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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

NEWS: Recycling Nespresso Capsules

We love our Nespresso espresso machine and the many different varieties and flavors of espresso it enables us to enjoy. (Espresso isn’t a type of bean, but a type of roast that can be applied to any bean. Drill down in our Espresso Glossary.)

But some environmentally conscious espresso lovers have told us that they limit themselves to drinking one cup a day, because they can’t recycle the aluminum capsules.

Now they can go “from brew to renew.”

In response to consumer wishes, Nespresso has launched recycling programs in Arizona, California, Florida, New York and Texas. You can bring spent capsules to participating Sur La Table stores. Sur La Table, a big seller of Nespresso machines, will send them to a recycling center. The aluminum will be recycled and the coffee grounds will be composted.

Learn more about the Nespresso recycling program.

 

Nespresso’s extensive choices enable
espresso lovers to try different origins and different flavors. Photo courtesy Nespresso.

 

Learn more about coffee in our Gourmet Coffee Section.

  

Comments (1)

TIP OF THE DAY: How Not To Burn The Coffee

You may notice that as it sits on the warming plate, the flavor of brewed coffee deteriorates. Some call it burned coffee.

Owners’ manuals state that coffee can sit on the warmer for up to two hours. But we say don’t let it sit for more than 30 minutes—the standard observed by good restaurants and coffee shops.

If your coffee ends up with a scorched or burned flavor, the obvious answer is to make fewer cups. The industry measures “cups” in six ounce portions, so four cups fills two large mugs.

But if you like to hedge your bets and make a larger amount of coffee, here are other options:

  • Thermal Carafe. Get a coffee maker that has a thermal carafe instead of a glass carafe (shown in the photo). There’s no warming plate. The double wall, vacuum-insulated carafe (essentially, a thermos) keeps coffee hot for at least an hour, and warm enough to drink for up to two hours.
  •  

    We like a coffee maker with a thermal carafe, like this Bunn Velocity Brew.

     

  • Unplug. If your coffee brews into a conventional glass carafe, unplug the appliance after 20 minutes. If you want a hot cup later, you can reheat it in the microwave for 15 seconds. If you use milk, first heat it for 30 seconds. Then combine the hot milk and the coffee. If this sounds like a lot of work, it isn’t: It takes just 45 seconds. Coffee purists recoil at the idea of reheating. But people who add milk and/or sweetener won’t notice a difference. We drink our coffee black, and it works for us.
  •  
    Alternative Coffee Makers

  • Single Cup. If you only need one or two cups and repeatedly toss leftover coffee, consider a single-cup coffee maker. (Of course, there’s no need to toss leftover coffee. Pour it into a bottle and stick it in the fridge for iced coffee.)
  • French Press. Consider a French press. It’s a manual device that coffee experts believe makes the tastiest coffee. You can buy a three-cup press from Bodum that makes enough coffee for 1-1/2 large mugs. A French press enables you to use any coffee bean you like: You’re not limited by what’s available in K-cups and sachets.
  •  
    Find everything you want to know about coffee in our Gourmet Coffee Section.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: What To Do With Tea You Don’t Like

    What can you do if you’ve purchased tea bags or loose tea and you don’t really love the flavor?

    Turn them into iced tea.

    Whether it’s black, oolong, green, white or herbal, a tea that’s flat, has too much added flavor or has flavors you don’t like may taste better to you iced. Once chilled, tea takes on a different personality.

    So brew another cup and stick it in the fridge. Give it a try—straight or with a squeeze of lemon.

    And if you still don’t like it, give it to a friend or neighbor, or add it to the tea at your workplace coffee station.

    Your white elephant is someone else’s cup of tea.

  • Everything you’ve always wanted to know
    about tea.
  • How to brew tea.
  • Try this tea trivia quiz.
  •  

    If it isn’t your cup of tea, don’t let it linger
    in the cupboard: Give it away! Photo
    courtesy Republic Of Tea.

     

      

    Comments

    FUN: Iced Tea Facts & Trivia

    The Tea-Over-Ice Brewing Pitcher from
    Tea Forte.

     

    Eighty percent of the tea drunk in the U.S. is bottled tea, meant to be served cold.

    Who invented iced tea?

    It’s possible that centuries ago, some wealthy* person (or servant) in the tea-growing nations of Ceylon, China, India or Japan may have taken some ice from the ice-house to cool down a cup of hot tea.

    If it ever happened, the practice didn’t take hold, and no old recipes exist for it.

