertaining. Our caffeine-free Cranberry Apple fruit blend takes this appetizer from standard to outstanding with a tart, lightly sweet kick that cuts through the richness of the cheese. With just five steps and easy-to-find ingredients, anyone can add this beauty to their table!

Cran-Brie en Croute

1.5 tbsp. Cranberry Apple fruit blend
8oz. hot water
1 8-14 oz. wheel of Brie or Camembert, rind removed if desired
1 sheet of puff pastry dough or 4-6 sheets of phyllo dough; thawed if frozen
(optional) 1/2-1 tsp. raw sugar or honey
(if using phyllo) 2 tbsp. melted butter

1) Preheat oven to 400°F. Meanwhile, steep the Cranberry Apple in the hot water for 15 minutes, then strain. We'll be using the steeped fruit blend for the recipe; the tea itself can be enjoyed as usual, iced, or mixed into a lemonade, punch, or cider.
2) Lay out dough on foiled or floured baking sheet. If using phyllo dough, lay out one sheet at a time, crossing over each other, brushing with melted butter in between.
3) Place Brie round in center of dough and top with raw sugar/honey (if using) and steeped fruit blend.
4) Fold pastry up to wrap around cheese and fruit mixture, covering as completely as possible.
5) Bake for 20-25 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure pastry does not overbrown.

For larger gatherings, or in case your guests find this as addictive as we do, this recipe can be easily scaled up for a bigger wheel of cheese. Enjoy!

Variations: If you are looking for a sweeter fruit flavor, Lady Hannah's Whole Fruit is a great substitution for the Cranberry Apple, with real fruit pieces and a less tart flavor profile. For a more tropical twist, try our Piña Colada fruit blend. Bella Coola will add bright zesty notes to the dish.

Instead of macerating the tea and using it directly, you can also steep any tea of your choice in 2 tbsp. of hot water, then mix with ¼ cup of your favorite preserves or jam. Try Peaceful Pathways with pineapple preserves, Williamsburg Port with plum jam, Black and Blue Monk with grape or mixed berry compote, Strawberry Green with pepper jelly, Mulling Spice with orange marmalade…the possibili-teas are endless!

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