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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Coffee & Tea

TIP OF THE DAY: Genmaicha Tea

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Genmaicha, green tea mixed with toasted rice. Photo courtesy Wikimedia.

 

Genmaicha, pronounced gen-my-cha with a hard “g,” is one of our favorite green teas.

The flavor of the sencha green tea base is secondary to the nutty, toasty flavor of kernels of toasted and popped brown rice that scattered among the tea leaves.

The name translates as “brown rice tea”; it is also called roasted rice tea and popcorn tea, because a few grains of the rice invariably pop during the roasting process and resemble popcorn. To further confuse matters, different American tea packagers bestow names of their own. At Mighty Leaf it’s Kyoto rice tea; at Numi it’s toasted rice tea.

The good news is that this tea, which for a long time was only available loose, can now be found in tea bags. And people who want to drink green tea for its health benefits, but don’t like the grassy and vegetal flavors, can try it and possibly really enjoy the nutty flavor (from the roasted rice).

As a stocking stuffer or small gift, you can buy a box for as little as $5.49, on Amazon.com.

 

ABOUT GENMAICHA TEA

Genmaicha was originally drunk by poor Japanese. The rice was used as a filler and reduced the price of the tea; which is why it is also known as the “people’s tea.” Today it is enjoyed by everyone.

Genmaicha is also sold with matcha (powdered green tea) added to it, called matcha-iri genmaicha (literally, “genmaicha with added powdered tea”). The flavor is often stronger and the color more green than pale yellow green of regular genmaicha. Rishi sells an organic version.

DISCOVER THE MANY TYPES OF TEA IN OUR TASTY TEA GLOSSARY.

 

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Thinking ahead to stocking stuffers? How about a box of genmaicha tea? The organic Numi line is certified kosher by Natural Food Certifiers. Photo courtesy Numi Tea.

 

  

Comments

TIP OF THE DAY: Make Better Coffee…& Mocha Truffles

One hundred million Americans drink coffee daily. Sixty-eight percent of us have a cup within the first hour of waking up. (Here are more coffee statistics.)

So for all of us making our first cup at home—from ground beans, not K-Cups—here are some helpful tips from Melitta Coffee:

1. Buy coffee weekly. Once coffee is ground or the vacuum can is opened, coffee begins to grow stale in about 24 hours. To slow this process, store coffee in an airtight container in a cool, dry, dark place. We use this Friis Coffee Vault.

2. Don’t refrigerate or freeze the coffee. It will acquire moisture unless it’s stored in a moisture-proof and airtight container (like the Friis). While some “tips” say that you can freeze beans in airtight containers, the results won’t be glorious when you defrost them. Freezing coagulates the natural oils in the beans and crystallizes the moisture inside them, which adversely affects the flavor and aroma. In espresso, those oils need to emulsify to produce the body and mouthfeel of the coffee. So don’t be tempted buy jumbo-size bargains in coffee, unless you’re going to use it up quickly.

   

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Have an extra cup today to celebrate National Coffee Day. Photo courtesy Derby Pie.

 
3. Buy (or grind your own) extra fine grind coffee. When using finer grinds, it’s possible to use less coffee due to higher extraction levels. You get fuller flavor. Melitta recommends two level teaspoons per six ounces of water.

4. Use paper filters to effectively trap bitter sediments. Cone shaped paper filters allow for full saturation of the grounds, but all good, quality paper will ultimately enhance the final cup more than gold or other metal filters.

5. Drink coffee as soon as possible after brewing. If left on a burner, the coffee will continue to cook and starts to degrade in as little as 20 minutes.

Another way to celebrate National Coffee Day is with a coffee or mocha dessert. Consider affogato, brownies, candy (we love these hard coffee candies), coffee ice cream, milkshake, mousse, panna cotta and tiramisu. Here’s a recipe collection from Folger’s.

From Melitta, here’s a recipe for easy mocha truffles.

 

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Mocha truffles: a marriage of chocolate and
coffee.

 

RECIPE: MOCHA TRUFFLES

Ingredients For Approximately 50 Truffles

  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 6 squares (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 3 tablespoons strongly brewed coffee
  • 1 teaspoon rum or coffee liqueur
  • 1¼ cup chocolate wafer crumbs
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CREAM butter and sugar thoroughly and add melted chocolate. Add coffee and rum; mix well. Chill for 3 to 4 hours, until mixture is firm enough to handle.

