Archive for the ‘Tea’ Category

22
Aug
2011

Sri Lankan High Country

Tags: , ,
Posted in Photography, Tea, Travel

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This is high country Sri Lanka, Nurawa Eliya more specifically. It’s the heart of the tea growing regions of Sri Lanka, and the place where the best tea comes from. Lipton, Dilmah, Bushells, they all own plantations here, and nearly every available piece of ground that can grow a tea plant, does grow a tea plant.

We drove from Kandy to Nurawa Eliya along winding roads of dubious quality and sweeping views of the valley floor below. We were shown hidden cave temples and trudged through leech infested waters for the privilege of seeing reclining Buddha’s carved out of a cave wall. We visited a tea factory at Bluefields and were shown the tea drying, roasting, and filtering process and tasted their teas. The smell inside the drying room was intense. A thick heady tea aroma hung in the air like someone with something to hide and happy trigger finger on a bottle of eau de toilette.

We did it again at Mackwoods Estate and were given a piece of chocolate cake.

We stopped and spoke to the tiny Tamil ladies who form the vast majority of the tea picking work force. They’d smile wide with gap filled mouths and simultaneously put out their hands for money. Don’t believe any of the things you see on tea commercials, the people growing and tending the tea plantations and doing the picking get paid next to nothing. An average income for a tea picker is around 400 rupees a day, the equivalent of $4 AUD. So any tourist is seen as an instant bonus and smiles come easy for the chance to double or triple their income in return for a cliched photo.

So we paid some money, we got our photos, and we hopped back into the van and continued on down the road. Lovely tea though.

31
May
2011

Tea Smoked Trout


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Home Smoked Trout

This is one of those lazy posts that I’ve had sitting in my drafts folder for about 2 months now. I have lots of others too, in various forms of shabbiness that will hopefully one day see the light of day. This however sparked an interest in smoking (insert joke about which end of the fish do you light) in general that has opened up a whole new world.

Since realising how easy it is to do some casual smoking at home with nothing more than a gas burner, a wok, and a steamer of some description, I’ve turned my hand to many different things. Smoking onions, garlic, capsicum, and soon plan to get a slab of beef brisket in there and made some home made pastrami.

Fish though, are a great thing to smoke. It’s been done throughout the years to cook and preserve food in lots of different cultures, and adds a richness of flavour that works so well. Trout I think is one of the best fish to smoke, and these rainbow trout I picked up at Kailis in Leederville are great value too, at around $12 per kilo.

Incidentally, if you’re after smoking wood, I just happen to know a guy (aka Dad) who has a business selling saw dust and wood chips for smoking, and if you were after serious quantities you should get in touch

Without further ado: here’s the technique – possibly also called Hunan Style – Tea Smoked Trout.

Recipe: Tea Smoked Trout

What you Need:

  1. 2 x whole rainbow trout
    1 cup jasmin tea leaves
    1 cup white rice
    1 cup brown sugar
    Salt

How I Made Mine

  1. Dry the fish thoroughly with absorbent paper, and then rub salt all over each of them. Leave the skin on, and the fish intact, as this will provide a barrier for the smoke, and is easy to discard afterwards.

    Find a deep wok, and in the bottom put down a few layers of aluminium foil.

    In a bowl, mix together the tea leaves, rice, and brown sugar, and then place the mixture onto the foil in the centre of the wok.

    Place the wok over heat and wait for the tea to start to smoke.

    If you have steamer inserts for the wok, then put them in and lay the fish on top and cover the top.

    I had a bamboo steamer, so I lined the edge of it with more foil and positioned it on top of my pan, then put the fish inside and closed the lid.

    Smoke the fish for around 15 – 20 mins or until it’s starting to turn a golden brown colour.

    Take the fish out of the smoker and let it rest, then carefully remove the skin and flake the flesh away from the meat, being sure to get rid of the small bones at the edge.

    Smoosh the smoked trout onto bread with some good butter and enjoy.

Oh, and if you’re a vegan, don’t leave comments about how much more beautiful this fish would be if it were swimming free. Do I come to your blog and leave snide comments about tofu and wheatgrass and how plants have feelings ? No, no I do not.

