It’s In The Bag…or Should I Say “Pouch, Sachet?”

When at home, I prepare my tea using high quality leaf teas in an infuser container, which once steeped, is diffused into a tea pot.

When outside the home, it is usually simpler to opt for a tea bag – which used to mean getting an inferior product called “tea dust.”  But not today.  It is liberating and exhilarating to a tea lover like me to be able to have a superior cup of tea using a single served bag…which is filled with quality leaf tea and encased by an eco-friendly and food friendly wrapping.  Such is the case with two products I had this week while on vacation.  They are so good that I had to share them with you.

First – from Mighty Leaf – one of my absolute favorite tea purveyors – comes tea in their signature and award winning pouch.

 

Mighty Leaf award winning, eco-friendly tea pouches....filled with quality whole leaf teas and herbs and fruit and....

Mighty Leaf award winning, eco-friendly tea pouches….filled with quality whole leaf teas and herbs and fruit and….

magic-tea-pouch-com

 

 

Second – from Mariage Freres – when I needed more tea this week  on the road, we were near Dean & Deluca who carries an impressive array of French fine teas…including Mariage Freres.  I had never purchased their teas in a pouch before, only loose teas…when I opened the box, I was thrilled to see these darling little cotton muslin sachets filled with subtly fragrant Earl Grey leaf tea…made with Darjeeling and Bergamot.  Steeping with these little sachets is a treat…makes the brewing seem quite special.

 

Mariage Freres cotton muslin sachets...makes a special cup of tea

Mariage Freres cotton muslin sachets…makes a special cup of tea

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I am so happy to find that most high quality tea purveyors are offering single serve tea pouches using high-end materials and filling them with whole leaf teas…it’s not just our mother’s old dust in a tea bag that’s available to us anymore.  Yay I say!!!

Drink Tea…It’s good for you 🙂

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Night At Ad Hoc…

Ad Hoc Fried Chicken...a large seemingly unending skillet full...crunchy, tender, juicy good

Ad Hoc Fried Chicken…a large seemingly unending skilletful…crunchy, tender, juicy good

After taking one crunchy bite of Ad Hoc’s decadent, crispy, juicy fried chicken, my husband looked up and said, “this is just crazy, stupid good!”  He was right.  There’s not much better than getting to indulge in perfectly prepared fried chicken. Chef Thomas Keller’s Yountville restaurant, Ad Hoc, serves up the best every other Monday night. We actually plan our Napa vacations around those Monday nights.  I suppose it’s a little crazy and stupid…but worth it to us. After starting with a remarkable little gem salad – prepared from fresh picked veggies from the Thomas Keller garden, we finished with the below cheese and dessert courses.  Quality ingredients…prepared meticulously and simply…always spot on good!  I even enjoyed mine with a lovely green tea, as I was a bit “wined out” from a day of tastings.

Ad Hoc sources small chickens, specifically grown for them, for their fried chicken recipe. The recipe is featured in their Ad Hoc cookbook.   The chickens are uniquely small.  They are flown in  fresh daily from Texas. The atmosphere in this casual, chic restaurant on fried chicken night is bustling and happy.  Our server, Sarah, even made sure we left with a box of fried chicken, packed “to go”…it’s calling my name right now as it sits in the little fridge in our hotel room.  I suppose I could justify breaking into the box tonight with the fact that Ad Hoc’s tag line does say … “for temporary relief from hunger” 🙂

Ad Hoc home... for temporary relief of hunger

Ad Hoc home… for temporary relief from hunger

Ad Hoc's dinner are a 4 course, prix fix menu...always included is a cheese course and dessert...here is an aged gouda goat with the crispiest thin toast and a stunning fig jam...then luscious lemon posset with blueberry topping, and an almond cookie - all went well with the fried chicken

Ad Hoc’s dinners are a 4 course, prix fix menu…always included is a cheese course and dessert…here is an aged gouda goat with the crispiest thin toast and a stunning fig jam…then luscious lemon posset with blueberry topping, and an almond cookie – each course complements the next.

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Thyme To Cook With Friends 2

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Savory tomato and cheesy tartlets...reminiscent of a gooey grilled cheese with tomato sandwich...in just one bite.

Savory tomato and cheesy tartlets…reminiscent of a gooey grilled cheese with tomato sandwich…in just one bite.

A couple weeks ago I got to go to another cooking class of my friend, P.    Thyme To Cook is the name of her business.    I always enjoy the recipes that P. comes up with…they are full of flavor, unique, yet simple to make.  I wrote about our last class here.  This class was quite ambitious, featuring P. demonstrating how to make seven summer recipes.  While I loved them all, and prepared her tomato and brie pasta for my family dinner the next day…the two I am posting here are ones I think you will enjoy as petite bite appetizers or as part of an afternoon tea menu. A petite savory tart and a bright, multi-flavored and textured summer bruschetta.

Mozzarella Appetizer Tarts – pictured above…tastes like a delicious, creamy toasted cheese sandwich on white bread with tomatoes.  Kids would love these too…and would do a nice job rolling out the bread.  Get a good quality white bread.  Recipe:

  1. 1/4 cup olive oil (I prefer using an extra virgin olive oil)
  2. 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning or a pesto
  3. one 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
  4. 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  5. 12 slices white bread, crusts removed
  6. 1 plum tomato, seeded and chopped
  7. 12 ounce fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 12 pieces/slices

In a small bowl, combine oil, one teaspoon Italian seasoning (or pesto).  Set aside.  In another small bowl, combine the creamed cheese, garlic, and remaining Italian seasoning (or pesto), set aside.