     

    2. DROP mixture by small teaspoonfuls and form into balls. Roll each in crumbs until well coated. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving. Store in refrigerator, tightly covered.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: U.S. Coffee Drinking Statistics For National Coffee Day

    How about a cup or two of coffee drinking statistics for National Coffee Day, September 29th? This survey was conducted in July by Live Science.

    For starters, about 83% of adults drink coffee in the U.S., the world’s largest consumer of coffee, up from 78% a year earlier, according to the National Coffee Association’s 2013 online survey. That’s an average of three cups a day per person, or 587 million cups.

    Who’s Drinking Coffee & When

  • Total number of U.S. daily coffee drinkers: 100 million
  • Americans over the age of 18 who drink coffee every day: 54%
  • Percentage of U.S. coffee drinkers who claim to need a cup of coffee to start their day: 60%
  • Percentage of coffee drinkers who have a cup within the first hour of waking up: 68%
  • Percentage of coffee consumption that takes place during breakfast hours: 65%
  • Percentage of coffee consumed between meals: 30%
  • Percentage of coffee drinkers who drink 13 or more cups of coffee each week: 24%
  •    

    black-coffee-CBTL-230

    Thirty-five percent of Americans drink their coffee black. Photo courtesy Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

     

    Cappuccino-CBTL-230

    Thirty million Americans drink a cappuccino,
    latte, mocha or other specialty drink. Photo
    courtesy Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. Thermal
    glass cup from Bodum.

     

    How Americans Drink It

  • Percentage of coffee drinkers who prefer their coffee black: 35%
  • Percentage of coffee drinkers who add cream and/or sugar: 65%
  • Number of daily coffee drinkers who drink specialty beverages (lattes, cappuccinos, mochas, etc.): 30 million
  • Percent of coffee drinkers who go to premium places (Starbucks, Coffee Bean) when they get coffee: 34%
  • Percent of people who go to lower-price outlets (McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, etc.) when they get coffee: 29%
  •  
    What Do We Pay For Our Coffee?

  • Average price of an espresso-based drink: $2.45
  • Average price for cup of brewed coffee: $1.38
  • Total average of money spent on coffee each year by coffee drinker: $164.71
  • Total amount of yearly money spent on specialty coffee in the U.S.: $18 billion
  •  

    Find more statistics on StatisticBrain.com.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Matcha To Go

    aiya-matcha-to-go-pkg-230

    “Instant” matcha tea: a luxury we love.
    Photo courtesy Aiya-America.

     

    “Japanese Matcha Remade For The Modern World,” says the box of Matcha To Go.

    Isn’t that the truth! Until very recently, matcha, the ceremonial powdered green tea of Japan, was consumed only by whisking

    Matcha to Go, imported from Japan, is produced to dissolve in a glass of hot or cold water or in your water bottle—no whisking required. The vibrant green color is unmistakably matcha, as is the color.

    The 100% matcha tea is blended with some dietary fiber, which eliminates clumping, whether you stir it with a spoon or shake it in a water bottle. It couldn’t be easier.

    We received two individual packets as a sample. We’ve finished them, and placed an order for more on Amazon.

    It isn’t inexpensive: A box of 10 single serving packets is $21.99. Matcha is a pricey tea in general.

    Matcha To Go is a luxury we’re willing to spring for.

     

    MATCHA TEA BENEFITS

    Matcha is the only tea that is ground into fine powder form, and incorporates the entire tea leaf; the powder is whisked into water to create a frothy drink.

    Other teas are consumed via steeping the tea leaves with hot water. The water is infused with the essence of the tea leaves, but the leaves themselves are disposed of.

    Only a small portion of the health benefits of tea are water soluble. According to Aiya, makers of Matcha To Go, depending on the tea variety and preparation, only 10% to 20% of the healthy nutrients are consumed when drinking steeped tea.

    Thus, matcha is far more healthful than other teas, delivering many more green tea antioxidants, amino acids including L-Theanine, vitamins, minerals and fiber. Here’s a comparison chart from the manufacturer:

    matcha-nutrition-comparison-aiya-america

    Find more matcha health information at Aiya-America.com.
     
      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Spiked Iced Coffee & Iced Espresso

    russian-iced-coffee-delonghi-230

    Iced Russian Coffee. Photo courtesy
    DeLonghi.

