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Archive for Coffee & Tea

TIP OF THE DAY: Tea Party Ideas, Part 2

Tea Sandwiches

Modern Tea

Tea Party Crostini

[1] Tea can be classically staged, like this one from Tea Time Magazine, or [2] modern service, like this at the Langham Palace | New York. Instead of classic British tea sandwiches on crustless bread, you can substitute tartines—French open-face sandwiches—or Italian crostini. Here’s a close-up from Honestly Yum.

 

Yesterday we tendered the idea of a monthly tea party. That list covered January through July. Today: the rest of the year.
 
AUGUST TEA PARTY

  • Iced Tea Party. What could be more refreshing in the dog days of summer than a iced tea with strawberry shortcake scones topped with vanilla ice cream? Offer guests the choice of black, green and herbal iced teas, with lemon and lime slices.
  • Iced Tea & Sorbet Sundae Bar. Cut up the many luscious fruits in season and create a fruit salad bar. Sorbet is half the calories of ice cream and frozen yogurt.
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    SEPTEMBER TEA PARTY

  • Teen Tea Party. Take your teenager (or someone else’s) out for a tea experience and ask him or her to bring a friend. Share your love of tea and some good conversation as you give them a glimpse of the past and a custom enjoyed by everyone from kings to common folk.
  • Book Exchange & Tea Party. Ask everyone to bring a favorite book that they’ve read and are ready to trade. Each person gives a two-minute presentation about why they loved the book. Names are drawn from a hat and each participant selects his/her new book in the order the names were drawn.
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    OCTOBER TEA PARTY

  • Tea O’ween. Celebrate Halloween for the whole month of October with cinnamon spice tea, pumpkin scones and midnight chocolate double layer cake. Try Constant Comment, the original American spiced tea recipe invented by Ruth Bigelow (available in supermarkets and from BigelowTea.com). Decorate your midnight chocolate cake with candy corn or other favorite Halloween candy; or serve midnight chocolate cupcakes and provide different Halloween candies so guests can decorate their own.
  • Harvest Tea. Serve fall harvest foods for tea: pumpkin muffins, apple pie, nut tarts, cookies or nutted cream cheese sandwiches on zucchini bread.
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    Bonus: Provide oranges, pomanders and optional ribbon, and let guests make their own party favors: pomanders!
     
    NOVEMBER TEA PARTY

  • Pumpkin Tea. Start Thanksgiving early with a “Pumpkin Tea” consisting of pumpkin bread, pumpkin cake, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins and pumpkin scones. Have a some cranberry scones or muffins for those who don’t like pumpkin. Serve your favorite black tea, or try the Pumpkin Spice Tea from Bigelow Tea, Zhena Gypsy Tea (organic, Fair Trade and KSA kosher) or Dragonwater.com (rooibos).
  • Thankful To A Tea. No matter how busy we are, we all can lend a hand, and we all could use one. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, host a “Wish List Tea.” All the participants submit in advance one reasonable request they hope someone else in the group can fulfill. It can be a night of babysitting, a bicycle, the loan or donation of a black cocktail dress or size 9 red pumps, someone to explain home equity loans, etc.
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    DECEMBER TEA PARTY

  • Tea & A Christmas Tree. ‘Tis the season to enjoy cinnamon spice tea with your favorite holiday goodies. Invite friends over to enjoy your tree, or decorate with a couple of non-denominational poinsettia plants. ‘Tis also the season to call people you haven’t been in touch with in a while, and mix new friends with old.
  • Chari-Tea. Help your favorite local cause. Ask friends to bring something to donate—“like new” clothes that they no longer wear, some canned goods, toys and books for the hospital waiting room—whatever your cause can use (call them and ask).
  • Boston Tea Party. The Boston Tea Party took place on December 16, 1773. This and a second “tea party” on March 7, 1774 were a prelude to the Revolutionary War. In honor of American Independence Day, you can hold a commemorative “Boston Tea Party” with the kind actually destroyed on that day. It was Britain’s oldest tea merchant, Davison, Newman & Co., whose tea chests were dumped at the first event. Still in business, the company sells Boston Harbour Tea (certified kosher), a blend of Ceylon and Darjeeling teas. Or, simply dump loose leaf tea “overboard” into a tea pot as you read the story of the Boston Tea Party. Serve colonial cookie favorites: benne cakes (sesame cookies), coconut macaroons, gingersnaps, jumbles, molasses cookies and sugar cookies.
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    WHAT TO SERVE AT TEA PARTY

    Perhaps the most fun of planning a tea party is deciding on the goodies. Just search online for “tea party recipes” and you’ll find enough for a lifetime of teas. The basic categories:

  • Cake. Here’s your opportunity to serve special things that most people don’t have often enough. They can be simple, from sponge cake to layer cake to bite-size madeleines and individual cheesecakes. Should you serve your “Death By Chocolate” cake or rich chocolate brownies? It’s a personal choice. We prefer to keep tea on the light-to-medium side, since, after all, dinner is in a few hours.
  • Tarts or tartlets. Fruit tarts and lemon tarts rule! You can make them quickly with tart shells and fruit curd. Tortes Almond, chocolate and linzer tortes are popular and less rich than layer cakes.
  • Cookies. Tea is a wonderful reason to get out your favorite cookie recipes: butter cookies, gingerbread or gingersnaps, linzer cookies, shortbread—the sky’s the limit.
  • Scones.
  • With curd or jam and clotted cream, they’re a classic favorite. It’s easy to bake your own moist scones with gourmet mixes from King Arthur Flour or other quality producer. They also sell gluten-free mixes.

