Leaf Love

Red, white, black or green. Steaming hot or ice cold. Served in cups, pots or glasses. With milk, honey, lemon or sugar. David is crazy about mint. I have always liked mine green. We both love masala chai. Tea is my latest obsession! Everything from the pretty tea bags and the nitty tea pots in beautiful colors, to the scent in a tea store and to choose what goes hand in hand with your mood, feelings or need.

I am also a huge fan of tea salons. When I was 9 months pregnant and couldn’t move, David carried me to the tea salon in our neighborhood, and got me herbal tea and scones. When my mom turned 50, I invited her to a tea salon in Copenhagen, where they made us green Japanese Matcha tea. And the next time I’m having a party, it is definitely going to be a tea party!

During our time here in Asia we have tried so many different teas – Jasmine, Lotus, Artichoke, Rose, Mint, Green Sencha and the beautiful Dragon ball tea, that opens up and becomes a flower. Inspired by all this, we decided to do a blog post about tea. But even though we love to drink it, we are not in any way experts on the subject. So we turned to tea consultant Alexis Siemons, from the lovely blog Teaspoon and Petals, to give us some tips on good equipment, tasty teas, food that pairs well, and her favorite tea spots. Here are her answers:

If you want to go a little further than just a tea bag and a cup of hot water, what kind of equipment do you need to make good tea at home?
There is a simple art to steeping loose tea. While traveling, I often bring a box of individual paper filters. Just fill them with tea, fold over the paper flap to seal, add water, and steep. Although, if you prefer to treat your eyes to the visual delight of the steeping process, I adore using a large or small glass teapots and an infuser. It is truly wonderful to watch the tea leaves dance about as they paint the water. Beyond the paper filter, tea pot and infuser, you’ll need a tea kettle to warm the water (I have a standard kettle on my stove, but am looking intro electric versions that differentiate temperatures for different types of tea). 

Can you recommend five teas that we always should keep at home?
Tea selection is so very personal, but if I were to give a friend 5 teas this is what I would send her at this very moment:
1. Sencha Japanese Green Tea
2. Masala Chai Tea
3. Wen Shan Bao Zhong Oolong Tea
4. Bai Mu Dan White Tea Or White Rose
5. Moroccan Mint

What is your favorite tea right now?
In Philadelphia, we are in seasonal limbo as winter is waving goodbye and spring is skipping in. On the chillier days, I’m still reaching for a lightly roasted oolong tea (Wen Shan Bao Zhong) that is smooth and subtly sweet with floral/nutty notes. It’s truly comforting. Although, I’m looking forward to welcoming a warmer season with a cup of Sencha, a Japanese green tea with a bright, vegetal flavor that reminds me of spring.

What do you prefer to eat with to your tea?
It truly depends on the tea, as I recently started to explore food and tea pairings. I love to nibble on cookies and sweeter treats with malty, rich black teas (Chinese Golden Monkey). While I like to sip lighter, refreshing teas (like a Moroccan Mint Green Tea) after a hearty, spicy meal. White teas are lovely when paired with crackers, as the flavor is often delicate. I even recommend cooking with your tea. I whisked Matcha Japanese green tea powder into grapeseed oil, freshly squeezed orange juice, honey, sea salt and water for a lovely salad dressing served over mixed greens, orange slices and goat cheese. I even steeped thin slices of a sweet potato in oolong tea, and then baked them for a tasty snack with a subtle hint of smoky flavor from the roasted oolong. In fact, my love of tea and food inspired me to create a series on my blog, teaspoons at the table.

Where is your favorite place to go to for good tea?
Even though I often purchase teas online from around the world to steep at home, I enjoy stepping into a local tea shop to see and smell their selection. I’ve learned so much about tea just by talking with shop owners and fellow tea lovers. While in Philadelphia, I can be found at Tbar or Cups & Chairs. Although, when I am visiting my home away from home, New York City, I escape to Radiance Tea House (I love their menu of Wellness Teas). 

Ps. We have finally created a Facebook page for Green Kitchen Stories – where we will show our new posts, previews and answer your questions.

Ps 2. We also wanted to tell you that we were listed in Babble’s Top 100 together with some other amazing bloggers and friends. Thank you Babble!

Ps 3. If you have any other questions about tea, feel free to write them in our comment field and we will try to answer them with some help from Alexis.