Tisano Tea, based in San Francisco, sells chocolate tea. It was started in 2010 by Patrick Pineda, Leonardo Zambrano, and Lucas Azpurua. I was curious about the company because I like two chocolate tea blends very much: Red Cloud Cacao (a black tea/chocolate tea blend from Peet’s, no longer available but they will bring it back) and CocoMate (from American Tea Room). (more…)
Archive for the 'tea' Category
I started drinking lots of tea when I started the Shangri-La Diet. The diet made me crave food with smell, which tea provided. I started chewing gum, too, but that was less enjoyable, maybe because I never became a gum connoisseur.
I recently learned about Teeccino coffee-substitute “tees” (brewed like tea) from Patrick Pineda of Tisano. They resemble Pero but with more flavor and variety. I really liked the first two flavors I tried (Vanilla Nut and French Roast) so I wrote to Teeccino asking for samples of all the flavors. In addition to no caffeine, Teechino drinks are high in inulin, a soluble fiber.
Here are my comments on the samples.
Dandelion Dark Roast. Similar to French Roast (relatively strong coffee taste) but more earthy-tasting. Maybe that’s the dandelion.
French Vanilla. Strong vanilla taste. Too much like vanilla for me, I want something more complicated.
Caramel Nut. Halfway between caramel and burnt caramel, which I like. As complex as French Roast.
Mocha. Excellent. Complexity of coffee plus complexity of chocolate.
Chocolate. Like mocha, except darker coffee flavor.
Original. Excellent. Weaker coffee flavor plus fruity complexity.
Almond Amaretto. Wonderful combination of coffee flavor with nutty almond/amaretto flavor.
Java. Rounded coffee flavor.
Chocolate Mint. Enough mint but not enough chocolate and coffee.
Southern Pecan. Delicious. Pecan and coffee flavors well-balanced. I wonder: What does Northern Pecan taste like?
Maya Chai. Tastes like chai. I would prefer, in addition, a dark coffee taste.
While living in China, I discovered that it was a good idea to rinse tea with hot water before brewing it. The rinse removes a certain rough taste — easy to notice in side-by-side comparisons. A Chinese college student made an interesting analogy:
Entertainment news is like drinking tea, first time is like washing tea leafs, no one really cares. Maybe 2nd or 3rd time it will have the sweet taste, but in the end it gets weaker and weaker.
A few weeks ago, I wondered if I drink too much tea. Is 4 cups/day too much? What about 2 cups/day? To learn more, I needed to drink a lot less tea.
What about miso? I wondered. I had some high-quality miso paste in my refrigerator. I got it in Tokyo at a miso store (thanks to Gary Rymar for taking me there). I made a cup (about 25 g miso paste — 2-3 teaspoons? — mixed with 1 cup hot water). It was delicious. The complex taste reminded me of coffee and chocolate. I added a little cream and a half packet of sweetener (Sucralose). It tasted even better.
I did the same thing with miso from Berkeley. It was still very good.
I cannot imagine not drinking tea. But I can now imagine drinking less tea because miso is much healthier. Replacing tea with miso is an easy way to eat more fermented food. A cup of miso is easier to make than a cup of tea.
Incidentally, don’t waste your time with powdered miso. It is much worse than the refrigerated miso (paste) sold in tubs.
It worked. Side-by-side tea comparisons are fun, easy, and have taught me a lot. When I drink tea I notice more and like it more. I do about three comparisons per day. I blogged about the first results here. The most useful idea about these comparisons came from Carl Willat himself: Compare the same tea brewed differently (e.g., different amounts of tea, different brewing times, different water temperatures). Most of my comparisons vary amount of tea or brewing time.
These many comparisons have had several effects: (more…)
I have had tea daily for the last ten years, ever since I discovered the Shangri-La Diet. A few weeks ago, I started doing side-by-side comparisons of similar teas or the same tea prepared two ways (e.g., different brewing times). Would the Willat Effect make me a tea connoisseur?
Since then I have done at least one side-by-side comparison every day. It’s almost as easy as making an ordinary cup of tea and a lot more fun. These comparisons have taught me more about tea preparation than the previous ten years. I’ve learned:
1. The black tea I have (an Earl-Grey variant) tastes better when brewed for 3.5 minutes than 4.0 minutes.
2. The black tea tastes better when I use 1.5 grams of tea than when I use 2.0 grams of tea. (After starting these comparisons, I bought a scale for weighing tea.)
3. One of the green teas I have tastes better when “rinsed” for 30 seconds before brewing 1 minute than when simply brewed for 1 minute. In China, this preference (rinse green tea before brewing) is common. I was reminded of it by this comment and Paul Jaminet’s post about tea. Black tea is different, as I noted earlier.
4. I have a caffeine-free tea blend called Choco Late made of cacao husks, vanilla, and rooibos. The package says brew 5 minutes. Which is nonsense. It tastes better (fuller, more rounded) when brewed 30 minutes than when brewed 15 minutes. (I’ve noticed the same thing with caffeine-free chai blends. Enormous brewing times, like 60 minutes, produce much better results than short times.)
5. My most interesting discovery is when I brew Choco Late for 30 minutes it tastes so good I no longer want to sweeten it. It is pleasant enough already and sweetness would distract from the complexity, fullness, and slight bitterness. (At first I wrote “lovely complexity, fullness …”) I was shocked when I noticed this. It has never happened before.
This tea-selling website mentions the Willat Effect under the heading “Do you want to be a tea connoisseur?” I hope this means the idea will spread among the fancy-food community. They have a lot to gain from better understanding of how to make people connoisseurs. Many times I have asked people in that community what makes someone a connoisseur? The usual answer is education. In my case, Willat-Effect comparisons (side-by-side comparisons of similar teas) were far more powerful than reading about tea, drinking a variety of teas, going on tea tours, going to ordinary tea tastings (where you taste a wide range of teas), and talking about tea with experts. I have been to five or six Fancy Food Shows and have visited thousands of booths. Exactly one booth offered side-by-side comparisons of similar products. It was their product made with and without a special ingredient.
Willat-Effect comparisons are mini-science. They aren’t quantitative but they include three other things central to science: 1. Close comparisons. This is the essence of experimentation. 2. You don’t know the answer. 3. You care about the answer.