Flatten bread with a rolling pin … yes, a rolling pin.  Brush one side with oil mixture, place oil side down in a small muffin / tart pan. Spoon creamed cheese mixture into each cup, top with chopped tomato and cheese slice.

Bake 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted….serve warm.  Makes 12 tarts

 

Peach and salsa with brie bruschetta...

Peach and salsa with brie bruschetta…a lovely contradiction of flavors…sweet and hot, creamy and crunchy.

Peach Salsa and Brie Bruschetta tasted like a party.  It was so wonderfully refreshing and spicy at the same time.Recipe:

  1. 2 cups peeled and chopped peaches (about 4 peaches)
  2. 3/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  3. 1/4 cup chopped green onion
  4. 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro (or if you are like me and can’t eat cilantro…use fresh parsley)
  5. 1 tablespoon lime juice
  6. 1 tablespoon chopped jalapeno pepper, seeded (add more if you prefer more heat)
  7. 4 ounce chilled brie, cut into 24 pieces
  8. 1 French baguette, sliced
  9. 1/4 cup olive oil (extra virgin if possible)

Combine the first seven ingredients and let sit for 1 hour.

Brush bread with olive oil and grill until toasted

Spread brie on brea, top with peach salsa… serve at once

 

We truly enjoyed the cooking demonstration and learned several recipes we would use often.

P., Thyme to Cook...Summer Cooking Demonstration--P. had a really nice outdoor setting w/ mirrored station for easy viewing for the audience.  We drank wine and summer sangria while watching P. and her able sous chefs cook...can't wait for the next class

P., Thyme to Cook…Summer Cooking Demonstration–P. had a really nice outdoor setting w/ mirrored station for easy viewing for the audience. We drank wine and summer sangria while watching P. and her able sous chefs cook…can’t wait for the next class

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A Butterscotch Bombshell @ Tranquil Tea Lounge

I met my best girlfriends for lunch at one of our favorite contemporary tea restaurants, Tranquil Tea Lounge.  I wrote about them here last year after reading an article about this brother and sister team who truly KNOW their teas and know how to serve them right.   “This hidden gem, set in the urban downtown area of Fullerton, California,  is a modern alternative to traditional tea rooms.  They are serious about tea.  They celebrate tea and are meticulous in how they treat your tea leaves.  And they are NOT stuffy at all.”  Whether partaking in hot or iced tea, it is steeped perfectly.  And the food is fresh, flavorful, and a good value.

It’s rare for me to try a flavored tea.  I enjoy my tea leaves in the unadulterated form.  Just the pure leaf.  A pure oolong, such as Monkey Picked, or black tea like an Organic Assam from the Rani Estate.   But today, I stepped out of my comfort zone and decided to try something new.  I’ve been thinking that I ignore white teas and saw they offered some interesting combinations on their menu.  I ordered their Pai Mu Tan (white tea) called Butterscotch Bombshell, served hot.  My friends opted for iced teas – a blood orange truffle rooibus and their Monkey Picked Oolong.  All three teas were stunning, flavorful, fresh, refreshing and brewed to extract maximum flavor.

While I truly enjoyed my Butterscotch Bombshell white tea, after awhile, I craved the clean, simple taste of a pure tea…I just loved the Oolong…and the rooibus was so beautiful in color and crisp and clean in taste that I might try that next time on a hot day.  Their tea pots, cups and decanters are sleek, functional, and exciting to drink from and they never leave you stuck with wondering what to do with the steeped leaves.  They handle them.  If you are anywhere near this urban, contemporary tea shop…stop in.  You can even get a glass to go.  The customer demographic is broad, while heavily populated with hip twenty-somethings – men and women.  Check it out.  Enjoy and Drink Tea…It’s good for you.

Description of butterscotch bombshell white tea offered at Tranquil Tea Lounge

Description of butterscotch bombshell white tea offered at Tranquil Tea Lounge

Butterscotch Bombshell tea leaves...white tea with pink peppercorns, cinnamon...smelled just like butterscotch
Butterscotch Bombshell tea leaves…white tea with pink peppercorns, cinnamon, and marigolds…I don’t know how, but it’s fragrance really was just like butterscotch

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Hot tea service is spot on...leaves are shown to you, then put in the pot, server pours hot water and times tea for you.  They use my favorite Bodum double walled cups too.

Hot tea service is spot on…leaves are shown to you, then put in the pot, server pours hot water and times tea for you. They use my favorite Bodum double walled cups too.

 

Blood Orange Truffle Rooibus and Monkey Picked Oolong iced...perfectly brewed by doubling the tea, steeping in individual infusers, then shaking the tea with ice and served in these cool decanters...along with simple syrup...just wonderful

Blood Orange Truffle Rooibus and Monkey Picked Oolong iced…perfectly brewed by doubling the tea, steeping in individual infusers, then shaking the tea with ice and served in these cool decanters…along with simple syrup…just wonderful

 

 

The tea preparation area, behind the counter / bar - individual infusers steeping tea ordered, with shakers for icing after steeping.  The do tea right!

The tea preparation area, behind the counter / bar – individual infusers steeping tea ordered, with shakers for icing after steeping. They do tea right!

 

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Linda