Saturday, May 22, 2010

my favorite things

My favorite travel infuser, to date, is the Aladdin Essential Infuser (12 oz).

I have gifted these infusers to several friends and family members and many have gone out and purchased a second one because they are so wonderful. Most of us have two, one for home, and one to keep at the office. 

What you can't see is a small metal infuser that is attached to a lever. You drop the infuser into the tumbler to brew and when your tea reaches the perfect steep, you just lift up the basket where it nestles inside the lid. For me, it's a timesaver as I can brew my tea as I'm heading out the door in the morning. I no longer have to wait the full length of the steep so that I can toss the leaves before heading out - I just lift the basket when it's complete! 

From their website:
Don't think you have time for tea? Well now you do. Just infuse and enjoy with this classy all-in-one solution. Add loose tea to the basket, fill your infuser with hot water, lower the basket, steep to your preferred shade and then lift the basket. It's like a trip to the spa. Only not as expensive. And you don't need an appointment.

• Multipurpose. Brews loose leaf tea, tea bags, and coarse ground coffee.
• All-in-one. Tea time, anytime.
• Microwave safe. No teapot required.
• Smart design. No fuss. No mess. No spills.
• Car-cup friendly. Take your tea to go!
• Dishwasher safe. For a little more “me” time.

The double walled plastic keeps the tumbler from sweating and keeps your hands cool while keeping your tea hot. It is currently available in blue and chai {a mossy green}, but their colors change with the seasons. I have purchased purple, fuchsia, and grey in addition to the current offerings. They are even available at Target so there is no need to live in a town with fancy tea shops to make one of these your own!

In my opinion, the Aladdin Essential Infuser is just that, essential if you're going to be drinking loose tea!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

loose tea on the go!

There has been an explosion in the variety of innovative and stylish "travel" tea-ware available recently. These make the, once challenging, task of brewing a cup of loose leaf tea on the go a breeze. However, at the end of the day, you still have to find a way to transport a small amount of loose leaves. The sample tins from Adagio are always a fairly simple solution, but at any given time, you can still pretty much guarantee I'll have a full bag of leaves taking up space in my purse.

While browsing Tea Forté's website, I discovered that they are now selling a gift set of single serving loose tea pouches. Genius! 

The variety pack includes 15 single serving pouches of loose teas including: Chamomile Citron, Earl Grey, Green Tango, Forté Breakfast, and Ginger Lemongrass. They are portioned for a twelve-ounce serving and I bet they're hearty enough teas to be reused a time or two.

Tea Forté has an adorable single serve twelve ounce mug that would compliment these pouches perfectly. It is a dishwasher safe, double walled ceramic tumbler, with an infuser that rests at the top. I'm a big fan of double-walled anything as they keep drinks hot or cold, yet allow you to comfortably hold the mug. I don't know about you, but I've burned my hand a time or two on single walled ceramic mugs.

The Kati Loose Tea System, as this gorgeous tumbler is called, is available in three colors: Grass, Green, and White. Just look at the gorgeous clean lines of this tumbler. I'm wanting one more and more as I type!

Although the majority of my tea consumption and purchases would remain as bulk loose leaves, I absolutely love the idea of single serving loose pouches. They would be perfect for traveling, storing in your purse for when you're out and about, etc. This is an idea that I really hope more companies catch on to, because as I said, there are some really cool travel infusers out there that could benefit from this concept. 

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

all about chai

Chai by itself simply translates to "tea" in Hindi, Punjabi, and many other languages of South Asia. So the popular term "Chai tea" is actually a redundant "tea tea" when translated. The shortened term "chai" in the Western World typically refers to "masala chai."

Masala chai is black tea brewed with aromatic Indian spices and herbs. As with any recipe, there are many variations of the spices used, depending on the region in which the recipe is from. There are of course a few standard ingredients as well. These ingredients can include ginger, cinnamon, cardamon, ginger, cloves, and more. 

{spices used in preparing masala chai}

The term "chai latte" is a Western term indicating that the spiced tea is brewed with a milk base. {Much like the recipe that I posted previous to this}. This term is also a bit redundant as the traditional masala chai has a milk base. 

There are four components to the basic masala chai:
  1. Tea Leaves
  2. Spices
  3. Sweetener
  4. Milk
The actual preparation varies by household, but typically all ingredients are boiled together and strained for serving. 

There are several "Americanized" variations of masala chai which include tea bags, liquid concentrates {typically what is prepared at coffee shops}, and pre packaged spice mixes. Although all of these meet the general principles of masala chai, nothing beats the intensity of flavor when you follow traditional methods to make it from scratch.

Some of my personal favorite bagged and loose chai include:
If you haven't tried chai in any form, I highly recommend it. In my opinion, the spicier the better, but of course each palate is different!

For more information on masala chai, visit 

Sunday, May 2, 2010

spiced chai latte

The random cold snaps over the last few weeks encouraged me to make up a batch of my favorite Spiced Chai Latte.

This recipe was a personal combination of my favorite flavors found throughout multiple chai recipes. It is  a simple recipe and is delicious served both warm or iced. Enjoy!

Spiced Chai Latte

2 tsp fresh ginger - finely sliced or smashed
4 bags of black tea
2 cinnamon sticks
4 whole cloves
8 black peppercorns
4 cardamom pods
1/4 honey
1 quart of milk - your choice of fat content
*As always, I picked up my spices fresh in bulk from Whole Foods and chose a high quality organic tea. Buying bulk saves money and ensures freshness.

Pour milk, spices, and honey into a saucepan, float the tea bags on top, and let come to a boil while continuously stirring. Reduce heat and let simmer for 10-15 minutes while continuing to stir. Remove from heat and let sit for a few minutes. The milk will get a skin on top of it; skim and discard. Strain through a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth. Serve hot or iced.

Added Tip
I doubled the recipe and made a half gallon of tea to enjoy the rest of the weekend. Among other things, I have an unnatural fear of spoiled milk. I typically only drink milk immediately after the carton is opened. I usually buy the smallest containers available to accommodate this fear with the exception of glass bottles. For whatever reason I believe glass bottles keep milk fresher longer and will continue to drink after the initial opening. The great part is that since the screw on caps seal well, I just returned the tea to the empty bottle for storage.

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