     

    Iced coffee with a shot of vodka: Now there’s an idea for chillaxing on a summer day. You can have an old school Black Russian or a White Russian (recipes).

    Or, you can add vodka, tequila or rum to iced coffee.

    De’Longhi, maker of premium espresso machines, sent us recipes for these two iced espresso drinks.

    If you don’t normally sweeten your coffee, leave out the sugar. Adjust the proportions based on the size of the glass you are using.

    RECIPE: RUSSIAN ICED COFFEE

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • Chilled or room temperature espresso
  • Sugar to taste
  • 1 shot of vodka
  • Light cream or half and half to taste
  • Crushed ice
  • Optional garnish: whipped cream
  • Preparation

    1. BREW the espresso coffee. Let cool. Add the sugar and the vodka.

    2. POUR into a glass and top with cream. Add crushed ice, stir and serve.

     

    COLD COFFEE CREAM

    This recipe requires some pre-freezing, but the result is thick and rich.

    Ingredients For 2 Drinks

  • 10 ounces/300 ml light cream or half and half
  • 8 ounces/250 ml espresso
  • Vanilla extract
  • Splash of rum
  • Optional garnish: cocoa mix
  •  

    Preparation

    1. POUR the cream into a container and freeze; mix together the coffee and rum and freeze in a separate container.

    2. CUT the frozen cream cut into cubes and place in the blender with the vanilla extract. Pulse.

    3. ADD the frozen coffee cut into cubes and blend for a few seconds, until combined.

    4. POUR into glasses and garnish with cocoa.

     

    thai-iced-coffee-nescafe-230

    You can also add a splash of rum to Thai Iced Coffee (recipe). Photo courtesy Nescafe.

     
    Sit back, sip and relax.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Lavender Tea

    We wonder if the people who approved the name “Breakfast In Paris” for lavender tea have been to France.

    If they had, they’d know that lavender-accented foods do not abound in Paris. You’ll find them way south in Provence, where the lavender is grown.

    Perhaps the namers knew that, but felt that “Breakfast in Provence” wasn’t as fetching a title?

    Folks, it’s better to be accurate than slapdash.

    But that doesn’t stop us from liking Stash’s new Breakfast In Paris, subtly accented with lavender. We have often steeped dried lavender* into tea for iced tea. We love both the lavender aroma and the alluring flavor.

    Breakfast In Paris simplifies the process. There’s no need to strain out and toss dripping springs of lavender.

    Stash blends black tea with aromatic, floral lavender and a touch of citrusy bergamot oil. The result is pleasurable with or without milk, hot or iced. The ingredients are all natural; the line is certified kosher by KOF-K.

    Stash calls it a breakfast tea†, but you can enjoy it anytime.

     

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    Breakfast in Paris: lavender-flavored black tea. Photo courtesy Stash Tea.

     
    It pays to price shop. On Amazon you can pay from 19¢ to 72¢ per foil-wrapped tea bag:

  • A single box of 18 bags, $12.97/72¢ per bag
  • A six-pack of boxes, 18 bags each/108 bags, $23.95/22¢ per bag with free shipping
  • A bulk cardboard box of 100 bags, $19.09/19¢ per bag
  •  
    Our recommendation: Buy the six-pack. It takes four bags to brew a quart of iced tea, and you can always give extra boxes as gifts.

     
    FUN FACT FROM STASH

    In earlier centuries, tea was a valuable commodity, transported all the way form China by clipper ship. The ship’s captain often was presented with some of the finest teas for his personal use.

    This supply was his private reserve, or stash, a term that still denote anything put away carefully because of its preciousness.
     
    *Only cook with culinary-grade lavender, roses, etc. They’re grown without chemical pesticides.

    †Breakfast teas are strong black tea blends made to accompany a hearty, English-style morning meal and to go well with milk. Examples include Chai (flavored with Indian spices), Earl Grey (flavored with bergamot orange), English Breakfast (Keemun and other black teas), Irish Breakfast (a malty Assam blend) and Orange Pekoe (Ceylon black tea). Breakfast teas are more robust than afternoon tea blends. However, these distinctions descend from an old British tea-drinking tradition. Feel free to enjoy whatever tea you like, whatever time of the day.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Little Miracles Organic Energy Bottled Tea

    When we first received sample bottles of Little Miracles Organic Energy, we thought they were organic energy drinks.

    Not exactly.

    They’re delicious tea and fruit juice blends, sweetened with agave, a better alternative to refined sugar.