    *Before refrigeration, only the wealthy could afford to have ice cut from lakes and rivers in the winter and stored in ice houses for summer use. The oldest known ice house, built by a king in Persia, dates from about 1700 B.C.E. Most other people dug ice pits, lined with straw and sawdust. While commercial refrigeration was available by the late 1800s, the home refrigerator didn’t arrive until 1930. Prior to then, people used an insulated metal “ice box,” which held ice delivered from the “ice man” to keep perishables cold. When the ice melted, it was replaced.

     

    Iced Tea Enters The Recipe Books

    We don’t know who made the first iced tea, but we can approximate when it happened.

    The oldest known recipe for “sweet ice tea” (with lots of sugar) was published in 1879, in a community cookbook called “Housekeeping in Old Virginia” by Marion Cabell Tyree.

    The recipe calls for green tea, which was popular in the Colonies (Benjamin Franklin mentions it in his autobiography) before falling out of favor—likely because milk and sugar, the popular accompaniments, taste better in black tea.

    There’s also a newspaper clipping recounting the menu served at the 1890 Missouri State Reunion of Ex-Confederate Veterans, which included iced tea.

    The 1904 St. Louis Exposition

    What you’ll most likely find in books and online is that iced tea was inadvertently “invented” in St. Louis at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition (often called the 1904 World’s Fair, but that term was not yet in use).

    As the story goes, Richard Blechynden, a tea merchant, was having limited success getting people to taste his hot tea in the intense summer heat and humidity of St. Louis. He had the idea to add ice into the tea, thus creating a refreshing, cool drink.

    Blechynden is sometimes referred to as a tea plantation owner, but in fact, he was an Englishman employed as the India Tea Commissioner. He headed an initiative, begun in 1896, to publicize the black teas of India and Ceylon (modern day Sri Lanka) to Americans.

    According to TeaUSA.org, Blechynden and his tea samples were in the elaborately designed India pavilion. When he realized that it was too hot to get the crowds to taste free samples of his hot tea, Blechynden and his team did something ingenious.

    They didn’t toss ice into the tea, as is commonly written. Instead, they created a cooling apparatus, filling several large bottles with brewed tea and placing the bottles upside-down on a stand that allowed the tea to flow through iced lead pipes, emerging chilled.

    The “iced” tea was a hit at the fair, and a real boon to India tea awareness. After the fair, Blechynden took the lead pipe apparatus to New York City, offering free iced tea to shoppers at Bloomingdale Brothers’ department store.

    Green Tea Fades Away…For 80 Years

    Word spread, and iced black tea became a popular summertime drink. It led to recipes for tea punch, which included simple syrup, fruit juices (cherry, grape, lemon, orange and/or pineapple), lemon and/or orange slices, maraschino cherries, fresh mint and canned or preserved fruits.

    Blechynden’s efforts also raised the popularity of black tea as a hot drink. Interest in green tea faded—except to those who visited Japanese restaurants beginning around 1970—until the health-conscious 1990s.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Java-Gourmet Coffee-Based Rubs, Sauces, Salts & Sweets

    Sauces are just the beginning of the coffee-
    accented products from Java-Gourmet. Photo
    by River Soma | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Java-Gourmet is the story of two Bostonians who relocated to the sylvan shores of Keuka Lake in upstate New York. Surrounded by natural beauty, they began to roast coffee to order, slowly air-cooling the beans to retain their natural coffee oils—which hold not only flavors, but also antioxidants.

    A few years later, they released Java Rub, giving zing to pork, poultry, steak, beef and turkey burgers, chili, enchiladas, tacos and other foods. An artisanal, coffee-based specialty food company was born.

    Since then, the company has created a large line of products—more than 30 products, a lineup that’s unique in the marketplace—based on coffee (coffee is a favorite ingredient of Bobby Flay and many other chefs). If you haven’t yet cooked with coffee, it both adds a depth of flavor and helps to caramelize the surface of the food.

