Persimmons, Tea and Beyond

When late fall arrives and the farmers markets are flooded with fresh persimmons in two major varieties: Fuyu (the flat oblong ones that may be enjoyed hard like an apple or softer if you are patient) and Hachiyas, (the heart-shaped ones that must be fully ripened and therefore meltingly soft and pudding-like to enjoy). I am primed for that most special of special seasonal treats: the hoshigaki. The dried, jammy, soft, leathery and altogether rare treat found in Japanese and other pan-Asian markets around my city. Here is a fruit that has been processed as a kind of labor of love, over a period of weeks. Each peeled fruit, hung on a string in an airy warm place, regularly massaged by hand to ensure that the inner pulp of the fruit broken up and retaining their teardrop shape all during the process. I like to think of the similarities between the care and artisanship involved in producing these fruits and what goes into producing the finest teas.  At this time of year, I await the pleasure of exploring the relationships between the two by tasting my tea of choice alone, the fruit alone, and then the two together in one mouth-filling experience.

Although the tradition of drying persimmons most likely originated in Japan in the 8th to 12th centuries, with examples of them in Korea and in China (whose versions, respectively, gotgam and shibing, are a fraction of the price since they are not hand massaged or suspended on string as are the traditional far more labor-intensive hoshigaki), feel free to enjoy them with teas from China or India. Unsweetened black teas suit my palate, balancing the intense though not cloying sweetness of the fruit which is traditionally made with the otherwise astringent-when-unripe Hachiya variety of persimmon. Since the mouth-puckering tannins in these are water soluble, when the fruit is dried with much of its moisture evaporated the tannins are no longer perceived by the tastebuds.

Adding one more layer of excitement to this late-fall pleasure, bites of a well-aged English or domestic cheddar or other hard cheese work well in a back-and-forth tasting experience with warm or even cooled-down tea as the beverage of choice here. Sneak in bites of the sweet hoshigaki which play well against the salty presence of the cheese. Tea here is not only the social lubricant for a great get-together but also unites the fruit and cheese as you nibble on a bit of one and then on the other. A croute of pita or other flatbread–toasted but first lightly brushed with fruity olive oil–makes the tasting an event, adding crunchy texture and heft. How’s this for an intro to Thanksgiving dinner? And you can continue serving tea throughout the dinner. Who says that the beverage with dinner has to be a fruity red wine, champagne, or beer? (Although all are good choices in my book.)  What about the teetotalers (those devoted totally to tea?) among us?

5 Ways to Enjoy Japanese Green Tea – Part 2

Continued from yesterday’s post

3. Tulsi with Hot Milk and Matcha

Is it a cold day and you want something warm to warm you up and soothe your mood? Well we know the perfect fix to keep you cozy inside! Prepare some hot milk with matcha and add a touch of tulsi and you’ll have yourself the perfect concoction to brighten any gloomy day. Because tulsi is actually good for your health (much like green tea), milk with matcha and tulsi is not only a great way to get nutrients, it’s an easy and yummy way to do so. From helping to relieve stress to providing your body with necessary antioxidants, there are several reasons that you should consume this delectable drink as often as you can.

How to: Make sure to grind the matcha and tulsi before putting your milk on to boil. As the milk starts to boil, mix in the blend of matcha and tulsi. Take tastes as you mix it in completely to make sure that you get the perfect blend.

4. Tulsi Green Tea Cocktail

Are you having friends over for a special event and looking to try new things to amaze them? Well, a great way to freshen things up is to add tulsi and green tea to your choice of liquor (though we would have to say that we like the taste of green tea with vodka or gin). The rich mint flavor of the tulsi brings a green tea cocktail to a whole other level of exotic making it an idyllic option for when you want to surprise your guests with something that they’ll question at first but end up loving. We always love this type of daring cocktail with a touch of lemon for a winning drink that will make your guests ask for more. While liquors like rum or whiskey may not blend well with the rich flavors of green tea and tulsi, you can try your favorite liquors until you find the one that works best for your palate and tastes great in cocktails.

How to: There are different ways to make this type of cocktail but the easiest way to do so is to make a tea with your green tea and tulsi. Make sure that you let it sit long enough for the water to really get the flavors. Once the tea is cool and you can taste the tulsi and green tea, shake with ice and your favorite type of liquor and additional ingredients for an incredible tasting cocktail.

