Monday, July 7, 2014


Thai Iced Tea
Photo by johnjoh / CC BY

Thai Street Vendor Thai Iced Tea and Coffee
Video by ImportFood

Bangkok Chatuchak Market Thai Iced Tea
Video by jasonomicron

Ingredients for making Thai Tea
Photo by johnnystiletto / CC BY

OTHER NAMES: ชาเย็น, Cha Yen (in Thai), Thai iced tea

Thai tea is a popular tea recipe in Thailand. Because the hot climate in Thailand, Thai iced tea can be found easily at street vendors and market stalls. The tea is typically poured over the crushed ice in a clear plastic bag or tall plastic cups. (See image and video on the left) At markets, it can be seen to be mixed through pouring the tea at heights of about 4 feet back and forth. (See 2nd video on the left)


This drink has a distinctively floral and spicy flavor, sweetened by condensed milk. Note that Thai tea usually has a bright orange color. This is because red and yellow food colors are often added. [1]


Tea is a native in northern Thailand. Just like the Burmese, the Thais have a tradition of eating tea leaves as a vegetable. The first imported tea plants were coming from China and Taiwan in the late 1980's. [2]

Origin of Thai tea is still unknown, but the recipe of adding milk and spice is very likely to be influenced by Indian’s Chai. While climate in Thailand is often hot and humid, tea is often drunk cold with ice. The use of sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk are far more popular and convenience than cow milk, since they both don’t require refrigeration. 

Thai tea was used to be made from strongly brewed Ceylon tea. However, due to Ceylon tea's high price, a local tea known as Bai Miang (a type of Assam) with added food coloring is commonly used. 

Today, Thai tea is widely known in United States and throughout Asia. In America, Thai restaurants usually serve Thai tea in a tall glass. Thai tea with tapioca pearls is also a popular flavor for bubble tea.

  1. In a pot, boil 3 cups of water
  2. When water is boiled, add 3 tablespoon of black tea leaves (or tea bag) While fire is still on, steep for 5 minutes. 
  3. Turn off the burner/fire.
  4. Add 2 tablespoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk (add more if you want it sweeter)
  5. Add spice (depend on what you prefer: cloves, star anise, crushed tamarind seed, cardamom)
  6. Add an optional 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  7. Mix the tea with a spoon or spatula. Let tea cool to room temperature.
  8. In a tall glass, add ice cubes
  9. Using a tea leaf infuser, pour tea over ice cubes
  10. Lastly, add 3-4 tablespoons of evaporated milk/cow milk/half and half

Sunday, July 6, 2014


A Cup of Vanilla Rooibos Tea
Photo by jenosaur / CC BY

Rooibos Tea after Fermentation
Photo by André Helbig / CC BY

Rooibos Plants
Photo by Winfried Bruenken / CC BY

Bushmen, the local living in Southern Africa
Photo by Ian Beatty / CC BY

Twinings Rooibos Tea
Photo by mr_t_in_dc / CC BY


OTHER NAMES: Bush Tea, Rooibosch (in old Dutch)

Rooibos means "red bush" in Afrikaans. The Rooibos plant is actually earthy green when harvested, but Rooibos or "red bush" got its name after fermentation of the plant, which turns to a deep auburn. Rooibos is an herbal tea that has been popular in Southern Africa for generations. Because of its health benefits as well as its refreshing taste, Rooibos has become a trendy drink in many countries.[1]


Rooibos naturally grow in the mountain regions of the Western Cape province of South Africa. Traditionally, the Bushmen (the local people) would climb the mountains to harvest leaves of wild Rooibos plants. After chopping and bruising the plants, they will dry the leaves in the sun. This practice passed on from generations to generations and the Rooibos were only known within the region of Western Cape until European travelers visited the area around the 17th century CE. 

In the 1930s, Rooibos was successfully cultivated for the first time by a Russian settler, Benjamin Ginsberg, who gained support from local doctor and Rhodes scholar, Dr. Le Fras Nortier. Today the only Rooibos tea farms are located at the Cederberg Mountains, the only place on earth with suitable geography and climate for planting Rooibos. [2]

In the previous decades, Rooibos has grown in popularity not merely in South Africa, but also in the worldwide market. Annual exports of rooibos have quadrupled in the last 13 years. More brand-name tea companies sell this tea and introducing blends like Rooibos Chai, Rooibos Earl Grey, etc. These tea companies include Starbucks, Lipton, Twinings, and Numi.

Unfortunately, due to climate change and increasing extreme weathers in Western Cape during the last decade, Rooibos may extinct within the next century, according to article “Climate Change Threatens Rooibos” by News24. [3]


One of the reasons why Rooibos is becoming more popular in Western countries is its numerous health benefits. According to “10 Amazing Health Benefits of Rooibos Tea” by Healthy life, Rooibos tea is: [4]
- Caffeine free
- Containing powerful antioxidants
- Preventing against some cancers
- Contain high mineral content
- Improving circulation
- Relieves stomach complaints for both adults and infants
- Aids absorption of iron
- Can relieve skin conditions
- Can protect against Perkinsons/Alzheimers disease
- Encourages restful sleep
Other than those benefits above, Rooibos has lower tannin levels compared to fully oxidized black tea or unoxidized green tea leaves. [5] From “Health Benefits of Red Rooibos Tea” by Organic Facts, it listed out more benefits of Rooibos:
- Relieve stress and hypertension
- Balance Blood Sugar
- Protect against developing type II Diabetes
- Treat allergies like eczema or hay fever
-  Premature aging 

**However, Rooibos tea is not for everyone because it may interfere with other medication or treatments. It could also be harmful to drink Rooibos if having breast cancer, kidney, or liver problems. It is best to speak to your doctor before consuming Rooibos tea. [6]

  1. For each cup of Rooibos tea, add 1 teaspoon of Rooibos tea leave.
  2. Add boiling water (around 206 degree F or 96 C) to the tea leaves. 
  3. Add milk and sugar to taste
Note: Add a slice of lemon or using honey instead of sugar to sweeten.