  • Tea Sandwiches. These can be as simple or elaborate as you like. In the top photo, the sandwiches are simply ham and radishes, with spreads. The key to tea sandwiches is smaller size and fanciful cuts. Triangles and finger sandwiches are easiest, but get out your cookie cutters and go to town.
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    Healthier Tea Party Foods

  • Lower-Sugar, Unfrosted Cakes. Angel cake, Bundt cake, carrot cake, sponge cake and zucchini bread, among others, have fewer calories than frosted cakes. They also can be with a heart-healthy oil instead of butter. butter—and no frosting. You can serve them with fruit purée (sweeten with a dab of agave) and/or Reddi-Wip, which has so much air that it has just 15 calories.
  • Pavlovas. These meringue cups (egg whites and sugar only, lots of air, no fat) filled with fresh fruit or brandies fruit. If it’s winter and the fruit selection isn’t great, citrus salad with mint is delicious!
  • “Slender” Tea Sandwiches. On Whole Grain Bread Slice bread ultra-thin and serve with healthy spreads: hummus, tuna and olive tapenade, turkey with marinated cucumbers and curried yogurt spread instead of mayonnaise.
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    Sandwich Cake

    Sandwich Cake Slice

    [4] This beautiful sandwich cake yields a wedge [5] of savory sandwich. Here’s how to make it from AmusesBouche.fr.

  • Fruit With Diet Yogurt Dip. Cut up fruit and serve with a dip made of fat-free yogurt, no-cal sweetener and cinnamon. If you don’t want to use a noncaloric sweetener, use agave syrup. The glycemic index is 21 compared to sugar (65) honey (56) and maple syrup (58). Baked Apples Bake apples with a bit of agave syrup—it’s very sweet, so a little goes a long way. Cinnamon and nutmeg provide wonderful seasoning.
  • Crudités. Low-calorie and fiber packed, serve a platter of raw or blanched vegetables with a yogurt-herb dip.
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    TEA PARTY ETIQUETTE

    Etiquette expert Arden Clise erases common ideas of “proper” tea behavior. She says:

    “People often think proper tea drinking means sticking your pinky out. That’s actually rude and connotes elitism. It comes from the fact that cultured people would eat their tea goodies with three fingers and commoners would hold the treats with all five fingers. Thus was born the misguided belief that one should raise their pinky finger to show they were cultured. Tuck that pinky finger in.”

    Find more of her comments at CliseEtiquette.com.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Plan An Afternoon Tea Party, Part 1

    Tiered Tea Stand

    Anna Maria Russell, Duchess of Bedford

    [1] You don’t need a tiered stand, but you can find inexpensive ones. —This one is less than $20 (photo Chef Buddy | Amazon).[2] Anna Maria Russell, Duchess of Bedford, inadvertently invented the custom of afternoon tea in 1840 (photo courtesy Woburn Abbey).

     

    THE HISTORY OF AFTERNOON TEA

    In the U.K., afternoon tea is a longstanding tradition: a light meal in mid-afternoon, between lunch and dinner. It can be simple or elaborate, consisting of a pot of tea plus finger sandwiches, scones with jam and clotted cream, cakes and pastries.

    September 3rd is the birthday of Anna Maria Russell (1783 – 1857), the seventh Duchess of Bedford. In 1840 she inadvertently created the British custom of afternoon tea, a midday meal.

    As their main meal of the day shifted from midday (luncheon) to evening, English high society didn’t dine until 8 p.m. The hungry duchess needed something to tide her over during the stretch between lunch and dinner.

    She ordered tea with small sandwiches to be brought to her room. Over time, her friends joined her, and “afternoon tea” expanded from her circle to all of society.

    It was an elaborate social and gustatory affair with sweet and savory delicacies, special tea cakes and even tea gowns to bridge the fashion gap between casual afternoon and formal evening dress. As the custom spread downstream, tea rooms and tea gardens opened to serve tea to all classes (no change of clothing required).

    Be the Anna of your circle: Plan afternoon teas as regular get-togethers, quarterly or more often. People can take turns hosting; and it can be as simple or elaborate as you like.

    While today’s ladies are more likely to work, consider afternoon tea instead of Sunday brunch. Feel free to invite the gentlemen.
     
    AFTERNOON TEA VS. HIGH TEA

    Afternoon tea is not the same as “high tea.”

  • High tea is a hearty working class supper traditionally served in the late afternoon or early evening (in modern times generally around 6 p.m.). It is the main meal for the farming and working classes in Britain, a world away from the fashionable afternoon teas enjoyed by the upper classes.
  • The name may sound elegant to Americans, but this is not an upscale repast. It comprises a main dish (generally roast beef or leg of lamb), bread and butter, a pudding (pastry or custard) and tea. It is sometimes called meat tea.
  • In a seemingly ironic reversal of terms, the afternoon tea of society is sometimes called “low tea,” after the late afternoon feeling of low energy.
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    Can You Serve Alcohol With Afternoon Tea?

