Simple Syrups for Iced Tea

Simple syrup, in this case made from honeysuckle.

Have you ever experimented with simple syrup? Although most widely used in the world of cocktails, simple syrup is an easy way to add flavor to your iced tea without relying on expensive artificial sweeteners. Because the sugar is completely liquefied during cooking, it is perfect for mixing with cold beverages, and there are limitless ways to customize it. Here are a few of our favorite recipes to make your own simple and flavored syrups at home.

Simple Syrup

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

In a saucepan on the stovetop, combine water and sugar and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low, stirring gently until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and pour into a heat-resistant container. Cover and store in fridge for up to two weeks.

Mint Syrup

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

5-6 sprigs fresh mint leaves

Combine water, sugar, and mint sprigs in a saucepan on the stovetop and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring gently until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and allow mint to infuse for thirty minutes or longer, tasting for preference, then strain. Try with our Lemon Drop or Betsy Ross White Tea.

Peppery Ginger Syrup

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

1 knob of ginger (approx. 6”)

1 ½ tsp whole black peppercorns

Peel ginger and slice finely; combine in saucepan on the stovetop with water, sugar, and peppercorns. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer, stirring gently until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and allow pepper and ginger to infuse in refrigerator overnight before straining. Try with our Georgia’s Peach Tea or Strawberry Oolong Tea.

Rose Flower

Rose Syrup

½ cup water

½ cup rose water

1 cup sugar

Combine water, rose water, and sugar in a saucepan on the stovetop and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, stirring gently until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and pour into a heat-resistant container. Try with our Moroccan Mint or Japanese Sencha Green Tea.

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5 Teas to Try Iced

Nothing says summer like a tall, cold glass of iced tea. We all have our favorites when it comes to which teas we ice (Classic Iced, Georgia’s Peach, and Adirondack Berries are three of our bestsellers here in our tasting room). But there are many teas out there that are overlooked for their iced tea potential. Here are five of our favorites of these hidden gems.

Glass of iced tea with lemon.
  • Darjeeling: A wonderful way to expand your horizons when it comes to an iced black tea. Darjeeling’s woody, complex flavors brew up to a smooth and refreshing ice tea with a subtly sweet finish. Try icing our 1st Flush for rich floral undertones, or 2nd Flush for its fruity muscatel flavors.
  • Dark Roast Alishan: All of our Alishan oolongs take beautifully to being iced, but we are especially partial to the Dark Roast for how its sweet, nutty flavors shine when served cold. Try it as a lighter substitute for your afternoon coffee.
  • Huang Shan Mao Feng: This savory Chinese green mellows beautifully over ice, bringing its creamy, savory flavors to the forefront. Try pairing it with a cold pasta dish or your favorite Asian noodle dish.
  • Himalayan White: The delicate and refreshing sweetness of this Nepalese white can’t be beat on a hot summer day. This tea is a good candidate for cold-brewing, which helps retain its subtle floral flavors.
  • Matcha-Infused Sencha: If you love the bold flavors of iced Japanese greens, consider experimenting with our Matcha-Infused Sencha. A dusty of matcha powder gives this tea an additional boost of umami richness and a full, satisfying mouthfeel.

When it comes to brewing iced teas, there are many more options out there than you may realize! Try experimenting with your favorite hot tea and see how it does over ice. You may be in for a delightful surprise.

By: Jen Coate

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Earl Grey Tea Cake

It is an adventure to cook with tea because sometimes you just don’t know what you will get or if the person making the recipe understands how to use loose leaf tea well . Below is a recipe by Samantha Seneviratne that ran recently in the The New York Times Cooking section. One of the Dominion Tea staff, Anngelica Soto, took on this recipe and has included in her notes on how to use the tea better and what she learned in the process

Ingredients

For Frosting:

¾ cup/180 milliliters heavy cream

2 teaspoons loose Earl Grey tea

¼ cup/30 grams confectioners’ sugar

For Cake:

½ cup/115 grams mascarpone or softened cream cheese

½ cup/115 grams unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan

1 ½ cups/190 grams all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon loose leaf Earl Grey tea (I recommend you put through a grinder to turn into powder, the tea leaves are big and chewy.)

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup/200 grams granulated sugar

2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest (from 1 large orange) (Feel free to substitute a Blood Orange- very aromatic)

2 large eggs, at room temperature

½ cup/120 milliliters whole milk, at room temperature

¼ cup/45 grams chopped dark chocolate (70% added a good depth of flavor)

Steps to Prepare Cake

  1. Prepare the frosting: In a small saucepan, bring 1/2 cup/120 milliliters heavy cream to a simmer over medium-high heat. Stir in the tea, remove from the heat, cover and let stand for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour. Strain the tea through a fine-mesh sieve, discarding the solids, and chill the remaining cream until completely cold, at least 1 hour.
  2. Prepare the cake: Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch round cake pan and line with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, tea, baking powder and salt.
  3. In large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the orange zest and beat to combine. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Beat in the flour mixture on low, until just combined, then beat in the milk. (Don’t overmix.) Add the chocolate and fold it in using a spatula. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake just until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool for about 15 minutes. Then tip the cake out onto the rack to cool completely.
  4. To finish the frosting, add the remaining 1/4 cup/60 milliliters cream and the confectioners’ sugar to the tea cream. With an electric mixer on medium, beat the cream mixture until medium-stiff peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the mascarpone and beat just until stiff peaks form. (Do not overmix.) Top the cake with the frosting to serve. Store leftovers covered in the fridge for up to 3 days; let come to room temperature before serving.