    They lack some of the conventional energy drink kickers, like guarana, a berry that is more caffeine-intense than coffee beans; and the amino acids L-carnitine and taurine.

    They do, however, contain ginseng, a medicinal herb that is believed to increase energy and is often used in energy drinks; and all rely on the natural caffeine of tea.

    We’re can’t aver that they give us a special energy boost over other iced teas, but they sure are tasty!

    The London-based manufacturer is originally from Denmark; the line is distributed throughout Europe and has just launched in Southern California. Hopefully, Little Miracles will get to a store near you soon.

    The flavors include:

     

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    Two of the four flavors of Little Miracles fruit iced teas. Photo courtesy Little Miracles.

     

  • Black Tea & Peach, bursting with fresh peach flavor (our personal favorite).
  • Green Tea & Pomegranate, with clean green tea flavor.
  • Lemongrass Tea, Orange Juice & Ginger, pleasant but we’d like more lemongrass and ginger highlights.
  • White Tea & Cherry, redolent of fresh cherries.
  •  
    Discover more at DrinkLittleMiracles.com.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Functional Coffee K-Cups In Delicious Dark Roast

    Functional foods are everyday foods and beverages enhanced with supplements that have a helpful effect on the body. Beyond normal satiation and nutrition, they do something really good for the body (that is to say, they have a specific “function”).

    Beyond slaking an athlete’s thirst, for example, sports drinks restore electrolytes, carbohydrates and other nutrients that have been expended during vigorous activity. Relaxation beverages let you chill without alcohol. Energy drinks give you…wings?

    Coffee Blenders has launched a line of functional coffee K-cups. Made from a 100% Arabica dark roast, with a blend of beans from Central and South, the coffee is an excellent dark roast—depth of flavor without undue bitterness. We’d buy it with or without the added functionality.

    Which is a good thing, because understanding exactly how much of the functional ingredient you need to achieve the desired result can be tough to figure out. It’s true even in the simplest case of drinking conventional coffee to stay alert. What may work for you likely differs from the person next to you. Some people need one or two cups, some people five or ten cups, from the same pot of coffee.

     

    coffee-blenders-functional-K-cups-230

    Delicious dark roast coffee with added functionality. Photo courtesy CoffeeBlenders.com.

     

    Coffee Blenders Lean is fortified with Svetol®, a safe, all-natural plant extract of decaffeinated green coffee that has been clinically proven to burn fat and help with weight loss. Components in Svetol inhibit specific enzymes and shut down the glucose pathway in the body. Each cup includes 400 mg of Svetol.

    Coffee Blenders Focus contains Cereboost™, a safe, fast-acting, all-natural plant extract derived from American Ginseng. Cereboost™ is clinically proven to improve brain function, especially in the cognitive areas of working memory and alertness. Each cup contains 200 mg of Cereboost.

    Coffee Blenders Escape is blended with L-Tea Active™, more commonly know as L-Theanine, a safe all-natural amino acid found in green tea leaves. L-Tea Active is safe, all natural and clinically proven to induce relaxation without drowsiness while improving mental clarity. Some athletes take supplements to relax and focus before a big competition. Each cup contains “a full serving” of L-Tea Active.
     
    WHERE TO BUY

    Coffee Blenders Coffee, in boxes of 15 count, are $19.95 on the company website.

    The company is currently running a special while supplies last: The “Lean Bundle,” consisting of four boxes (15 K-cups per box) for $71.96—a 10% savings on the coffee, plus a free French Press K-cup brewer.

    The brewer, My French Press by Cafejo, is a portable, single-cup brewing system that brews K-cups and pods as well as ground coffee. It’s BPA Free, microwave- and dishwasher-safe.

    Gift a box of K-cups to a friend who shares your goals (focus, stress reduction, weight loss).

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Pukka Organic Herbal Teas For Health & Gifting

    There’s lots of herbal tea on the market, but some companies, like Pukka, an organic herbal tea specialist, focus on it.

    The company employs a team of skilled herbalists that pays meticulous attention to the quality of ingredients, ensuring that only the most potent, vibrant herbs are used in their blends.

    In fact, the company is first and foremost a purveyor of top-quality organic herbs.

    While Pukka teas are made according to the healing and wellness philosophies of Ayurvedic medicine, that doesn’t have to be your primary motivation. They also taste great, and are soothing, caffeine-free brews.

