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Archive for March 29, 2012

TIP OF THE DAY: Dessert Tea

Have some dessert tea: with dessert or
instead of it. Photo courtesy TeaForte.com.

 

Many people enjoy a cup of tea with dessert. But what exactly is dessert tea?

Dessert tea is a relatively new addition to the tea repertoire. It sprouted up with the green tea and white tea push a decade ago. Many non-tea drinkers wanted the antioxidant benefits of tea but didn’t like the taste of plain green and white tea (which don’t taste great with milk and sugar).

So tea blenders started blending green tea, and then white tea, with any number of ingredients that provided flavor and a hint of sweetness: fruits and nuts; butterscotch, caramel and chocolate extracts; flowers (hibiscus, jasmine, rose, saffron); plus cinnamon, mint, vanilla and other flavorings.

At a certain point, one producer saw these nearly-calorie-free flavored teas as appropriate for dessert or as a guilt-free sweet beverage; and “dessert teas” were born.

 

Dessert teas are made with black, green, oolong, puer and white teas, and rooibos (herbal “red” tea). You can drink them with dessert, instead of dessert, or at any time of day, plain or with milk and/or sugar.

Flavored Teas Are As Old As “Tea”

Dessert teas are seen as expanding the tea-buying market by appealing to the non-tea-drinker with mass-appeal flavors common in soft drinks and flavored lattes. The concept is not new—only the name and the marketing of the tea for “dessert.”

Since the dawn of man-made fire and vessels, teas were steeped from many barks, berries, leaves and roots. Before tea arrived in Europe in the 17th century (coffee also arrived then, in 1615, along with hot chocolate), this is what was drunk.

Today, “tea” refers specifically to brewed leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, or tea bush. “Herbal tea” is called a tisane in the industry (the word originated with the Greek word ptisane, a drink made from pearl barley).

More about tea.

  

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PASSOVER: Gluten-Free Matzo

Millions of Jews will celebrate a week of Passover beginning Friday, April 6th. The holiday commemorates the biblical story of the Exodus, in which the ancient Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt, after God inflicted the ten plagues upon the Egyptians.

As the story goes, the Jews had to leave Egypt immediately. They gathered up possessions and livestock but could not wait for the bread dough to rise, resulting in matzo, an unleavened flatbread. Thus, during the week of Passover, no leavened bread is eaten; only matzo (also spelled matzoh, matza and other variations).

So what if you want to celebrate Passover with matzo, but have gluten sensitivities?

Two brands are at the ready:

  • Yehuda Matza, imported from Israel, is certified gluten-free. It’s made from tapioca flour, potato starch, potato flour and egg yolks. It looks and crunches like conventional matzo, and the flavor is more than satisfactory. In fact, it has a bit of salt and even more flavor than wheat matzo, which is famously bland. The only nit: It’s more fragile and the boards break too easily. It has a two-year shelf life. Buy it online.
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    Gluten-free matzo. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

  • Shemura Oat Matzo is made by a London rabbi, from gluten-free oat flour and water. We haven’t tasted it. It too is available online.
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    Seder Idea

    The Passover seder, the ritual feast celebrated on the first two nights of the holiday, is accompanied from beginning to end by a reading of the Haggadah (“telling”).

    This year, participants at our seder are coming as witnesses of the Exodus. Each of us will provide a few minutes of insight into the desires, hopes, frustrations, fears and domestic lives of our characters. Participating will be will be Moses, Pharaoh, a nameless Jewish slave and an Egyptian, along with Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah, a first century scholar who appears giving commentary in the Hagadah.

    We are going as a baker, faced with feeding the exodus masses without the time to leaven the bread. The result: matzo.

      

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