5. Tulsi Matcha and Ice Cream

Who says that dessert can’t contain some of your favorite Indian spice? We think that tulsi can be amazing, and that’s why we think one of its best uses is with matcha ice cream. It’s the perfect blend of minty and sweet that makes for a marriage that is so perfect you’ll wonder why this isn’t a world-famous ice cream flavor. What’s even better is that you can now wow your family or guests with an ice cream pairing that is to die for. Pair this ice cream with anything from a cobbler, to pie, to brownies and you’ll be amazed at just how incredible the flavor really is.

How to: Make sure to get your favorite type of ice cream for this recipe (although it pairs best with vanilla). Boil water and add matcha, making sure to blend it in well. Grind tulsi and then add it as well. Whisk the blend for a few minutes and when you’re confident the flavors are blended together perfectly, pour it over your ice cream and voila! You’ll have a uniquely delectable dessert that won’t disappoint.

In Conclusion

While you don’t want to add tulsi to just anything, it can be amazing when paired wisely. Do some research and try various combinations with tulsi and matcha and you’ll be able to use your favorite ingredients in new ways that will make you wonder why you never tried them before.

Whether you’re looking for a new type of tea to drink or are simply looking for new ways to make dessert, these ideas will get you started using tulsi and matcha in the best way possible. If you can’t get enough of your green tea and tulsi, you don’t have to stop enjoying them. As you can see from the information above, there are still so many ways to enjoy these ingredients that you know and love.

 

Harding Intsik in Manila – T Ching

Harding Intsik, an obscure attraction inside Manila’s vast Rizal Park, is a Chinese garden designed and gifted decades ago by the Taiwanese government.  A set of postage stamps featuring two of the most notorious dictators in Asia–namely Philippines’s Ferdinand Marcos and Taiwan’s Chiang Kai-shek–commemorates the garden’s completion in 1967.

Though not as splendid as Chinese gardens elsewhere, Harding Intsik incorporates the essential elements – zigzag bridge over pond, pavilions and corridors, statues of literati, lush vegetation, etc.  It could be the only oriental garden, on Planet Earth, adorned with giant palm trees!  No tea house or tea service onsite though.

 Before arriving in Manila during an eight-hour layover, I was warned numerous times about the city’s traffic congestion, which restricted my adventure to only the must-visit Intramuros – Spanish Colonial Period’s Walled City.  Manila is endowed with a sizable Chinatown and the peculiar Chinese Cemetery, neither of which piqued my interest.  It was during the drive to Intramuros that I stumbled upon Harding Intsik.

Those who were at the garden that rainy afternoon appeared to be university students.  They found shelter to escape the unpleasant mishmash of rain and heat; I could picture them sitting at the same spot, reading the same book in any sunny day though. Whatever they were drinking to quench thirst and combat humidity was either coffee or water, not tea.  Most tourists graded the garden lackluster, even a waste of time.  Certainly it was not built for tourists.  Its construction aimed to attain political goals, which fortunately entertain residents of a cacophonous, over-populated metropolis.

This is my tenth year contributing to T Ching.  I decided to write about Harding Intsik while reading in one review, after my trip, that although the Taiwanese government, more specifically, the Nationalist Party’s exploitation of taxpayer money, funded the entire project, all “evidence” such as commemorative plaques had been removed or replaced since the so-called “Rise of China.”  My tour guide photographed me holding an umbrella in front of the winding corridor.  How I wish I had turned around to inspect one plaque pinned to the corridor pillar, as shown in the photo, but there is really not a need.  Due to pressure from China, Taiwan is not admitted to not only the United Nations but also organizations such as the United Nations’ information-distributing, humanitarian agency WHO (World Health Organization).  At China’s request earlier this year, major airlines deleted references to Taiwan in their flight schedules.  The East Asian Olympic Committee barred TaiChung, Taiwan’s second largest city, from hosting the East Asian Youth Games.  All had been a struggle for the oppressed during the past ten years, and the struggle persists in the coming ten years when the oppressor wields power regardless of the sophomoric, trite propaganda and implementation.