Thursday, July 3, 2014


Matcha: Fine Powdered Green Tea
Photo by satorinihon / CC BY

Matcha before adding water
Photo by Matcha Tea / CC BY

Woman demonstrating Japanese Tea Ceremony
Photo by ameotoko / CC BY

Matcha and Wagashi, Japanese confectionery
Photo by Miketsukunibito / CC BY

Different types of Wagashi
Photo by mookiepix / CC BY

Matcha Blueberry Cake
Photo by vialbost / CC BY

Tea Ware: lower is Chashaku (spoon), right is chawan (bowl) and left is chasen (whisk)
Photo by Kaminix / CC BY

Whisking matcha tea with bamboo whisk
Photo by steenbergs / CC BY

OTHER NAMES: 抹茶 (in Japanese), maccha, Japanese green tea

Matcha is a finely milled green tea powder. The Japanese tea ceremony focuses on Matcha’s preparation, serving, and drinking. [1] Because matcha can be bitter, it is traditionally served with a traditional sweet mochi-based tea cakes. Mochi is a cake made from glutinous rice. [2] Popular tea cakes include Daifuku (a round mochi with sweet fillings) and Wagashi (a Japanese confectionery made with mocha, fruits, red bean paste, and nuts.)   

Tea was introduced to Japan from China in the 9th century CE through a Buddhist monk called Eichu. A few centuries later, another Buddhist monk, Eisai, brought Chinese method of preparing powdered tea in 1191. As powdered tea preparation continued to be an important ritual at Zen monasteries, it eventually became Japanese Tea Ceremony. It was highly appreciated by the upper society during the 14th century. By 16th century, many tea houses and tea gardens were built based on tea philosophy and principle, developed by Sen no Rikyū. Tea drinking and its teaching also became a common practice for people in all classes. [3]

Today, Matcha is still an essential tea for Japanese Tea Ceremony. It also became a popular worldwide. The flavor, Matcha, is being used in many modern desserts such as Matcha chocolate, ice cream, and cake. Starbucks also introduced Matcha drinks such as Green Tea Latte and Green Tea Frappucino. [4]

Matcha is beneficial to our body if we consume the right amount. According to University of Maryland Medical Center, they recommend adults to drink around two to three cups of green tea a day. (providing between 240 and 320 milligrams of polyphenols.) [5]

Matcha is basically green tea, so it has so many health benefits includes:
  • protect your body from cancer: prevent bladder, breast, ovarian, colorectal, lung, pancreatic, prostate, esophageal, skin and stomach cancers 
  •  help boost your metabolism
  • lowers overall cholesterol levels
  • raises the levels of HDL, high density lipoprotein 
  •  preventing atherosclerosis 
  • promoting alertness and mental awareness
**Please note that there is some danger associated with drinking large quantities of Matcha (green tea) during pregnancy. It is also best to avoid drinking it on an empty stomach because it is somewhat acidic and can cause stomach discomfort. [6]


Special tea equipments are used for making Matcha. First, Matcha powder needs to be sieved and then placed into a small tea caddy known as a chaki. By using a small bamboo tea spoon (chashaku) it measures the powder and scoop it into the tea bowl (chawan). Note that a Tea bowl (chawan) is used instead of a tea cup so that it is large enough to whisk the fine powder tea with a bamboo whisk. (chasen) For tea ceremony, a tea cloth (chakin) is commonly used for cleaning tea ware.


There are two types of matcha: thin (usucha) and thick (koicha). Thick Matcha usually uses double amount of Matcha powder than in a thin Matcha drink. Usucha creates a lighter and slightly more bitter tea. Koicha is normally made with more expensive matcha from older tea trees (exceeding thirty years) and, thus, produces a milder and sweeter tea than usucha. Koicha is served almost exclusively as part of Japanese tea ceremonies.

For making thin tea (Usucha):
  1. It is prepared with approximately 1.75 grams (around 1.5 chashaku scoop, or about half a teaspoon) of matcha
  2. Add approximately 75 ml (2.5 oz) of hot water per serving.
  3. Whisk with a chasen until no lumps left in the liquid, and no ground tea should remain on the sides of the bowl.
For making thick tea, Koicha:
  1. It requires approximately 3.75 grams (3 heaping chashaku scoops, or about one teaspoon) of matcha.
  2. Add approximately 40 ml (1.3 oz) of hot water per serving, or as many as six teaspoons to 3/4 cup of water.
  3. Because the resulting mixture is significantly thicker, blending it requires a slower, stirring motion that does not produce foam.