    While it is not part of the tradition, you can add a modern “pre-cocktail” touch. Go for light and/or fruity:

  • Liqueur
  • Pimm’s Cup
  • Sangria (red, white, rosé)
  • Sherry: dry or cream sherry
  • Sparkling wine
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    A YEAR OF TEA PARTY IDEAS: PART 1, JANUARY TO JULY

    JANUARY TEA PARTY

  • Tea & A Spree. Take advantage of post-holiday sales with a pre- or post-shopping tea party that’s rejuvenating and relaxing. Green tea whole wheat finger sandwiches will help to keep those New Year’s resolutions. A plate of crudités with yogurt dip also helps.
  • New Year’s Resolution Tea. Who doesn’t resolve to lose weight in the new year? Have a “spa tea”: different kinds of green tea and healthy munchies.
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    FEBRUARY TEA PARTY

  • Tea & Bent Knee. Propose over a luxurious tea service, featuring imported Earl Gray tea, Champagne, fresh strawberries and cream and luxurious chocolate cake. If your town has a venue that serves afternoon tea, check it out and reserve a cozy table.
  • Valentine Potluck Tea. If there’s no proposal at hand, you still deserve a celebration. Have everyone bring their favorite Valentine treat. You supply different teas, from flavored teas like hazelnut and vanilla to elegant Earl Grey and smoky Lapsang Souchong. Everyone can vote on their favorite tea-and-treat pairings.
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    MARCH TEA PARTY

  • Tea & A Shillelagh. Pronounced shuh-LAY-lee, a shillelagh is a walking cane also used as a cudgel or “fighting stick.” It’s named after Shillelagh Forest in County Wicklow, Ireland, from whence the wood originally came. But there’s no fighting here: After a pot of Irish tea, shortbread and scones, go for a lovely stroll, with or without your walking stick.
  • Tea & The Rites Of Spring. Celebrate the end of winter and the beginning of spring (March 21st) with pastel frostings on the cakes and cookies, optional iced tea, fresh tulips and daffodils. If people ask what they can bring, say “tulips” and be prepared to have a room full of them—very springlike! Think of happy spring music, too: Chopin’s works for pianoforte say “spring” to us.
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    APRIL TEA PARTY

  • Tea & A Tree. Help celebrate Earth Month with green tea, vegan cookies and fresh organic fruit.
  • Tea With A Bunny. Host an Easter Tea with plain, frosted cupcakes and the fixings to decorate them (jelly beans, easter candies, traditional cupcake decorations). Everyone gets to decorate cupcakes and the group can vote for winners in different categories (prettiest, most creative, most festive, etc). Send the winners home with small tea gifts.
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    MAY TEA PARTY

  • Tea & A She. May honors all of the important mothers in our lives. Even if you’ll be with your own family for Mother’s Day, call up other moms and invite them for tea. Enjoy Lady Gray tea, pecan scones and raspberry velvet cheesecake.
  • Women’s Health Week. It’s the second week in May. Companies like Republic Of Tea sell special “teas for the cure,” with profits going to cancer research. Serve high-antioxidant foods like berries and dark chocolate with tea sandwiches on whole-grain breads.
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    JUNE TEA PARTY

  • Fits To A Tea. With bathing suit season at hand, we’re all watching calories. Enjoy chai tea with fresh fruit salad. The spiciness of the chai requires no milk or sugar.
  • Fruit Tea Party. Serve fruit teas (hot and iced), fresh fruit salad and fruit tarts.
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    JULY TEA PARTY

  • Boston Tea Party. The Boston Tea Party occurred on December 16, 1773. This and a second “tea party” on March 7, 1774 were a prelude to the Revolutionary War. In honor of American Independence Day, you can hold a commemorative “Boston Tea Party” with the kind actually destroyed on that day. It was Britain’s oldest tea merchant, Davison, Newman & Co., whose tea chests were destroyed at the 1773 “tea party.” The company sells a Boston Harbour Tea (certified kosher), a blend of Ceylon and Darjeeling teas. Serve it with all-American favorites such as brownies and chocolate chip cookies.
  • Loose Leaf Tea Party. Commemorate the Boston Tea Party by dumping loose leaf tea “overboard” into a tea pot as you read the story of the Boston Tea Party. Serve colonial cookie favorites: benne cakes (sesame cookies), coconut macaroons, gingersnaps, jumbles, molasses cookies and sugar cookies.
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    We placed the Boston Tea Party teas in July because of Independence Day; but you can as easily have them in December or March.
     
     

     

    Tea Sandwiches

    Makeshift Tiered Stand

    [2] Yesteryear: Tea sandwiches were cut into fingers or triangles. Today: Add some pinwheels (photo courtesy Libelle.nl). [4] There’s no need to buy a tiered stand. This one was put together with regular plates balanced on tea cups. Clever! (photo courtesy Sketch.uk.com.

     
     
    NEXT: PART 2, AUGUST TO DECEMBER

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Remove Food Stains On Teeth, Hands & Fabric

    If you’ve ever drunk more than a few glasses of red wine; eaten lots of beets, berries or carrot purée; you know that food can stain teeth, as well as the hands used to prepare it and the clothes worn to make or eat it.

    Even white wine can stain: It has both acid and some tannins that make teeth susceptible to pigments in other foods.

    According to Web MD, tooth stains are caused by:

  • Acids, which make tooth enamel softer and rougher, so it’s easier for stains to set in.
  • Chromogens, compounds with strong pigments that cling to tooth enamel.
  • Tannins, plant-based compounds that make it easier for stains to stick to teeth.
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    Red wine is a triple threat, with all three.

    Tea stains teeth more than coffee: In addition to the acid they both share, tea also contains tannins.

    Fortunately, there are remedies.
     
