May 5, 2014

Cuppa Cakes Teas Lemon Chiffon, reviewed

Cuppa Cakes Teas Lemon Chiffon, reviewed

A mug of coffee or tea is often the perfect thing to pair with a slice of cake, whether you baked your own or picked up your favorite flavor at your local bakery. I tend to think that you can’t go wrong with black tea or black coffee, but you can really get a better pairing by looking around at all the options out there. A good example are the Cuppa Cakes Teas, which are a relatively new collection from Republic of Tea. These teas are inspired by the flavors of baked goods and pair fantastically with them – though they’re good enough to be satisfying on their own, as well.

I bake a lot with lemon in the winter and spring, so the first tea that I reached for from this collection was Cuppa Cakes Teas Lemon Chiffon. It’s an herbal green rooibos tea inspired by “chiffon cake speckled with sweet coconut and topped with a creamy lemon icing” that is made with a blend of apple, lemongrass, lemon, vanilla and coconut flavors, as well as green rooibus tea. I initially thought that the tea might taste mostly of lemon, but it really does capture some of the flavor and smell of a light, lemon cake in a way that is very surprising! You can easily pick out the lemon, vanilla and coconut notes, even if you’re not an experienced tea-taster (though it helps to be a lover of lemon, vanilla and coconut baked goods), which means that this tea is one that should have wide appeal to anyone who likes these flavors. I really enjoyed it, both hot and as a very refreshing iced tea, and it was especially good when paired with lemon or vanilla baked goods. I highly recommend trying a slice of lemon pound cake with it.

If you are going to drink it on its own (perhaps in place of a slice of cake), I recommend brewing the tea a little bit stronger than recommended on the packaging and adding a little bit of sugar or honey to intensify its cake-like notes.

Apr 30, 2014

Mint Julep Iced Tea

Mint Julep Iced Tea

I am a big fan of Mint Juleps, a classic cocktail that is made with bourbon, sugar and mint. They’re usually found at the Kentucky Derby, where race-goers need a refreshing drink to sip while they are hanging out in the sun on a warm spring day. My only problem with the traditional julep is that the drink is quite strong and I need something that is going to last a little bit longer if I’m relaxing outside in the heat. My solution was to create a Mint Julep Iced Tea that is an even more refreshing take on the classic drink.

The drink starts with sweet black iced tea, poured over muddled mint and bourbon. Muddling mint is a great technique that is often used when crafting cocktails to release the oils in the mint leaves, and it works just as well in iced tea. It also gives the drink a nice look when it is served to have the mint leaves at the bottom of the glass. Bourbon goes very well with black tea and the mint makes the drink especially refreshing and palate-cleansing as you sip it.

This recipe is scaled to make one serving of iced tea. If you want to serve a crowd, I suggest starting with a large pitcher of sweetened black iced tea and then assembling the drink – adding the bourbon and mint to each glass – as you serve. And, of course, you can omit the bourbon for a refreshing minty tea if you want the idea of a julep without the alcohol, too.

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Apr 28, 2014

What does your coffee say about your personality?

What's Your Coffee Personality?

Your coffee drink of choice definitely says something about your personality – and you probably even have made judgments about other people based on what they’re ordering in line at Starbucks or other coffee shops. Adding an extra half shot, soy milk, a particular temperature and one third of a Splenda in your latte? That person sounds high maintenance. Indulging in a gigantic frappuccino with extra caramel, extra fudge and whipped cream for breakfast? That person sounds like they know what he likes and isn’t afraid to go for it. Black coffee with two add shots? That person is serious about caffeine.

I Love Coffee put together a neat infographic that shows what your coffee drink of choice says about your personality. There is some room for error, of course (especially since not all the modifiers are accounted for!), but it’s probably more accurate than the horoscope that runs in your daily newspaper. Click through to read the full infographic and see if your coffee profile is accurate.
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Apr 23, 2014

Cafe de Olla

Cafe de Olla

Cafe de Olla is a Mexican spiced coffee that is a very enjoyable way to prepare your coffee if you’re looking for a little variety. The coffee is prepared on the stovetop and it is flavored with cinnamon, orange and cloves, and sweetened with piloncillo. Piloncillo is an unrefined Mexican sugar that you can find sold in cones or large chunks at Mexican markets. It has a unique flavor that is somewhere between brown sugar and honey, and while it takes a little bit of work to chop up the block that it comes in, it is well worth the effort.

This coffee is traditionally brewed by combining all the ingredients in a saucepan and allowing them to steep together, than straining out the spices when you’re ready to serve it. You can also make it in smaller batches in a french press, but I find that it is easies to make it the traditional way because nothing gets caught in the mesh of my french press. With the saucepan method, you can also easily taste your coffee and adjust the sugar level to taste, as piloncillo is quite sweet and you may find that you don’t want quite as much in your brew.
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