This is a great recipe that I plan on making again.

By: Anngelica Soto

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Kaizen & Tea

When it comes to Japanese tea culture, most people tend to think first of elaborate ceremonies, poetry, and all the philosophy typically embodied in chadō. And while these are essential components of the Japanese approach to tea, few realize that beneath the history and aesthetics lies a very pragmatic approach to the production of tea. The careful balance of cutting-edge technology with traditional methods, and an appreciation for efficiency, has done well to make Japanese teas some of the most common in the world.

Modern Japanese tea production owes much to the concept of kaizen, a term that was introduced to the business world in the aftermath of WWII. Kaizen, which roughly translates as “continuous improvement”, was conceived by William Deming and made famous by Toyota as a way of constant small innovation that, in the long-term, will help a business attain perfection.

Using kaizen, Japanese tea production is the ultimate in efficiency: from the harvest of one plant, you can get not only sencha, but also shincha, kukicha, bancha, hojicha, and genmaicha. Let’s take a look at all of these teas.

Sencha: The most common type of Japanese tea, accounting for roughly 80% of the country’s tea production. Sencha ranges in quality from top-end to ready-to-drink dust & fannings, and is produced throughout the growing season. After harvest, it is steamed to stop oxidation, rolled into thin needle shapes, and oven-dried.

Shincha: The very first yield of sencha, shincha is composed of young new leaves that are plucked early in spring before the main harvest begins. Shincha is prized among connoisseurs for its rarity, complex flavors, and freshness.

Bancha: Harvested from mid-June to September after sencha production is finished, bancha utilizes fuller, more mature leaves and sometimes stems to give it its characteristic notes of sweet hay and bold grassiness.

Kukicha: Kukicha is made from stems and leaf cuttings leftover from sencha production. It is more delicately flavored than sencha or bancha, with savory sesame notes.

Hojicha: This unique green tea is made of sencha or bancha leaves, sometimes blended with kukicha, that have been roasted at 200°F for several minutes. Roasting imparts a rich, sweet, and nutty flavor – along with a lower caffeine content that makes it perfect for the evenings.

Genmaicha: Originally a staple of fasting monks and the poor, genmaicha is sencha or bancha that has been blended with toasted brown rice, which gives it a wonderfully mellow quality and full body.

Kaizen approaches in Japanese industry have been a tremendous gift to tea drinkers, allowing aficionados the chance to enjoy the diverse range of flavors that come from a single plant. Have you tried sencha and all the teas derived from it yet? Which is your favorite?

By: Jen Coate

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Aging Tea at Home

Ceramic tea jar for aging tea.

As we’ve covered in previous posts, the world of aged teas is incredibly diverse. In addition to puerh, the most famous of the aged teas, certain white and oolong teas can also be left to mature to delightful effect.

If you’re new to the world of aged tea, you may be wondering how to begin. The truth is, no two teas age exactly the same. Aging tea at home requires a little bit of experimentation and a whole lot of patience. But for anyone just starting out, there are a few key principles to keep in mind: quality, airflow, humidity, and time.

Tea Quality

Aging tea does change its character, but maturation isn’t magic. Just as time can’t fix a bad wine, attempting to improve the flavor of a cheap tea through aging will only result in stale leaves. Set yourself up for success with a quality tea that has a proven reputation for aging well, like a sheng puerh or a high-elevation oolong.

Airflow

How much airflow should you allow your teas when you store them? The answer varies depending on type. For puerh teas, which are fermented, some airflow is essential for the microbial processes that give them their flavor. Thus, puerh storage can be as simple as keeping the tea wrapped in the paper packaging it came in.

But for white and oolong teas, oxygen is the enemy. These teas need to be kept airtight. A simple, if less elegant, approach, is to keep it in a zip-top bag. Clay or ceramic crockery can also be effective, provided that the vessels have sealed lids. This approach is similar to traditional storage methods in China and Taiwan, where the tea would be sealed into clay jars with wax to prevent airflow.

Regardless of type, aging teas should be kept in separate containers from other teas, and away from anything that may produce a strong odor, to prevent them from picking up unwanted flavor notes.

Humidity

When it comes to aged teas, humidity is a tricky business. Too dry and cold an environment can flatten flavor development. On the other hand, too much moisture may cause your teas to taste sour, or even start to mildew.

For puerh teas, a humidity anywhere between 60 – 85% should suffice. For drier climates, a moisture pouch button, such as those sold to maintain tobacco freshness, can be stored alongside the tea. White and oolong teas, however, should generally be kept away from excess moisture.

Time

No exact formula exists to say how long a tea needs to mature, and how long it will last before the flavor starts to degrade. Type, cultivar, growing region, and leaf grade can all have an impact on how long tea should be aged. Generally speaking, during their first couple years of aging most teas will still taste relatively fresh and young. An awkward “middle period” can be expected from years two to five, and from five to seven years onward most will begin to develop their richer, more complex flavors. White teas usually begin to mature fastest, followed by oolongs, and then puerhs. If stored properly, all three types can last for decades before they begin to lose flavor.

Have you had any experience aging tea at home? How do you like to store your teas? Drop a line in our Facebook comments to let us know!

By: Jen Coate

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