    TO REMOVE FOOD STAINS ON TEETH

  • Brush right away; use a paste with a bit of whitening agent. Keep a toothbrush at work.
  • Swish water around in your mouth if you can’t brush. It’s not as effective as brushing, but better than nothing.
  • Use a straw. The liquids are sucked to the roof of your mouth, so bypass your front teeth.
  • Get your teeth cleaned professionally. A professional cleaning and polishing helps to smooth the fine cracks in tooth enamel where color gets trapped. Regular polishing also helps to reduce the amount of staining.
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    Baby Beets

    Orange Beets

    Except for the uncommon white beets, beets stain (photo #1 courtesy Burpee, photo #2 courtesy Good Eggs | SF).

     
    TO REMOVE STAINS ON HANDS

  • Use a salt or sugar scrub. Some people buy them for skin exfoliation, but you can sprinkle coarse salt or sugar on wet hands and rub to exfoliate. You can also use olive oil instead of water. After rubbing, rinse off the scrub off and wash your hands with liquid dish soap. Rinse and repeat as necessary.
  • Clean fingernails with baking soda. Make a rub by adding some lemon juice to the baking soda. Scrub with a nail brush.
  • Prevent them in the first place. Get a box of plastic food-prep gloves for a song: 500 gloves for $9.
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    TO REMOVE STAINS ON FABRIC

  • Immediately blot, not rub, with a paper towel. Then use a laundry pre-stain stick or liquid detergent. Wash ASAP in cold water (the sink is fine).
  • Soak in cold water with chlorine or oxygen bleach if the stain persists.
  • Launder in cold water if needed.
  • Use a fabric-appropriate bleach: Chlorine bleach is preferable if it is safe for the fabric.

  • Get an adult bib from Dress Tiez. We have two and love them: They’re waterproof and easy to clean.
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    MORE HELP

  • For red wine and other stains, we’ve had great success with Wine Away spray. It aso removes coffee, blood, ink, fruit punch, sauces, red medicine stains, even pet stains. Try it on anything.
  • There’s also a pocket size for dining out.
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    TIP OF THE DAY: Cold-Brew Coffee

    If you’ve been anywhere near an upscale coffee shop lately—Caribou, Peet’s, Starbucks and many others, you know that the latest trend is cold-brew coffee.

    Rather than brewing ground coffee the traditional way, cold-brew creates a coffee concentrate by steeping the coffee grounds in cold or room temperature water, for 12 hours and up to twice that if you like strong coffee. Starbucks steeps their cold-brew for 20 hours.

    For this reason, cold-brew is pricier than a regular brew. But it’s easy to steep at home. The benefits:

  • You enjoy a smoother cup of coffee. Because the water is never heated so it doesn’t precipitate as much acid or bitterness. The Toddy Cold Brew System produces coffee with 67% less acid than hot brew methods.
  • Make a cup of iced or hot coffee simply by mixing some of the concentrate with cold or hot water.
  • Like caffeine? Cold-brew has more of it.
  •  
    But cold-brew isn’t a new invention. We’ve been making it for 20 years with a Coffee Toddy. We keep the concentrate in the fridge, ready to create iced coffee with water and ice cubes. Producing hot coffee is just as delicious, and an easy way to prepare coffee for a group.

    For those who prefer convenience, bottles of cold-brew coffee concentrate ready to turn into hot or iced coffee, as well as individual ready-to-drink bottles of cold-brew, are sold at better stores from coast to coast.
     
    THE HISTORY OF COLD BREW COFFEE

    In the late 1960s, a garden nursery owner and chemist named Todd Simpson was on a plant-gathering trip to Guatemala, when he was served a delicious cup of coffee made from concentrate. Impressed, he developed the Toddy cold-brew coffee maker in his garage (source).
     
    Kyoto-Style Japanese Coffee

    But wait: While doing research, we discovered Kyoto-style Japanese coffee, a cold brew that originated in the 1600s. Thus, according to Daily Coffee News, cold brew coffee originated in Japan four centuries before Todd Simpson came across it in Guatemala.

    Coffee in Japan in the 1600s?

    It turns out that Dutch traders needed their coffee. Back in the 1600s, there was no electricity; coffee was brewed by dripping hot water through the grounds.

    Cold-dripped or hot-dripped coffee concentrate—“coffee essence”—would have been a means of transporting prepared coffee to be heated and consumed on-board. The traders brought the technique to Japan, where it became known as Dutch coffee.

    Japanese artisans created elegant, tall glass brewing towers that were popularized at shops in Kyoto, Japan, the earliest record of cold-brew coffee.

    Over the centuries, Kyoto-style brews have become highly artistic. Instead of submerging grounds for hours, the coffee is brewed drop by drop. A single bead of water is let down through the coffee grounds at a time, creating a process that takes just as much time as using a Toddy, and beautiful to watch.

    As the Japanese were cold-brewing tea at that time, the process was in place to cold-brew coffee (source).

    How extensively was the technique used beyond Japan? The record is not clear; but in days before electricity, when tending fires and boiling water was a lot of work, cold-brewing may have been a method used in coffee-drinking elsewhere.

       

    Takeya Cold Brew Coffee

    Takeya Cold Brew Coffee

    Toddy Cold Brew Coffee

    [1] Toddy, the original cold brew system (photo courtesy Toddy). [2, 3, 4] The Takeya Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker is less expensive and smaller but produces less coffee concentrate (photos courtesy Takeya).