  • A Cornucopia Of Coffee Products. The rubs are joined by sauces and marinades, a coffee-based brine, a salt grinder (sea salt, peppercorns and coffee beans) and a finishing salt (a grinder with coffee beans plus garlic, paprika, herbs, spices, salt and pepper) that’s good on everything, including popcorn.
  •  

  • The Sweet Side. Java-Gourmet offers three varieties of chocolate-coffee bark: Java Bark, Java Bark Decaf and Java Bark Latte (a milk chocolate). They’ll delight any chocolate-and-coffee lover.
  • Java Sprinkles. The meal ends with a shake of coffee sugar—ground espresso blended with cocoa, cane sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar and spices. Originally developed to top cappuccino, cocoa and other whipped cream- and foam-topped beverages, Java Sprinkles have also found a place as a garnish for ice cream, puddings, tiramisu and buttered toast.
  • While all products are used year-round, summer grilling season is the perfect time to try out the rubs and sauces.
  • Try them at home and bring some Java-Gourmet gifts when you’re invited to a cookout. Plan ahead for stocking stuffers for everyone who likes to cook. All products are small-batch-produced, all natural and free of MSG, gluten and trans fat.
  • Click over to Java-Gourmet.com and treat yourself to a selection.
  •  
    Make Your Own Coffee Rub
    If you want to try it with your own ground coffee, we prefer a dark roast (espresso, French or Italian roast) for more flavor and a lighter roast for a more subtle flavor. For a lighter roast rub, add dried basil, kosher salt, lemon zest and/or orange zest, pepper and sea salt or kosher salt. For a darker roast, add chili powder, coriander, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, pepper and salt.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Matcha Tea

    Matcha, the tea revered in the ancient Japanese tea ceremony (cha no yu), was brought from China to Japan by Zen Buddhist monks in the 12th century.

    Unlike other green teas, matcha is made from leaves that are shielded from direct sunlight. The tea plant is covered with reed screens three weeks before harvest, resulting in a high concentration of chlorophyll and a deep dark green leaf. This gives matcha ten times as many antioxidants as regular green tea (it also has about half the amount of caffeine found in a comparably sized cup of coffee).

    What makes matcha different is that no leaves are steeped (brewed). Instead, tea powder is frothed.

    The dried leaves are deveined and destemmed, then ground into a fine powder — almost the consistency of talc. A spoonful of tea is then whisked into hot water with a bamboo tea whisk (chasen). The result is a foamy green drink with a fresh, vegetal sweetness.

     

    It’s easy to make matcha at home.
    Photo courtesy Republic Of Tea.

     

    Making Matcha Is Easy
    1. Heat fresh water just short of boiling (filtered water or spring water is ideal).
    2. Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of matcha powder to the bowl or cup.
    3. Pour in 6 ounces hot water.
    4. Using a tea whisk, whisk briskly for a minute or two until the matcha forms a nice green colored foam. If you don’t have a tea whisk, use a small kitchen whisk or a battery-operated frother. It isn’t “official,” but it works.

    There’s no need to strain; just take a moment from your day and enjoy the calming drink.

    You can purchase matcha at a tea store, an Asian market or online; in tins and in individual portion packets. You can also treat yourself to a complete matcha tea set.

    Thanks to the Republic Of Tea for inspiring this post.

    Learn all about tea in our Tea Glossary.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Guayusa Tea

    Save the rainforest, save the world.

    This adaptation of a catchphrase from the first season of “Heroes” floated through our head as we enjoyed cup after cup of delicious and refreshing guayusa.

    What is guayusa (why-YOU-suh)?

    It’s a perkier cousin of yerba maté, a tea brewed from South American holly leaves. Maté and guayusa come from different species of the holly bush. They have similar benefits—including caffeine alertness without the jitters. But the taste is as different as black tea and green tea.*

    *Conventional tea, made from the Camellia sinensis plant, is totally unrelated to holly-based teas.

    So how does this save the world?

    Guayusa is farmed on the ancestral lands of the indigenous Kichwa people in the Amazon rainforest of Ecuador. Your purchase provides an economic incentive for farmers to keep the rainforest intact.

     

    Guayusa tea: crisp, refreshing, healthy,
    caffeined and no jitters. Photo by
    Leah Hansen | THE NIBBLE.

     

    So save the rainforest, save the world and energize with a terrific cup of tea in the process.

    Guayusa is certified organic, Fair Trade Certified and certified kosher.

  • Read the full review.
  • Explore the world of fine tea.
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Drink More Tea

    There’s an ad running on TV now that encourages people to make different beverage choices, to avoid the high amount of sugar or high fructose corn syrup in soft drinks and juice.

    The ad encourages a switch to water, sparkling water and tea. While you can’t go wrong with water, tea is packed with antioxidants—specifically, catechins, which make up some 25% of the dry weight of a fresh tea leaf.

    What if you don’t like unsweetened tea?