Images provided by author

Blast From the Past: Pairing Tea With Cheese


One might well imagine wine being the perfect pairing with cheese.  However, while at a cheese-and-wine tasting recently, I had a cheese expert tell me that cheese is much better paired with tea than wine.  So, I decided to host a cheese-and-tea tasting.  I purchased six cheeses and six teas, each with different flavor profiles and textures, and then proceeded to pair each cheese with each of the teas.

Cheeses

Chevre
Marieke Gouda
Hooks 3-Year Cheddar
Sarvecchio
Carr Valley Mobay
Hooks Blue Cheese

Teas

White Peony
Jasmine Green
Houjicha
Feng Huang Dancong “Ba Xian”
Golden Yunnan
Cinnamon Plum

Tasting Highlights

  1. It is best to taste the tea when it has cooled.  When tasting tea and cheese, put the cheese in your mouth and spread it all the way down your tongue and then take a sip of tea.  The tea coats your mouth and the cheese.  Next, breathe and inhale the aroma lingering in your mouth.  A nice tip that helps bridge the flavors in the cheese and tea is to crack fresh pepper onto the cheese, mix with honey, or add cocoa nibs.
  2. The Jasmine Green and White Peony went with just about every cheese.  They both complemented the very distinct flavors of the cheeses.
  3. We added cocoa nibs and honey to the fresh goat cheese (Chevre).  It was amazing!  That paired really well with Golden Yunnan, bringing out the sweet caramel notes of the rich black tea.
  4. White Peony went really well with goat cheese blended with honey.  The honey in the goat cheese brought out some really nice honeysuckle nectar-like notes in the White Peony.
  5. We cracked fresh pepper onto the Marieke gouda and paired it with Golden Yunnan.  The pepper brought out really nice spicy and malty notes in the Golden Yunnan.
  6. We tasted the Hooks Blue cheese at the end of our series.  We knew the flavor would overwhelm any other cheese tasted after it.  Blue cheese is often paired with port or a very thick, juicy, and sweet wine, so it made perfect sense to choose Cinnamon Plum for this pairing.  It was amazing.  We scooped up blue cheese into porcelain tasting spoons and drank the sweet notes of Cinnamon Plum that coated our throats with deliciously rich fruit.

Image provided by author.

This article was originally posted in February 2011.



Tea Towel & A Yayoi Kusama Exhibit


The Broad’s special exhibit Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors closed a few weeks ago. Angelinos who missed the show could catch it at the remaining stops, Toronto, Cleveland, or Atlanta, before the collection of six mirror-lined rooms leaves North America.

Yayoi Kusama was born in 1929, in Japan’s Nagano Prefecture. She attained international recognition in 1957 via a solo exhibit, just a few weeks after her arrival in Seattle. Since 1977 she has resided, voluntarily, at a mental hospital in Japan and commuted to her studio daily.

For over an hour I waited in line to purchase the same-day admission ticket. The strategically positioned mirrors, the scintillating LED lights, and awkward reflections of oneself invoked giggle and laughter; I was not awed though. Art mavens dissected and embraced Kusama’s art, labeling it iconoclastic, recalcitrant yet profound. In my eyes, her work enriches the so-called cuteness culture, or simply cute culture, so cute that I wish to own a piece, especially the signature polka dot-clad Kusama Pumpkin, many of which were displayed inside a space entitled “Yayoi Kusama: All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins” – the only room where photos were not allowed.

While searching for that perfect miniature Kusama Pumpkin replica, I came across her Love Forever Tea Towel. Do you own a tea towel? Of course you do. No one would cry foul if you call your dish cloth a tea towel. Vincent van Gogh painted on tea towels when he ran out of canvas. Such an ordinary object with many recorded anecdotes!



Does drinking hot tea cause cancer?


I’m always interested in reading articles that speak to tea’s amazing effects on reducing cancer risk. Needless to say, when I came across some research out of Peking University regarding esophageal cancer, I was quite disturbed.

Upon reading the article, however, I think I understand why drinking hot tea would be a culprit. The study was conducted looking at 3 risk factors: 1) Hot tea drinkers 2) Heavy alcohol consumption and 3) cigarette smoking. It takes all 3 variables to contribute to an increased prevalence of esophageal cancer. If you take a moment to consider this, it doesn’t take a research project to come to this conclusion.  Imagine a person who has been drinking and smoking to excess. Enter tea – or any excessively hot beverage. The hot liquid would burn the delicate tissue as it runs through the esophagus. Cigarette smoke certainly causes inflammation of the tissues and then the burn from a hot liquid – bingo, the damage to the cells would be swift and with repeated exposure, this is a scenario that would encourage cancer cells to dominate.