     

    Kyoto-Style Coffee Brewer

    The First Canned Coffee

    Cold Brew Concentrate

    [1] This three-tiered Kyoto-style cold-drip brewer is more than two feet tall (photo courtesy Yama Glass). There are versions that are even larger and more elaborate. [2] The first canned coffee with an English-language label (photo courtesy AsianFoodGrocer). [3] Straight from the supermarket: a bottle of cold brew concentrate (photo courtesy Seaworth Coffee).

     

     
    MORE COLD-BREW HISTORY

    According to an extensive article in The Guardian, there are indications that cold-brew coffee might have first been made in Peru, Guatemala or Java. But the documentation is sparse.

    Some of the earliest documented coffee concentrates originated as military rations.

    The Americans, the French and the Brits all simmered down a coffee concentrate for soldiers to reconstitute in the field.

  • The French provide the earliest example of a coffee concentrate served cold, along the lines of today’s iced coffee today. This was the original Mazagran, consumed by French Foreign Legion solders at the Mazagran fortress in Algiers: coffee concentrate sweetened and mixed with cold water. Versions spread internationally after the soldiers returned to France and introduced the concept to cafés (source “All About Coffee,” William H. Ukers, 1922).
  • The Americans: In the book “Civil War Recipes: Receipts from the Pages of Godey’s Lady’s Book,” which compiled recipes from the popular 19th-century women’s magazine, has a recipe for “coffee syrup,” a sugary concentrate with the consistency of treacle (golden syrup).
  • The Brits: In the mid-20th-century, British manufacturers successfully bottled a crossover version called Camp Coffee, advertising that “There’s no comparison for economy, flavor, and quickness.” It’s still available.
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    Why did it take centuries for coffee concentrate to become widely popular, at coffee shops and the shelf-stable, ready-to-drink brewed coffee and concentrates in stores?

    The breakthrough, according to The Guardian, happened in Japan in the late 1960s.

    At that time, canned flavored milk, including coffee-flavored milk, was popular in Japan at that time. Businessman Ueshima Tadao thought to flip the ingredient ratio into a can of coffee with just a small amount of milk and sugar. He subsequently created a black coffee version.

    Thus, the final chapter of cold-coffee history was made by Ueshima Coffee Co., Ltd.; although it took a decade for UCC Coffee With Milk to really catch on.

    Shortly thereafter, in the 1970s, Italian coffee giant Illy introduced ready-to-drink black coffee in a can. The concept continued to expand until…well…check out the bottled coffees and concentrates on the shelves of the nearest market.
     
     
    MORE ABOUT COFFEE

  • Coffee terms and the different types of coffee.
  • The history of coffee.
  • Espresso and the different types of espresso drinks.
  • The history of espresso.
  • The Toddy Cold Brew System.
  •  

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Caramel Macchiato At Home

    One of our team makes two runs a day for a Caramel Macchiato at the corner Starbucks. This one’s for you, Christina.

    There are numerous types of espresso drinks, from Affogato (espresso served over ice cream) to Vanilla Latte (3:1 steamed milk and espresso with vanilla-flavored syrup).

    “Macchiato” means marked or stained in Italian (in France, it’s called Cafe Noisette). In Italy, Caffe Macchiato is made in an espresso cup, from steamed milk which is “marked” by the addition of espresso. The espresso, poured into the center of the foam, sinks down and leaves a brown spot on top. In Italy, it’s a mid-morning drink’ many Italians add a bit of sugar.

    The chief difference between a Macchiato and a Latte is that the Macchiato has aesthetically pleasing layers of color. With a Latte, the espresso and milk are completely integrated (see photos at right).

    As adapted to American tastes, the Macchiato became a larger drink. A Caramel Macchiato starts with steamed milk and vanilla syrup, adds the espresso, and tops the drink with a drizzle of caramel syrup. (Starbucks says that its 16 ounce size is 250 calories.)

     
    RECIPE #1: HOMEMADE CARAMEL MACCHIATO

    You can make your own at home in five minutes and double the recipe if you like. But try the single size first in case you want to adjust the proportions.

    You can buy the syrups or make your own (recipes below).

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 tablespoon vanilla syrup
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 shot espresso
  • Garnish: caramel sauce
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WARM an empty cup (we microwave it for 10 seconds) and add 1 tablespoon of vanilla syrup. Froth the milk and add it, along with the foam, to the cup.

    2. Pour in the espresso. Drizzle the caramel sauce to garnish, and serve.
     
    RECIPE #2: MAKE YOUR OWN VANILLA SYRUP

    Ingredients For 1-1/3 Cups

  • 1 cup water
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
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    Caramel Macchiato Recipe

    Caramel Macchiato

    Regular Latte

    Top: A homemade Caramel Macchiato (photo courtesy Tassimo). Center: A Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks. Bottom: A latte from Costa Coffee.

     
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the water, sugars and salt in a heavy saucepan, add granulated sugar. Cook over medium-high heat until the sugar is completely dissolved, stirring slowly until the syrup reaches full a boil.

    2. REDUCE the syrup for 5 minutes over a simmer. Remove from the heat, let cool and stir in the vanilla extract.

    We store the syrup in a squeeze bottle in the fridge.
     
    RECIPE #3: MAKE YOUR OWN CARAMEL SYRUP

    Ingredients For 1-1/3 Cups

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • ½ cup heavy cream, cold
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. ADD the sugar to a heavy saucepan and cook over medium-high heat. The sugar will liquefy; watch it closely because it burns easily. When the liquid starts to turn amber, remove the pan from the heat and immediately…

    2. WHISK in the butter and fully incorporate it into the sugar. Quickly whisk in the cream (bubbles and foam are natural).

