Tag Archives: tea

Flavor #30: Green Tea Asian Pear Sorbet

5 Apr

“Asian pears!” my friend’s boyfriend declared.

pears at the market

While pondering what produce to buy for a flavor for a belated Chinese New Year dinner, I spotted my friend and her boyfriend roaming through the farmers market. I described my predicament. An Asian flavor that used local produce. So no mango, no dragonfruit, no longan, no guava (as I sadly discovered guava in the United States is no match for guava in Asia) and more. I was ready to return to the blood orange sorbet, which worked wonderfully for all my tasters. Yet, I kept coming across Asian pears. Growing up, my mom bought them and filled the kitchen. After a small lunch, she would carve them into small pieces and place them in a ceramic bowl with painted blue Oriental details.

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Flavor #11: Pur-eh Ice Cream

20 Aug

tea mixture

At Chinese restaurants during our childhood, my sister and I consistently refused to drink tea. We were the fussy Americans that demanded icy glasses of water—happily gulping a cold liquid that traditional Chinese believed to upset the yin and yang of the body. Sympathetic servers discreetly discounted the table of tea tax (at dim sum, each diner is charged $1 for tea)—a simple mark on our check that there were only 4 diners when there were 6 warm bodies cowered around a lazy susan.

Of course, my taste as I grew up changed and pur-eh tea reminded me of dim sum. The memories of my parents getting the sweet dishes for my sister and me—the pork buns, the egg tarts, the fruit jelly dishes. These were the memories of being in a crowded restaurant where numbers were called in the waiting room, but we were special because they us by name. Dim sum, to me, was my experience of being Chinese…and American—it was at dim sum that I got a taste of how life was like in Hong Kong contrasting my desire to be Americanized.

A few years ago, during a tour in Saigon by motorbike, I demanded that my guide take me to a tea shop (after a disappointing visit to a market filled with useless touristy trinkets and the never-ending stench of mothballs). There at a tea shop, I set upon buying the tea so reminiscent of my childhood. The nutty and earthy flavor immediately recalls moments where the Cantonese voices somehow seem louder than any voice I could remember. So on this day, I decided to make ice cream with what I had in my cupboard which was the tea from Vietnam.

Interestingly, this tea tasted a lot like chocolate. With the inherent nuttiness of the tea and contrasted with cream (not common for pur-eh), it was a rich flavor that some tasters thought that it was chocolate!

Puh-eh Tea Leaves

Recipe

Ingredients

2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup pur-eh leaves (the tea leaves)
1 cup sugar
6 egg yolks

Method

In a medium pot, heat the milk and heavy cream until simmering over medium heat. Remove from heat. Steep the tea leaves in the mixture for at least an hour. Strain out the tea leaves. Strain out once more if any major leaves remain (or leave a bit to give the ice cream hint of the tea within). Back in the medium pot, combine the steeped mixture and sugar. Heat until simmering. Then turn off heat.

In a separate large bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Temper the egg yolks by pouring one cup at a time of the warmed mixture. Whisk after every cup. Return the contents into the pot and place over medium heat. Stir frequently. The custard will thicken. Remove from heat when the mixture coats the back of a spoon.

Chill completely overnight in the refrigerator. Churn in an ice cream maker based on the manufacturer’s instructions.

tea mixture

Flavor #8: Darjeeling Ice Cream

23 Jul

When I traveled alone in Europe last February, every morning I started the day with tea. It became a ritual. Every day I woke up and declared, “TEA! PLEASE!”

Now mind you, I never needed a caffeine fix in the morning. Typically, I rolled down to the office usually awoken by the usual everyday anxiety (bills? project deadlines?) and the blast of cold San Francisco air while riding my bike.

When I was 20, my sister and I went to our first tea room in San Diego. Having not grown up surrounded by girly things, we were intrigued by this culture of fancy teapots, mismatched tea cups, and dainty desserts of the rainbow (sometimes that tasted too much of fondant than sugary goodness). We wanted to be fancy and elegant—to brag about our exquisiteness and emulate the regularly British tradition. Although my desire to have regular afternoon tea has waned, I still am intrigued by the discovery of Darjeeling in those days. Back then, the tea was described to me as the champagne of black teas. Not to my surprise, it was advertised as such in the Borough Market in London.

Borough Market

“It is the lightest of the teas,” a tea proprietor in a fancy tea room once told us. “I don’t even drink it with milk.”