    In addition to drinking an infusion of herbs known to aid in digestion, immunity, weight management and so forth, you can drink flowers as well—and perhaps give a box of floral tea as a Mother’s Day party favor—or in an Easter basket for dieters, sugar-avoiders and the health-focused.

  • Elderflower, from the elder tree, has long been used as a sweet tonic.
  • Hibiscus helps rejuvenate and balance.
  • Limeflower is renowned for its relaxing qualities.
  •  

    pukka-herbal-teas-elvirakalviste-230

    An assortment of Pukka teas, ready for the Easter basket or Mother’s Day gifts. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

  • Oat flower is known to calm, nourish and sooth the body and help settle the mind.
  • Rose is known to soothe and has a calming effect on the mind.
  •  
    And these are just a few of Pukka’s 35 varieties. Pukka offers a both unusual and popular herbal blends, including Lemongrass and Ginger, Peppermint and Licorice, Golden Chamomile, Night Time and Lemon Green Tea—all very pleasing to the taste buds. Iced tea can be made from these blends as well.

    See all the varieties at PukkaHerbs.com.

    Each flavor comes in a box with its own charming design, looking like fine wrapping paper.

    A box of 20 sachets retails for $6.95 at Vitamin Shoppe locations nationwide and iherb.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: 6 Steps To Brewing Better Coffee

    caffe-americano-black-filicorizecchino-230

    It’s easy to brew better coffee. Photo
    courtesy Filicori Zecchino.

     

    Do you buy more coffee outside the home because you can’t brew a better cup of coffee? Consider this checklist to improving your home efforts:

    1. Start with a clean carafe. Coffee has oil that builds up in the carafe. You can’t see it, but it will become rancid, adding unpleasant flavor notes to the brewed coffee. Similarly, if you live in a hard water area and use tap water to brew, you need to remove the with calcium deposits. While most people rinse out the pot before each use, after every few uses you should wash the glass carafe with white vinegar and water, using a scrubbing brush. Just swishing water around doesn’t do the job. Once a month, run a vinegar-water solution through the entire apparatus, per manufacturer’s instructions.

    2. Grind your own beans. It’s less convenient, but coffee beans begin to lose flavor and aroma immediately after grinding. Within two hours, we can taste the difference! It’s better to buy whole beans and grind them immediately prior to brewing.

     
    If you don’t have the will to do it, buy small amounts of ground coffee a few times a week, rather than grinding a pound at a time. Experts advise that vacuum packed ground coffee (it’s what Starbucks uses) will turn out a better brew than beans ground at the market for use the next day or beyond.

    3. Use the correct grind. Drip machines require a medium grind, espresso machines use a fine grind and French press and drips systems require a coarse grind. If the grind isn’t right for the brewing technique, you won’t get enough extraction from the beans.

    4. Don’t use boiling water. Contrary to what most of us have been taught, the temperature of the water should be 200°F, not 212°F. While it doesn’t seem that significant, the extra twelve degrees of heat extract more bitterness and acid from the beans. Good electric coffee makers accommodate for this. If you’re boiling water to pour over ground beans, use a thermometer. You can use any thermometer that measures 200°; Taylor makes a special thermometer for coffee and tea.

     

    5. Use the right amount of coffee. The correct measure is two tablespoons of ground beans per six ounces of water. Machines make a six-ounce cup, not an eight-ounce cup. Be sure to use a coffee scoop or the tablespoon from your measuring spoon set, rather than eyeballing the amount with a regular spoon.

    6. Don’t store coffee in the freezer or fridge. Beans are porous and easily absorb moisture, odors and flavors. Keep the beans, whole or ground, at room temperature in an airtight container. We use the Friis Coffee Vault, an airtight stainless steel canister specially designed to vent carbon dioxide gas that continuously emits from the beans as a result of the roasting process.
     
    WHAT IF YOU HAVE TOO MUCH COFFEE?

  • Brew iced coffee. In the warmer weather, you’ll drink up the coffee faster if it’s iced.
  •  

    friis-coffee-vault-ps-230

    Keep whole or ground beans fresh longer in this special airtight container. Photo courtesy Friis.

  • Make coffee ice cubes. Freeze brewed, cooled coffee in ice cube trays. Pop them into freezer bags and use them to keep the iced coffee cold.
  • Give it away. Offer it to neighbors or co-workers, or donate it to the coffee room at work.
  •   

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