    3. STIR in the vanilla and salt. Let cool and transfer to a squeeze bottle (or other container).

     
    CHECK OUT THE HISTORY & TYPES OF ESPRESSO IN OUR ESPRESSO GLOSSARY.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Coffee Flavor Wheel

    Coffee Flavor Wheel

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/Flavor Wheel 2015 SCAA detail 230

    The new Coffee Flavor Wheel offers essential training on how to understand the flavors and aromas of coffee. Photos courtesy SCAA.org.

     

    One of the ways you get to be expert in a category—beer, chocolate, coffee, olive oil or wine, for example—is to learn to identify the flavor elements.

    We do this with a flavor wheel: a chart that identifies the different flavors and aromas of the particular food. Then, as we taste the food, we learn to identify its specific flavors and aromas by referencing the wheel.

    Take a look at THE NIBBLE’s Chocolate Flavor Chart and Olive Oil Flavor Chart, plus the seminal Wine Flavor Wheel developed at UC Davis, which not only identified all the flavors but grouped them for the first time.

    Twenty-one years ago, the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) created the Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel to help professionals identify the sensory attributes of any particular [brewed] coffee bean. It became one of the most valued resources in the industry.

    Earlier this year, the SCAA released an updated version, which is a valuable tool for any coffee lover who wants to better understand it. The Coffee Wheel is instrumental to understanding flavor attributes—what we call flavor notes.

    Using the World Coffee Research Sensory Lexicon as a foundation, dozens of industry professional—sensory experts, research scientists, coffee tasters, buyers and roasters—collaborated for more than three years to update the Lexicon and the Wheel.

    The SCAA notes that this is the largest and most collaborative piece of research on coffee flavor ever completed, and provides a new set of vocabulary for industry professionals.

    “This groundbreaking new tool will shift the way our industry thinks about and utilizes coffee flavor,” said the news release.

    Here are more details about the research and development that went into creating the wheel.

     

    GET YOUR OWN COFFEE WHEEL

    An 18″ x 25″ poster of the wheel is $20 at Store.SCAA.org.

    We have a much more simplistic list of coffee aromas and flavors on TheNibble.com.
     
    MORE ABOUT COFFEE

  • The History Of Coffee
  • How To Make A Good Cup Of Coffee
  • Illustrated Glossary Of Coffee Terms
  • Illustrated Glossary Of Espresso Terms
  •  
    Here’s a truly great product:

  • Coffee OFF Stain Remover
  •  

    Black Coffee

    Master the chart and you’ll become the coffee version of a wine expert: able to analyze any cup off coffee. Photo courtesy OgawaCoffeeUSA.

     

      

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    RECIPE: Peppermint Mocha Coffee

    peppermint-mocha-coffee-tylerscoffee-230r

    Peppermint Mocha Holiday Coffee. Photo courtesy Tylers Coffee.

     

    You could spend $5 at Starbucks for a Peppermint Latte, or make this over-the-top cup from Tylers Coffee, a Tucson-based specialist in USDA organic, acid-free coffee.

    It’s one of Tylers* most popular seasonal recipes.
     
    WHAT IS MOCHA?

    The culinary term mocha refers to a mixture of coffee and chocolate flavors. But the original mocha did not have have anything to do with chocolate.

    It was a term that referred to the fine coffee (what we now call arabica) that was traded in the once-vibrant port of Al Mokha on the Red Sea coast of Yemen.

    Al Mokha was the major marketplace for coffee from the 15th century until the early 18th century, selling beans that were grown in the central mountains of Yemen.

    By the early 19th century, Yemen been supplanted by Ethiopia as the principal trader of coffee. (The coffee plant originated in the highlands of Ethiopia.)

    THE PEPPERMINT MOCHA

    Ingredients Per Cup

  • 5 ounces espresso or French Roast coffee
  • 1 ounce chocolate shavings
  • 1 ounce candy cane powder (grind up candy canes or striped peppermints)*
  • Garnish: whipped cream
  • Optional garnishes: mini candy cane, chopped candy cane, holiday sprinkles
  •  
    *In terms of why Tyler leaves the apostrophe out of is name: You’ll have to ask them!

    Preparation

    1. POUR the coffee into an eight-ounce glass or mug. Add the chocolate shavings and stir until dissolved.

    2. STIR in the candy cane powder. Finish with whipped cream, a mini candy cane and/or chopped peppermints and holiday sprinkles.
     
    *If you don’t want to grind candy canes you can use a drop of peppermint oil.
     
    Here are recipes for other peppermint-mocha beverages.
     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Special Christmas Punch

    When we first received this recipe, we thought: Readers of The Nibble won’t want to buy or make the oleo saccharum. Holiday season is busy enough as it is.

    But we loved the recipe, and decided to make it for our own holiday celebration. We tasted the test batch and thought: We’ll be shortchanging our readers if we don’t share this.

    The recipe was created by Masahiro Urushido, an award-winning New York City bartender. He used Auchentoshan American Oak Single Malt Scotch, Rothman & Winter Orchard Apricot Liqueur and Lejay Creme de Cassis.

    This punch is inspired by traditional Scottish Christmas pudding, made with dried fruits such as raisins and apricots.

    Masa calls his recipe Pepperdier Christmas Punch, adapting the name of a friend. But since that can be confusing to the rest of us (we tried to research “Pepperdier” online), we’ll rename it slightly to Scotch Christmas Punch, acknowledging both the country of inspiration and the Scotch whisky in the recipe.