The researchers conclude that merely drinking hot tea does not, in and of itself, increase one’s risk for this type of cancer. Did we really need a study to come to that conclusion? When one isn’t drunk, it’s easy to learn to wait a bit before drinking our freshly brewed tea so we don’t burn ourselves. It would be interesting to see if these same effects and conditions apply to coffee consumption. Now that would have made a fascinating comparison.

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10 Reasons Why Tea is a Universal Home Remedy


Tea is a widely consumed beverage that seems to be suitable for any occasion, whether it’s a home brunch, a business lunch or a dinner with friends. Some recognize specific teas by their flavor, others prefer them for their health benefits. Tea is usually made of dried leaves, fruit, flower or roots of plants. There are countries which have a specific tea in their traditional culture, such as the Japanese Matcha green tea, Turkish black tea, Chinese Oolong tea or the famous English Earl Grey. For this article’s purpose, we will exclude the grain-based tea-resembling beverages.

Which Types of Tea are There?

Tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world. The first one is water. Moreover, 80% of the Americans have tea in their homes, while 159 million of them drink at least one cup daily. But which one of those many options make real tea?

  • Tea: Derives from Camellia Sinensis plant. It only includes green, white, black, and oolong tea varieties.
  • Infusion: Herbal products which contain elements from a plant with can be recognized by their taste or effect.

Infusions and tea are not technically alike. However, they have made their way in tradition and culture as types of tea and are perceived as such. They also became parts of the tea serving ritual.

10 Ways Tea Helps You Protect Your Health and Boost Your Mind

  1. Contains Low Calories: A cup of tea without a milk or sugar addition has a couple of calories. Therefore, it’s suitable even as part of a diet and it’s almost as hydrating as water.  
  2. Rich in Antioxidants: Tea boosts your exercise endurance by providing you with an additional dose of antioxidants. This is due to the rich catechins found in many teas, especially in white and green tea. Moreover, antioxidants protect your body from the impact of pollution.
  3. Protects Against Heart Disease. Tea contains flavonoids which prevent cell damage and protect from heart disease and some types of cancer. The health effect comes with drinking one – three cups of tea daily.
  4. Eases Weight Loss. There are tea varieties which promote weight reduction and are even recommended by nutritionists. One of them is green tea, which also improves bone mineral strength and density. Also, your taste buds may perceive the taste of some flavored teas as appealing and, therefore, minimize your appetite.
  5. Boosts Immune System. Some flu or cold treatments include tea, as it contains theanine. This amino acid has direct benefits for your immune system.
  6. Fights Free Radicals. Tea can absorb oxygen radical substances that your body does not always eliminate entirely and protects your DNA.
  7. Lowers Parkinson’s Disease Risk. Tea minimizes the effect of smoking and other factors which might lead to Parkinson’s disease in both men and women.  
  8. Protects You from UV Rays. Green tea has backup sunscreen effects. Furthermore, it protects the cells from damaged caused by exposure to radiation as part of treatments.
  9. Prevents Cavities. Tea may decrease tooth loss, as it changes the pH of your mouth after consumption. However, brush your teeth within one hour, as green or black tea may leave stains.
  10. Works for Your Digestion. Many herbal teeth are antispasmodic and improve digestion. There are specific teas that also come in handy, such as ginger. Ginger tea calms nausea.

Take a Sip

Herbal teas provide you with plenty of health benefits. All you need to do is research and see which plant specializes in your desired effect.

Tea usually contains less caffeine than regular coffee, which makes it suitable for consumption on any occasion. However, there are teas which provide you with energy and are recommended for morning consumption. Choose your favorite tea and take a sip!

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Author Bio

Susan Hamilton is a food engineer and a homemade-everything type of woman. When she’s not growing her own fruits and vegetables or creating homemade recipes for her family, she likes wandering around and having different meetups with her friends. Even with a hectic schedule, she loves writing and editing articles for HomeRemedyBook, where she shares her knowledge about following a healthy lifestyle.