12
Jun
2007

Dragon Tea House

Lady Lan Green Tea

What do you do when you’ve had too much coffee ? Drink tea of course ! But what does a bona fide coffee snob do when he has to turn his palate to the other drink ? Well either seek out the finest possible Japanese green tea he can… or more recently… dive straight into the world of fantastic Chinese tea.

Dragon Tea House is a new venture that’s opened recently on William St in Northbridge (up the top end where the real stuff is). I was first put onto them by the ever vigilant Alex, who has an uncanny knack for finding quality places to explore.

So a couple of weeks ago, after a hearty dose of Dim Sum (funnily after drinking too much tea), Ben, Jen, Sharon, myself, and the sadly now departed (to Montreal via Melbourne) Isabelle, walked off a little of the post lunch bloat with a brisk stroll up to Dragon Tea House to check out their wares.

What we found there was a little treasure trove of exquisite Chinese teas of the highest quality, and an enthusiastic host in Jun, who walked us through some of her favourite drops.

Jun and partner Sandy run the business with Sandy hand picking the teas (not physically, but you get what I mean) from China and bringing it in twice a year from very high quality sources. They bring this back for local tea lovers who want to try the wonderful teas they’ve heard about, but can’t manage the commute to the highlands of Zhejiang every week (which is possibly quite a few of us).

There’s a range of green, white, black, and flower teas that are remarkably different and unique (well to my palate at least), each with their own interesting characteristics. Dragon Tea House is primarily a retail outlet for the teas, although they do let you sit down and order a pot of your very own, to sip in contemplative appreciation. Although if you’re lucky, and things are quiet, you might just be able to convince them to run through a tea tasting session.

Of course… I had to taste them all. So after convincing Jun that we weren’t the fly by night charlatan drink and runners we probably looked like, we were treated to a good two hours worth of tea, food, and information…

We started with Lady Lan, a smooth oolong tea with ginseng, added to remove the normally bitter aftertaste associated with oolong. We moved on through Dragon Well green tea, a slightly astringent green tea with a buttery smooth texture that’s prevalent in great green teas. Then on to White Silver Needle Tea, which is from the same species but white tea consists of young leaves (new-growth buds) still covered in a fine white hair, that has undergone no oxidation or fermentation (unlike black or oolong teas). It has a style very different to green tea in that the typical grassy flavours are replaced by a lighter, slightly sweet finish.

Jun showed us a little of her developing Kung Fu Tea skills (I know, I thought it sounded too cool to be true too, but it’s actually the proper name for the Chinese art of the tea ceremony). These included making sure the water is at the exact right temperature, priming the the leaves with a cleansing rinse before drinking, and making sure that the delicious last drops of each pour are distributed evenly into each cup. The best part being that it doesn’t matter if you spill some :)

Gently First pour

After that it was on to a blooming flower tea. These blooming teas are a relatively new concept (I think) and typically consist of tea leaves bound tightly together with the addition of herbs and flowers such as Osmanthus and Chrysanthemum. The beauty of these teas is that in the right vessel they slowly “bloom” in hot water. Opening to reveal an array of colours and flavours that intermingle to create a completely unique experience. The one we tried was called Lily Bloom, and it contained lily, osmanthus, and white silver needle tea.

We took a break somewhere at this point for refreshments, which took the form of little Chinese sweets, and some roasted pumpkin seeds. Just the thing to hit the spot after a solid hour and a half of tea tasting.

With our palates refreshed (and bladders emptied), it was then on to the final tea, which was a Pu-erh. Described by Jun as the ‘short black’ of the tea world. It was something I had to try for myself. Pu-erh differs from most other teas…whilst it may be confused as a black tea because of it’s dark colour, it’s actually caused by a secondary oxidization and fermentation process after it’s picked, which gives it a particularly strong and distinct flavour. Not quite what I’d call an alternative to my morning espresso… but definitely enough of a kick to make the tea doubters sit up and take notice.

So after depriving Jun of her lunch, and bombarding her with more questions and photos than I’m sure she wanted, we came away with a good bundle of teas, teapots, and associated paraphernalia. Enough to keep our nerves calmed and palates cleansed, at least until the next time we stop by, which I imagine won’t be too far away.

***edit with a few corrected details.

Dragon Tea House
3/369 William Street (next to William shopping centre)
Northbridge
Phone: (08) 9228 3305
www.dragonteahouse.com