    RECIPE: SINGLE MALT CHRISTMAS PUNCH

    Ingredients For 8 To 10 Servings

  • 1/4 cup raisins or sultanas
  • 6 ounces Scotch Whisky
  • 8 ounces Scottish Breakfast Tea (it’s malty Assam tea, but you can substitute any classic black tea)
  • 6 ounces fresh lemon juice
  • 4 ounces Dubonnet Rouge (substitute sweet vermouth)
  • 2 ounces apricot liqueur
  • 1 ounce creme de cassis
  • 3 tablespoons oleo saccharum syrup (citrus sugar syrup—see below)
  • Sparkling wine*
  • Garnishes: rosemary sprigs, whole cranberries, orange slices and bay leaves
  •    

    Christmas Punch

    Oleo Saccharum Syrup

    TOP PHOTO: Christmas punch. Photo by Gabi Porter. BOTTOM PHOTO: Oleo saccharum, a big-sounding name for citrus sugar syrup. Photo courtesy Cocktail & Sons.

     
    *We happened to have a good bottle of Lambrusco—a red sparkling wine—on hand and it went great with this recipe. Most people will use Cava, Prosecco or another sparkling white wine.
     
    Preparation

    1. SOAK the raisins in the Scotch for several hours or overnight.

    2. MAKE the oleo saccharum if you aren’t purchasing it (recipe).

    3. MIX all ingredients except the sparkling wine in a punch bowl. Garnish with rosemary, cranberries, orange slices and bay leaves. Top with sparkling wine and serve.
     
    No Punch Bowl?

    If you don’t have a punch bowl, mix all ingredients except the sparkling wine in a pitcher. To serve, pour the punch into individual glasses, top with sparkling wine and garnish with an orange slice.
     

     

    Harney Scottish Breakfast Tea

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/scottish breakfast tea blend jenierteas 230r

    Both of these are Scottish breakfast teas, yet
    look at the difference in the blends. The top
    photo is Scottish Morn from Harney & Sons.
    The bottom photo is Scottish Breakfast tea
    blend from Jenier Teas.

     

    WHAT IS OLEO SACCHARUM?

    Oleo saccharum is citrus oil blended with sugar. In Latin, oleo means oil and saccharum means sugar. It became prominent in the 19th-century as a way to provide a subtle citrus flavor and aroma to sweetened drinks, instead of plain sugar syrup (simple syrup).

    Oleo saccharum is made from orange and/or lemon peels (lime peels have too much bitterness) that are muddled (crushed) to release the oils. Sugar is added to the muddled peel and mixes with the citrus oil that emerges from the skins. The peel is strained out, leaving sugared citrus oil.

    You can use it to add an elegant citrus note to any cocktail that requires sugar/simple syrup, and can blend it with club soda for a refreshing non-alcoholic drink.

    The bottled oleo saccharum from Cocktail & Sons, featured in the photo above, is a citrus syrup enriched with fresh lemongrass, toasted green cardamom and ginger. You can buy it on Amazon.com.

    Or, it’s easy enough to make your own. Here’s a recipe.
     
    WHAT IS SCOTTISH BREAKFAST TEA?

    Here’s something that few people outside the tea industry realize: Breakfast teas, notably English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast and Scottish Breakfast, are simply strong black tea blends.

    The blends have more flavor to stand up to milk or cream, complement British breakfast foods (eggs, porridge, ham, bacon, etc.) and provide heartiness (more body and caffeine) to energize the drinker in the morning. Afternoon tea blends tend to be lighter and smoother, to pair with sweets and tea sandwiches.

     

    The British first imported tea from China in the 17th century, to great public appreciation. Coffee was available at the time, but otherwise beer and stout were drunk by everyone, including children, because of contaminated water sources.

    The British became avid tea drinkers, and since the 18th century have been among the world’s greatest per capita tea consumers.

    In China tea is drunk plain, but in the 1720s, the British began to add sugar and milk or cream to create a more comforting beverage. Black tea came to exceed green tea in popularity, as it goes better with sugar and milk. (The same pattern occurred in the Thirteen Colonies.)
     
    The Different Types Of Breakfast Tea

    In order of robust flavor and body:

  • English Breakfast Tea is the mildest of the strong teas. It can be a blend of teas from Africa, India (Assam), Indonesia and Sri Lanka (Ceylon), with a base of Chinese congou tea. Originally, before tea cultivation expanded beyond China, it was unblended congou tea.
  • Irish Breakfast Tea has a good amount of Assam, giving it Assam’s malty flavor notes and reddish color. It often contain others black teas, including Darjeeling, to balance the intense flavors of Assam.
  • Scottish Breakfast Tea is the strongest of the three, with a base of Assam plus the smoother Keemun tea from China, among other teas in the blend.
  •  
    It’s important to note that there is no standard formula for any of these blends and no governing body specifying what each should contain. The blends evolved over time, likely as one vendor sought to copy a popular blend offered by another vendor.