Tea Tasting: An Art for the Tea Lovers


Guest Post By: Rupal Sharma

Tea– As soon as the word ‘tea’ is heard, it recollects the image of warm water mixed with milk and sugar and all the other additives. Who would have known that the real teas are not the concocted liquors but the natural tea leaf extracts merged in warm water?

Tea Tasting Culture

Tea tasting has been an art since the very first cup of tea ever made in the world. However, the varieties of tea kept changing and evolved as the most preferred and beneficial health drinks all over the world.

Drinking tea has revolutionised and was made popular by not just being a drink over the taste buds of the tea consumers but reflecting joy on the faces. That joy was uncountable as the tea drinkers found their happiness in that one slurpy sip.

Emergence of Tea Tasting

Though tea is abundantly available in the current market and that too in different tastes, the tea drinkers have found their kind of art in tea tasting. The taste buds of these people have become so used to the taste of tea that in one sip they are able to detect the etymology of tea and its place of origination. They have reached a level of so much expertise that they possess a power to even convince the non-tea drinkers to enjoy tea with them.

Awareness of Tea as a Luxury Drink

If I talk about my personal experience, the art of tea tasting has been undoubtedly introduced in the place where I work. Being a tea lover, it has been a great experience in working with the core members of the tea business. I have tasted lots of varieties of tea as well as witnessed the tea tasting procedure; it has been a one of a kind experience as the tea experts guided me with approximately 20 kinds of teas and let me taste all of them. It is very rare that you would find a real tea connoisseur around you. But in my case, when I met Mr. Rishabh Dugar (founder of Te.Cha), I have always found him being involved in teas and explaining the art of consuming natural teas, just like a true tea connoisseur. Well, I have always had the tea with the addition of milk and sugar and other flavours, but the real magic of drinking natural tea has immaculately stunned me with the finesse in its taste.

Tea tasting has been compared to an art form as it is rarest of all that we could ever find anyone so much involved in tea that he thinks and talks only tea. The art of tea tasting reflects the voyage of the tea taster, and how much tea he or she has consumed and of how many varieties. Tasting different kinds of teas depend on the varieties of teas available in the market and these varieties are made from a very interesting and special technique, ‘cloning’. The clones of teas are being tested and then grown in different tea producing regions and they never fail to mesmerise the taste buds of the tea consumers.

Tea tasting has been a form of art for many decades and is growing at a rapid pace in today’s world. As the people from different places incline more towards living natural and healthy, tea has gained enormous popularity worldwide. It has become a natural source, where people find their leisure while drinking tea and sharing their happiness, get-togethers, formal or informal meetings, or any special occasion.

Tea has always been an art to consume whole-heartedly!


Author Bio: Rupal Sharma works at Te.Cha-Specialty Tea Boutique (www.techatea.com) in Ahmadabad, Gujarat, India.

Writing has always been my passion and there is no other platform than sharing your thoughts through different write-ups and articles. I also have a fondness of singing and dancing and all other creative things that I find attractive and worth investing time for.

Success Mantra: ‘Smile as much as you can!’

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The post Tea Tasting: An Art for the Tea Lovers appeared first on T Ching.

Blast From the Past: Two styles of white tea


Author: Tiffany Williams

“Do not pick on the day that has seen rain nor when clouds spoil the sky. Pick tea only on a clear day.”
—Lu Yu

I hated my first white tea experience. It was a Lipton white tea blend in a tea bag and it put me off of white tea for years. Then I had real white tea: Silver Needle. Made with tea buds, Sliver Needle tea brews a rich delicate liquid with notes of fruit and honey – truly a robust flavor for a delicate light-colored tea. I fell in love with Silver Needle, but the high price stopped my budding addiction.

white_peonyThe most famous white teas originate in Fujian Province in China.  Fujian produces two main types of white tea: Silver Needle and White Peony.

Sliver Needle tea features long, tender, young tea buds with small hairs, carefully plucked after winter hibernation. In early spring, the tea bushes in Fujian sprout the first green leaves and buds. A stem has a new bud with two leaves below it. About three weeks before plucking, the tea bushes are shaded. Tea buds are picked on clear sunny days.