    The one or two teaspoons of sugar you’d add to a cup of tea are a better choice than the 10 teaspoons of sugar in a can of Coke or apple juice, or the 8 teaspoons of sugar in a can of orange juice.*

    *Sugar levels can vary in different brands of fruit juice.

    But first, try some really, really good tea, purchased loose in a tea shop or bottled by a premier company. Top-quality tea is so flavorful that no sugar or milk is needed.

     

    Huge flavor, no calories. Photo by Naheed
    Choudhry | THE NIBBLE.

     
    One of our favorite brands of bottled tea is Teas’ Tea, from Japanese brewer Ito-En. Among the Golden Oolong, Green Hoji, Green Jasmine, Green White, Lemongrass Green, Mint Green, Pure Green and Rose Green teas, you’ll find striking flavors that are irresistible (and calorie-free).

    We used to drink a bottle of Green Jasmine, Lemongrass Green and Rose Green daily. In the name of green living, we subsequently bought the loose tea and started to brew our own, carrying it around in a water bottle. Now, we can’t live without it, preferring iced tea to water.

    If those catechins don’t deliver us to a ripe old age, we’ll have still enjoyed great refreshment.

  • Find more of our favorite teas.
  • Comments

    RECIPE: Tea Martini

    Infuse tea to make a “marTEAni.” Photo
    courtesy Hershey Resorts.

     

    Combine your passions for martinis and tea with a tea martini. Green tea, Earl Grey and chai are three of the more popular teas to infuse.

    You can substitute another tea variety in this recipe for an Earl Grey MarTEAni, from Tavalon Tea. The key to any good recipe is to use the best ingredients. So use fine loose tea, not a supermarket brand which typically requires milk and sugar to compensate for the blandness.

    (We buy the best tea and, as with fine wine, never add milk or sugar to it.)

    TEA MARTINI RECIPE

    Ingredients Per Cocktail

  • 750ml bottle vodka or gin (vodka is a neutral spirit; gin will add more complex flavors)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of Earl Grey or other favorite tea
  • 1.5 ounces (small jigger) Earl Grey-infused vodka (see preparation below)
  • 1.5 oz (small jigger) Meyer Lemon juice, fresh squeezed (Meyer lemons are just coming into season, but you can substitute any fresh lemon juice*)
  • 1.5 oz (small jigger) simple syrup (recipe)
  • Splash ginger ale
  • Lemon wheel or curl for garnish
  • Ice and shaker
  •  

    *See our Lemon Glossary for the different types of lemon. The “supermarket lemon” is the Lisbon lemon.

    Preparation
    1. Infuse tea by combining tea leaves and vodka in a large bottle.† Replace bottle top and shake vigorously to distribute evenly. Allow to “steep” for just 30 minutes (no longer, or else the bitter tannins start to infuse). Strain into the vodka bottle.
    2. Combine vodka, lemon juice and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake for 15 seconds to fully incorporate.
    3. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Top with a splash of ginger ale and garnish with lemon wheel.

    †If you don’t have an extra bottle, you can infuse the tea in the vodka bottle. Then, strain into a pitcher or other container and pour back into the vodka bottle.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Make Coffee

    Yesterday we attended the Coffee & Tea Festival in New York City (sign up for the newsletter and get advance notice of future shows).

    We had some terrific coffees and teas and will report on our discoveries in future blog posts and product reviews.

    But for today, some notes about how you can make the best coffee at home.

    Coffee flavors start to deteriorate the minute the bean is roasted and/or ground. People with a good palate can taste the difference in as few as 6 hours, and definitely after 24 hours.

    So keep it fresh: Don’t buy more coffee than you’ll use in a week. And preferably, buy whole beans and grind them right before brewing.

  • Keep your beans or ground coffee in an airtight container away from heat and sunlight. Heat and sunlight “cook” the oils in the beans, negatively affecting the flavor and aroma. We use the Friis Coffee Vault for both ground coffee and whole beans.
  •  

    The way you handle your beans is crucial to
    the quality of your coffee. Photo courtesy
    Denby USA.

  • Do not refrigerate the coffee; it will acquire moisture unless it’s stored in a moisture-proof container (like the Friis). Airtight is not the same as moisture-proof.
  • While some “tips” say that you can freeze beans in airtight containers, the containers must be moisture-proof as well. And 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 Costco bargains in coffee, unless you’re going to use it up quickly.
  •  
    There’s a lot more to brewing a good cup of coffee. Here’s what you need to know.

    Comments

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