    Thus, teas of the same name—English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Jasmine, etc.—can vary slightly in taste, aroma and appearance from vendor to vendor, and country to country. Names can also vary for the same type of blend. [Source]

    For example, fine tea vendor Harney & Sons calls its Scottish Breakfast Tea “Scottish Morn.” Describing the blend, which was made to the specifications of the American Scottish Foundation, Harney says:

    “A mixture of dark brown leaves, the smaller pieces of Assam and Ceylon and [the] CTC (cut, tear, curl) method make for a stronger tea. This is one of our darkest teas, brewing a very dark brown color. Many Scots would lighten it with milk. Aroma is not the point of this tea, so there are only hints of suggestions of malt. It is caffeinated [and] a very full bodied tea…perhaps the strongest tea we offer. Strong and simple, this tea is meant to be drunk with milk.”

    And now you know about Scottish Breakfast Tea and its kin, English Breakfast and Irish Breakfast. Enjoy the teas…and the punch!

      

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    GIFTS: New For Coffee Lovers

    We were recently asked about what gift to give a college student who lives in a dorm. Our thoughts immediately went to the new Keurig 2.0 K200/K250 Brewing System.

    KEURIG 2.0 K200/K250 SINGLE SERVE BREWER

    Designed with a smaller, more compact footprint, the K200/K250 (the difference is extra accessories) is sized right for small kitchens, dorm rooms, small office spaces (we have one on our desk).

    The best small footprint single-serve machine we’ve tried, it takes up half the space of our Keurig 2.0 K450. The Keurig 2.0 series brews a single-serve cup or 4-cup carafe (the carafe is an extra purchase and uses a larger pod).

    It’s also good for homes that don’t brew a lot of single-serve coffee. If you just brew one or two cups in the morning and/or evening, why take up the space with a 70-ounce water reservoir?

    The SRP is $109.99. Learn more at Keurig.com.

     
    K-CUPS FOR THE HOLIDAYS

       

    Keurig K200 Single Serve

    Small footprint, big convenience: the Keurig 2.0 K200 series. Photo courtesy Keurig.

     
    Keurig offers an astounding 500 K-Cup varieties from more than 75 brands. For the holidays, you can give some of these to anyone who has a compatible brewer:

  • Green Mountain Coffee Holiday Blend
  • Green Mountain Coffee Gingerbread
  • Green Mountain Coffee Wicked Winter Blend
  • The Original Donut Shop Holiday Buzz
  • The Original Donut Shop Peppermint Bark
  • The Original Donut Shop Sweet & Creamy Maple Crème
  •  

    Kyocera Slim Adjustable Coffee Mill

    The ceramic grinder is better than a metal
    blade. Photo courtesy Kyocera.

     

    KYOCERA SLIM ADJUSTABLE COFFEE MILL

    Coffee purists won’t use K-cups. They want their beans freshly ground.

    There have long been single-cup coffee makers, but this is the first grinder we’ve personally that’s great for small brews. It’s sized to grind the beans for one or two cups, instead of an entire pot.

    It’s the right gift for the coffee lover who wants to brew freshly ground beans.

    The grinder has a highly durable ceramic grinding mechanism; the adjustable dial enables fine to coarse grinds. A nice addition is the non-slip silicon base that provides stability when grinding.

    It’s $44.95 at KyoceraAdvancedCeramics.com

     

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Topperfino Chocolate Coffee Toppers

    Our Top Pick Of The Week gets high points for innovation, flavor and beauty.

    The clever folks at Topperfino have hand-crafted discs from premium Belgian chocolate, with a lovely assortment of designs. When a disc is placed atop a steaming cup of coffee or cocoa, the beverage transforms into a work of coffee art.

    The thin disc then melts into the cup, releasing a captivating chocolate aroma and—oh, yes—adding chocolate flavor.

    The best Topperfino experience is on a coffee with crèma on top, such as cappuccino or latte. But we tried it on everything, including plain coffee, hot milk and rooibos and chocolate tea blends. (Numi, Republic Of Tea and Zhena sell chocolate tea blends. Our favorite is Buccaneer from Serendipitea.)

    And, per the company’s suggestion, it even works on a bowl of hot cereal (which might finally get the kids to eat their oatmeal and drink their milk).

    Topperfino is a memorable gift for anyone who drinks coffee or hot chocolate, and will delight adults and kids alike. Each disk has just 25 calories, and you can skip the sugar so the calorie switch is even.

    Gently place the Topperfino chocolate topper on top of your coffee cup and watch it melt into a creamy chocolate-y flavorful addition to your morning Joe!

     
    YOUR CHOICE OF DARK OR MILK CHOCOLATE

    Topperfino discs are made in dark chocolate in plain chocolate plus caramel, French vanilla and hazelnut, in more than a dozen designs. Milk chocolate toppers are available in caramel, French vanilla and hazelnut.

     

    Topperfino Chocolate Cup Toppers

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/gift box 230

    TOP PHOTO: Two different designs turn cups of coffee into art. BOTTOM PHOTO: Gift box. Photos courtesy Topperfino.

     
    And what lovely designs: animal prints, circles, coffee beans, geometrics, hearts, music, orbs, paisley and snowflakes, for starters.

    What are you waiting for? Get yours at Topperfino.com. Each box of 10 toppers is just $13.99. There’s free shipping with two boxes or more.

    TIP: We used some aerosol whipped cream that made it easier to place the disc on the hot beverage. When your toppers arrive, you’ll see what we mean.

    TRIVA: Topperfino happened ­by mistake! The inventor, an artist, loved to drink coffee with a bar of chocolate on the side (in France and Italy, a square of chocolate is oftened served with coffee). One morning, a piece of chocolate accidentally fell into his coffee and floated for a short time. The light bulb turned on. After countless tests, he created the unique blend of art and chocolate that he named Topperfino.

      

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