October brings us Halloween and all things sweet and green slime colored. So in the spirit of having something tea flavored that still fits the bill for a Halloween treat to enjoy at home, in comes Matcha Popcorn. This fun recipe is easy to make and we even added some chocolate drizzle.
Matcha Popcorn – Ingredients
1/2 cup of popcorn kernels
2 Tablespoons of unsalted butter for pan
2 Tablespoons for unsalted butter for matcha sauce
1 tsp of Matcha powder
Salt and Sugar to taste – 1/4 tsp of each was our preference
Matcha Popcorn – Instructions
- Start by heating the 2 tablespoons of butter in a large pan. A dutch oven is perfect but you can also use a 4 quart pan. You need to have the lid for the pan and oven mitts near by as you will be shaking the pan. Measure out the popcorn and have it handy to pour in.
- While the butter is melting, in a microwave safe bowl, melt the other 2 tablespoons of butter. Allow to cool on the counter while the popcorn pops.
- Once your butter on the stove has melted drop in the kernels and put on the lid and pick up the pan and shake it around. You are trying to coat all the kernels with the butter. Put the pan back on high heat and await the popping. While it pops, you will need to periodically shake the pan to distribute the kernels. You may want to crack the lid a little to allow out steam and reduce the likelihood of burning the popcorn. Once the popping reduced to less than 3 pops in 5 seconds, pull from the heat and remove the lid. Pour the popcorn out into a large bowl.
- Stir the matcha and 1/8 teaspoon of sugar and salt into the butter. You are looking to smooth out the matcha, no clumps. Once smooth, pour over the popcorn and stir the popcorn. The matcha will transfer to the other popcorn kernels. Have a taste and then sprinkle on more salt and/or sugar to taste.
You can also do this with microwave popcorn. If you are feeling industrious and have a spice grinder, you can grind down your favorite tea to a powder and substitute it for the matcha. It will give you an entirely different flavor of popcorn.
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Care for some tea with your cream and sugar?
It is possible to retrain your taste buds to enjoy tea without milk or sugar. You are not so much retraining your taste buds but your brain. How people enjoy food is a rather complex system that scientists are still studying to understand, but there is a general consensus that flavor preferences are built by what is consumed routinely. So if you are wanting to remove that milk and sugar from your tea or expand your tea habit into new areas like puerh or green tea, here are 3 tips to help you in that process.
- Slowly remove the milk and sugar from your tea. This includes stevia and other sugar substitutes. If you taper it down over time, your brain won’t reject the change. Try reducing the milk and sugar by half what you normally put in the first week. Then reduce by half the following week and follow the same pattern until you are at zero. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition ran a study in 2016 that had half the participants reduce their sugar intake and then judge the sweetness of certain foods before and after 3 months of a reduced sugar diet. It was not a surprise that the group found certain foods more sweet after reducing their sugar intake. Our brains are very good to adapting to what we do, if we constantly consume sugar the brain stops consciously registering the sweetness. So we consume more sugar to get the sweetness we think we want. This particular study used 3 months, but other studies on taste have indicated that the taste preferences reset anywhere between 3-6 weeks.
- Keep trying that new tea. It will take between 5-10 tastes to adjust. Yes, new flavors are learned. So a single sip will not work, it requires repeated consumption to register the new flavor with your brain. You need to think when consuming this new flavor. What do you like? What is different? Why is it different? Is different good or bad? This practice is termed mindful eating. If practiced enough you will enjoy new foods more.
- Pair that new tea with something you love. If you are really serious about bringing green tea into your diet but are having trouble with the flavor, drink that tea while eating something you like. This is called associative conditioning. Our brains will associate the new flavor with the one you already like and condition you to enjoy that new flavor more than if you consumed it alone. You will need to do this more than once for it to work, usually about 4 or 5 times. This trick also works really well when introducing new foods to children.
Enjoy trying new tea and retraining your taste buds!
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Hojicha Tea Poached Pear
With fresh juicy pears in season right now it is hard to pass up the opportunity to make the classic poached pear dessert with tea. For this recipe we used the green tea Hojicha from Japan to infuse the poaching liquid. The Hojicha adds a beautiful nuttiness and depth to dish. You can feel free to try this dish with any of your favorite teas.
A few items to consider before taking on this dish. It does take time to poach pears and make the syrup and allow them to cool, roughly two and half hours, so making this while preparing dinner is not really an option. The pears keep well in the refrigerator, so you can definitely make them in advance, even the day before. When buying pears, you are looking for pears with stems to make it easy for you to move them in and out of the water. If that is not possible, you can quarter the pears and use a slotted spoon instead of serving whole. Ideally you would use ripe pears, where if you press along the neck of the pear it gives under pressure. If you cannot find them, don’t worry, you will need to poach longer in the liquid.