According to legend, young female virgins wearing silk gloves were the only ones to pick this special tea during Imperial China. Today, workers carefully pluck the best buds and let them wither in an open-air shaded area. Shading prevents further chlorophyll development from the sun. Drying the tea buds in the open air at a low temperature for about 24 hours allows the oxidation process to start. Over 10,000 tea buds can be found in one kilogram of Silver Needle tea, making it one of the most expensive teas in the world. During the Song Dynasty (960-1279), the emperor demanded this tea to be paid as tribute. However, there is a less expensive white tea you can enjoy – White Peony.

White Peony tea is a new leaf style white tea. This tea is made from the first bunch of new leaves located under a new tea bud. Tea masters blend a few different White Peony styles –  a tea bud and one leaf (the highest grade), the first leaf alone, a tea bud and an imperfect first leaf, and a tea bud and the first and second true leaves. The first leaf under the bud is porous, allowing for complete drying during the air-drying process. After plucking, White Peony tea leaves are dried in the shade and then baked. Because of the air drying, this tea is 8-15 percent oxidized.  White Peony varieties have the delicate flavors of flowers and honey.

So, how do you brew white tea? Heat filtered water until a column of steam rises. Pour the water over the tea leaves, cover, and steep for 90 seconds to two minutes. The amount of leaves in a cup is based on personal taste. Use more leaves for a stronger cup of tea. Do not use boiling or microwave water because the tea will taste bitter and burned.

White tea is a flavorful treat for all tea drinkers. Appreciate the specific plucking and manufacturing to create a flavorful and delicious cup. You can enjoy the traditional Silver Needle style and the new White Peony leaf style. Both are manufactured to tea perfection. Once I tasted high-quality, loose-leaf white teas, I became a fan. I like to drink white tea on hot days. It makes a great cold-brewed iced tea.

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This article was originally posted in February 2013.



You Can Eat Your Tea!


Infusing tea into every corner of your dining experience is not a new concept, but certainly a fun one. Tea is the perfect flavor complement in baked cookies, stir-fries, rubs, salad dressing, and even popcorn! Eating various teas can provide a unique profile and sweet or savory flavor personality that is sure to enhance your dining experience.

I greatly enjoy DAVIDsTEA Soup Teas. And, to my TEAlight, I discovered how Spicy Rasam’s blended soup packet—with green tea, cumin, turmeric, and spicy chili—gives an irresistible South Indian-style curry kick to my food. The light touch of fire is a perfect complement for my Pear and Mixed Green Salad, as well as a delicious addition sprinkled over my popcorn.

TEAlicious Salad dressing

2 tablespoons of maple syrup
2 tablespoon of coconut oil
1 tablespoon of DAVIDsTEA Spicy Rasam Soup Tea

  • Whisk ingredients together for a few minutes until blended.

Pear and Mixed Green Salad.

Mixed greens: arugula, baby spinach, dandelion greens
Baby beet tops
Chunks of Bosc pear

  • Mix chunks of Bosc pear, baby beet tops, and mixed greens together.
  • Pour TEAlicious Salad Dressing onto the salad.
  • Toss lightly until dressing thoroughly coats all ingredients.

Enjoy!

Spicy Rasam Popcorn

1/2 cup of popcorn kernels
2 tablespoons of coconut oil (for popping)
2 tablespoons DAVIDsTEA Spicy Rasam Soup Tea

Select a pot large enough to account for the expanding popcorn. The pot should also be on the thin side. Turn the heat up to high and place 2 tablespoons of coconut oil into the pot. Test readiness by adding two kernels of popcorn. Cover the pot and wait. When the two kernels pop, remove the pot from the heat, scoop out the two popped kernels, and then add the remaining unpopped kernels. Cover the pot and give it a good shake. Let the kernels sit for one minute. This allows the kernels to heat up evenly.

Once popped, pour the popcorn into a large serving bowl. Sprinkle Spicy Rasam onto the popcorn while hot and then toss lightly until evenly coated. I chose not to use butter on my popcorn. But, If you choose to do so, add melted butter before you sprinkling on the Spicy Rasam soup packet.

Relax and enjoy this flavorful treat!

Discover more recipe ideas and edible teas here: http://blog.davidstea.com/en/introducing-soup-teas/

Interested in individually designed tea reviews? Weaving compelling visual stories for social media is a passion of mine. I love creating immersive illustrated reviews that awaken people to tea and culture. If you desire an illustrated review to engage your followers, please contact me.