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Tea Recipes: Super Easy Vegan Tea Fudge! 05.08.2017







What do we like here at MEM almost as much as tea? Chocolate, that’s what. And for those of us with a serious sweet tooth, it was inevitable that “would you like tea with your sugar?” would transcend tea-snark and become a challenge.

How do we use tea in cooking? Steeping, steaming, brining, smoking- really the only hard-and-fast rule is that there has to be a way for the flavor of the tea to get into the food, and this can be achieved in many ways. Fudge, as it turns out, is a great vehicle for stronger blends, as it creates a versatile bitter-sweet and fatty cushion for any tannins or strong flavors, much like a sugar and cream base for chai.

Ahead is a recipe making use of the most common tea-cooking technique- steeping- which leaves you with a sweet and toothsome fudge which we infused with Red Chili tea for a vegan treat that anyone can enjoy.



Tools

• Heavy bottomed sauce pot - not cast iron

• Spatula

• Mesh strainer

• Large, heat-safe bowl

• 8" x 8" glass baking dish, greased or lines with parchment paper (larger for thinner fudge, smaller for thicker)


Ingredients

• 1 cup full fat canned coconut milk

• 3 tbsp coconut oil

• 18 oz vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips (Enjoy Life, Sunspire, and Lily's are all good brands)

• 1 tsp vanilla extract

• 1 pinch salt

• 4 heaping tbsp Red Chili tea, loose (can substitute with other MEM loose chai blends)


Ingredients

• Prepare glass baking dish either by lining with parchment paper or greasing with coconut oil and set aside.

• In a heavy-bottomed sauce pot, mix coconut milk, coconut oil, vanilla extract, and salt over medium heat, stirring and scraping the sides to prevent sticking until mixture just starts to boil.

• Reduce heat to low and add Red hili tea to mixture, continuing to stir gently for five minutes. Allowing the tea to steep loose throughout the mixture maximizes how much flavor is released into the fudge base.

• After five minutes, when mixture has taken on a brown color, remove from heat and strain tea through the mesh strainer into a large heatproof bowl, making sure to scrape the sides of the pot for any remaining residue or leaves.

• Discard the leaves and return the tea-infused mixture to the pot, return to the stove on low heat, and add the chocolate. Stir until chocolate is dissolved and until mixture appears smooth and glossy. Again, make sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the pot as you stir to prevent any sticking or burning!

• Lastly, pour mixture into prepared baking dish and let cool at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to prevent chocolate sweating in the fridge. After that, you may continue to cool it at room temperature or move it to the refrigerator to finish setting.

• I cut the fudge into 30 two-bite squares, but feel free to make them whatever size you like! No matter what size, you and your friends will have a hard time stopping at just one.




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Tea for Two 03.06.2017





Outside the Pot - A Quick Look at how Tea is Shared Around the World





When the weather outside is cold enough to make you want two extra pairs of socks, we at MEM think it’s a good time for a party. What kind? --a tea party of course! For many of us, sharing tea is an essential part of enjoying it. How it’s shared is personal for everyone, but many teas have traditions associated with them beyond the classic teapot that are tailored for a specific drinking style, situation, or the unique qualities of the tea being consumed. Here’s a look at a few varieties of more traditional tea-ware you can use next time you share a cup!

Gaiwan





Origin: China
Material: Yi-xing clay, glass, porcelain, jade
Size: Small
Teas: Greens, whites, oolongs, pu-erh

Developed during the Ming Dynasty in China, a gaiwan is a versatile lidded cup which allows for users to easily steep small amounts of tea. This makes it ideal for enjoying certain oolongs, whole-leaf greens, pu-erh teas and other long-leaf varieties which lend themselves well to multiple infusions. Traditionally, the gaiwan is seen as ideal for steeping more delicately-flavored white and green teas, as the thick porcelain absorbs excess heat and lowers the water temperature while the thick lid traps the tea’s aroma until the top is removed. Using a Gaiwan is easy; simply add the loose tea leaves, add water, cover, and steep. When the tea is ready, the top is used to strain the water out of the cup and into small tasting vessels, leaving the leaves intact and relatively undisturbed for later infusions.





Since there is no filter basket in a gaiwan, it can be seen as difficult or messy to pour from. Our solution is more tea and more practice, but they are also often used in conjunction with a slotted bamboo tea-tray, or cha pan, which catches any spills or unwanted steeps of tea. It’s a lot of fun to work with a partner to see who can get the cleanest pour while exploring how the tea inside evolves in taste, appearance, and smell after each infusion.

Kyusu





Origin: Japan
Material: Clay pottery with stainless steel mesh
Size: small to large
Teas: Japanese greens such as sencha or gyokuro

The word “kyusu,” which can roughly be translated as “teapot,” generally refers to a covered, side-handled style pot which is used to steep small-leaf japanese teas such as Sencha or Gyokuro. A fine mesh encircles the inside of the teapot, preventing all but the smallest particles of leaf from being poured out through the thin spout. The unique shape allows the pot to be used one-handed, and the angle of the handle was designed so kyusus could be poured low and close to the ground, in the environment of a traditional tatami room where tea-drinkers would sit on the floor to make and serve the tea.





Since a kyusu is so easy to use with one hand and a small amount of tea, it’s a great tool to use when learning more about adjusting Japanese green teas to your tastes. With a buddy and a watch, you can use it to easily master the art of multiple steeps so you’ll be a tea expert next time you want to show your pals how to make gyokuro “just the way you like it!”

Chawan





Origin: China
Material: Pottery
Size: small to medium
Teas: Matcha or other tea powders

This round bowl is generally considered to be the originator of most clay and stoneware tea-making devices in east Asia. The form is simple and stems from a tradition of hand-thrown pottery used throughout classical China and Japan. In the period when the chawan was first popularized, tea was generally powdered to be more easily transported. Because of this, a chawan generally had a rounded bottom, enabling the powdered tea to be whisked smoothly into water and removing any lumps. The matcha we are familiar with today hearkens back to this powdered tea tradition, where the leaves are consumed as well as the broth. In tea ceremony or when preparing matcha traditionally, a chawan is still used to mix matcha and water, creating a thick, frothy beverage of the same style utilized for the last several hundred years.





Much attention is still given in tea ceremony to the quality of a chawan, with several types being seen as more distinguished and revered since the Edo period. Raku ware, Hagi ware, and Karatsu ware remain the most reputable styles, and many populate museums, the homes of collectors, and historic tea-houses, where they are prized not only for their beauty but also as important historical artifacts. Learning to make matcha using traditional methods is an engaging alternative to consuming it as a latte or in a smoothie, especially since the traditions associated with Japanese tea ceremony are interesting, rich, and full of delicious snacks made to be shared.

There are as many ways to enjoy tea as there are tea-drinkers, but next time you get together for a cup, think outside the pot and give one one of these awesome pieces of traditional teaware a try. You may just find a new favorite way to #steeptogether!




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