Tea Poached Pears – Equipment
6 cup pan with lid
Grapefruit spoon or corer
Tongs or slotted spoon
Container to hold the pears in the refrigerator
Kettle to heat water
Pyrex or pitcher/teapot to brew tea in
Tea Poached Pears – Ingredients
6 Pears with stems
4 cups of water
1/4 cup of Hojicha tea
1 cup of sugar
Tea Poached Pears – Steps
- Peel and core the pears. Start by coring the pears from the bottom so as to keep the stem in place. Using a grapefruit spoon or corer, work around the notch at the bottom into the pear with the goal of removing the seeds and hard center. It will create a hole in the pear, which helps to speed along the poaching. After coring, peel the skin off the pears and place into your pan.
- Heat up 4 cups of water to 185°F and put in the tea. Steep for 3 minutes. Strain out the loose leaf tea and pour the remaining liquid into the pot with the pears.
- Turn on the burner to about medium. The tea is already hot, so you can pour in the sugar while it comes up to a simmer.
- Allow the pears to simmer in the tea for at least 20 minutes, but more likely 40 minutes if the pears are not fully ripe. You can use your knife to test if they are done. The knife should insert very easily.
- Remove the pears from the liquid using tongs by lifting them out by the stem and put in the refrigerator to cool. Leave the sauce in the pan and turn the burner up to high to get the sauce to a rolling boiling. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer until it reduces to a syrup that coats the back of your spoon when you lift it out. This will take around 30-minutes so be patient and stir periodically to check. Remove from heat and store in the refrigerator.
- Poached pears are traditionally served cold on a plate by placing the full pear in the center, drizzling on the syrup, and allowing guests to add whipped cream if want it.
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Irish Breakfast raspberry muffins are easy to make and a fun change to the usual morning meal. We used raspberries in this recipe because we happen to have a lot in the house currently, but you can incorporate any summer fruit or berry, just cut it into small pieces.
Irish Breakfast Raspberry Muffins – Ingredients
1 1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons of Irish Breakfast tea
2 cups of Whole Wheat Baking Flour or All Purpose Flour
1 cup of Old Fashion Rolled Oats (No instant Oatmeal, it will not set up correctly)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 cup of raspberries cut in half
2 eggs 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/4 cup of vegetable oil
1/3 cup of agave nectar
Irish Breakfast Raspberry Muffins – Steps
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line your muffin pan with muffin liners or spray with oil so you can easily remove the muffins after baking.
- Put the milk in a pan on the stove top with the tea and bring the milk up to just a simmer. You are looking for steam and small bubbles around the edges. Stir the tea leaves into the milk and periodically stir to make sure the milk does not burn to the bottom of the pan. This will only take about 5-7 minutes. Remove the milk from the heat and allow to sit with the tea still in it for at least 10 minutes.
- While the tea is steeping, mix together in a bowl the flour, oats, salt, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
- Cut the raspberries in half and mix them into the dry ingredients. You want them coated in flour. Do not skip cutting down whatever fruit you chose to use, if the fruit pieces are bigger than 1/3 of an inch you will likely have problems with big holes and your muffins falling apart as the fruit shrinks in cooking.
- Mix in a separate bowl the oil, agave nectar, vanilla extract, and eggs.
- Strain the milk to remove the tea leaves and once cool mix into the liquids in step 4. The milk is cool enough if you can comfortably put your finger in it.
- Add the liquid ingredients into the dry and mix until everything is incorporated and there are no dry ingredients.
- Fill the muffin tin to about 2/3 of the way up the sides and bake for 14-16 minutes. Test with a toothpick (which should come out clean) before removing. Makes 12 regular sized muffins.
**If you want an even more intense tea taste, replace a tablespoon of the flour with a tablespoon of tea leaves. Crush the tea leaves into a powder using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle.
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Delicious Tea Ice Cream Float
Tea ice cream floats are a fun way to drink tea when it is really hot out or you are in the mood for an ice cream float but without the soda. Below we used Ginger Honeybush, as this was for dessert after dinner and we did not want caffeine that late in the day. The recipe below is scaled for 4 people but is easy to scale down or up. There is also no requirement that you freshly brew the tea, if you have iced tea in the refrigerator, feel free to try with that.
Tea Ice Cream Floats – Ingredients
4 tablespoons Ginger Honeybush tea
4 teaspoons of Agave Nectar
2 1/4 Cups Boiling Water
Seltzer Water (Should be cold)
Vanilla Ice Cream (You can use any ice cream. We happen to like Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream)
4 Large Glasses
Tea Ice Cream Floats – Steps
- Take your 4 glasses and put 1 teaspoon of Agave Nectar into each glass. Bring your 2 1/4 cups of water up to a boil.
- Steep the 4 tablespoons of Ginger Honeybush in the water for 5 minutes.
- Strain off the tea and pour 1/2 cup into each glass and stir (yes the tea is hot). Pour in selzter water until half-way up the glass and stir.
- Scoop in vanilla ice cream and then pour in additional seltzer water to the desired level. Serve and enjoy!
This is a fun way to do ice cream floats without soda. The seltzer water still gives you the crunchy ice cream effect that you get with soda.
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