Yet while traveling in Dublin, London and Berlin, the comforts of tea reminded me of my memorable moments of my sister. The dainty cups, the tea pot, and the mug where I poured the tea. It was a constant balance of trying not to steep the tea too long and drinking while keeping it hot. To my surprise in Europe, I was surprised that in bars, tea was regularly served. Most importantly, it was not served with just a tea bag in a mug. Rather it was a complete set with a tea pot (and leaves), milk, sugar and an empty mug.

In Dublin, after spending an afternoon watching rugby at a bar, a friend and I meandered to a nearby posh bar where we had tea. And there, that’s where we sat for several hours—letting our words take us. An American and a German with so many different lives finding ourselves in a bar in Dublin, Ireland.

IMG_5968

That’s what tea time…and darjeeling reminds me.

So in the recipe, I emphasized the tea’s qualities with a balance of milk and cream. After all, darjeeling is great on its own, but certain aspects are emphasized with the right amount of sugar and milk. Unlike my previous recipes, this one, I created on my own based on my experience from creating Thai Iced Tea ice cream. Out of the four ice cream that I served that week, this one went by the fastest, because it was the creamiest (I mastered the art of tempering eggs!) and densest.

2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup darjeeling leaves (the tea leaves)
1 cup sugar
6 egg yolks

In a medium pot, heat the milk and heavy cream until simmering over medium heat. Remove from heat. Steep darjeeling tea in the mixture for at least an hour. Strain out the tea leaves. Strain out once more if any major leaves remain (or leave a bit to give the ice cream hint of the tea within). Back in the medium pot, combine the steeped mixture and sugar. Heat until simmering. Then turn off heat.

In a separate large bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Temper the egg yolks by pouring one cup at a time of the warmed mixture. Whisk after every cup. Return the contents into the pot. Then at medium heat while constantly stirring, place the pot at medium heat. The custard will thicken. Remove from heat when the mixture coats the back of a spoon.

Chill completely overnight in the refrigerator. Churn in an ice cream maker based on the manufacturer’s instructions.

Flavor #6: Thai Iced Tea Ice Cream

13 Jul

Thai Iced Tea

When I visited Thailand, I learned in cooking class the ease of making Thai iced tea. It was purely tea flavored with various milk…and dye. The DYE. The tea itself did not have a reddish hue and was in fact, chemical in nature.

When I did return to the states, I immediately went to an Asian supermarket and acquired my very own bag of Thai iced tea. When I finished steeping the tea, I would sometimes throw it into my plants, letting it “compost”. To my horror, I discovered that it often stained the roots, the leaves into a red, just as my cooking teacher in Bangkok had warned us.

I asked a friend recently to recall his very unique experience of having Thai iced tea at a night market in Chumphon, a fishing village that we stopped at on our way to Ko Lanta from Bangkok:
“We couldn’t help ourselves, because the damn vendor was so happy. Sure, we’ll have Thai iced tea. Sure, we don’t know where the ice cubes came from. Sure, we’ll have it in a bag! And of course, it was damn delicious. Until the next morning. And of course, we were going on an 8 hour road trip. I asked John if he felt ok the next morning and he said that he needed to go to the toilet.”


(from Katy)

The point of the story is not the latter discomfort, but rather…the deliciousness of the tea, which is surrounded by so much sugar and cream…makes it a perfect selection for ice cream.

In my own recipe, I was running out of milk and cream. The result was a very rich ice cream that when served, my friends kept asking for more. Even with the sugar headaches they had. More please, sir!

Recipe

Ingredients

1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup Thai tea (the tea leaves)
1 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
4 egg yolks

Method

In a medium pot, heat the milk until simmering over medium heat. Remove from heat. Steep Thai tea for at least an hour. Strain out the tea leaves. Strain out once more if any major leaves remain. Back in the medium pot, combine the steeped milk, cream, and sugar. Heat until simmering. Then turn off heat.

In a separate large bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Temper the egg yolks by pouring one cup at a time of the warmed mixture. Whisk after every cup. Return the contents into the pot. Then at medium heat while constantly stirring, put the pot at medium heat. The custard will thicken. Remove from heat when the mixture coats the back of a spoon.

Chill completely overnight in the refrigerator. Churn in an ice cream maker based on the manufacturer’s instructions.

Thai Iced Tea